Monday, September 17, 2012

Inventing life, invading space

– Synthetisation of Life Experience

(a day in july)

Many authors claim that awake experience is coherent, continuous and unambiguous; while dream experience is discontinuous and just unrelated clusters of various possibilities. Even some friends of the dream maintain this dualism (this divorce as it is called), but preferring dream life, openended, seemingly consequence-less, free of the depressing demands from the laws of nature and pressure for plot continuity... I think this is a misunderstanding.

We have to admit that dreaming has a number of very particular mechanisms proper to it, but also that dreams will tie in with other spheres of experience, and in fact, often the fuller syntheses will be made in dream experience rather than in waking experience, because waking experience is of course still obsessed with pruning the supposedly insignificant and applying identity logic just to simplify.

Yesterday morning, half-awake I was remembering a dream, rationalising it within hypnagogic dream logic, and it turned out to be very very coherent and explain a lot of things I've been actually wondering about. It was just like in my dream about "my elusive Polish offices" that I communicated some time ago. Later in the morning, I was telling EL about it, and she noted that remembering a dream while still not quite awake often arouses memories of many other dreams, otherwise forgotten. I recognised this from my own experience. Ok, this dream element relates to this class of dreams that I used to have, this to this dream person that I have met, all things that one didn't know. When processing the dream before we are under the somewhat insensitive reign of awake rationality, it points out its connections to a wide coherent field of experiences. For all we know, they might possibly all be made up on the spot (but that would indeed be a massive mental achievement), or they might make an instant synthesis of a lot of stories of mixed status, past dreams, dreams
within dreams, possible dreams, forgotten events, possible events, etc.

I might even say it seems like this is the closest we get to an actual synthesis of life experience, an instant but gradually disenveloping interconnected multitude of stories.

There is a chapter in my novel "Konsten och dödsstjärnan" about "autobiogeography", the construction of a world for a meaningful past of oneself. Of all these different pasts that pop up, some of them can be unproblematically correlated with other events regardless of how picturesque or unbearable they seem (yes it seems I have spent a lot of time in Uppsala, yes it seems I was living in Florida, yes I was sleeping at the bus station in Bodø in northern Norway), others are not contradicted by other data even though they can't be quite remembered (they say I visited Bjursås in Dalarna when I was very small, I know I went birdwatching a lot with my friend Bo and with my friend Ola and with others though I don't remember any of this very well and I always imagine myself having been birdwatching all alone, I have notes from a weekend in a tent on an island in the archipelago in 1999 that I absolutely cannot remember), others still seem a lot more difficult to integrate in one's selfimage even though there is little to actually contradict them (did I actually have a relationship with this woman? was I really taking a lot of drugs with this guy as he claims? what was it about the Polish office?) etc.

All right, enough lecturing. This is the story that was revealed to me
yesterday morning:
All those parts of life that we are not supposed to remember. It seems there is an entire flora of previous lives, normally inaccessible. Only in the early morning one opens the doors to them.

First I unexpectedly meet a friend at a bus in Uppsala. I didn't know he had a connection to the town. I keep trying to deny I have one. I used to spend a part of my life there, and every now and then I go back to try to find new and more neutral ways of seeing it. He doesn't seem to know where he's going, and that suits me fine. We stay on the bus. The buses are uncomfortable, and mostly we can't speak to each other because the loudspeakers of the bus run an ad for the buses themselves over and over again, saying that more than 80% of the population of the city recognises the buses. Well, no big surprise, there is no other public transport here. Stupid town. I have to let others guide me so that I can get a new view of it.

But there are also other areas that seem biographically charged. This time, I had been to the dentist, in the small archipelago town Gustavsberg. I lived near there earlier, but only this morning I suspect the town was named after Gustav Meyrink, the author of Golem. It is a quick visit, and I wonder what I am to do, thrown out into the world at this early time of the day. There are vast open spaces, a rural market site, with very few people, but I go sit down at a long wooden table stretched out on a temporary lawn in the middle of a meadow. There is a big kiosk along one side of the table. I should go buy a cup of coffee and some candy. But I remain sitting there, looking at my phone, trying to remember what I'm supposed to do and when I've seen this place before. I realise there is a big west asian kiosk along the other side of the table. I should go buy a cup of turkish coffee and some baklava. But I remain sitting there, now vaguely remembering that I've been here before, with my friend Bo, birdwatcher and ambulance driver, and maybe we have been planning something for today too? I send him a text message, saying I am now on site, and he could join me or direct me elsewhere. It does not matter that I haven't seen him in ten years.

Because now it all gradually reappears. He and I used to travel widely at the time, and wherever we went he had some old friend staying in some old vicarage or rundown mansion that he wanted to pay a visit. But here, south of Gustavsberg, at a place called Beatelund near Storängsudd, just near Lämshaga where the major capitalist Peter Wallenberg, the de-facto king of this part of Stockholm, rebuilt a mansion for a school for his grandchildren and apparently wrecked an important birdwatching site (but I haven't been here since to see), here, I get a strong feeling that this is not just a story or a dream, it is in fact a memory that has been inaccessible, and that is why I have been mixing up the names Beatelund and Storängsudd already in my notes from the time, I couldn't remember that I've ever been to the mansion or big farm, Beatelund, only to the beautiful pastures on the peninsula, Storängsudd; but this is it, this is the one time I was there.

So back when Bo and I was there, it was all a bit uncanny, it felt like intruding in a real 19th century home, maybe they were ghosts, or just because they were wearing so much white cotton, it's too bright, it hurts my eyes, the priest's daughter desperately looking for someone to marry, just to get a successor at the farm. What was it that my friend had done there before? Actually I knew some of this. I remember, back in 1964. Maybe someone may object that this is before I was born, and he would have been a small child. Nevertheless, in 1964, one fine morning, Bo realised that he was in love with his housekeeper and asked her to marry him. As they could get no children (maybe they realised that already before this while living in sin) they instead conjured forth a Golem. It was named "the Space Invader" because it assumed space out of nothingness. Later this character has been reinterpreted and a video game based on the reinterpretation. The Space invader was a sad apparition, in dark rough clothes (wadmal) with a big slouch hat, roaming the beaches and killing cattle. It also managed to catch, and infect with an immortal virus, the red parrot Almara (ok, I get it, alma ara), which up to then had been a local helper spirit, like a sprite, but now instead became more of a truth-telling ghost, always fluttering around making fun of people who were getting themselves into accidents.

I realise I have to get away. Wherever I go there will be stories of my journeys with Bo, and of the old lore of each that place that will be connected with either his or my life in an uncanny way. I should get back to where I live ("bo" in Swedish), if I only had a home. There is a long wait for the bus. I get to know the other people waiting, an old Iranian woman, a clumsy young hippie couple, a gay couple who live at the top floor, who walk around in sandals and have a deadly fear of bugs and birds and germs, and who told a long story about their recent holidays on nothern Öland, which were such a disaster, because as soon as the went out of the car, the ground was just sand, it was like swimming, you had to struggle to get anywhere at all. I am very relieved when the bus arrives to cut their story short. But then I seem to have had no overview of my luggage, I have to run back and forth to see which bags are mine, I dont remember, it seems a lot of this equipment are actually Bo's, a lot of cameras, maybe also lighting and sound recording equipment? Can this really all be for birdwatching, or is it his ghosthunting equipment as well? The busdriver seems relaxed about waiting for me, but I make very quick decisions about what's mine and not, and I leave everything else there on the sidewalk.

(M Forshage)

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