Kirk A.C. Marshall

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Dreamtown: A literary meditation on one's subconscious self

A literary meditation on one's subconscious self, based upon real dreams, dedicated to Gabrielle
 
24/5/05 (c)

As I sleep:

 

The sideways sting of uncertain rain. I’m feeling all Dylan Thomas today, archaic prose festooning the insides of my head like non-functional balls of rice paper, and I’m dancing to the tide suckling at my ankles, this timeless torpid ebb and flow of human misery. She’s sucking down on that cigarette like a bitch, and caramel valentines are glorying like morning dust motes in the wreathes issuing from her breath. Smoke hangs over the bed in sheets of ghost linen. The guy with the head of an all-day-sucker lollipop in his eyegrey seersucker suit is once again keeping clandestine vigil in the darkening right-hand corner of the room. He offers me a whirligig smirk of coruscating angel colours. I hate this fucker. He spoils bliss by backwashing into the goblet of church wine; that’s his process. Interrupting this coital moment just as we find ourselves entrapped by an unspoken sadness. I know well that it’s a dream. But he’s in my subconscious imagining. And I find it inarticulably difficult that my apparent psyche prefers to be surrealistically accosted by confectionary-headed freaks – when I’m here, involved in such sweet, rapturous sex. Someone’s playing me.

                I’m scared it’s me.

                Gabrielle is curled like a vanilla teardrop amongst the billows and sheets. She puffs with the enigmatic genius of a celebrated smoker into the cigarette, and I’m suddenly awash with feelings of home and melancholy, submerged beneath a tidal run of rain-warm water, watching strings of oxygen pearls escape from my nostrils to thread their way like an aquatic daisychain toward the surface unseen, and far above. I speak, and my words tumble out as they do underwater, in the dialect of those homesick fish fluttering lifelessly on the planks of some perilous wooden pier. It’s not language, quite. It’s the promise of indescribable, inexpressible thought. And Gabrielle understands, of course. Because even though I’m submerged within the reefy confines of a hotel room, she divines the water dark, reading the scripture within me with those resplendent blue sabre eyes. ‘Kirk,’ she whispers, as I spirit through this ephemeral liquid toward her pink pearl-flesh lips. ‘You’re changing.’

                I go to reply, but my tongue falters. Through the hotel window and beyond the meniscus of this localised and heavenly deluge, the sun spangles the sky in Escher lines, searching for friendship, a playmate in the dead laughter of my gaze. But I turn away from the light, and I butterfly back toward Gabrielle, floating in her bed. The end of her cigarette, a red-devil nugget of flame, illuminates this thunderhead of watery night. ‘No Gabby. I’m not changing.’ Something rips open within my sternum. ‘I’m changing the world.’

*

 

                I’m haunted by the werewolves in my head. Every time I rest my eyes, wood-borne howls sunder the white noise of my dreams. There’s no issue in my life that I can perceive validating this lack of sleep, these gothic Dickensian nightmares. Seek out a sleep specialist, a Jungian psychotherapist, an uncompromising street-working sex merchant, someone to purse their lips and blow your tortured angst away, Kirk. You’ve read Fight Club, seen the movie, memorised the strictures of Tyler Durden philosophising 101. People who don’t sleep go CRAZY, attempt to murder their boss, organise impossibly complex and convoluted schematics to detonate the landmarks of the cityscape, plot towards subverting societal norms and instigating a revolution. If you don’t sleep soon, boy, you’ll snap like Mariah Carey. Hollywood has offered you prognostication, precedence: you’re only a step or two away from rendering the intestinal fat from liposuction clinics to mass produce your own acidic brand of soap.

                Must get shit together. Nightmares, irrelevant. They only exist as deformed beasts, to populate the darkness, colour and ocre to inscribe the cave wall behind your weary retinas. Remember George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ – But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”. That’s nice, that’s intrinsically comforting, that’s literarily poignant. Ole’ boy George sees things that aren’t there, and he welcomes them. Ole’ boy George is saying sleep matters. Ole’ boy George is a card, a fine stick, a good egg. Ole’ boy George knows the intangible wisdoms and vagaries of this blighted existence. Come on. Shut those peepers.

