Thursday, October 20, 2005

With the same power of endless growth and self-reproduction did my architecture proceed in dreams

I’m getting worse at going to bed at a reasonable hour—like a child I believe I will miss something important—and my experiences of the alarm clock in the morning are becoming increasingly distorted by dreams. This morning I believed that I had found a new setting for the clock, in which the snooze alarms tell a story, a sort of mystery, in their successive installments. At the time, I believed that this feature had been designed to make waking up more appealing, though something like the opposite was probably the case. I can describe the content of the alarm-narrative only by saying that it was embodied in overlapping rectangular shapes abstracted from the backs of buildings, the rickety porches and fire-escapes of multi-story New England apartment houses, the laundry-strung loggias of Sand Hill and Munjoy Hill and Kelley Street. Recognition of my terrible confusion faded in while I was telling Hilary, who was asleep, that I had discovered an amazing new style of alarm.

A quite different power of narrative production streamed for much of the day, most likely a symptom of my body’s fight against a minor viral infection, though at the time I imagined it must have been caused by my reading about Piranesi’s etchings the night before. (De Quincey writes: “Some of them (I describe only from memory of Mr Coleridge’s account) represented vast Gothic halls: on the floor of which stood all sorts of engines and machinery, wheels, cables, pulleys, levers, catapults, &c. &c.”) At school today, between sneezing fits, I felt an inner architecture unfolding itself imagelessly in transparent ice-tracings of dungeons and labyrinths, a multi-paneled winter feeling-film that resembled the proliferating marginalia of Mad magazine in its inexhaustible knowledge of narrative code. Unlike the hypnagogic imagery that precedes sleep—that rush of nameless sensation when your last conscious thoughts are carried off into strange forms—the image-stream that attended my sickness was, I want to say, non-visual, and as abstractly related to colors and forms as words to things. It was more like an awareness of my body’s location in an articulated, crystalline space and its possibilities of movement therein. In a way, it was like the sensation of listening to music at such a low volume that you’re not so much listening as reviewing an inner, revolving catalog of musical possibility. Assuming that I’m describing a state that is repeatable and not unique to me—and very little in inner life is unique, I think—I would welcome a more accurate description of this curious form of illness.


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