Black Spring . Steven Corsano

Lilium

It sounded like the number of the sky


i’m in bed.
there’s a sound at the window.
it’s the dove, again.
no, it’s a large hairy beast
and he’s raising the glass,
to come in.

hoar frost prevents me
from speaking.
his hideous features
contain an element of grace.
feline. doggerel. succinct.

i don’t know if he’s
my savior or my destroyer.

the long arm of spring.
patterns of speech wildly changed.

smoke and amaryllis.
i can smell him inside.

-steven corsano

*I asked Steven to send me a randomly numbered dream. He did not heed the latter part of the instruction. Instead, he figured a certain number of dreams based on the day he was born, 24 May, 1955 and concluded that lilium was approximately the 21,007th dream in his life. When he arrived at that number it ‘sounded like the number of the sky’ and so he stopped there. We shall say, from here forth that 21,007 is the number of the sky.


Elision

Georges Perec

it seems worth giving a few specifications on their typography and formatting.


Georges Perec (1936 - 1982)

Georges Perec (1936 – 1982)

Preface to La Boutique Obscure

Everyone has dreams. Some remember theirs,

far fewer recount them, and very few write them
down. Why write them down, anyway, knowing you
will only sell them out (and no doubt sell yourself out in the process)?

I thought I was recording the dreams I was having; I have realized that it was not long before I began having dreams only in order to write them.

These dreams—overdreamed, overworked, overwritten—what could I then expect of them, if not to make them into texts left as an offering at the gates of that ‘royal road’1 1   Freud Again I still must travel with my eyes open?

Insofar as I have sought some degree of homogeneity in the transcription and then the composition of these dreams, it seems worth giving a few specifications on their typography and formatting.

[…]

–the symbol / / indicates an intentional omission.


world 1016

Old Chinese Healer

he could have reported me. he may yell at me. but there I was, truly ashamed.


one day, the man I was with and I stole money from an old Chinese healer I go to across from a park in New York City.

I felt guilty.
I went to therapy.
my therapist had a picture of the act that she put on a moving arm on the wall.
in the picture, I was out and about at the usual time, Monday I think, that I go see the Chinese man.
…something about what I was wearing…a pale pink shirt
…and a video we were trying to fix. the man took over the project we were working on together and pretended it was his own.
after stealing the money, I returned to the Chinese healer’s office and squeezed into the corner of a chair.

I couldn’t believe that I had the guts to go back.
I’d stolen from him.
he could have reported me.
he may yell at me.
but there I was, truly ashamed.
he came out and was as normal, no repercussions.
loved me without any change.
sweet relaxation started to pour through me in a way I’ve never been relaxed.

 

[I cried in my sleep.]

 

I believe that he totally forgave me.
he had not sought any retribution.
I’d never felt or let in love like that.
then there was something about $50.
he said I’d already paid him back.
then I wondered if I paid him $50 or $500 a week.

[this writing does not capture the magnificence of the transformation that occurred.
or the kindness of this man.]


world 1463

Cancer

The ringing phone woke me. I answered it.


One

First memory of a dream—probably in about 1974 or 1975.

A technicolour lion ate my sister. There were many bright drawings of animals standing around like in The Jungle Book. I screamed and screamed but it did not undead her.

Two

September 22, 2013 (the day after Julia’s birthday).

We went to a hotel or a hospital or a hospice.
I dropped her off downstairs and went upstairs to a very ugly Victorian bedroom, where I enjoyed myself doing nothing in particular. Then I fell asleep.
The ringing phone woke me. I answered it. Christopher said, “I don’t know how to say this…’ OR “I cannot believe I’m saying this but…
She’s gone.’
He meant Julia.
I couldn’t understand this; I’d only just left her down in reception. I looked out the window to see her leaving the building.
But I knew she was dead.

Commentary: The next day she and I discussed how the Julia that didn’t have cancer has died. From here on out, death or life, she has had cancer.

Three

October 16, 2013 (the day of Julia’s surgery).

SS1 gave me a cranial-sacral treatment that lasted very briefly—like a minute. I don’t remember any details except that it was over before it began. She finished in her matter-of-fact way, saying, ‘I must attend to mother.

She’s very dead.’

Four

July 25, 2014.

