I left Brussels past week and came to the US for a work meeting. For the first time after four trips, I finally found a chance to go to Mexico, squeezing in some days to visit my parents. It's not much time what I ended up allocating, having so many people to see and things I wanted to do. Right now I'm in the plane and can't sleep. This thing is not even half full, yet Interjet managed to sell me a ticket at a hefty price. I must confess it also took me too long to buy it. But that's not what I wanted to write about. Later on I may write my impressions on coming for the first time on my own, predated by my own thoughts. Previous three times I came with Ester and even if we stayed three weeks each time, the feeling I get now is different. From the time I decided I would come, a lot of thinking went on realising how many things have changed and how I feel now about my home country. To begin with, I advert a bittersweet sensation and increasing indifference on what's going on in Mexico. I used to follow quite closely the political life and happenings. Now, from Brussels, I visit the webpages of one or two newspapers, skimming through the headlines, so to only get a rough impression of the situation. The elections just passed and rather than feeling enthusiasm or willingness to discuss the multiple developments, I went through a safe state of semi-denial; swiftly running through the headlines, trying to set a barrier to protect my own emotional integrity. I wonder if this will continue as time goes by (update from the future: in 2017 I feel the pain from my vantage point across the ocean, but it has become strangely familiar. Sad to realise I am rarely surprised every time I see the next horrendous story, the recurrence being so high that it has become predictable, every time reality surpasses fiction, as if we would be witnessing a descent into hell). I can't help wondering where this train goes, it all depends on a myriad of factors no one can even enumerate. For example, many have documented how 9/11 significantly changed the border security between the US and Mexico, disrupting the illegal trafficking, flooding the Mexican market with drugs. Or how globalisation took to Asia the easy money manufacturing from American companies outsourced in Mexico. This drove unemployment to record-highs and created in no time armies of uneducated unemployed people, ultimately contributing to create the ideal conditions to sprout the most violent periods the country has lived in the modern times.
But that isn't either what I wanted to put in print. It's about a puzzling dream I had last night.
I don't seem to come back to this page but to describe odd dreams. I can't help it. I want this one to be examined in detail. There's a considerable amount of key symbols from my increasingly distant past that came to visit me last night. I woke up confused and with that odd feeling of not distinguishing truth from reality. It must have been around 5 am when I woke up, not being able to find the peace of mind required to get back to sleep.
I will try to describe it, not sure if the actual elements are in the right sequence. Now, how absurd is trying to refer to the 'actual' elements or sequence of the dream, being my fragmented memory the only source to those elements of what I am trying to reconstruct here. Memory is treacherous, the dream sits in my memory as loose fragments that some hidden editor has ruthlessly decided to order in a given way, completely beyond my control or contribution.
I am in a room, it's probably a party at which I landed by some work of randomness. I find myself talking to a guy in his mid-twenties. He discusses passionately about global warming and the role of big companies. I engage in the discussion, though not with the same passion he does. At some point I leave the room.
This transition is now fuzzy in my head, it was clearer this morning, now it's almost midnight and I have forgotten many details.
Next thing I remember is a visit to the university in Mexico, not surprisingly one of the most distinctive places for me - the entry to the A building of my faculty (the side that faces the B building). This, for the record, happens to be one of my first views of the place where I went to spend many years of education, not surprising the dream borrows from this powerful memory. I access the building and see that there's people making trouble, probably associated to a celebration that is getting out of hand due to alcohol and/or drugs. I witness everything from a safe distance, while I talk to someone else, I can't remember who. At some point, things get rough and I hear shots and see smoke. Everyone's panicking and I resolve to hide from it behind an old desk or piece of furniture. Suddenly, I understand it's some sort of terroristic attack and the squad that has just broke in plans to take hostages. I scape as quickly as I can, not without being worried about those that lie dead or badly injured. As I rush away I see others hiding, paralysed and looking at me with white faces. I sweat and run until I see an open door, although it seems that someone points it out at me rather than me spotting it first. That someone is Magda. She has a calm expression and with her broken english points at the door. I follow her and we disappear from the place, then an immediate feeling of relief ensues.