                “Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain, so that it may continue to function optimally. After extended periods of wakefulness or reduced sleep, neurons may begin to malfunction, visibly effecting a person’s behaviour”. As I diligently source this fragment from the EtcherSketch city of my cerebral cortex, something occurs to me, and it’s so unwieldy and unrelenting, this epiphany, that I feel as though there exists someone beyond this plane, now drawing me into a comic strip frame, wherein cartoon light-bulbs pop like toast from the top of my head, an ascending rain of translucent concepts becoming lit-up glass and blowing like the Rapture into the sky above me. Overwhelmed and pale, here I stand, brow clammy with sweat, straining to catch a snowflake of confetti on my tongue, struggling to keep this idea I now have from being thieved from me, before I’ve even held it close enough to understand. Shitshitohholyhereitcomes!: Why do we preoccupy so much of our collated time anguished over the precept that humanity will never find utopia, when we can get it in our own sleep? Where is it judiciously expressed that wakelife is of greater import than our dreamlife? Why don’t we merely immerse ourselves in a celebratory existence devoted to dreaming, an eternal slumber orchestrated to seek perfection, an irreality where those things we can’t possibly even fathom when placed in reality, become our greatest products of worth once achieved within our own heads? Why did your parents spend so much time promoting life, when there’s a better world, one with unending access, behind your eyes?

                I write this down, tongue betwixt my lip and teeth, and that’s when I decide. No longer am I going to look to my dreams to inform my life. I’m going to look to my life to inform my dreams.

First thing’s first: deal with these sleep-disgruntling werewolves. I don’t need Freud to decipher the hieroglyphs of my subconscious. I’ll just hit the sack, get a mob together, and hunt the bastards.

*

 

 

~ Foxing Out The Beast ~

a psychological journey wherein Dreamkirk and allies band together to recover his Sleep

 

Dramatis Personae

 

Dreamkirk, a hero

Green Tortoise, an etherworld guide

rocket k, a giant disembodied foot

Lucy Frou-frou, a gypsy artist and frenchwoman

Clint Eastwood  - Here, A Photojournalist

Gabrielle, a lover

The Beast, a Monster

~

 

                Green Tortoise, my indigenous Australian etherworld guide, black as coffee and standing in his severely-cut sunshine white tailored suit, has the brass balls to inform me that I’m a wanker. I opine towards refuting such a repellent and damnable lie by unsheathing my rapier wit, its blade singing with every playful stroke.

                Hero: No I’m not.

                Deceitful Bastard: You are, Kirk. You’re a wanker.

                Hero: Am not.

                Deceitful Bastard: Yeah you are. Stop being ridiculous.

                Hero: [Beat] All I said was that I need sleep, not this that I’m experiencing now, some pitiable lucid half-wakefulness, but real, wholesome, whisky-hearted sleep, the type normal people have, people who don’t have to initiate a dialogue with some psychological tribal poltergeist. You’re a fucking figment, you know.

                Deceitful Bastard: So are you.

                Hero: No I’m not. I’m real. I live. I can open my eyes, and this will all go away.

                Deceitful Bastard: This makes it real, does it, to open your eyes and find some new place on the other side?

                Hero: Well, yeah, I guess. I suppose it does.

                Deceitful Bastard: Why do you never consider that when you aren’t here, I’m somewhere else? Why do you automatically presume you’re more real than I?

                Hero: Well. [Beat] Um. Do you go somewhere else?

                Deceitful Bastard: Yeah, I do. When you’re awake, I’m sleeping. And it’s the proper, good, nourishing real stuff. [Laughter]

                Hero: You’re an asshole. [Laughter]

 

                Long ago, Green Tortoise was endowed the responsibility of assisting me in divining the insurmountable riddles of my own head. He was never devised, as such; more adequately, he appeared to me whole as though through some organic yearning within. Perhaps with not a little nostalgia, he’s who I might have been if I wasn’t such a wanker.

 

                Green Tortoise: So you’ve contemplated, and you’ve reasoned by capturing this werewolf animal you’ll improve your own personalised headspace, and by so doing, it corresponds, you feel you’ll improve your own pragmatic wakelife. That seems to be the pedigree of your theory, yeah?

                Dreamkirk: [Folds arms, makes ghost circles on the ground with pointed toe] What –  so it’s not a good theory? Look, I’ve studied Linklater’s Waking Life, that weft and waft of dreamlife analysis. I’ve read bits of Finnegan’s Wake, mused over the allegorical implications of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are

                Green Tortoise: What bits of Finnegan’s Wake?

                Dreamkirk: You know, “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of, bend of [elongated cough], brings us by, brings us by, ehm, starts with a c…”

                Green Tortoise: [Smirking] Commodius vicus.

                Dreamkirk: “Yeah, that… brings us by commodius vicus of recircumcision back to Howth Castle and Environs.” [Affects chuffed, sauntering expression]

                Green Tortoise: [Applauding] Well done. I particularly enjoyed the improvement of “recirculation” by substituting it for “recircumcision”. That, right there, smacks of fervent genius. Look, there’s this Freudian inference that the unconscious and psychoanalytical practice are entrenched in the interactions you share with women – it’s related to his interpretative contextualisation of Rider Haggard’s fantasy novel She… Now, I don’t want to mire you in psychobabble, see, but if you honestly want to deduce as to why there are wolves populating your dreamlife, you’d best consider investigating your relationships.