Julia’s cancer had returned.
She died suddenly.
Then I heard that she was waiting to die.
Then it was that she had died.
The cancer was a triangle in the right side of her neck (like Aladdin Sane’s liquid gold collarbone).
Then it seemed that there might be a treatment
but she didn’t want to do it.
I kept trying to convince her for her children’s sake.
Then it seemed she had died again.
She had touched an electric fence or something else that killed her quickly.
With little provocation.
Throughout I had waves of devastation and frustration.
Christopher, at one point, said, ‘You are a mourning stream [or was it machine?].
I could not move from knowing—kept repeating—

‘Now
I
am
Alone.’

1Julia told me that SS’s mother had, in fact, died that afternoon


world 1368 (bramblethickets)

Dream of the Drawing for Everything

Nuala, can you say more about that?


Version A:

Nuala Clarke’s dream came up in a conversation with Sokuzan Robert Brown. We were discussing how astrology is like dada or confetti or jazz.

NC: I had a lovely dream recently where there was a drawing for everything.*

I was making a drawing for everything. They were long drawings like I’m making now. Like I was already doing. There was one for failed marriages and one for passport control and the one I was drawing as I was dreaming was the one for relaxing. It was so pleasurable. So pleasurable. I could barely believe how pleasurable it was.

C(rystal) G(andrud): That’s going in a book.

S(okuzan) B(rown): Nuala, can you say more about that?

NC: Well, I really do feel like there is a drawing for everything. It feels like I’m trying to get everything into the paintings right now anyway. When you look at them they could be animal and…mineral, space and matter. At the same time I’m doing Emptiness so (laughs)…You can’t tell what something is but it reminds you of a lot of elements all at the same time. Everything except society. I’m talking about everything in the natural world. I’m not talking about society and culture—maybe at some point in my life I’ll be ready to deal with society but right now I’m not.

CG: Or perhaps those are the foundations society is based upon? They are society and culture; arise out of, not exclusive; it’s just that the natural world is not limited to what we make of it.

NC: They are the things I deem important right now. The essentials; being; the essential world, so the other stuff is fluff and I don’t need to deal with it right.

(pause)

Yet there is a drawing for passport control, you know, which felt very interesting in the dream. Passport control is what I pass through in order to get back into Ireland.

CG: Very human society: rules, lines. And marriages, failed [is there any other kind?] or otherwise.

world 1433 (failed marriages)

world 1433 (failed marriages)

*at another time Nuala wrote:

in my notebook I took notes from Yeats’s “A Vision A“:
‘left hand path
antithetical mask
15th night of the moon
moon and sun equivalent heights
what is important: the vehicle or the consciousness?
secular and sacred at the same time
the subway track is the river down which I travel to work.’
There is so much in the notebook; many things I don’t understand or know where they came from.

Version B:

Nuala wrote:

While dreaming, in sections, I was tracing a line. I saw that I could put a relaxed line down and down. There were words and knowing. Significance. I knew that I would forget but part of me knew, too, that it has to be done and what it is that needs to be done.

One two three four five…

Drawings for everything: passport control, failed marriages, fishermen, salt, bramble thickets, moon landings and relaxing, especially relaxing.’

Dream0-DDFE(NC)relaxingCROPPED

world 1063 (relaxing)

 

Version C:

At another time I asked Nuala to again describe the dream and she said, “It was a drawing down my body, Buddha on the torso, gourd-like (I woke up and my hand was moving).”

I asked her which hand and she wondered that it was her right hand since she is left-handed.

drawing for Passport Control

world 1425 (passport control)

[Since then, I have asked her what is accurate of what I have written and she says she does not know. “Perhaps much of it is from other dreams,” she says.]

world 1380 (missing fishermen)

 


world 1042

This Dream Changed Everything

Then I thought, In dreams you must confront what you are afraid of.


I was on the prow of a Thai fishing boat made of honey-coloured wood. The sun made the gleaming wood hot.
The boat slipped through the water at a crashing speed.
I was terrified of the azure depths below the boat.
Below me.

I stood at the point
on the edge
it seemed
in flashes
that I was hovering over the water
without the boat.

Then I thought, In dreams you must confront what you are afraid of.

I knew I must jump into the water and my terror increased. After a struggle with panic, I forced myself to plunge in.

I thought, I am going to die.

