Today, I sit at the precipice of WHAT HAPPENS NEXT in the plot of my novel, and have to write some new stuff, in other words, I’m looking into the abyss. Which means I need inspiration.
I have this interesting book of dreams of Michel Leiris. It’s from the Eridanos Library, whose books I’ve found at various used book shops through the years, and every one I’ve read has been completely worth the time. They have these quiet, considered covers that jump off the shelf because they are not screaming orange, twirling batons, and otherwise displaying excessive narcissism. This book in particular is a wonder to open at random. It’s a collection of short entries, thirty-seven years of a person’s dreams. Leiris hung out with the Surrealists, and this book is rich with imagery and the ineffable. (Clearly someone whose dreams should be considered.) Here’s what I found today, on p. 56, from an undated dream, probably sometime between 1926 and 1929:
“I am going on a trip, so I have to move all the books in my library from one room to another.
Since the occasion calls for me to show one of my manuscripts to some of my friends, I go down to the street, rip what appears to be streetcar tracks from the pavement, and go back up to the apartment, dragging meters of rails behind me that bang on the stairs with every step I take. I then realize that this load is in fact made up of a series of large glass objects similar to those coasters that used to be placed under the feet of pianos in middle-class living rooms to protect the carpet or the floor. Because this is indeed my manuscript, I am fairly annoyed. But I manage to console myself, given the fact that my arrival provokes the following comments: ‘He’s quite something, that Leiris! You as him for a manuscript, and he drags the rails up from the street.’ On the other hand, though, these objects finally reveal themselves to be melting ice, and although the chain quickly dissolves, I hope I will be able to reconstitute some of its elements.”
What a dream! What an image! I post this not only to procrastinate (a noble end in itself) but because I love typing up words from other writers. It’s a way of getting inside the artist’s soul, physically. (I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s different, because I’m typing on a laptop, while Leiris, for instance, was probably writing by hand, so maybe I’m having a closer experience to getting inside the typesetter’s hand, in 1987, but if I ponder this question too long, my brain will fold into an origami crane and I will never get anything done.)