Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Eye, 1945

Ordinarily I'm about as fascinated by accounts of other people's dreams as I am by photos of other people's children, so I realize I'm treading thin ice when I bring the topic up. But yesterday, still on holiday, the Jingo family took a day-trip, a drive down through Cape Hatteras to the island of Ocracoke, a fishing village reachable only by ferry. On the way, my own deepest dream-landscape came perilously close to the waking surface, and it became very clear to me the extent to which these islands have affected my dreaming.

I need to set the stage a bit for those who haven't been there. The Outer Banks of North Carolina are a series of barrier islands that skirt the Atlantic coast from the Chesapeake Bay nearly to Charleston. They are hundreds of miles long and never more than a few hundred yards wide, and are made entirely of shifting sands. They are bounded to the west by a freshwater sound, of various names depending on how far south you are, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. At several points along a north-south traverse of these islands they extend so far into the ocean that you can no longer see the mainland across the sound, and your overwhelming impression -- that you're on a tiny and terribly vulnerable spit of land far, far out in the deepest, bluest water imaginable -- would be entirely correct. Here's a map to show you what I mean.

This is where it starts to get a little dreamlike.

At the town of Rodanthe, I experienced the first of my dream-flashbacks. A strangely ornate, weatherbeaten, unpainted, ramshackle tall wooden house -- all unnecessary turrets and rose-windows and weirdly cantilivered porches basking in the starkest, harshest, hottest light imaginable -- is the first building that you see on the northerly approach to the town. I realized I'd dreamed this house before, and that the kite-boarders visible on the sound from this very spot provided the hook on which was hung a dream last year of the ability to fly thrillingly long distances by holding on to sheets thrown into the wind -- launched from the roof of that house.

I'm afraid I didn't have the presence of mind to photograph that house -- but I will the next time I'm through there, believe me.

It was on the ferry from Hatteras Island to Okracoke that the dreamscape truly started to surface. At this point the distance to the mainland across Pamlico Sound is about 25 miles, which makes the desolation of this place nearly total. And looking west off the ferry across the sound, on a hot, windless day, here is what you see:

That empty flatness stretches for miles and miles in every direction, the water never more than a few yards deep. It's dotted everywhere with little manmade structures poking up through the water's surface -- bouys and mooring-points and navigation guides. You could very easily imagine it as a gigantic plat on which they're planning to erect an enormous city.

That city is what my dream-mind conjures pretty much nightly. You know -- for my entertainment.

As the ferry-ride progressed I tried to mumble some of this subsurface oneiric jibber-jabber to Wonder Woman, tried to get her to see how utterly surrealistic I found our surroundings. I'm not sure I got it across. However, tonight I cruised some online Salvador Dali collections looking for examples of Dada dreamscapes. I believe I found a very good representation of exactly how that seascape slashed open my subconscious.

My dreams. And welcome to them.


rameau's nephew said...

that surreal bit of seascape looks like a Yes album cover, c. 1973...

and speaking of 1973, it appears it really is all about the drugs, when you get right down to it, isn't it?

ahhh, Demerol...

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of the train ride in Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" where the train tracks are just below the surface of the water and the platforms and signal posts rise above it. A beautiful, haunting scene.

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