But in the next second I was under the water and I thought, I must remember that it is no different.
Everything looked and felt the same as above. Except it was cool. I was happy. It was a perfect peace.
A red car floated past, with me in it, wearing a red shirt, red lipstick and a gold necklace, like in a French ad for a spirit or a perfume. The necklace formed a word.

I thought, Remember what that says, it is the key to everything.

But I cannot remember.


silent films

Excoriated Pan

Chemistry is a sort of a dream. Or a code anyway.


London. Autumn. Perhaps my last birthday or the one before that. Except I was born in the spring so that’s not right. I had just signed a contract for a book I did not want to write.

None of this is the dream. I’ll let you know when it starts.

Chemical compound for phosphorescence:

phosphoresence

S is a singlet and T a triplet whose subscripts denote states (0 is the ground state, and 1 the excited state). Transitions can also occur to higher energy levels, but the first excited state is denoted for simplicity.

Chemistry is a sort of a dream. Or a code anyway.

We were at my favorite restaurant, heavy on David Lynchish pretensions to culinary oddness. If he were a restaurant this is definitely the one he would be.

(It used to be in where-the-fuck-is-this Bethnal Green, London. It’s closed now and the chef is at the Chiltern Firehouse—which is nowhere near as interesting.)

Seated by the boy with the bouffant hair whose face I have since replaced with my friend Kevin Townley’s, I ordered an artisanal gin and organic tonic. (I have discovered that becoming of a certain age affords you the attentions of young men in a very different way. They solicit now for power rather than sex and I prefer it.) In that mysterious process of the oneiric recalling and retelling to which those of us on the edges succumb, I remembered the dream. What ignites the memory of a dream is a movement of mind in relation to space that cannot, essentially, be perceived. I think, in this case, that it was to do with the blue of the chairs but I would not swear it. And why would a certain colour of blue make one recall the dream below? It makes no sense.


Dream:

Pan. Part goat, bottom half. Part man, upper half. (Don’t you just despise the word rut?)

I stand on a proscenium, in front of obligatory bordello red curtains. A Victorian red of prurience and not-your-grandmother’s-kind-of-sex and voyeurism and what we call Entertainment.

My elegant goat hooves glued to the boards. My man torso and man face muscles exposed. Skinned alive. Oozing bits of congealed blood like slumbering maggots (the blood moves only slightly, swaying to the movement of my breath). Around my neck a garland of neckbones. Tiny bones from inside my body. In the skinning, they were extracted.

Incidentally, I am mute—as I often am in theatre dreams.

Smell: Musty, dusty from the golden days of theatre right before the silent films and then, too quickly, the talkies. It is hard to make transitions. (Is there a name for osmic dreams?)

A side show or front show or filler between acts. Skinned, bloody, oozing. No membrane, no viscera, no epithelia. No fucking skin. On display.
Pan-me unable to move or speak or scream. Searing phosphorescent lights. Dust settling on my whole-self wound. Delicate throat bones. A necklace of intricate beauty.

The audience waits in silence for it to be over. I remember them, perhaps optimistically, as horrified.

Time passes and the dust settles onto my exposedness. Then the audience begins to throat-clear and Pan-me recedes into darkness. The freak show mercifully completed.

Colophon: The Jewish-cum-Hindu homeopath who rages on about money and its absence is convinced that my remedy is phosphorescence.

phosphoresence

The substance used to illuminate stages with a greenish undershadowed light. A refraction of sickness and magic. The unflattering glow accentuating all the wrong curves and bones under the faces of dancers and actors and whores.

Where S is a singlet and T a triplet whose subscripts denote states (0 is the ground state, and 1 the excited state).

Does this skinlessness look bad on me? Do the worms of congealed blood improve the situation at all?

For some reason, the homeopath refuses to give me my remedy. He says, Sometimes it is better to go through the back door. You shouldn’t always treat the obvious with what it obviously needs. I stopped going soon after that. What am I? Time and money?

Transitions can also occur to higher energy levels, but the first excited state is denoted for simplicity.

T is the first letter that ever struck me. No, it was S. Nuala (whose image is to the left of this dream) says she’s very fond of B because it “belongs to the west [of Ireland], to the time back then before electricity and shoes that I didn’t belong to. They are smooth curves that curl gracefully inwards at the beginning and end […] in a very particular way.”
Perhaps it is the throat bones that make the goat-man. Undeniably, it has the flourishing touch of style. The issue with being a goat on the bottom half is that I am very fond of shoes. Man on the top half has no great attendant issues that I know of. Skinlessness, however, could be an obstacle to the first excited state.

