Bioluminescent kitsch • 4 November 2010

Last night I dreamed of a cloud-city in ruins. Mists, decay, peace and death.

The city's high-security hills were the bourgeois parts of San Salvador; its parks were The Wire’s version of The Western. Under, over, and between everything were the spun-sugar clouds, tactile and buoyant. (The clouds blew in from the first layer of my dream-mind, which I’ve already admitted consists of gumdrops floating in blue skies, sparkly-clean chocolate waterfalls, and giant plushie dinosaurs who snuggle in the softest grass).

There was no ground: just warm void holding up the cloud-city. The void was the colorless, chaotic version of black. You know, like the old TV screen black that refuses to play the gestalt-game of figure/ground and instead just sucks any little drop of light down its central tube.

I was riding around in the floating taxicabs from The Fifth Element; but the drivers kept re-routing to shuttle contraband all over the cloud-city. I don’t know what the contraband even was, but it took the form of cardboard boxes marked in Sharpie with the words “Airport Underwear.” Interiority, alterity, post-apocalypse play.

There was a public park filled with children and rats. The children were the same skinny bright-eyes from Bapuji Orphanage in Gokulam; the rats had been to a groomer and were fatter than my old-lady neighbor’s cats. There was an empty boxing gym wallpapered in a repeating 3-D image of SKPJ in samastithi. You know, that hollow-boned loincloth ghost-photo, where his eyes are doing the same thing as said TV tubes. From the front door of the boxing gym, a huge concrete ramp rolled down and down, beneath the city’s hills. There were even fatter rats down the ramp, and beyond them the sound of water dripping and a feeling of bone-level cold.

I had a previous mission, but I’d forgotten what it was. Something to do with getting the underwear mafia to drop me at the airport. Instead I decided to relax in the park.

That’s where I met The Three. They were historic in a world with no memory. The only ones who knew how to take you down in to the catacombs of the cloud city.

The obnoxious truth is that their alpha was Catygay, peroxide-blond hair to mid-back and speaking in a fake Australian accent. His gang were Cutty, the Wire’s Christ-as-a-boxer; and a notorious bad-boy ashtanga teacher with a name like a WWF wrestler. (Like, for example, Philip “The Volcano” Malone, or Betty “The Monkey” Smith…. He was still using the quotation marks in the cloud-city, so I guess irony had outlived social structure.)

This is how I dream most nights, now that I’m interested in the mass in my right mandible where there are, it seems, no nadis. The imagery is of dirigibles with basements, or wormholes in heaven. There is always an emissary character, carrying an unbreakably coded message from Specificity to Transcendence.

What’s interesting about last night is that we got deeper in the catacombs than usual—Cutty, Catygay, the stage-named ashtangi and me. They were canny mercenaries—the Lost Boys mixed with Gollum, but with more heart than was good for them. We had to navigate a number of the usual epic challenges, involving chaotic and frequently slimy creatures. Since we still had irony going for us, that was pretty entertaining.

But the thing is that eventually we got deeper, in to a tunnel that was going nowhere in both directions. This is similar to the tunnel that, this spring, I started tripping in to on the cushion. What happens is that the needing-to-know in me stops giving a shit about having a cute little “insight” or “experience;” and then sometimes there is a roar like a monster in the woods. Next is a trememdous sucking-upwards and sucking-downwards in a funnel with no light. My body knows, to the minute, the accumulated ache of a 45-minute sit; but funnel time is about 1:3::void:world. Shinzen finds it about as interesting as I find a new ashtangi’s aching hamstrings: he says sometimes you just realize that expansion and contraction are simultaneous and the manifest/unmanifest dynamic shorts out. Huh. I'd been thinking the Void was something between a shut-up concept and good sex.

In the dream-tunnel, The Three pulled a "Ghost of Christmas Future" trick. They projected a picture in to my mind of what would happen if I did not open. I saw a swarm of rock-hard clamshells hurling on us from out of the void. (Looks like somebody enjoys The Matrix more than she admits.) The clams tore in to our skin, locking on like bull snakes or rabid dogs. They were all jaw, the strongest force—as Jamie told me over coffee on Monday—that a body can exert.

We howled. We were nothing but terror and pain. The suffering snuffed out the life-memories we were trying to recall as we died. When we were dead, the shells kept hurling themselves at the heap of us; bone-white, jaws upon jaws upon jaws, quivering like maggots.

This movie-within-the dream faded out and left me afraid. I became extremely quiet. Then The Three whispered together the last word of my first book, Goodnight Moon.


The tunnel filled with blue-white light. The light glowed out of millions of clams made of some sort of clear gel as squishy as tongues and shellfish.

The squish-clams were bioluminescent and intensely emotional. In the way that the plant-animals that glow at the bottom of the ocean are emotional: with the peace of being compressed by all the weight the water-planet can amass. Dense peace. I guess when you grow in a sea-trench, there’s not much to do but surrender and sway, and turn your evolutionary potential to the project of making light.

The squish-clams glowed for a long time. The Three and I stopped looking around for deeper tunnels. I sometimes reached out for the space between the clams with a tip-toe, my tongue, or a fingertip. I don’t know how long this really lasted. But it felt like I was in the tunnel all night.