Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rediscovering Stockholm

I am temporarily staying in Stockholm, in some cheap hotel, mostly walking the streets.

I am standing at Slussen, looking out over the Saltsjön. There are all kinds of objects or vehicles in the sky, but it's difficult to interpret the perspective and understand if they are close or huge. In fact, there is a bombplane which is both. It is shaped like a small shark or perhaps a cigar cylinder, its wings are remarkably small and the cylindrical body very very long. It swoops down slowly while spinning, actually dipping parts in the water, it is as big as the open water here, and its course is set for the big oil cisterns at Stora Höggarn (the ones in Nacka would be closer, but this east-by-northeast course actually points towards Höggarn and the aircraft is so huge that the distance isn't long).

I am mostly walking the streets of Södermalm. As usual I am walking on S:t Paulsgatan, and I appear to have previously proclaimed this the "surrealist street" because walking there is the best way to avoid all people and superficial coincidences that abound on the street next to it (apparently Hornsgatan). I'm having second thoughts about this, maybe it's not such a good idea to avoid people. Especially when I'm only visiting anyway. This street has a notch in the middle, and continues westwards after a slight north-south deviation (apparently the second part is then Krukmakargatan). However this notch reminds me of a small square in the suburb where I grew up, and there was a dive of a cheap bar there (I remember a particular childhood anecdote about this place), now transposed into Blå Dörren at Slussen.

It is a rainy early afternoon and I'm having a coffee at this bar together with some of the surrealists. /.../


three aspects of identity

Three dreams (from two nights) in the genre of subverting the self as a fixed reference point for orientation in dreams:

memory continuity identity

A noisy mediterranean canteen/bar, which I claim is one of my favourite places, because they have a big photographic print on the wall of the memorable evening when I was the bass player at a reunion show of the 90s punk-ska band "Monster" (I was fat and barebreasted and happy). But at the bus stop outside, where I'm seeing my friend off, some evil truthsayers calmly inform me: that Monster show has never occurred, it was just a dream. First I completely deny it, it just has to be true, it is one of the few really bright moments in my life the past few years. Then I slowly start accepting the possibility, which is even worse. Since I remember it so vividly, and have been so sure it has happened, well if it is a dream, how can I be certain about any part of the entirety of my life experience? I wake up in panic. Even awake, for five minutes I don't know if I've played a gig with Monster or not. I fall asleep again and only after next awakening I have no problems accepting it's been a dream and I've had no close connection with this band.

gender identity

A boring suburban square north of Stockholm, probably Täby, all my friends or fellow students are pushing themselves into a premise looking like an old tobacconist's, but is a very small education facility, it's going to be cramped, we're going to have to listen to a talk about incomprehensible computer/statistics stuff, there is going to be obligatory physical exercise, and I'm panicking about it. I just can't endure it, I have to leave that godawful place, I can't wait until my classmates are ready, because then it will be late afternoon and dark, and people will ask me why I've skipping school, and we will have to wait for so long in the dark for the crowded bus and not know which is the right one and it will probably take us not into the city but to some other far-off bus terminal where we must change again, etc etc, it is unbearable and I have to get away immediately. My best friend (female, though I don't remember whom) comes along with me, and we catch a bus which is probably the right one. But we don't get the seats next to each other; in front of me there is a teenager in heavy make-up and next to her my friend. My friend starts slowly singing "I'll be your mirror", to soothe me and cure the neurotic teenager at the same time, she sings with a clear and steady soprano; I join in with a deeply resounding humming bass, and the fact that I have a male voice is such a surprise, it seems my womanhood has been magically removed as a punishment for ditching school.

life identity

I am struggling to somehow reserve a place for myself in a summerhouse where several people live but all equally vaguely as me, under all kinds of conflicts. One old wino is coming in regularly, whom it seems I was the one to first invite and voucher for him, one of those guys who walks around swearing and ranting but is basically harmless. But this time he has a big black blotch over half his face, and it seems to be an indication that he is going to die very soon.

The rest of us go bathing. With a couple that is just almost part of our company; someone's careerist brother who spends most time abroad and his american girlfriend. And the killer whale (big, beautiful and rather scary) that turns up is most eager to play with them. It swims around them, barely touching them with its back and its fluke. I am sitting on a small raft with some girl, and I am saying "just wait till it gets the idea of playing around with this raft", and of course soon it does. Mostly it just places its chin on one end of the raft, making it stand up vertically out of the water, my companion and I are struggling to remain at the top end. The killer whale likes this trick and repeats it several times. It also realises it can swim around with us in that position, and eventually it swims forth to present us to a giant emperor penguin, who embraces the raft with us in its small flippers. "Ok, I think now is the time to take a very deep breath" I say.

Next thing were all sitting in our collective house again, my companion from the raft is sitting next to me, she is one of these thin intellectual redheads, she is saying she likes a cartoon of mine (supposedly a political cartoon, an allegory about the nobility), I get horribly flattered and almost embarassingly so and I realise I am probably in love with her. But then I also start mixing things up and just because she mentions a cartoon about the nobility I suspect she is of a noble family. Yet I am primarily worried about the gap in continuity, and I ask "but what happened after we dived down with the penguin? Do you have a memory of ever resurfacing? Or are we perhaps dead?"


Under the bridge

An excursion to a big shooting range again, a nature reserve, a big ruderal area, Hampstead Heath, yet in Sweden (I've dreamt about this place before). It is adventurous to leave the road and enter the forbidden zone. The footpath windles between sandhills. We are brought under a railroad bridge. Someone gives a talk or reads fairytales. But we must all think fast and duck every now and then, because the railroad bridge is rather a cableway, and occasionally huge iron girders come swirling, which would decapitate us if we ducked poorly.

(I had this dream in a hotel room in Philadelphia but remembered it only a couple of days later when standing under a railroad bridge at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia (though on the Maryland side of the river) and the train came.)



While waking up I am looking for a really tiny insect specimen which is difficult to find in the ethanol vial. The hypnagogic solution to the hypnagogic problem is simple and elegant: just put the vial in the holographic viewer, and the entire contents of the vial will be projected in the free air of the room; the room will be transformed into an aquarium of the vial's content. Just go around the room and look for the specimen. It has the intimacy of the typical aquarium-reflected light, softly but idly bouncing-dancing-settling, but rather more marine blue than aquarium green. Especially if the vial is given a good shake before put in the visualiser, the contents will be slowly raining down like the snow of these commercial snowy landscape globes, and everything will be easy to find; it can be viewed from all angles freely in the open space of the room.


A Foreign Land

The night before a journey, with uneasy sleep and the mind already on the way, projecting a generic foreign country:

* I am the only one who walks along the beach in a foreign coastal city; many walk along the road a bit up. I don't mind appearing as the pedagogic madman, so I holler at the children and ask them to notice the strange big pufferfish/crabs/horseshoe crabs living in the very surf zone, and may be mistaken for old plastic bags if one doesn't look carefully, or rather old canvas mail sacks, or fragments of seal mummies.

* At some camp in a foreign country, I am sitting in a cafeteria in a big cottage in an opening in the forest, waiting for all the others to wake up and have breakfast so we can commence today's activities. An asian cook is working in the next room. One by one people drop in, and eventually I wonder if I remembered to eat anything myself; obviously we get freshly made thai food for breakfast here.

* My colleague wakes me up in a hotel room in a foreign country, rather tenderly but not suggesting we would have an affair or so. But she is obsessed with something, jolts around looking for something, half-dressed; her presence is so vivid, rather uncomfortable, somewhat obscene and magnetic, intimate and rather incommunicable; the different smells of her are sharp and unresting.