an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Tuesday, September 7, 2004


a poor sort of laudanum, an American sort worth American confessions, and not so opiate as somewhat medicinal, somewhat alcoholic, and so much somnolent as much as insomniac. A little dram or two and I feel like a cheap edition of Coleridge at his bedside staving off the pains of sleep--the nightmares, the confusion between waking and sleep, the body aches and chills--with a little more this time, just a bit more, for the dose outgrows itself and I am ill.
"And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise."
Milk from the teat of the god of dreams: Morpheus, old friend, no Metamorphoses--indeed, no Ovid--without you, eh? Isn't that the clincher? The poet dreams up his paradise, it is a vision, he is a visionary, a near prophet (whose rolling eye rolls through the morphing scape), who lives turning towards his prophecy and away from the world, who lives in the in-between space of apocalypse--not in paradise (which attained would lose its charm for loss of dream), and not in reality--but in the bang bang bang bang bang bang banging of your head against the elusive wasteland boredom of the real and the impossibly innocent doppelganger universe haunting you. (Habitable space? Uncomfortable space, sorrowing and delusional space, but not much avoidable.) Every second, death birth death birth, apocalypse creation apocalypse creation, and ever so rare, Morpheus having shown you pity: a sobering moment of clarity. One only hopes to recognize it.

That is what is like to write in the grip of dream. Worse is to write in the grip of wanting to dream; but worst of all is to write in the grip of dream while wanting the real. There they were, opium-eaters all, and all professing to confess all--to be honest, to be real--when the pains of writing must have seemed a ridiculous irony. How will you write the real in dream? (Words, you know, just another sort of thing in dreams.)

That is not the purpose of those confessions, say the critics. The confession is a genre, an autobiographical device, a piece of writing responding to other pieces of writing within a spirit of an age and events in history. A text in context. While the poets always knew they were writing texts (read: dreams), if they were silly and nostalgic about it, that's irrelevant. The author is dead.

So it is said of the gods, but look here: a hand or two at work, a mind pushing dirt around. The eternal mind of the word at work in the world--don't you forget it. I say "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world," and you know who said it and you know how it is accomplished. He wrote it, we read it, and the word takes hold like a seed again and again.

Silly and nostalgic? I suppose next you'll say Romantic.

Yes, you would romanticize everything had you the energy for it.

And you would take death so lightly if I allowed it. I won't allow it.

"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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