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Old 09-08-2008   #11
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

"Overworked by Dreams," from A Short History of Decay (1949), by E. M. Cioran (trans. Richard Howard)

If we could conserve the energy we lavish in that series of dreams we nightly leave behind us, the mind's depth and subtlety would reach unimaginable proportions. The scaffolding of a nightmare requires a nervous expenditure more exhausting than the best articulated theoretical construction. How, after waking, begin again the task of aligning ideas when, in our unconscious, we were mixed up with grotesque and marvelous spectacles, we were sailing among the spheres without the shackles of anti-poetic Causality? For hours we were like drunken gods--and suddenly, our open eyes erasing night's infinity, we must resume, in day's mediocrity, the enterprise of insipid problems, without any of the night's hallucinations to help us. The glorious and deadly fantasy was all for nothing then; sleep has exhausted us in vain. Waking, another kind of weariness awaits us; after having had just time enough to forget the night's, we are at grips with the dawn's. We have labored hours and hours in horizontal immobility without our brain's deriving the least advantage of its absurd activity. An imbecile who was not victimized by this waste, who might accumulate all his resources without dissipating them in dreams, would be able--owner of an ideal state of waking--to disentangle all the snags of the metaphysical lies or initiate himself into the most inextricable difficulties of mathematics.
After each night we are emptier: our mysteries and our griefs have leaked away into our dreams. This sleep's labor not only diminishes the power of our thought, but even that of our secrets . . .
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Old 09-08-2008   #12
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

Compare this with the Cioran passage:

"Do you know what dreams are?" she asked quietly, and then immediately began to answer her own question. "They are parasites-maggots of the mind and soul, feeding on the mind and soul as ordinary maggots feed on the body. And their feeding on the mind and soul in turn gnaws away at the body, which in turn again affects the mind and the soul, and so on until death. These things cannot be separated, nor can anything else. Because everything is terribly inseparable and affects every other thing. Even the most alien things are connected together with every other thing. And so if these dreams have no world of their own to nourish them, they may come into yours and possess it, exhaust it little by little each night. They use your world and use it up. They wear your face and the faces of things you know: things that are yours they use in ways that are theirs. And some persons are so easy for them to use, and they use them so hard. But they use everyone and have always used everyone, because they are from the old time, the time before all the worlds awoke from a long and helpless night. And these dreams, these things that are called dreams, are still working to throw us back into that great mad darkness, to exhaust each one of us in our lonely sleep and to use up everyone until death. Little by little, night after night, they take us away from ourselves and from the truth of things. I myself know very well what this can be like and what the dreams can do to us. They make us dance to their strange illusions until we are too exhausted to live. And they have found in you, child, an easy partner for their horrible dancing."

--Thomas Ligotti, Mrs Rinaldi's Angel
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Old 09-09-2008   #13
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

"Yet there are some structures that draw you into them, inviting you inside to wallow in their degraded wonders. From the first time I visited the site of this derelict warehouse, which I had already photographed from the outside, I knew that this was one of those places, if only because its exterior offered so little in the way of outward suggestiveness - a nameless shell whose history and hopes were held back from the outside observer. It all seemed so enticing, but like every other attraction along the world's midway the greatest part of its appeal lay in those moments of anticipation. And after it was all over, the particular attraction which had once promised so much would send you on your way unrewarded, purged of your curiosity and the poorer for being so. This derelict warehouse was, of course, no different.

