Saturday, 12 May 2012

Drifting in the afternoon

Last night I found myself sleeping rather badly.  Well the sleeping itself wasn't actually that bad, it was the getting off to sleep that was somewhat more arduous a task to achieve.  I lay there, reasonably comfortably, on my own, and although I felt rather sheepish and tired, I could not get to sleep.  I tried reading but I coudn't focus.  I tried to watch clips on Youtube and similar, that didn't work.  I tried to meditate, but my mind felt too alert to calm down.  In the end I fell asleep at arount 2am and slept until around 8am or so.  Even if I don't have anything planned or a specific objective for the day, I don't like having "lies-in" regardless of the weather, it just feels like a day has gone by and I have let myself down by not having achieved anything.  Today I have been rather insular, keeping myself to myself, without a desire for interaction nor human contact.  I ignored the phone when it rang and resisted the urge go into town with Neville for lunch at Prêt à Manger (consisting of crab meat and rocket sandwiches, and fresh soup) as is my norm on Saturdays, followed by trolling around the department stores, specifically menswear for him to look at clothes (Ralph Lauren and Belstaff in particular), and then, maybe, to slip in the odd bookshop along the way.  I was worried I would be either cranky or I woudn't want to say much, and that this would result in my subsequent condemnation, regardless of my course of action.  Damned if I do, damned if I don't, damned whatever happens.

So this afternoon has been spent largely reading interjected with a few short term naps in between.  Unusually for me, I decided against listening to music whilst reading, preferring to try and focus upon the words and let my mind attune to them rather than drifting to and from the music to the words on the page.  The weather has been mostly pleasant, I can see, from looking out the window. The sky has been mostly blue with patches of cloud from time to yet it has felt nippy, rather than fresh, outside.  So this afternoon, for the most part I have been warm, my toes have felt like blocks of ice.  To satisfy the occasional pangs of hunger I have been nibbling on IFA (Ivar F. Andresson) salt liquorice, one of the last remaining packs, which dear Heidi sent over from Finland, although IFA strictly speaking is from Norway.  Despite not having been back to Denmark in many years now, I still miss the taste of Danish food. Every now and then I seek to replicate it as best I can, simply because I do enjoy the taste of Scandivanian food.  I have a book of Scandinavian recipes that needs diving into and some culinary treats to be prepared from those delicious looking dishes on its pages.  Every Christmas when I have gone home to my parents in the Gironde (there are times when I so wish they were closer), we have had cold rice pudding and cherry sauce.  One of the sensations (in this case, taste) I always associate with Christmas, I used to eat bucket loads of the stuff.  Mostly because I genuinely do love the taste, not just the hope of winning the marzipan pig (or other such novelty) - as I am far from competitive in nature.  The last Christmas I was at my parents I admittedly found it in two mouthfuls, but still ate plenty more after.  Hence the ensuing podginess and the diet of carrots, celery, rice cakes and water for eight weeks after.

IFA salt lakris, Norwegian salt liquorice.

Other Danish/Scandinavian delights include Gajol, asier, ymer, gammel ost, sødmælk, pebernødder, and pickled herrings on rye bread.  Also Danish pølser made by Tulip with lots of onions, sweet ketchup and mustard.  Strangely enough the last time I had pølser was about four years ago, when I saw a genuine pølservogn in London's Soho of all places (!!).  I had to have two just for old time's sake.   There is also an abundance of potatoes served with most every meal, but I have never, generally been the greatest fan of boiled potatoes, skinned boiled potatoes but new ones with butter and dill, that's something else.

Therefore, being on my own this afternoon I started to read Man and his Symbols (ed. Carl Jung), a book which I have refered to upon occasion but have not actually read to from cover to cover, so now I felt the time was right.  The idea of signs, symbols, semiotics, and allegory continues to inspire and increase in interest within me, so I felt that this was an appropriate place to understand, from a Jungian perspective, interpretations of symbols, etc.  However, owing to the desire to shut off at times, rather than boredom at the subject matter I was reading (anything but, as I have respect for Jung and his theories), I felt my eyes grow heavy and the need to drift off to sleep for a while.  I was conscious of doing so, in order that I wouldn't spend the afternoon in slumber I set my alarm to wake me up after 20 minutes.  Ultimately I drifted off for 18 minutes before my body clock woke me up and I went back to reading.

Man and His Symbols (ed. Carl Jung)

My dream:-  To start with I was walking up a long staircase.  Not a typical staircase but a winding one, all white, probably painted wood as it had an articial sheen to it so it wasn't marble.  It also was a spiral staircase that snaked upwards towards the heavens.  There was no banister to hold on to for support yet I felt comfortable and confident enough to mount it.  Some distance below me was a wide open countryside, suggesting I had already been walking up this stairwell for a considerable time.  No walls were thtoere  enclose me in.  I was watching myself ascend this staircase from a distance, almost a third person perspective, even though I was aware it was me that I was watching.  This allowed me to progress further upward, as quite probably had I been walking in the footsteps of myself as the walker - then my fears and hesitation would with taken over, and my agoraphobia/vertigo would have induced me to stop and not allowed me to carry on.

