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Stars, hide your fires!
Let not light see
My black and deep desires;
I am commissioned by my doctor to write a short story, something which captures in one tale a pattern which has formed and then reinforced and then defined and then redefined the way that I have come to perceive the world around and about me.
No small task; no mean feat, and something surely worthy of a form of more grandeur and bearing than the mean and vulgar short story. Who even gives the short story any credence, much less respect these days?
Well, she does—my doctor, I mean—and to her I give credence, and respect, and grandeur and bearing for that matter, for her tasks and feats, applied both to me and to him who I loved in some ways more than I loved myself and therefore I set myself upon the task and things comes to me. Some stay, some are now and then. Some paint themselves vividly: a cobalt blue bus in an Italian seaside town navigating narrow and harrowingly twisty streets fifty years ago or patterns of friendship setting themselves beside and apart from patterns between us two lovers.
The specific and the general, the floridly vivid set in pigments upon Time’s Canvas; dessicated husks of words barely holding onto the pages of they are impressed upon in texts among the stacks in libraries few visit anymore.
And then there are some words that pop and refuse to be ignored and those I know I’ll keep, but I don’t know yet where they’ll end up:
I gave him everything I had.
He gave me everything he had left.
It’s a frontispiece and a throwaway line, a title and an item on a grocery list on a day like any other day.
But it has staying power.
As do I.
I came across a blog entry called WHY DOES “DREAM” = “IDEAL”? on the Your Monkey Called by Scott Simpson. He asks why we often make “dreamy” synonymous with “ideal, when in fact much (most?) of the time our dreams are far from ideal, often twisted or upsetting or confusing.
I commented (which may have been deleted):
In my case, it’s almost flipped: I have difficulty imagining *ideal* vacations or jobs or dates, because ideal ones for me are the ones that have no expectations, that bring lovely suprises and the wonderment of discovery and are ultimately unknowable in any detail. Dreams, on the other hand…many of my dreams are wonderful….for example, my first partner, Allen, who died 13 1/2 years ago is still alive and healthy and we’re still together and very much in love and my old friends and new friends adore him—-because he was just one of those kinds of men. Or I dream about the first person I felt like I was in love with, a girl from 8th grade…she was the one who was The One and she was the one I ended up with and life configures itself into something, well, *dreamy*. 🙂 Maybe it’s a matter of not believing in ideals, only accepting the idealism of continually being surprised by the universe. And dreams carrying the dreamy quality of fitting the could-have-beens into the what-is’s and perfecting the never-was’s.
Someone in the comments gave a mini-lecture on where the word dream came from, and that its use in older (middle- and old-) English was more in line with “ideal” and less about what images form while sleeping, but we still use “dreamy” to mean something fugue-state-y, something that can’t possibly exist in a concrete world, something that can’t possibly coalesce enough to be subject to gravity and land, grounded, making footprints in sand, grass, ground, dirt, whatever allegorical material serves best at the moment our thoughts have chosen as a pivot or a fulcrum.
“He’s dreamy,” we might say. Something that couldn’t possibly be real. And I don’t think most of us really mean that he’s that good or that handsome or that beautiful or pretty. Maybe that he’s just that unbelievable as our perceptions of him stand at the moment. Dreamy, ethereal: snatch at him and the image wisps away at the disturbance of our clutching hand and frustrated fist.
Dreamy is unfulfilled more than ideal, not yet formed and made material. Ideals we imagine are have landed and are among us, if only until something or someone interacts with them and sullies them with the real, the vulgar, the mortal, the flawed, the Us.
And who has use for ideals when there’s not enough time in a lifetime to deal with reals? Ideals don’t even have the gravitas to inspire: they’re a flash at the moment of creation—technically the cooling into stone just after the hot flash of Creation and before the first pigeon shits on it.
Dreaminess on the other hand. Is there inspiration to be had therein? Or just the siren’s lure? The gauzy veil and foggy fugue that forces us to squint at and yearn in desperation for the outlines we’re desperate for but aren’t really there as we crash and founder onto the rocks and rubble that are the stoney remains of those things we ones believed, for thousands of individual single moments, were ideals?
Yearning takes us elsewhere. And when we go elsewhere from where we are, we always pay. Or rather it always costs us. Many of us never pay for the things that cost us. We just steal from others to pay for the things that cost us. We steal from others rather than pay what we owe.
Decent people can’t live with that sort of thing. It’s not right! But weak people can’t live without doing that sort of thing because weak people are poor in the currency that is the only form of payment accepted for these kinds of costs.
But there are weak people who are decent, and decent people who are weak, but there are shores and there are founderings on rocks and there are gauzy gazes and fugue-y fogs and places to hide and places to forget. Aspiring-to is a way to get away from Now, another form of escape. Dreaming is hiding. Idealism is ignoring.
Decent people can weakly defend their decency and weak people can decently remain weak by spinning it into meekness, appearing to serve a dream and aspire to an ideal, escaping payment and ignoring passing the buck and continuing on in the only way possible, demanding more of the stronger people.
A population, ever growing larger, not paying their due but demanding that others do it for them and becoming resentful when meekness disappears in the stronger, when ideals wilt in the heat of pragmatism, when the dreamy gauze is pulled down out of the air to dress the wounds inflicted by those dreamy idealists who’ve scratched and clawed at the stronger ones in order to make sure they get pulled along into the present.
Dreams die on the air and float away and that’s why we never notice them: from a distance only the principal is scene and it’s hard to tell the difference between a butterfly’s flight and a leaf’s being tossed on a breeze, isn’t it? Ideals crumble to the ground and we see those all the time, but we just invent different names, different paradigms: antiquity, ruins, disrepair, Time even. We don’t notice the death of ideals because we never believed in their births, only their eternal springing-forths from—well, we never think beyond there, do we?
Do we construct dreams as aspirations or do we construct them as some giant animal we bring down in stages, something to sustain us as we pick the bones for sustenance over our lifetimes, carefully timing what’s left of sustenance with what’s left of time? Do we hold up Ideals to make sure we keep ourselves grounded rather than admit a fear of flying?
Fear is admission of the whitespace around Ideals and Dreams and the investigation of how dark that whitespace can be. Most of us don’t go there, because to define it all by fear means that if we don’t come up with something besides fear, it’s all about fear.
So there’s Dreamy and there’s Ideals, candles to beat back the fear and stake claims to the universe that it’s not all fear. There are Dreams! There are Ideals! No reason to Fear when you can dream and you can be idealistic!
It’s a bureaucracy, though, layers and layers of management and administration around dreams and ideals, depending on how much we dare and dare not, how much we need and need not, how much we spend and how much we spare.
It’s an oligarchy, though, a small few who control the courts and the coinage, letting us rabble have the rest, because they know that courts are decisions and decisions are directions…and coinage is currency and currency is opportunity and opportunity is movement. Only those with direction and movement are free. The rest have the illusion of freedom: dreams and ideals.
You may choose to disagree, you’re free to do so and dream up your own view of the world, turn it upside down and inside out and twist the knobs and turn the dials to find an ideal balance that better suits, but who’s to say you’ve really done a thing or if it just appears so?