Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paris Backstage and other dream realities

French soldier from Indochina war,
Del Prado
My dream rambles last night have got me thinking about how easily, in dreams, we slip into a separate reality, or a whole series of alternate realities.
    In my recollection, the first scene in the dream unfolds at a large airport, possibly Paris Charles de Gaulle. I recognize women I know in a line at a departure gate, but the line is moving fast and they are gone before I can greet them. I stop at a news stand to buy a French-language newspaper, and notice that instead of giving me change for 5 Euros, they hand me a little ticket that can be used in lieu of cash.
     Now I am out and about in the streets of Paris in the morning light. I am free to explore without any fixed agenda. I come to a pleasant little square lined with bookshops and galleries, and am delighted that the doors are already open, with old books on display in carts on the sidewalk. I glance at a set of landscape paintings hanging from a metal fence. Someone behind me says, "Florida", but the pictures don't look much like Florida to me.
     I walk on, eventually coming to a narrow street. The sign has three words; the middle one is "Coulisse". I wander down a passage in a building on this street. I am drawn to model cars and trains in a window display to my right. Through the shop window on my left, I see whole platoons of model soldiers in French uniforms, from different eras. I am less interested in the Napoleonic figures in their finery than in the Foreign Legionnaires, the World War II figures, and the figures from the wars in Indochina and Algeria. I wonder whether the shop has a model soldier from a regiment from northern France; a character I have been studying fought in this unit.
    Suddenly I am inside the soldier shop, though I have no memory of going through the door. The owner is a strange character. He starts speaking to me in voluble French about a seminar - apparently a military history conference - that is taking place that day. Soon he is recounting his combat experiences in a French unit in Vietnam. I realize that he is talking about the French war in Indochina, and that there is an anomaly. The French left Indochina in 1954, while the owner of the soldier shop looks to be no older than 40.
     He is rather hard to understand, even when he switches to speaking English. Now he is talking about how he lost an eye in the war, and how people looked upon him with revulsion when he came home. He shows me that his left eye is glass, and moves to roll it from its socket to show me how he cleans it. I don't need to see this, and want to leave.
     But somehow, instead, I accept an invitation to a picnic, and in the next instant I am at a gathering under a tent with people of all ages, perhaps an extended family. They are eating thick sandwiches with great lumps of what might be chicken, oozing mayonnaise, that don't appeal to me. These people are all very careful not to expose themselves to direct sunlight. There is an elderly woman there I find creepy; she may be demented. I want to take pictures of her and the man with the glass eye, perhaps in order to identify them later, but this proves to be no easy task. When I think I have got them in focus, they slip into blurry profile, or out of the shot altogether. The little camera I am using spits out passport-sized photos, none of them satisfactory.

I woke from this dream feeling distinctly uneasy. The reality shifts inside the dream - when I slipped through the shop window, then when I was projected into the picnic scene - had taken me to places I really did not want to be.
    My first action was to research the word-clue. The word "Coulisse" is most widely used, in French and among theater people in English, to mean "backstage" or "in the wings". The coulisse, in a theater, may be the space between stage scenery in the wings through which actors come and go. A coulisse may also be a "sliding door."
    Certainly the dream street named Coulisse took me to a backstage version of Paris. Why was I drawn to this separate reality, which feels to me now like a possible realm of the dead? Well, I will be in Paris in May (and will carry my dream report as a travel advisory). And I have dreamed of old wars involving France and the French. Oh yes, I did have a passion for model soldiers and for playing "little wars" with them as a boy, and still have quite a collection, including a box of French Zouaves; and when I was last in Paris I visited a toy soldier shop, not the one in the dream but the famous Drapeaux de France, near the Louvre.


Barbara Butler McCoy said...

Speaking of "coulisse" and shifting realities, have you seen the movie "Sliding Doors"? It's a '98 film from Miramax starring Gwyneth Paltrow that treats the shift between realities in a fairly credible manner.

Robert Moss said...

Barbara - Yes, "Sliding Doors" is one of the better films about switching between parallel realities. I wouldn't describe "Paris Coulisse" as a parallel reality in this sense; more like an alternate reality constructed and maintained as a living environment for some of the deceased. I don't yet know why I was drawn into this somewhat dark territory, but suspect that more will be revealed when I go to France later this year.

Carol Davis said...

This is so rich and multi-layered. I'll just mention a few things. The word "Florida" raised some curiosity within me so I looked up the etymology...from the Spanish "pascua"meaning "flowering Easter" from the Spanish for Palm Sunday (coming up this Sunday.)

I am reminded of a series of dreams I had several years ago related to airports, the departed, and some creepy people. In that series I had assistance from Raphael and Michael who helped me navigate through some challenges in those realities. So, I guess I would remember that not only do I have good navigational skills even when I find myself in some places I didn't plan on going, I also have access to some pretty amazing support.

If it is my dream I do see that although I slip through the shop window and am projected into a picnic scene I really don't want to be in, I do come through it all. Will I have choices in Paris related to a window, a shop, a meal that I will choose to avoid? Will I want to take a second look at something that appears to be in focus? Or will I meet some people who are confused, unfocused and needing the healing dreamwork to release dead energy, ties to the past, demented energy, so that they can be free for life?

Might I meet someone who lost an eye or an "I" in some war?

On a silly, humorous note: passport photos usually aren't all that satisfactory!

Robert Moss said...

Dear Carol - What interesting comments! Thanks for promoting me to think about the possible meanings of "Florida". In French, "floride" means "flourishing" and the painting s did show scenes alive with flowers and vegetation. I'll keep in mind the association of the state name with Palm Sunday as a possible time marker, though I'm still thinking that I saw shades of the past because of a trip I'll be making a little further into the future (to France in May).

I remember your dreams of some scary airport situations where you found extraordinary help available; thanks for the reminded that in any reality, we always have help available if we are willing to ask.

The questions you raise are all highly relevant, especially about people I may meet who could need help in releasing dead energies; I have been lead to so some profound work of ancestral clearing and healing in Europe in the past. Many of our wounded warriors have lost some part of the "I" in their battles.

Wanda Burch said...

I'm enjoying the comments and agree, if it were my dream, to the need to keep this dream in mind on your visit. I might find myself in situations, as Carol notes, where I will be face to face with people with challenges who need help navigating through them but I might need to remember that I don't need to fully participate in order to help and that I don't need to partake of all that is offered. I might remember that I have managed to take care of myself in this dream in ways that will be helpful in ordinary reality. I would also not be surprised to find myself in an area of shops very much like this and to find surprises both pleasant and a bit off-kilter. I am also reminded that people are turning up in workshops who are suffering from disfigurement in mind and body from a diverse variety of current wars and from past wars; and I might find myself in a literal situation with people suffering from loss of body parts and loss of ordinary realities. If this were my dream, it is also a fabulous "mysterious reality" venue for further exploration and development.

city said...

nice idea.. thanks for sharing..

TN said...

Maybe this is too obvious, but I felt moved to send you this URL:
It's for a shop called "Les Coulisses Vintage"