Monday, 9 July 2012

St. Jerome and the Beast

In reading about dreams, it always surprises me how many people have dreams which play out in monochrome rather than colour. For as long as I can recall mine have always appeared to me in bright vivid saturated colours; the only variation over the passage of time has been the language in which they play themselves out in which I, and other individuals (when there are other players), converse, communicate and interact.  My Unconscious will generally tend to acclimatise to the location in which I find myself.  For example I recall that when I used to make my frequent trips to Rome about ten years ago that Within a short passage of time, even though I was speaking in English to my American ex-business partner, that subconsciously and consciously I would immerse myself in thinking in Italian as best I could to prepare myself for the people we would invariably be meeting.  This would happen from the offset, after having met Mike at Heathrow Airport, who having flown on the "red eye" from Boston to London, we would head onward to Rome.  I would make banal conversation in Italian with the taxi driver from the airport into central Rome (I remember with great fondness those taxi rides and each time mid morning Rome would seem enchanting and magical) whilst Mike sat there and generally would doze to catch up on the lack of sleep he had experienced the night before during the long haul flight.  As an additional note, I also enjoyed telling the touting illegal taxi drivers at the airport to get lost, as they had believed us naïve and foolish tourists without the slightest comprehension of Rome and the costings of a taxi into the centre.  A sudden leap from 30 € to 70 € just boggled the belief and imagination.

In addition, where it seems most (but by no means all) individuals have dreams which, which when they remember them, tend to be more along the lines of traveling to far away places, of a sexual conquest or desire, or to winning a large cash prize, the descriptions of such dreams and events give rise to the belief that the dream itself is rather bland and shot like a rather mundane episode of a daytime soap opera.  My mind will simply not allow me to have dreams of that nature.  To cite a few cultural references in respect to my dreams, my mind prefers to conjure up an image narrative usually with a number of allegorical motifs as would be directed by the likes of Greenaway or Fellini, with costumes and mood mirroring the paintings of Rogier van der Weyden or Hans Memling, and where protagonists will converse in Latin, or French, or Italian, or Early Modern English.  Occasionally there are other sounds and noises as well in these dreams such as echoing bells, chant or simply the sound of wind or rain, all depending on the context.

At present, however, my traveling is minimal, regrettably, yet this seems to have allowed my unconscious to take its own flights of fantasy.  I suppose my mind is restless and my dreams and thoughts tend to migrate into other languages in any case. For, at present, I no longer have the external stimulus to unleash these other languages into my brain and mind, and by extension dreams.

One of my most recent dreams placed me in a sixteenth century time frame (yet it appeared to be the present, rather than the past).  I was in a great domed hall, at first, with the only sound I could hear in the hall being the sound of Psalms being sung in the Greek Orthodox tradition.  Please note this sound was not like that of say, Byzantine masses or the omnipresent Mass of St. John Chrysostom, or as simple plainchant or sarum chant.  The former sound appears to be Western conception of how Greek orthodox masses should sound based upon track 5 of their new age "Moods" or "Chill Out" CDs.  Albums such as these were at one point hugely alongside ones selling pan pipe renditions of popular songs and soundtracks (cue: "You Take My Breath Away" on the pipes.)   No, the melody and structure of the chants that resonated in my mind were far more modern, yet mirroring table songs that had been sung for many decades, nay, centuries before.

The domed room was candle lit, yet bright.  Warm yet stuffy.  Outside, all was dark, and the wind blowing.  The moment, timeless, contemporary yet harking to some "other" time.  The air heavy and infused with a heavy fragrance of incense; a scent that mirrored Ouarzazate by Comme des Garçons, mingled with that of a Romanian monastery suffused with a slight peppery top-note to invigorate and alert the nostrils.  In the centre stood a high priest, dressed in bright red cardinal robes with a long beard, and looking like Saint Jerome.  He stood there, muttering, mumbling, his voice low yet his expression and mannerisms animated.  He decided to deliver his diatribe in a manner mirroring the patristic writings, but rather than an angry rant against the likes of Marcion, or Valentinus, or Basilides, or heretics of a similar ilk; he addressed more relevant and personal issues, for those who would listen.  He spoke in English, and as his voice lifted, the candles which surrounded him shot flames upwards like flame throwers, as if to lend a sense of theatre to his gestures, his statements. For the few who listened, his words didn't seem to be being followed attentively nor appreciated -  despite the passion and enthusiasm in which he spoke and addressed his limited congregation.  His words, from what I can recall, were on the lines of those below.

"Inasmuch, those men who set the truth aside, who speak as does the reviled hierophant, with his lying words and who shall take shallow harlots as his consorts, and by the cunning of their conjoined craft, shall cause many to believe the empty and shallow promise of their words.  Her deception through apparent beauty, and his through deception.  Through such deceptions, they shall lead many away from their true path and by the strength of their conviction and earnest in their trust, be fooled, as the naïve child led astray by a corrupt teacher.  Oracles and false promises shall he make, to those lost in the desert without direction.  His promises, lies, to all who listen but the very few.

The harlot shall be his consort, his accomplice and his bride, as surely as Deception needs Lies, does Man need Water so to live.  This tawdry Harlot shall ask that he inflict wounds upon her fair flesh, flesh for all men to see, and despite such pleasured suffering, she will allow their deception to breed, as surely as a babe would slumber in her womb.  Together they shall create further perdition, and other vile issue shall issue forth from these miscreants; Fraud, Theft, Deception to name but a few.  Yet he does have no true desire of her, she is simply a vessel to serve his perverse desires and mask his losses.  For he will seek other consorts of beauty and she will lay the path for others, some innocent, some accomplices, to his heinous deception.

The Beast shall be marked, and he does brag such falsehoods of a musical ability, or artistic talent, or of sexual prowess, and more beside.  His cunning and his shrewdness outshine his intelligence; the lies outnumber the truths.  He has the appearance of a vagabond, yet even the wise shall be deceived.  His arms marked with stars, and amidst them the portrait of a clairvoyant - a vile sorceress - yet such visions are hidden beneath a thick coating of hair which does cover his entire body, from his eyebrows to his toes.  Despite such appearances, many shall still be fooled in their minds and hearts, their limbs and souls stained.  And by the ninth hour his deception shall leave those vulnerable unclothed, suffering, destitute, broken, bereft of belongings, and wary of all others.

Such is the tale that the true shall speak, and seek retribution and justice for his vile deception.  Yet ,who shall hear their cry?  The Law be both blind and deaf, unwilling and unable to punish the perpetrator of such deceptions and evil.  He shall go unpunished, and shall prosper in hand and raise up a new belief from the Eternal Sea...."

Through the chamber, the words boomed, and soon thereafter started to spin.  And I had to flee, I felt giddy, disorientated, sick.  Yet, outside this domed building, in the dark, were four winged lions, like lamassu; growling and probably four times larger than life size, not allowing me to flee into the open landscape.  However, if I returned to the sanctuary of the the domed room, and although one felt safe therein, almost comforted, in a womb-like environment, at the centre of all this was the recurrent burr of words I didn't want to know, to hear, to understand, and from which there was no escape...

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