                Dreamkirk:  [Hangs head] I don’t want to. I preoccupy myself with existential meanderings every day. I want to hunt something.

                Green Tortoise: Wow. I’m daunted and aghast with reverence at this innate maturity you do show me so often. I’m glad we know each other.

                Dreamkirk: Please, you say you go some place when I awaken. Go there, band some people together. I’m fatigued by having to work it out all the time. Let’s just insert a silver bullet into the pack leader, and see if I don’t get some accomplished, rockstar sleep then!

                Green Tortoise: Ah. So let’s spread the facts out in a fan: you want me to go to Dreamtown and seek constructive help to fox out The Beast? Jesus, Kirk, what the hell is this, Shichinin no samurai? And what do you suggest will allure anyone to partake in such disastrous foolishness?

                Dreamkirk: “A baser meaning has been read into these characters the literal sense of which decency can safely scarcely hint.” That’s Joyce for: there’s no point in questioning me. I’ll work it out. You know why?

                Green Tortoise: Of course I do.

                Dreamkirk: Go on. Say it.

                Green Tortoise: Please, don’t make me say it.

                Dreamkirk: Go on. Why will Kirk work it all out?

                Green Tortoise: [Groans, hides face in palms, battles a raging smile] Because you’re Spartacus.

*

 

There lies an albatross-shaped hole within my sternum which, like the best of dragonfly nets, captures snatches of pain, writhing hurtful wriggling things, snaps up with delectable discrimination all the messy skunk-fucking injuries that taint my petty little heart, and it’s there that these abominations conspire, there that they collaborate and manipulate, there that their tentacles stake claim to any goodness within, there the cavern of my festering woes. But – I realise as I walk with trapeze-artist grace down this well-beaten footpath – Gabrielle has bettered that, Gabrielle has filled that cookie-cutter void, has entered my insides as a square peg does a hole, and now I know, though this mightn’t be eternal, though I’m young and eloquently dumb, know that her presence balms illogical sadness, know that it’s her presence that sends the woodland predators back into the wilds to glower and whine. When I kiss her, I descend into whisper and vapours, nothing but crappy boy poetry on perfect lips, and she doesn’t even realise the exuberant, youthful, idiotic extent of how much I love her, because she turns her head away; she smiles that delicious way, and turns to discuss contemporary art practice, or the plight of the feminist painter. As I’m walking now, the eucalyptus canvas shading the path caresses my thatch-weave hair, and my shadow produces skeleton caricatures on the pavement under toe. Gabrielle. When I steal a kiss, it’s like shooting fireflies from the sky with a Sam Peckinpah Colt .45. It’s like catching pennies on my tongue. I see a piece of you, between the breaths, that no-one else has ever seen. Gabrielle. You know it, you have to know, know that I cherish your chandelier soul, your candelabra heart, your cigarette eyes that burn holes in the fabric of my demented smile. Oh lo! She eats my sedated spirit with every crocodile kiss, thieves my dead cells away and exhales them to mix like pollen in the buffeting winds embracing us. Oh wonder! Her laughter fills me with a red river of wine, her every way of movement is a gift of joy to behold, and my motherfucking eyes see only the scattered dance of a broken stained-glass window, a world of coloured tears, as I gaze at the grey stars in my sky that hold lantern to the night.

                Okay. Sentimentality galls me, particularly when it’s saccharine and twee, but this dream allows me to forget it, and as my likeness is projected into the winter dark by the headlights of jewel-coloured cars idling in the corner store parking lot with beams on high, I feel for the first time as though I’m accepted as this world’s hero, because an unabashedly nave dumbass is permitted this extravagance from time to time. So on I continue, baiting the paparazzi moonlight with my big old shit-eating grin, and it’s Gabrielle who allows me to forget that there are creatures behind me, closing in for some righteous kill.

*

 

                We find him by the light of Lucy Frou-frou’s melon brazier, the holy fire torching the sepulchral dark of these conifers, its luminescent beams jangling the spaces between the poplars like fingers strumming a harp. Taut, his lupine form, as he lows at the spacecake moon, and as he does there sound the escaping sighs of drowning babies within his embittered, rapacious howl. We strain our eyes through the brambles we’ve taken refuge in, and my fist tightens on the shotgun, bosom friend, a tool that has become an extension of myself – because I’m loath to face this monstrous foe with anything short of firepower. The Beast has one mean abyssal, orange eye, glittering like the blood of the slain. Whatever The Fuck He Is, he most certainly isn’t wolf. Those jaws belong in the Congo, not on this ungodly abortion, not in my head. He’s a leopard, he’s an African river horse, he’s a tiger shark, he’s a road-sick coyote.

