27.3.07

committing to memory

The last post was a transcription of a dream, made just after I woke up yesterday, although I didn't wake from the dream - that happened sometime in the night, when I did that thing you seem to have to do with dreams, committed it to memory.


***

And yet ... that isn't really the dream: for instance there was a bit I've omitted before we left the palazzo that came, I think, from the film version of The Comfort of Strangers, which means it was in Venice, where I have never been. Plus who was we? When 'we' were sitting on the beach watching the people eat out of spider-silk stockings, I was with my eldest sister, and it was our younger sisters coming from the north. And they were very well dressed. And the beach looked like the coast south from Wellington.


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The sea shells on the other beach - and by this time it was certainly the west coast of Italy, north from Rome, where I have never been either - looked very much like one of the vessels Philip Clairmont was so fond of painting. A vase, perhaps. Their colours were his colours, but I wrote Etruscan because of where the dream was set and because I love the word.


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And because I have a little book of Tarquinia frescoes that was somehow mixed up with the Clairmont-esque images of the sea shells. Which themselves resembled ornate, open-topped cinerariums.


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As for the lapis lazuli, that wasn't actually in the dream at all, it came from a documentary about the Sumerians in which a pile of greyish stone, looking a bit like schist, lay against a wall while a man sluiced water over it and that startling deep blue colour appeared as if by magic. But the gleam of olivine that I've called peridot ... that was really in the dream, though half indistinct and perhaps the stones were not as large as boulders.


***

Also, when I went to the restaurant with the sea shells, I actually went to the bathroom first, to have a crap, and it was while I was doing that that the little boy came in and peed on the rocky fountain thing at the other end of the small room. It was later, after I came out of there, that I saw him with his hoop and stick. And the hoop was tiny and perhaps square, with paint flaking off it.


***

The woman who spoke at the end, the one to whom I tried to give back the stone, was there for the whole of the dream: at the palazzo in the beginning as much as at the gate at the end. She was the hostess of the dream, its mistress, perhaps, or ciccerone. You could even say it was her dream, she was entertaining me in it. I didn't describe her because I have no visual memory of her, she was a presence not an image. A voice.


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And besides all that, and more, the plain fact is that as soon as you commit a dream to memory, it changes from what it was into a version; and when subsequently you write down what you have memorised, it changes again and you have a third version.


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And yet, strangest of all, the original dream survives in, and persists apart from, its versions. For me, the reason for writing down a dream is precisely this: so that its persistence as itself may be recalled from the imperfect versions of it, both the one in memory and the one in writing.


2 comments:

chiefbiscuit said...

A fascinating process. I no longer seem to retain / remember dreams as well as I used to. Maybe it's possible to get out of practice?
Beautiful writing - both the dream as a tale and the description of the process - or layers.

Martin Edmond said...

thanks chief - did you read the long version? http://whitcity.blogspot.com/