Saturday, September 18, 2004

Other People's Dreams

As a child I had recurring nightmares. There are only two that I remember well; one is that one that everyone has, where the anxiety of moving to the suburbs results in dreams where you're walking along a street without sidewalks with your family when a pickup truck drives past and snatches up your uncle and takes him to an auto garage where--when you arrive to rescue him--he has been encased in tires like a character in a cartoon, and in the course of struggling with the evil mechanics the rest of your family gets trapped in the same way until you're the only one left and you know you can't win because you're just a little kid and whatever happens next is something that you're too naive to even imagine. You know, that one.

I also used to have a dream that I was in an out-of-control car with no driver. I was in the back seat, sometimes with my siblings and sometimes not, trying to climb into the front and figure out how to stop the car. I've always believed this dream was about control; as I grew older, it became less stressful. I moved gradually from the back seat to the front passenger, and the last time I remember having this dream I was driving.

There was one other dream, one that I don't remember well, one that I may only have had once. It scared the holy crap out of me, though. I'm not sure how old I was, but I'd guess early adolescence, say twelve or thirteen. I woke up out of this dream with my heart pounding in terror. Once I realized it was a dream, I started to relax, and shut my eyes--only to find myself right back in the dream, with the same terrifying image (which I will not attempt to describe, partly because it's grown hazy over the years and partly because even now it upsets me) in front of me. Needless to say, I didn't get any more sleep that night.

Now bear with me, because here's where I may begin to sound a bit Freudian. Over the past three or four years I've been thinking about that dream. I feel as though something significant happened that night, as though there was something that I couldn't face, something which has marked me. Otherwise, why should it terrify me so much? Someone--I can never remember the source of these sorts of quotes--someone once said that you should write about what scares you, and this definitely qualifies. I've been gradually trying to revisit the dream, approaching it from the edges, both consciously and in some very intense dreams recently. It's likely that I'm just reconstructing something out of bits of misremembered information and discards from an indulgent subconscious. But one of these days I'm going to try to write about that dream, and what happened in it, and why it's so frightening to me even now. I doubt I'll discover anything earthshaking in doing so; the best I can hope for is that it might make me feel a little better. But it feels worth doing.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Morlocks Found?

From The Guardian, via fellow Odyssey alum John Bowker:

In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema

Jon Henley in Paris
Wednesday September 8, 2004

The Guardian

Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital's chic 16th arrondissement. Officers admit they are at a loss to know who built or used one of Paris's most intriguing recent discoveries.

"We have no idea whatsoever," a police spokesman said.

"There were two swastikas painted on the ceiling, but also celtic crosses and several stars of David, so we don't think it's extremists. Some sect or secret society, maybe. There are any number of possibilities."

Members of the force's sports squad, responsible - among other tasks - for policing the 170 miles of tunnels, caves, galleries and catacombs that underlie large parts of Paris, stumbled on the complex while on a training exercise beneath the Palais de Chaillot, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

After entering the network through a drain next to the Trocadero, the officers came across a tarpaulin marked: Building site, No access.

Behind that, a tunnel held a desk and a closed-circuit TV camera set to automatically record images of anyone passing. The mechanism also triggered a tape of dogs barking, "clearly designed to frighten people off," the spokesman said.

Further along, the tunnel opened into a vast 400 sq metre cave some 18m underground, "like an underground amphitheatre, with terraces cut into the rock and chairs".

There the police found a full-sized cinema screen, projection equipment, and tapes of a wide variety of films, including 1950s film noir classics and more recent thrillers. None of the films were banned or even offensive, the spokesman said.

A smaller cave next door had been turned into an informal restaurant and bar. "There were bottles of whisky and other spirits behind a bar, tables and chairs, a pressure-cooker for making couscous," the spokesman said.

"The whole thing ran off a professionally installed electricity system and there were at least three phone lines down there."

Three days later, when the police returned accompanied by experts from the French electricity board to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: "Do not," it said, "try to find us."

The miles of tunnels and catacombs underlying Paris are essentially former quarries, dating from Roman times, from which much of the stone was dug to build the city.

Today, visitors can take guided tours around a tightly restricted section, Les Catacombes, where the remains of up to six million Parisians were transferred from overcrowded cemeteries in the late 1700s.

But since 1955, for security reasons, it has been an offence to "penetrate into or circulate within" the rest of the network.

There exist, however, several secretive bands of so-called cataphiles, who gain access to the tunnels mainly after dark, through drains and ventilation shafts, and hold what in the popular imagination have become drunken orgies but are, by all accounts, innocent underground picnics.

The recent discovery of three newly enlarged tunnels underneath the capital's high-security La Sant?rison was put down to the activities of one such group, and another, iden tifying itself as the Perforating Mexicans, last night told French radio the subterranean cinema was its work.

Patrick Alk, a photographer who has published a book on the urban underground exploration movement and claims to be close to the group, told RTL radio the cavern's discovery was "a shame, but not the end of the world". There were "a dozen more where that one came from," he said.

"You guys have no idea what's down there."

Guardian Unlimited ? Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004


From: Me

To: God, Goddess, Allah, Shiva, the Fates, the Norns, etc.

Stop killing Ramones.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


1. Surreal Magazine rejects really quickly. Almost as quickly as I type.

2. Rhapsoidia isn't a paying market, but it sure looks nice from here. My story "Flash Bison" will be appearing in their Summer Issue--which I suppose means nearly a year from now.

3. The Atlantic takes about a month to reject, and they send the whole manuscript back. Did it offend that much?

4. Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it's meaningless. It doesn't even mean you can't enjoy it. As the redoubtable Ms. Dinesen (nee Blixen) once said, "It is not a bad thing in a tale that you understand only the half of it." Words that I live by.