The Beloved is in the Blood. -some Sufi or other
It may be that you have appeared to me in more dreams than any other person, aside from my dead father. It hadn’t happened in some years, and I thought that time was past, till it happened again this morning.
This ‘you’ doesn’t always look the same. What I have identified as ‘you’ is a feeling within me. ‘You’ is a feeling I have. The puzzling thing is why I have associated you, an actual person I briefly knew, with this archetypal other.
You, as a person, rarely ever cross my mind, but unconsciously, within the theater of my dreams, I identify this archetypal other as you. It’s not that I wake up, think “who was that?”, and decide on you. The association is baked into the dream.
Back when I first started writing songs, this ‘you’ was my first muse. It struck me as strange then, because the songs had virtually nothing to do with any relationship we had actually had. I knew I had conflated you somehow with my first love, from fifteen years before. Thinking of you, then, brought me back to her, and that association stuck.
I remember offending you somewhat back then by saying that you struck me as a composite of two other people I had known (the astrologer Demetra George and the singer-songwriter Marta Topferova). You said something to the effect that maybe after living for long enough everybody new always reminds you of someone else. It was an efficient testament to our age difference.
Long story short, back in Rhode Island last year I realized that this dream ‘you’ was an alienated part of myself, a part that had become fully alienated in the wake of my first heartbreak, though the fissure had started years before. The alienation of that ‘part’ was what I think people commonly call a loss of innocence. This innocence isn’t an external measure. The innocence I lost was felt. I lost the feeling that I was innocent. This innocence wasn’t an absence of sexual feeling, but a conviction that this impulse was true and beautiful and good.
Going into my first love I felt this unity. Coming out of it, I didn’t… and I haven’t really since. I came, rather, to identify with Hamlet, and his statement “all men are knaves”. I think it might be fairly said that it’s virtually impossible to live with truth, beauty and goodness unified; and yet can living with them separate really be called “living”? Can’t live with it; can’t “live” without it.
Being an adult, somewhat worldly and quite skeptically minded, I can take what is perhaps a sober view of this fragmentation. It happens to us all, more or less, and dealing with this tragedy is the puzzle we’ve all got to face by the mere fact of our existence. In fact, we have arrived at a cultural moment within which a naive sense of sexual innocence is profoundly critiqued and deprecated.
I’m still an idealist in my dreams, though… and in those dreams ‘you’ represent to me the possibility of recovering the three in one. I’m tempted to call it fucking ridiculous, but it’s probably more ridiculous to presume I am wiser than my dreaming mind.
As to why – to the best of my understanding – you became the symbol of this fragmentation, I will be brief and say that it is one thing to be rejected by someone, and something entirely more serious to reject yourself. This scene in ADAPTATION expresses the matter perfectly:
I felt stupid loving you. I disowned it, because you didn’t see it the same way… and I think that’s why you got stuck in my unconscious, because in adopting your view I alienated myself from my own… and abandoning myself in this way is, as the film above brilliantly details, is the root of creative impotence and grandiosity.
And the prospect of following through on my own creative inspirations is the last dream I have left. I wouldn’t say it’s still standing. It’s more hiding in a swamp, terrified of being found out. But it’s not yet dead. So it seems to me that ‘you’ keep coming back to me in dreams, as the embodiment of that possibility of self-acceptance and creative actualization, because my encounter with you amounted to a sort of flowering of my own self-rejection.
I don’t know that I could have done it any differently, then, but it hardly matters. The abiding question is whether I can do it now.
It sounds simple, particularly as we live in a culture that endlessly encourages us to embrace ourselves, vaguely and in general. The reality, seems to me, is much more complicated and less glamorous. It is built up in – so to speak – a million quiet moments of dedication that no one else is there to notice. My first and final hope is for this dedication.
There’s no need on my side to get a response from you on all or any of this. Please feel free. Perhaps there will be some value in it for you, actual, and perhaps not. I don’t know.
Oh, finally, in my dream this morning, you began to recite to me a story you said I had written to you long ago. It began:
where did noble joe go
but to the bedroom?
by the time he got to the bedroom,
the gun was the most important thing
in his mind
I laughed that I had forgotten all about noble joe, and the euphoria of starting to remember woke me up. To write well, it seems to me, is to be able to bear the light of remembrance without annihilating the dream.
Reflecting on this now, in the light of the above, I think Noble Joe deserves a space on the shelf, with GI Joe, and Average Joe, and John the lover of prostitutes throughout history. Even, a central one.