Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New York, excursus 1

I got into contact with the Surrealist NYC blog at approximately the same time I went to a film festival about New York, detailing some of the aspects of the "No Wave" film and music movement of the 70s, but also other aspects of social resistance, and even more of the general character of the city as a major exception to the rest of the United States, a weird and decadent satellite detached in space, a fenced zoo presenting a haven for the weird, troubled and mad, an analogue of what the floating island of West Berlin used to be to Germany. (But, for some reason, New York is also the place where all superheroes live and which all aliens attack.)
    So at that time, I was starting to have a series of dreams of New York. It surprised me, I had really never ever been particularly interested in the city before, at least not in my adult life.
    The first one was put to creative use by Paul McRandle at the time at Surrealist NYC.

Dream 1: 
I find it a bit disturbing that everybody is talking about New York these days. This little dreamstory after a rare night of sleep could be called "Mattias's little New York adventure" or possibly (after that Neutral Milk Hotel track) "Song against sex":
It is a romantic landscape but it is all grey and quite depressing
It is vast tidal mudflats, a city in the distance
Yes, probably this is New York
But I don't know and I don't care
I am not comfortable in the fully open landscape
I am standing there, with or without my sweepnet, but
There is no insect activity to see; I look at birds, mostly waders
I have to find a way to get onto the train and get into the city

It is a long trainride and I enjoy the company of a female friend
Could be some old colleague or perhaps old girlfriend of mine
But she is a very young black woman and I've never seen her before
It is just somebody's idea that we should have gotten together
In one of those experimental breeding schemes
So we're supposed to go live in a small apartment fornicating around the clock
But we pretend like we don't know; we are still friends
However the sexual aspect is tangible and at one point I snap for her nipple with my lips
At that time we are in a long dark corridor of some vast manor
A wing of a building as long as the very railroad line
And after a long walk we reach the reception
A very friendly old German female doctor greets and congratulates us
I am confused, and I am uncomfortable as it is only now that the perverse scheme seems unavoidable
And I wonder if any or both of them might be my dead grandmother having timetravelled to torment me
They are both very nice to me
And we head off to our sex prison

A series of adventures where I am escaping the breeding bed
I am leading an expedition into an English landscape, open and hilly
In a very strange light, nightly and full of contrast, yet dawn-like and fog-covered
We tread long sad dirtroads along sheep pastures, aiming for a rather steep hill
And it gets even steeper as we start climbing it, soon turning quite vertical
I know I really cannot go there with my vertigo, so I just continue slowly
Even if I have to reverse at times, and rest a lot, I never look down and it works
The biggest problem is in fact when reaching the peak or rather threshold of the top
To know at that point what is up and down; I'm afraid I'll go tumbling down some abyss believing it is horizontal ground...

(Somebody keeps talking about tergites (dorsal plates of abdominal segments) and we've seen them vividly, huge black plates like oven plates, roof-tile layered fluttering and clanking in the wind like an exit hole of some huge ventilation shaft, and this is supposed to be the tergites of a carrion beetle, and this particular carrion beetle also has a pair of motile cerci (anal appendages) just like an earwig; with these forceps it can pick up all kinds of objects and decide wether they are edible or maybe there is some other reason to gather them and store them in a vast anal vestibule; I see it handling pebbles that are thrown away and pieces of organic debris that are saved, and some that look more like archeological objects, old spearheads or something)

On top of the hill there is a beautiful deep pine forest
Mosses and lichens and o so quiet
We walk around in awe, saying nothing
But I see several strange big plants scattered
In fact they look like monster plants from science fiction or horror movies
And there are hundreds of them in different developmental stages
Some have growing seedpods like the ones from "Invasion of the body snatchers"
It seems like the rest of the expedition participants just don't see them
I try to gather us all and whisper that something is wrong
In the corner of a glade I find one plant on top of which sits a mummified giant dragonfly
It lookes like a scene painted by André Masson or Max Ernst (the goube-avion!)