As I climbed further I reached some of the clouds which the staircase passed through.  I could see clearly the greenery of the countryside, mostly fields, uninterupted by houses and other buildings of human construct.  As I stood on the cloud, I seemed to have reached a plateau.  As I stood still the sky, a cerulean blue seemed to somehow draw in  closer to me, or else the cloud and the stairwell were moving closer towards the sky.  The sky had a cross dividing it in a similar manner to that of the Dannebrog is described by Christiern Petersen and by Saxo Grammaticus.  The sky then enveloped me.

Suddenly, I became aware that I was standing in front of a large white church or cathedral.  It was Gothic in design yet, once again, a brilliant white.  Although it had the feel of being mediaeval it equally had the feel of a church I remember driving past in San Diego just under ten years ago, in August, when Mike and I were driving across California over 6-8 days, from Los Angeles (where, two days into the trip I learned at 6am in the Red Roof Inn, Van Nuys that my father had been diagnosed with cancer), to San Francisco (a long long drive along the 5 highway) where we spent a weekend with the late, splendid David Hess and his family, and finally down to San Diego (to meet and record an interview with dear Beatrice).  Over those days, we covered a huge amount of mileage and interviewed six leads (not forgetting Carlo Rambaldi as part of the prep work for the documentary on Lizard in a Woman's Skin) for four DVDs in that time.  Our interviewees included two porno actors, one of them being the infamous Jeff Stryker(!)  When we asked the offices in New York to wire the monies owed to us, we were initially told that we were asking "too much" (two months pay for two months work!) and it was considered that we hadn't done much in that time.  The month before we had been in Paris and Rome. No pay for that month.   So when I left for the United States in mind August, despite promises of payment, I had less than $10 left on my overdraft and nearly missed the flight to Boston thanks to London Underground being completely screwed up.  So when we were finally paid (five days after arriving in the US), John suggested we were asking for a lot of money when in fact we were simply asking for money owing to us.  Words escaped me then, they still do!

Back to San Diego, though Mike and I never went into the church proper and only saw it from a considerable distance away and the just the one time, that is, driving into San Diego, somehow, I still remember it quite vividly.  In addition and in fact, despite the visit to California being emotionally rather fraught to say the very least, I still find myself able to remember a great deal of the time I spent there, and a lot of it was truly positive, not least owing to the people I met and befriended in those few days.

The "Temple" in San Diego.
Back to my dream.  The church externally had a similar aspect and appearance to it the one illustrated above.  Inside, it was like a typical Medieval Gothic cathedral in stark contrast to the glaring white, modern looking exterior.  The interior looked more like Wells Cathedral.  Initially when I stood outside the doors, I heard murmering from inside.  Upon entering the church itself I realised my thoughts and speech were in Latin. (N.B. Other than weddings and christenings, I have not attended a church service in over twenty years!!).  Suddenly, the booming sound of an organ filled my ears as well as the room as the priest entered.  The service and the hymn sung as the priest entered was extraordinary.  If one stood to the left hand side of the pews (which ran down the centre of the church so the priest had to walk down the congregation on the right hand side) the words were sung in English, and on the right hand side, the words were sung in Latin.  Where I was standing, in the middle, the first part of the hymn was sung in English, followed by the same verse yet repeated in Latin.  The words of devotion had a mediaeval feel and sentiment behind them, extolling devotion, yet were bright, jaunty, more like troubador songs rather than pious and solemn.  There was no smell of incense, and the overwhelming senses I felt were those of sight and sound.  The church itself, although the walls were elaborate, were not gaudily decorated.  The priest was dressed in late sixteenth century robes.  The congregation were dressed in a mix of fashion eras, some in modern dress and some in mediaeval garb.  I recognised some of the faces but now I cannot remember who they were.  I cannot remember how I was dressed, yet I remember my hair being down to several inches below my shoulders, loose, slightly wavy and curly and lightened from having been in the sunshine.  Some people in the congregation were appearing to be making notes as the hymn was sung.  One of the individuals dressed in modern, smart clothing immediately in front of me turned to ask, in Latin, if he could borrow a pen as only fountain pens were allowed - biros had been banned lest they damaged the books.  The verger walking along the aisle glared and told us to be quiet, the priest then mounted the steps towards the altar. Bells rang out, followed by silence in the hall.  Then I woke up... 

Wells Cathedral.

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