At least there were no squatters inside that I was called upon to deal with, or none that I saw. And the structure was still fairly safe and solid, with steel stairways that hadn't come loose from their walls, allowing me to make a quick reconnaissance of the place from bottom to top. Aside from the usual array of refuse and junkyard leavings - liquor bottles, worn-out tires, parts of machines, parts of appliances, parts of parts - I did find a filing cabinet in a room on the uppermost floor of the warehouse. Within that cabinet's drawers there were a few pages from a receipt pad that bore the ink-stamped imprint of Murphy's Costumes and Theatrical Supplies, a business that evidently stored some of its eponymous inventory in the warehouse. After further investigation I found some items lying in the dirt and darkness of a shattered wall. These were: (1) a couple of mannikin hands, both lefties, and (2) a very dirty pair of oversized gloves, each with a set of four sausage-shaped fingers - the accurate but strangely impractical accoutrements for the outfitting of both amateurs and professionals called upon to impersonate a beloved and begloved cartoon star. How mysterious, how ridiculous, that my dreaming brain would discard the dismembered mannikin hands, which I found intriguing enough to take back home with me, and decide to feature in my nightmare about Richard those unnaturally large gloves, which I left behind as lesser mementos of that disappointing warehouse excursion."
Thomas Ligotti - "My Work Is Not Yet Done"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-09-2008   #14
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

From Part III, “Rhetoric in Life,” of Persuasion and Rhetoric (wr. 1910; pub. 1913), by Carlo Michelstaedter (trans. R. S. Valentino, C. S. Blum, and D. J. Depew)

The light of pleasure darts through the pale streak that unites all things, and the dull radiations that accumulate within it illuminate now one thing, now another, so as to delude hunger in the next instant—without respite. The reality of men is the shape of a dream, and they talk about it as if narrating a tangle of dreams, “since the dream comes with a tangle of things and the voice of stupidity with a tangle of words” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). The dream is the intimate measure of life, what each person feels in relation to life such that he is unable to convey its sensations to others. And yet to communicate the tangle of dreams that is their reality people find conventional words for each single referent. The man in a dream is naked before god such as he is: he weighs only what he is worth. All the forms, contrivances, and words that are not his (but to which he has grown accustomed by convention) fall away. In the intimacy of the dream he is like his forefathers who lived alone and naked. Indeed, when men attempt to render these mysterious dream sensations, they find themselves before the impossible: they “don’t find the words” to “express what they are feeling.”
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Old 09-10-2008   #15
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

Dear Daisy,
Thanks for the dream passage. Carlo Michelstaedter is someone whom I need to read and contemplate. You can sure pick them!
Mr. D.

"A Mad World, MY Masters"
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Old 09-10-2008   #16
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

Thank you for your kind note, Mr. D.! Here, for your interest, is another dream passage from Michelstaedter’s Persuasion and Rhetoric:

Life takes charge of the stupefying: being alive becomes a habit; things that don’t attract are no longer watched; the others are tightly linked; the weave becomes smooth—the child becomes a man. The fearful hours are reduced to the dull, continuous, measured pain trickling beneath all things. But when the edge of the weave is lifted for reasons beyond men’s control, they too know frightful moments. Dreams come to them in sleep, when the organism, relaxed, lives the obscure pain of singular determinations, for which, in the thinning of the weave of illusion, the obscurity appears more menacing . . . . Sarcastic laughter disturbs, ruins, corrupts the tranquil, familiar images they would like to retain in vain, and it weighs upon them with dark images of menace and reproach . . .
They awake, open their eyes wide in the dark . . . , and the relieving match gives them peace—the sweet wife is just beside; here the clothes with the body’s imprint, here in the pictures the familiar faces of loved ones; all the dear, dear familiar things. “It’s okay. Okay. What time is it? Oh! Late. Gotta get up tomorrow. Damn dreams. God, dreams! Okay. Tomorrow. Let’s see if we can get right back to sleep.” Reassured, they put out the light again, but the images remaining in the eyes decompose, the plans for tomorrow and the next day cease—man finds himself once more without first name and last, wife or loved ones, things to do, clothes. He is alone, naked, with eyes open to the darkness.
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Old 09-10-2008   #17
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

Quote Originally Posted by Daisy View Post
From Part III, “Rhetoric in Life,” of Persuasion and Rhetoric (wr. 1910; pub. 1913), by Carlo Michelstaedter (trans. R. S. Valentino, C. S. Blum, and D. J. Depew)

