Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beyond the Pail? Dream on a Sleepless Night

The Pale was an area in Ireland where civilized, that is English, people lived – to be beyond the Pale was to have no manners, to have no English, to be Catholic, to be Irish. The term was later used by Anglicized Jews to translate the word the Russians use for the provinces they’d acquired from ancient Poland and Lithuania, the only places where Jews might legally live in Tsarist times. (Before 1772, before the Partitions of Poland, no Jews were permitted in Russia at all.)

I don’t know which Pale this dream was beyond; it was at an oceanside resort, maybe Cape Cod or Saturna (Canada). Draw your own geographical conclusions. I was studying the plot in a play (was I the Algernon Moncrieff character?) and then it occurred to me I ought to wake up and write the play down, and Eve was in it, but she was at a distance, so I thought I should write it up with Eve as a character, or I ought to write it and send her a copy, but somehow I didn’t wake up and start writing.

And then it was dusk and there were deer with antlers running along the beach, quite a few of them, and I had the urge to rush out and watch them (as I do on Saturna), but there were so many, and the antlers were fierce (but I remembered Fritz had said they were not mule deer but something smaller), and I went out anyway, and there were tigers. Well, there was one tiger, and it was pretty big, bigger than a stag, and it jumped on me, but only in a friendly way, and after worrying that it would knock me down (which it did) or break something (it didn’t), we wrestled quite pleasantly, and suddenly there was snow all over the ground, and two more tigers emerged, even bigger ones, but it was clear they did not regard me as unfriendly, a threat to their young; they wanted to wrestle too, and so we wrestled and rolled down the snowy hill.

Eve had departed, so it was time to get up and go into the house and start writing the play so I could send it to her, and the plot was quite clear in my mind (it has all gone now), and very clever and intricately worked, and all about a pun in the title referring to being Beyond the Pail (or Speeding the Plough?), or a pail full of sand (or snow), and when I went indoors (now dressed a la Beau Brummell, because this was going to be a Sheridan or Wilde sort of play, a comedy of manners and flashing epigrams I could always come up with later), but as I sat down to the Hepplewhite cherrywood writing desk to dash it off (at least notes of the plot), the characters came to life and crowded around me, tossing off epigrams, and aside from the race to jot them down, this made me laugh and lose the thread, and Eve was still waiting patiently, somewhere, and I still wasn’t waking myself up to write it all down because it kept happening, and it is very difficult to write it down while it is happening and if it keeps happening to remember it to write it down at all. And the tigers in the snow were lonely. And we lit the candles and poured glasses of port, and someone in a white satin dress sat down and began to play the spinet. And the tigers in the snow were lonely. And I was trying to write.

In real (?) life, before and after I slept, I have been typing up the journals of European trips (Berlin 1988, Eastern Europe 1991 and 1998, Spain 1993, Italy 2006, Istanbul 2007), and I have not looked at these in many a long year, but I often remember the trips themselves, and talk about my adventures – but I find on rereading that the adventures I most fondly recall sometimes do not show up in the writings I did at the time, or the truths I discovered, the historical and artistic reflections, differ from those that made it to paper then. And so I am adding to the typed versions the later reflections (trying to make the tale continuous), and wondering which I would have lost had only one source of memory been available to me. But it is always more of a key to things to have words (even words that do not describe the pictures I see) than to have pictures, say. A comment on my mind, the interplay of words and images, as when a word comes to mind in a dream and the dream interprets that as a picture: a Pale becomes a pail, ergo a palisade or a shtetl becomes a beach resort.


Francesca said...

Fantastic. I envy you your dreams. I seldom remember mine.

Doug vanderHoof said...

How is it that some people can tell me their wonderful dreams and it
sounds like I'm hearing about the state of their newborn's bowels,
but yours is captivating? This is lovely; I'm not sure it's your
subconscious that's pleasing us, or your hippocampus rehearsing your
cortex and we get to watch, but thanks for the story.
Doug vanderHoof

infanttyrone said...


Akin to Bob Newhart's ancient routine about how 50's Communists never did "...notice that every time we invite (Herb) Philbrick to a cell meeting a whole bunch of us get arrested?".....perhaps it is his lack of ackual newborn(s) that allows Arminius'de/re-cantings to be devoid, filtered, or purged of all but the most fundamentally charmin' fant'sies ?

Confer w/ Doom for my realworld contact info...Infanttyrone