May 16th, 2004


Sounding Night

The brief hours of darkness pass, never quite silent. Spring's insect voice vibrates the stillest air. Small wings buzz by, decaying leaves at the base of bushes rustle, and the cricket chorus never ceases. The season will not allow nature to be ignored. In deep winter, a stillness may fall hour upon hour, until the sudden hoot of an owl breaking the silence is as startling as a thunderclap from clear sky. In those nights, it is possible to imagine being utterly alone, and to become lost in that imagining, to create worlds. With spring, my thoughts are constantly informed by the drone of life, and the forest is as present to my mind as would be a busy city street. Unending sound makes even the darkest night take undeniable form, and the world as it is might be laid bare by full sun, so clearly do my ears see it.

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laszlo moholy-nagy_chx

Odd Sunday Dream

The neighbors up the street just had a visit from their peripatetic friends who drive the thing called a "motor home." The beast was parked in the street for two nights. It's as big as a city bus, and probably has more floor space than the house I lived in until I was six years old. The rumble of its diesel engine as it departed was what woke me up this afternoon. The sound may have contributed something to the odd dream I had, of which I remember only a few fragments.

The dream began with me wandering through part of my dream-version of Los Angeles, but the narrow and nearly deserted afternoon streets were lined with large masonry Victorian buildings which more closely resembled those of Manchester. The setting grew less dense and more decayed as I walked, searching for something I couldn't identify. Finally, I passed through a corrugated metal door set in a blank wooden wall at the dead end of a narrow lane. I found myself in what looked like an abandoned factory, dimly lit through dirty clearstory windows in the saw-tooth roof. There were people moving around among masses of rusted machinery. I was trying not to be seen, as I knew I wasn't supposed to be there.

I found my way out through an open garage door, and was in a hilly field filled with stacks of what looked like mine tailings. There was a smell of manure in the air. A dirt road led through a small valley containing a reddish-brown pond. I knew that if I crossed that valley, the road beyond would take me to a familiar neighborhood from which I could find my way home. It was suddenly dusk, and I was nearing a fence at the bottom of the valley when I realized that I was wearing only underwear and I was soaking wet. A police car appeared, sounded its siren and flashed a light on me. I knew I was going to be arrested for having ben in the abandoned factory, where something mysterious had been going on.

Two cops got out of the car. One of them told me I was tress passing on government property and asked what I was doing there and why I had no clothes on. Indeed, I had inexplicably become entirely naked, and it was daytime again. I told them I was trying to get home but didn't know where the bus stop was. Then one of the cops sent the other away and took me into a small wooden shack nearby with gaps between its weathered planks. Sunlight was shining through the gaps, and the dirt-floored room was inhabited by a family of small, dark-haired people who spoke a language that sounded as though they were making it up as they spoke. They smiled at us as we entered, and then ignored us. The cop took a pair of tattered cut-off blue jeans and an aloha shirt from a chest of drawers and gave them to me, telling me that they were his and that I could return them when he picked me up for the dance (which odd claim I simply accepted.) I put them on, surprised that they fit so well when their owner was so much heavier than me.

Then we went outside and he pointed the way to the bus stop. I walked along a narrow street that ended at a boulevard I recognized as Huntington Drive in El Sereno. A bus arrived, and I realized that I had no money and no bus pass. I reached in the pocket of the cut-offs and there was a shiny fifty cent piece, which I dropped into the fare box. I sat near the back of the bus and watched the passing scene. The entire population of the busy street was in Mardi Gras costume. Then I woke up to the sound of diesel engines.