Aside: As I write this dream I think of John [Joseph] Merrick for whom my sadness remains quite alive. The Elephant Man was on television when I was too young to see it…yet I did. He died because he wanted to be a human being. He wanted to sleep like other people do—on their backs—and he suffocated in his sleep. Or so it went in the film. Some things are hard to bear and it seems to be exactly those things that cannot be erased.


More Dreams

Dream of the Drawing for Everything alchemies dream-like things: images and texts and films and sketches and philosophy and half-thoughts and visions and moments and fragments of all kinds. Resting and exploring here may deepen your relationship with the oneiric and, therefore, all apparent reality. Resting and exploring here may augment your psyche’s healing tendency—as Jung called it—through highlighting and delighting in humanity’s hallucinatory creations. (Without them, after all, neurologists assure us we would go starkers.) It is time there was a potentially infinite, intimate museum to what cannot be seen. Welcome to the museum.

Dream of the Drawing for Everything is some of the collaboration between artist Nuala Clarke & writer Crystal Gandrud. Our work arises out of what dances on the edges of perception and our collective attention gravitates to the dream-like nature of human experience. We have been in collaboration since 2010. Our merged practices of visual and textual art unfold on a continuum, as part of an interconnected series evolving over time. Both performed “Fair Shouldered One” (a book which is not a book) at the &Now Literary Festival in Paris, 2012 and installed “Between Spaces”, a Yeats inspired dreamscape at the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo, 2013. Most recently participated in the Find Arts Project in Castlebar, Ireland. Our public art installation of words and images printed on linen, “Woven Found”, hung on Castle Street. The project won the best commissioning practice award from Allianz Business to Arts, 2014.

Nuala Clarke

Nuala Clarke, visual artist, lives and works between Co. Mayo and New York City. Educated at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, she moved to New York City in 1993. In September 2007, she received a fellowship to the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Mayo and began returning to Ireland from NY to work every year. Clarke has been represented by Boltax Gallery, NY since 2005. Recent shows include, Amid a Space Between: Irish Artists in America at the SFMoMa Artists Gallery, San Francisco, (2012); to Tremble into Stillness, a WB Yeats related show at Hamilton Gallery, Sligo; RHA invited artist; and A drawing for Everything, Ballinglen Arts Foundation (2013). BLINK, a public art installation at the Westport Arts Festival, Co. Mayo (2014). Upcoming shows (2015): Impressions of Yeats, Hamilton Gallery, Sligo; Of this place, Sligo and Madrid.

nualaclarke@gmail.com

Crystal Gandrud

Crystal Gandrud, writer, lives in New York City and Normandy, France. She holds an MFA, Creative Writing and a BFA, Classical Theatre. Recent publications include “Yeatsian: Numberless Dreamers,” The Encyclopedia Project, 2014, “Here,” Lost Magazine, and “Idiom: Woodbird Flies Early,” The Encyclopedia Project. Her dissertation, “Murdoch: the Mandala Maker,” was presented at Kingston University’s Iris Murdoch Conference (2006), London. At the most recent Murdoch Conference, she performed a multi-media excerpt from a work-in-progress entitled “The Forgotten Man,” inspired by Murdoch’s philosophical writings. She is under contract for a memoire entitled “Astonishment: A Litany of the Uncanny.”

gandrud@actuallyorange.com

Tell us your dreams.

Please look through the installation before submitting a dream. This work is an art installation, not a document of dreams—although it ends up serving that purpose as well. Dreams are accepted by the editorial staff on the basis of aesthetics. That said, there are certain topics that will not be considered.

Extremely violent or pornographic dreams will not be considered on any basis so please do not submit them.

Dreams may be any length.

All dreams must have three components:

1) a title
2) a number of no more than 20 characters (subject to a request to reconsider if that number is already used)
3) your name as you wish it to appear

Please submit dreams in an attached word document only. If you, as the dreamer, are also visual artist, you are invited to send one companion image in the form of an attached jpeg of a file size of no larger than 250k (no compressed files). Please specify if you are not willing to publish the text without the image—or vice versa.

For the complete submission guidelines please email us.

info@actuallyorange.com