Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a new kind of art

The fate of an elusive section of reality depends on me today (yes, I sound like a preposterous megalomaniac, but sometimes a fact must be boldly stated). Something has happened in the world, its texture wrinkled wonderfully, its shape warped decisively. What we have here is a work of art by dreamer Kris Saknussemm. This dream shall not be interpreted (for the most part). As I said yesterday:

See...Kris needs no Freud or Jung. Those two chaps would be confused and just get in the way. The goings-on here need no silly interpretation, no filtering of the particulates. This is spirit-art...on soul-canvas. This is pure magic!

What can be done is an aesthetic evaluation. A commentary, as if I were discussing a canvas by a master painter or a film by a profound director.

Here is the text:


Another anxiety dream. Very vivid. I was working for the American military--or more precisely, for a PR branch of the military that was run like a public utility. I had a desk in an awful cramped cubicle with four other people--and the tiniest computer screens. Our work involved disguising the number of military deaths and a rash of related murders of civilians around the world. The actual bosses were never around but there was a female manager who had a huge beehive hairdo and pointed cat glasses, but was two dimensionally flat like a paper cut out, so that you could only properly see her when looking at her face on. My immediate superior was a 9 foot tall blonde Swedish lifeguard type. Despite the dreadful work environment, we were allowed to bring our animals in. The dingo was still alive in the dream and some of the others would give her bones. But the giant Swede brought in really savage animals--in particular, an enormous brown and white spotted lion that was always threatening to eat her. It was a dreary place to be and I felt this utter sense of defeat in having to work there. At lunch, we'd adjourn to a cheap little Mexican restaurant with a concrete patio (not a plant in sight) where it was always overcast. On the way back to work, I'd collect stones from a small attempt at a landscaping bed in the parking lot. I had a very specific purpose in mind for the stones. When the lion would approach and threaten me or my dog, I'd bait it to roar--then pop a stone down its throat. The despair at the end of the lunch hour was always acute--but I'd make sure that I stopped to collect some stones for the lion.

Here is my evaluation:

A PR branch of the military, run like a public utility. The background spreads in ambiguous focus. A sense of absurd milieu. And then people crammed in an office, twisting the truth. A heavy, conspiratorial shadow has quickly descended, dappling the background with an element of deepening plot. Of focused assimilation into components of a massive undertaking, a large deed. We are dealing here with a delightfully macabre census of death. Here, we have very serious dream-agents – an echelon of the wider corporate utility – who are probing the essence of doom as it leaks in from the waking world and interfaces with the marvelous one. This juxtaposition is conveyed skillfully by our dreamer. The jolt hits us without our being aware of it. We are propelled toward new complexity, without even stopping to consider the paradox of eternal creatures sweating it out over an aspect of mortal ones.

Enter stage left: a flat female manager, with a beehive hairdo and flared glasses. Kris does not specify this, but I envision her sort of occasionally curling up or warping in a long shimmy-scroll, like a thin sheet of aluminum being shaken out. She seems to be a floating, undulating presence. She seems to be very intense. You will not back-talk this one.

Next: a giant, svelte Swede. The “canvas” is now properly skewed toward asymmetry. Sheet-woman is balanced irregularly in our minds with Large-woman.

And then our dreamer correctly fills the environment with sufficient chaos – scampering, messy, duty-avoiding dogs. And then what? Our “director” layers into the proceedings a complementary death-and-doom panoply of threatening, savage creatures. The smaller, domesticated animals are now at risk from larger forces, as are we all out in the carnal world. A subtle compositional wizardry has been wrought here.

The Swede's own crazy lion wants to eat its “master.” Yes...the Nietzsche dialectic of master-slave. Just who is dominating who in this and in all the worlds of social relation? The atmosphere is saturated with existential and social futility, from all directions.

And the problem of time, of duration...of time's implacable, merciless pulse makes us very uneasy as we consider this dream. Things seem fixed, locked-in here, yet things are also moving the plot along. We suspect that nothing is going to really change, even as we observe shifts in the matrix of being – things are eventing, even as they are painted into unresolvable spaces.

An overcast Mexican patio. A choice move on the artist's part. An al fresco meal -- especially served in melancholy light -- is a perfect scene transition.

And then, as we move toward denouement, a particular, mystifying, and confident action is taken by our protagonist: the collecting of prophylactic stones (I picture them as smooth and polished, some dark brown and others whitish). The lion will roar, and vortexes of doom will spiral invisibly from its throat. Kris pops a stone in its mouth, interrupts the sonic pitch, changing it, pacifying it to a rumbling murmur. The incursion of outside forces – of tragic consequences – has been magically defeated by our stone-popper.

Death is not to be tolerated in this kingdom of wonder, even in this kingdom of frustration and sadness. This region has been set aside by nature and by the gods for deeper life. It is where unconscious frictions spark eternal fires of color and emotion and tragic beauty.

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