Again escaping the breeding bed
It is early morning and I am on the commuter train and it seems to be going the wrong way
I enjoy the landscape at this early hour, I feel a tinge of euphoria
And I hear a compelling soundtrack of 70s white funk
(whether it's Talking Heads, James Chance, or Gang of Four)
This is enough to make me abandon my original plans, whichever they were,
and go with the flow, and strangely I end up in Uppsala
And there is a new station building in Uppsala, looks very much like an airport
And it is not crowded and the morning light is really beautiful
There is a very compelling atmosphere of expectancy and that mild euphoria
It must be because it is so early, but how early?
I just can't seem to read the clock anymore
What hour is supposed to be at the straight south position of the clockface?
It is not that one, it is an hour before or after
So I may sit down at that characteristic little Gare de Nord breakfast café
and have my café double et un croissant s'il vous plait and just sit there for several hours
Looking at all these scattered early morning accomplices
Or will I go to my office, and surprise everybody with being there before them for once
and then leave for a long exploratory walk after that? Into the strange southeastern parts of Uppsala that I've seen only in my dreams?

Looking out the vast windows I am suddenly being dazzled by a sharp golden reflection
Tinsels and towers somewhere out in the harbor
It is a huge Turkish ship with a strangely ornamented skyline like a city
I have to walk out that pier and take a closer look
Most people are going in the other direction, it's like a migration wave
But there are a few shady elements like me struggling against the current
They may be plain harbor workers, or homeless drunks, or both
One of them calls my name; It is my old friend and office-mate Karolina
In a rubber overall and big sweater she looks like she's in the fishing business
I hug her with a desperate feeling, and the smell of her sweater is very intimate
It is not a weatherbitten iceland sweater,
it is an everyday sweater worn thin by being used as a nightgown
I don't see her very well, it's still dark in this part of the harbor
She's leading on and I'm following, we're happy to see each other but she has to keep working
But when I explain why I came out there, to see the Turkish ship, it's not there
I can see it in the distance, this long walk along floating bridges was a big detour from the main pier
I say I'm off track but I'm glad I found her and I enjoy the smell of her sweater
She pretends she didn't hear that and she keeps leading, now onto dry land
The plank path continues up a rather steep rise full of holes and bumps
And occasionally some very small houses, maybe for children or mythological dwarfs
And the rabbit holes are huge
I keep wondering whether the wooden path system permeates the whole hillside
And leads to subterranean abodes as well

I enter one of these houses, it's like a mountain cabin,
But it's full of people, listening to a pep-talk by a management consult,
Who keeps explaining that announcements should be made with awe, courtesy and a whole battery of pompous adjectives for the main acts, but for local support acts one should more like apologise for the philanthropy of giving the lesser gifted a chance; and when she gives an example of one of these pitiable local acts I don't quite hear what she says but I get the impression that the second half of the band name is my name.
Am I a musician? I could be.
Since she keeps repeating her message, I get a new chance to hear, and this time, even if its not the same as she said before, it was much longer and more opaquely hybridic at that time, this time she clearly says that it's "New York Forshage". What?
This gives me the impression that I'm something like a House or Techno DJ. Could I whip up a set of house or techno tracks until this evening? Possibly.
A child sitting next to me asks which ones of my big hits I am going to play. I say it's going to be all new material for the main set, and old hits only for the extras.
She looks very disappointed but I am starting to enjoy planning this performance.
Many of the others in there have funny costumes and make-up,
Some white clown faces, a lot of stylised flowers and spiral doodles.
They're talking to me about someone I don't know, and to demonstrate what she looks like, they go into the vast wardrobe of their paintings and dig up a whole series of portraits of this person.
It is actually an artist group who meet here at least once a week.
And they all keep painting, collectively and individually, while they are talking about various topics.
And they pile all their works in this wardrobe.
A surrealist group could be a bit like this, I keep thinking. I would like to be in a surrealist group that painted.
But now I have an engagement. I have to go off and make some music.
I wonder what I'm supposed to sound like.
Since the way out is through a shopping center, I stop by the record and comics store to see if there are any records by me, that I could secretly buy and get a hint from.
But a fat guy is occupying that section, and there is nowhere for me to casually stand except next to comics in Swedish translation. It's all Marvel, mostly Spiderman and X-Men as expected, but I've never seen all these editions before. There is even a special series for Spiderman's foe Sandman, absolutely not that emo twat Vertigo/DC's Sandman. In a shelf of oversized comics I suddenly see a big hardcover book that seems misplaced there: "How to draw the insect head". This is fantastic. But I had misinterpreted the price tag, it was upside down, the real price is 601 kronor, I can't afford that.

M Forshage

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