Now, this is the strangest part of the dream. We walk to her place, through tortuous and run down buildings. Nothing seems familiar, the closest connection I can make is somewhere in Eastern Europe, probably a forgotten street in the outskirts of Budapest or some destroyed Ukrainian neighbourhood seen in the news days ago. We reach her studio and talk briefly about her situation, living in such a place. The walls are bright green, just like her room in Poznan. There are cluttered books here and there, but I specially distinguish a few volumes in Polish. As usual, I make the effort to understand what they are about with no success. One specific aspect in Magda's looks is distinct: she has chosen to dye her hair somewhere in between black and red. I observe her facial features closely and distinguish everything to the minute detail, her thin facial hair, following the different events of her face, in the same way a crop in a field follows the undulations of the terrain it is planted in. Because of this, I am immediately struck by the reflection Zizek does of Lynch's films, in which the exaggerated approach to the subject of interest reveals its intimacy, reaching the depths of the innermost - an ultimately perturbing nature. One such Lynchian sequence appears in Blue Velvet, in which the depiction of a perfectly peaceful, even boring, American town is interrupted by the sudden heart stroke of a man watering his garden. While the man agonises on the grass, the camera starts immersing into the grassland, making its way through the leaves and unraveling the wild and frightening kingdom of microscopic monsters lying underneath the placid garden. I continue my conversation with her, trying not to evoke too many things from the past and focusing on the talk. She leaves me in her place, can't remember the reason now, but I have the impression I will see her again. As soon as she departs, I feel embarrassed for not having asked her about Sara. I make a mental note not to forget it again. For some reason I leave the studio and start exploring the streets. It's not a friendly neighbourhood, it doesn't inspire me any trust. At some point I spot a street market and decide to explore it. The sky is overcast and I start feeling uncomfortable. By the time I come out and inspect my pockets, I realise my wallet is missing. I feel stupid and overwhelmed, and start feeling vulnerable again. All of a sudden I remember I have not a single document to allow my departure from this god forsaken place. I start zigzagging the streets and get lost. I have no way to communicate with anybody, I am left at my own devices.
That's all I remember. I will drop it there, I don't want to overdo the experience and bring up things from the dream I'm not sure about (what recollections from a dream one can really be sure about?). Every time I put the pieces together, they fit differently. Needless to say there's no way of verifying what I'm describing is faithful to the dream's contents.
I believe these are the experiences that came to be the substance of my dream:
- The mid-twenties guy. Not a mid-twenties but at least mid-fourties entrepreneur from Israel with whom I happened to have a conversation with for a good hour before landing in JFK, in the flight from Brussels. He was wearing similar clothes and had vaguely familiar facial features to the guy from my dream. Our conversation went from what we do for living to global warming and my forecast of the most likely scenarios in the next 50 to 100 years. He was convinced there are some ruling powers, a superior elite in the world that is ultimately responsible for the state of things and our race towards chaos. In his view, citizens are unassuming entities that move with the tide and are not responsible for anything that has happened to the planet. Sheep. Of course I disagreed, not with the sheep but with the superior elite as a sort of conscious, single entity responsible for everything that happens around us.
- My recent visit to the faculty after a few years away is an obvious trigger to this evocation. Not sure about the hostages and shooting. A simple guess is the increasing violence in Mexico.
- The Eastern European neighbourhood and the feeling of alienation is most likely due to the conversation over dinner the night before (during this trip to the US, some of us gathered at Circa, in Clinton downtown). We talked about how distinct Hungarian and Finnish are from the rest of European languages, and the feeling of cluelessness one faces, even with the simplest of texts.
- Magda. I don't recall when was the last time the thought of her visited me in a dream. However, I am certain the trigger to the dream was to have come across a girl with a very similar face at JFK. I spotted her as soon as I stepped in the shuttle from Terminal 1 to the car rental zone. She was sitting near the door, holding in her hands the typical badge collection airport personnel sports. She looked at me (much in the way American women look at men, with that sort of rogue curiosity, partially to verify if one is looking), I returned the look a bit surprised by the striking similarity between her and Magda. She must have been in her early twenties, with a discrete piercing in the right side of the nose. She wore those ubiquitous yoga pants with ankle-high black and pointy boots and a black Michael Kors bag. And of course, her hair was dyed, somewhere between red and black. The bus was full and it was very hot, I was cramped against the back door, barely managing to fit my stuff, while helping a man with the looks of an orthodox Jewish, desperately trying to fit his bags into the racks. People rushed in and out the bus. With all that distraction, I didn't realise when she left, I thus missed a figure of her height to complete a basic screening.
- The market where I get stolen my wallet - It resembles more a market in Puno we visited last time in Peru (that was in April 2015). We bought there some fruit and took a few pictures, then we were told by a by-passer not to stay there and to be extra careful, the place being full of pickpockets). That surely created a lasting impression on me and I brought it this time.
Note that having forgotten to set the air conditioning to 20 degrees may have had an influence. I woke up sweating, uncomfortable and confused. I went to the bathroom and despite my hideous appearance, I felt relieved of having being submerged in the confusing workings of a dream.
Every time I write time flies and I feel as if I were doing the right thing by rescuing my memories. I have probably written elsewhere how little one can remember when the reference points change all the time. Only the most persistent and deep memories linger in my head. So many others are gone. When I see acquaintances from previous places I lived there are always passages I have completely forgotten. That is a sad thing. I have enjoyed so much the way until here! I regret letting go so many memories. I had a similar reflection last time I visited Sofie in Brno. She says she forgets even more than I do. To exemplify it I brought up one or two passages from those Brno days. Indeed, she had almost forgotten most of what I recollected. These reasons are sufficient to keep writing, keep in mind they say we understand and discern from what our memory can tell us (at least when thinking logically).
Westerpaviljoen, September 2017.