Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dream houses

Last night before bed I was reading Crowley's Little, Big. One of the central images in the novel is the mysterious house at Edgewood, which depending on one's approach, has many different front's -- in effect, many different houses in one. They all connect on the inside, a rabbit warren of hallways, doors, stairs, and curious rooms that meet at odd angles. And last night I dreamed first of going down a long, tree-lined avenue and on both sides were all sizes and styles of houses, lining a very green and quintessentially American street. There were painted ladies and shotguns and Cape Cods, but as I was telling my companion in the dream, how strange to find such a street in the middle of desert in Saudi Arabia -- like a mirage!

And then the dream changed slightly and I was on another street with impossible-looking houses, Gothic looking structures and cathedrals, only these buildings were partially buried in the ground, up to their gabled roofs and domes -- one very like the dome of St. Paul's. They were not destroyed or harmed, just built into and underneath the ground, with trees and vegetation all around them, and one knew that they were massive and intact under the earth when you entered inside. I did go in one, and the floors were leaded glass, and you could see the shadowy floors plunging below.

Houses have always been a central image in my dreams ever since I can remember. Houses familiar and completely foreign -- I remember dreaming vividly of a house in Africa, hexagonal or octagonal, with windows from floor to ceiling, set down in a jungle so that I could see the wild outside, the birds and animals and exotic flora curling around the decks. And familiar houses, sometimes even my own, always have secret rooms or entire floors that I've forgotten; they are filled with things I've forgotten, treasures. Doors, attics, secret compartments, winding hallways, and staircases are everywhere in my dreams and whatever I think I'm about to find or could find remains just out of reach and often I can't find my way back in once I've left.

Of course the other thing I read before sleeping was Matthew Arnold's poem, "The Buried Life"; hence, the buried houses, I suppose.

But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us--to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.

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