Friday, October 7, 2022

Dreams And Things

 Annie Ernaux has won the Nobel Prize for literature.

For 2022.

I have heard a lot of discussions of her manner of writing.

Novels.

I have heard it said that she has a rather fluid relationship with fiction and memoir.

I knew that relationship.

I know that relationship,

I have dealt with that relationship and that relationship has won.

For example, here is an excerpt from Screen Saver, which is a memoir that I wrote a while back.

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So one more dream wouldn’t have normally been a particularly significant occurrence.  But this one had been.  

I t had rained all day of the day that I had had that dream in Paris.  I had walked from rue de Grennelle, down Avenue Rapp to the river and down the river to Boulevard St Germaine, and up St Germaine to rue St Dominique and back to the apartment.  The weather had been bleak; the river had been bleak; the river had been beautiful; the river had been churning and rolling under the clouds of gulls riding the wind currents hurled up from the river’s waves. As I had been noting how the golden statues of Pont Alexandre shown with their own internal light even on the bleakest of days I had looked down in the flint gravel mud and had seen the remains of a horse chestnut, one of last spring’s beautiful pink Parisian flowers lying semi disemboweled and black in a little flint mud pool of water.

I had wondered in passing why I had even seen it let alone why it had been significant.  Finding no answer I had kept on.

I had the dream the night of that cold blustery day, sometime on toward dawn, but while it had still been dark and during that time of each day when spirits and dreams seem to be more real than things that are real seem to be.

In the dream Ruth was handing me that chestnut from the puddle.  It was as black as I had seen it when I had seen it earlier in the day when I hadn’t been dreaming, or thought that I hadn’t been dreaming. The previously gloriously glossy brown shell, now a despairing torn-open- to- the-pulp black, dripped with grayish tan flint sandy mud.  Ruth held it out to me.  “Why didn’t you stop and pick me up?” she said.  She really looked like Ingrid Bergman in the dream.  She was about nineteen, her age when we had tentatively found one another in Bend at the Pilot Butte Inn.  She was wearing a pair of those double knit form fitting ski slacks that were once popular. They were the ones with the straps for the foot to keep the whole arrangement taught.  They were light blue.  She wore a matching light blue ski sweater.  Her hair was quite long and that dark blonde that some women have naturally.  My sister Annie had had it naturally before they shaved it off. “Why did you just look at me and keep going?  Here, take me; take me back; don’t let it have ended.”  And she thrust the dripping thing in my hand and disappeared.

Then I dreamed – I realized much later when I had actually awakened and realizing that I had awakened and therefore must have been dreaming previously - more.  It was early morning and still very dark.  But I wanted to go out.  I needed to take the chestnut back to where I had seen it.  I didn’t know why, it was just that compelling dream logic that drove me out and back to Pont Alexandre.  It was exceptionally quiet for Paris.  There was no traffic at all, a phenomenon I had never observed before.  Perhaps, I had thought, it’s always this way early in the morning. I put the chestnut back where I thought I had remembered seeing it.  I couldn’t conceptualize why I was doing that.  It just was necessary.  I walked out onto the bridge, at first just because.  Then, once I was on it, I went purposely toward the center so I could look downstream toward Isle de Cit√©, hoping to be able to see the twinkling Christmas lights on St Chappelle; even though I knew that I was several bridges too far downstream to see that sight, I nevertheless looked.  On the opposite bank from which I had mounted the bridge, in the Place de la Concorde the Ferris wheel was still lit up with the blue light of the European Union.  Beautiful is a word that has been used to the point of meaninglessness over the centuries.  But that wheel shimmeringly embossed on the dark pre-dawn sky needed some word in description.  Perhaps beautiful could be rehabilitated on its behalf, I had thought.

A flit of cloudy wispy motion caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.  At the flint sand mud puddle Ruth had knelt down and taken the chestnut up from where I had just left it.  She didn’t “pick” it up.  She was kneeling on one knee and bending over the depression, she removed the chestnut with a forward scooping movement of both hands held together open, forming a kind of semi concave shovel like configuration to reclaim the ruins of the chestnut from the water and the sand.  Once she had it, she folded her hands over it, turning the scoop into hands at prayer.  She rose.  With hands so folded, their fingers pointing skyward she walked onto the bridge.  She stopped next to me, but she didn’t acknowledge my presence.  I felt that she may not have been aware that I was there.  She was human in form but there was something almost transparent about her – unlike the solidly present in all human forms person who had brought me the chestnut earlier in the dream.  The illusion – or fact – of semi transparency was heightened by the fact that she was wearing some multi layered, flowing, blowing in the wind type of gown.  It was light blue and seemed to have deeper tones here and there in the garment as it floated and flowed with the breeze wafting up from the river.  She stood looking in the water for some time, her hands still enclosing the chestnut in her hands which she still held folded.  Slowly she began to bend down and to lean on the ledge of the bridge.  When her arms from elbow to wrist had come to rest on the broad, strangely leather looking ledge, she had looked as if she were going to dive into the water. But then she slowly opened her two hands keeping them together at the edges, slowly bent her wrists downward to the water and let the chestnut drop over the edge.  Then she turned, looked at me and said, “I could have been with you on that bridge.”  I looked down at the water, where even at night, the gulls swirled.  I looked back at her, but she was gone.

And gone also was I; at least I was gone from then and there. 


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