The light of pleasure darts through the pale streak that unites all things, and the dull radiations that accumulate within it illuminate now one thing, now another, so as to delude hunger in the next instant—without respite. The reality of men is the shape of a dream, and they talk about it as if narrating a tangle of dreams, “since the dream comes with a tangle of things and the voice of stupidity with a tangle of words” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). The dream is the intimate measure of life, what each person feels in relation to life such that he is unable to convey its sensations to others. And yet to communicate the tangle of dreams that is their reality people find conventional words for each single referent. The man in a dream is naked before god such as he is: he weighs only what he is worth. All the forms, contrivances, and words that are not his (but to which he has grown accustomed by convention) fall away. In the intimacy of the dream he is like his forefathers who lived alone and naked. Indeed, when men attempt to render these mysterious dream sensations, they find themselves before the impossible: they “don’t find the words” to “express what they are feeling.”
I bought a copy of Persuasion and Rhetoric several months ago, but I had hardly even looked at it (so many books, so little time). After reading this amazing passage last night, I was moved to take a look at the book. I realized pretty quickly that I had a different translation. Here is the same passage that Daisy quoted, as translated by Wilhelm Snyman and Giuseppe Stellardi:

Whence the light of pleasure is moved through the cycle of a pale strip which joins all things together; it runs, and in it are gathered all the faint radiations of all things, lighting up, in turn, one thing or another, deceiving the hunger of the next moment -- without repose. Man's reality is the dream figure of which they speak, talking of it as if narrating an entanglement of dreams. "For dreams occur within an entanglement of things and the voice of the fool is expressed as the entanglement of words" (Ecclesiastes, V, 2). But while dreaming is the intimate measure of life, that which everyone feels in regard to life -- so that men do not know how to communicate the sensation of dreaming; in order to communicate the entanglement of the dreams pertaining to their reality they find conventional words, suited to every particular reference. -- Man in his dreams is naked before god, as he is, having the same weight as he is worth; all the forms, all the tricks and words that are not his and to which he has adapted himself in accordance with convention, fall away. In the intimacy of his dreams he is like his ancestors, who lived alone and naked. In fact, when men try to communicate those strange sensations of dreams, they find themselves faced with the impossible, "they don't find the words" to "express what they feel."

Good grief! I don't know which translation is more accurate, but I certainly know which I'd rather read. I bought the wrong translation, and it wasn't cheap. I offer this as a public service announcement for anyone else who is considering buying this book.
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Old 09-10-2008   #18
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

"I, the II King's jester, live on alone in the highest Palace attic - my only task to speak his thoughts. As transcriber of moods, taster of titbits, keeper of the royal mind's eye, nurturer of jokes, I will soon descend - so as to remove his frilly body from the window, as he babbles of green stained red and then black.

But I fear I, too, am a splinter of his dreams and memories..."
D. F. Lewis - "The II King"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-10-2008   #19
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

"'Despite what you expected, it's turning out very predictable.'

The II King just sat and began to stare me out. There was no answer possible, especially in the context of light and shade. His flat made me feel as if I were in a black and white film. The pierrot make-up caused him to look more a clown in a dream than a ghost in a real memory."
D. F. Lewis - "The II King"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-11-2008   #20
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Re: Dream Passage of the Day

Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post
Good grief! I don't know which translation is more accurate, but I certainly know which I'd rather read. I bought the wrong translation, and it wasn't cheap. I offer this as a public service announcement for anyone else who is considering buying this book.
Many thanks, gveranon, for noting the discrepancy in quality between the two English translations of Michelstaedter's Persuasion and Rhetoric. If you wish to acquire the version I've used, it's the one published by Yale University Press in 2004, with an introduction and commentary by Russell Scott Valentino, Cinzia Sartini Blum, and David J. Depew. Copies are available on both Amazon and Abebooks.
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