Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Audience with the Rememberer

A woman traveler describes her experiences in an extraordinary land, to the astonishment of people who know this country only from a book. They learn from her that the land of legends is real. She learns from their book what the anomalous events and conditions she has experienced may mean.

This was the 50 word report of a dream, as I recorded it on waking on the morning of March 23, 2003. The legacy of the dream was a sense of wonder, and a keen desire to know more. However, the details were flown, and I had no time to try to journey back inside the dream, because I was catching an early plane and needed to get dressed, finish packing, and rush to the airport.
     A good friend named Carol had agreed to assist me in leading a workshop, and we were booked on the same flight to Chicago, en route to places West. After we had claimed our seats and survived the automated safety briefing, I told Carol what I remembered from my dream. "What do you want to know?" she asked, following our regular dream-sharing process. "I want to know more about everything. I want to know all about the land of legends."
     Gently, Carol started a line of questioning that brought the dream alive in my mind. As I responded, I started taking frantic notes. Soon they had filled a dozen pages of my journal, and were already more than notes. They were becoming the first draft of a story. When I got to my hotel, I typed it up.
    It recounts the adventure of a young woman named Constantina. On her way to her sister's baby shower, she slips into another reality, into a strange country known to her people only through "a book compiled by an itinerant schoolmaster who was charged with sacrilege and forced to flee into exile. It is a land that is hard to describe, because it has more angles.” 

     She meets the Rememberer, a prince of the city with a forked beard, half white and half black. Their audience takes place in a pool shaped like a figure 8 or lemniscate symbol of infinity. The Rememberer is submerged below the waist. He communicates through a tablet composed of lines and waves of some electric force. It crackles like a toaster or an old bar radiator about to explode. The flashes conform to an unknown but coherent alphabet of signs. 
     When she returns home, there is a great public gathering where people ply her with questions. 
They ask her for her feelings about the strange man. She tells them, “I felt his indifference, the indifference of one who has seen the birth and death of suns and has outlived everything he ever loved. What I mostly noticed was his smell. It was the smell of attar of roses, cut with turmeric. And his eyes. His eyes are bottomless wells.”
     And so on, and on. When I was finished typing, I had 4,000 words, raw and strange, organized by dream logic and poetic resemblance. 

This was a quite magical experience of dream retrieval. So much can come back to us, from the other side of the wall between the worlds, when we allow it to come. The process can be greatly assisted by a caring friend who knows how to tease us to bring back more. It truly prospers when we don't interrupt ourselves by asking, Am I making this up?
    All of this came back to me when I lunched with my friend Carol and recollected in conversation how she had helped me to bring through this story. Alas, I had left my story 
unfinished. I had meant to go back to the draft, after that trip, and see what it wanted to become. I did go back, in a break in my travels, and developed my journal notes into something closer to a publishable story. But I could not find that version when I was choosing and polishing some of my stories for my collection Here, Everything Is Dreaming. Maybe it was time to complete it. 
    I went looking for the draft and found the journal version I have excerpted here, but not the more elaborate second draft. It seemed that the second draft had never made it to my electronic data base. I did find the drawing I made, which I titled "The Audience with the Rememberer".
    Then another friend recounted a dream that, while scary, had given her the gift of a terrific scene and a marvelously wicked villain for a novel she is writing. 
I felt an acute desire to get back to completing one of my own dream-driven stories. Yes, I could work from my journal entries with that raw first draft. But I would really like to resurrect the second draft and remember where I had taken the tale, or where the tale had taken me. Surely I had hard copy somewhere in my house.
    With some trepidation, I confronted the hundred documents boxes (no kidding) in a storeroom in my basement, many of them allowed to languish for years. Where to begin? On a whim, I pulled out a box that had unrelated materials on top. Brushing these aside, I found, in the second folder below, a typed draft of "The Rememberer". This gave me a little shiver of recognition; the shelf elves were in friendly mood.
    My second draft is the length of a novella, but (as I said) unfinished, containing many mysteries, not all of the kind that can ever be figured out by the reasoning mind. Yes, I remember: I have a significant dream-directed writing assignment to fulfill.

"Audience with the Rememberer" (c) Robert Moss

1 comment:

nanette davis said...

“I felt his indifference, the indifference of one who has seen the birth and death of suns and has outlived everything he ever loved. What I mostly noticed was his smell. It was the smell of attar of roses, cut with turmeric. And his eyes. His eyes are bottomless wells.”
Really like these lines:"