Franco Moretti: ‘capitalism is a dream—a bad dream, but a dream nonetheless’. If dreams are the residue of our days – and I’m not convinced that’s all they are – then can we look to them for a guide for transforming matter? Not into puffs of spirit, but the spit of life on a looking glass. Dreams change the body. Sodium and iron dissolve in sweat. Capitalism is a bad dream precisely because it lingers into the working day.
Dreams as material, though – could this be our wake-up call? What is can be destroyed, lost, forgotten, made not to persist, evaporated. In the mid-1950s, Bert Kaplan and other American social scientists began work to collate a ‘database of dreams’ of the everyday dreamer. They used a newly patented form of microphotography – the Microcard – as data storage to warehouse the dreams. Opaque miniatures printed on cardboard, each dream shrunk to 1/24th of its original size. This new technology, writes Rebecca Lemov, promised stability, security and storage capacity to far outweigh the resolute physical limits of paper. But the Microcard is obsolete now, its carriers and readers no longer supported by the manufacturers.
Support, here, meaning to provide the conditions necessary for maintenance.
Dreams of running water symbolise the need to urinate. According to Freud. And in this theory, the appearance of water tells us which organ is dreaming: ‘the dream excited by the intestinal stimuli may lead us through muddy streets, the dream due to stimuli from the bladder to foaming water’.
But such a perfect correspondence of the symbol to bodily frequency is a dream too, one of pure referentiality. An authoritative interpretation. The hierophant who turns up in a reading just when I think I’ve gotten rid of him.
I remember my mother’s body rising out of the bathtub.
She’s in a hotel room, softening butter over kettle steam.
I am watching my then-boyfriend’s baptism, age twenty, in the Anglican cathedral. Red candles, no coins to drop.
Stephen Collis: ‘poetry is a responsibility for and towards the other, a responsibility to respond’. I like the distance this puts between our nuclei, our dressing room pegs, our call numbers. It’s far from the muse relation transfiguring the other – her raw matter – into image. As a recovering muse, I wonder what role I had in creating my artist. Where my responsibility lay, and was it mine not his, this responsiveness to touching and to being touched, to returning and retaining?
The responsibility of teaching is to protect the autonomy and continuity of the student-other.
To act responsibly in such a position of power is a good dream, but a dream nonetheless.
My dream self lags behind reality at a rate of approximately six months. I swim at the YMCA because it is free. But signs with rusting nails at the corners tell me which parts of my body must be kept out of the pool: unwashed skin, loose hair, yours or mine.
The muses are the daughters of memory, Mnemosyne. Mnemosyne and Lethe were also rivers, one to remember and one to forget, or perhaps – like sisters – their waters flinchingly part and rejoin, victor-sourcing –
one holds the other’s head underwater
one breaches banks without remorse
one brings all her wading birds to shrieking
one, landlocked, the archive’s muse
Water, as an ‘archive of time’, holds a ‘double articulation’ of memory and forgetting, writes Astrida Neimanis. There is a rule that you must be a man to swim out to Mt Athos. The sisters laugh at this!
On the stage, a spotlight burns spots of darkness, little scrapes of our skin.
A projection screen is yet to be switched on to bodies of the past.
Two, now three dancers in clusters, showing each other what they are doing now and what they will do soon or what was just done.
Julia Kristeva: ‘the semiotic chora, converting drive discharges into stases, can be thought of both as a delaying of the death drive and as a possible realization of this drive, which tends to return to a homeostatic state’.
The groups recombine like a vinaigrette after the acid shock.
No one is singular but none are together, either. The mother/daughter relation is not communal.
Who is teaching, who is following? The body with sharper gestures?
Despite notation systems for dance, despite pen-and-ink squiggles trailing a musical score, despite recording devices, despite critical reviews, and despite memory, performance cannot be archived, writes Peggy Phelan.
Isn’t this true of all forms of art? To dance these instructions again, to submit to failed transmissions?
A film, like a dance, is of a different structural order to the photograph or the Microcard. It is both less collectible and less serialisable. Limits – the inside/outside, the original/reproduction, the memory/forgetting – fall away.
Much like water, we add and dissolve in equal measure. Make well-documented absolution.