                Green Tortoise: Mother of God.

                Clint Eastwood: [removes notepad from person, hastily takes down a composite sketch] Dear boy, dear poor boy, in the face of all that is good, what the hellfire is that?

                Dreamkirk: [Jaw agape, swallows hard] My mind is a damn horror novel.

                rocket k: A disembodied body part I may be, but there are laws against creating a thing like that.

                Clint Eastwood: Listen to the talking foot, Moreau – stop gawkin’, and shoot the puppy!

                Dreamkirk: … I was becoming him. [gestures to The Beast, stifles sobs] Without Gabrielle, I was becoming that. It isn’t merely romanticist garbage. I felt him inside me. If I’m ever going to sleep properly once more, I need to…

                Lucy Frou-frou: You need to destroy it.

                Green Tortoise: [shrugs shoulders] This is why I suggested using Freud. But no, Spartacus claims he knows best. Spartacus, here, wants to forge a fellowship to hunt down a great big terrible – !

                Dreamkirk: -- I’m going to kill it.

 

                And thus, with obligatory cinematic aplomb, I stand up valorous and alone, counting the seconds that remain before being savaged by the maw of this otherworld monstrosity. The Beast cocks his head quizzically, watches me stagger forth on liquid porridge legs. He’s as quick and mercurial as a torrent, as fatal and fleeting as a butterfly’s coup de gras. I raise the sawn-off, clamp down the trigger.

==== The bullet has to be a close second…

                If you die asleep, do you gamble some fragment of yourself? Do you awaken to find some unendurable loss –  like the perpetual ache of a phantom limb lost at war?

                Then he HITS me, and the momentum could hold up the sun.  My face meets the forest floor…

                Between dying in a dream and waking up, the colours in your head are exactly the same as a television channel test pattern

*

 

As I open eyes:

 

Gabrielle is lying beside me. She’s crouching, watching me. My watch reads 4:32 am. In retrospect, I’m content she didn’t feature in that last dream. I’m jubilant that this, here, is all real. The sheet draped about my midriff is sick with perspiration.

‘Kirky, you’re shaking.’

‘It’s been hard… I think I’ve got a better world behind my eyes now.’

She engulfs me in her arms. I become toast. ‘My Kirky, you’re the same guy I fell for. I’m happy you don’t change.’ Her eyes are smiling.

‘No Gabby. I’m not changing. I wouldn’t change for the world.’

We kiss. And because The Beast is dead, and because I’ve found some needed utopia in her embrace, we sleep peacefully. From herein, I’ll pay my subconscious heed. It’s the least I can do now that the wolves have disappeared – now that she’s entered me, helped win back my sleep, saved my dreams.

 

~

               

 

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

* First a primer: the following resources have both creatively and academically informed the organic evolution of the creative non-fiction piece from its ungainly genesis, without necessarily being cited within the actual piece as a referenced resource material.

 

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Hankins, Steven Luke. “Only the Memories, Only the Dream”, (2005). <http://www.zoetrope.com/>.

 

Joyce, James. Finnegan’s Wake. Great Britain: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1992, pp. 3, 33.

 

Ledoux, Sarah. (2001), “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior”, Biology 202, 2001 Third Web Report, retrieved 24/04/05, from <http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro01/web3/Ledoux.html/>.

 

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Marshall, Kirk. “KWB381 Dreams Diary”, (2005). Personal Computer: <C:\Documents and Settings\Karen\Desktop\Files on the desktop/>.

 

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. Australia: Vintage, 1996.

 

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. London, England: Penguin Books, 1946.

 

Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are. Australia: Red Fox, 2000.

 

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The Life Aquatic, With Steve Zissou, 2004, Produced by Wes Anderson, Barry Mendel and Scott Rudin. Directed by Wes Anderson, Walt Disney (Home Video). DVD recording.

 

Thomas, Dylan. Under Milk Wood: A Play of Voices. Australia: Penguin Books, Ltd., 2000.

 

Waking Life, 2001, Produced by Tommy Pallotta, Jonah Smith, Anne Walker-McBay, and Palmer West. Directed Richard Linklater, Twentieth Century Fox Home Video. DVD recording.

 

Zacharek, Stephanie. (2001), “Waking Life”, Arts & Entertainment, 04/12/2001, retrieved 24/04/05, from <http://dir.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2001/12/04/waking_life/index.html/>.