It was a curious dream; a curious but frightening dream. Even more curiously, I woke up in an excited mood, ecstatic even – the blood in my veins running too fast for my heart.
It’s a peculiar trait of my dreams that they take place in weird buildings. Small places that transform into palaces. Corridors and stairways lead to the unknown. Houses inland with windows opening up – suddenly, unexpectedly – to the ocean; windows in a basement – surprisingly – opening up on the tenth floor with views over a mysterious city, or perhaps a known one, from a mysterious angle, never seen before. The key is: nothing is what it seems, and anything can transform to something else at any moment. This is the nature of dreams, I suppose. But I don’t know why I’m so often inside buildings.
Anyway, this night I was in this building, and I was coming back to myself in a twofold way – awakening from a frenzied haziness to the reality in the dream and, more slowly, approaching wakefulness as my waking, ordinary self. I suppose the gruesomeness, and the fear, awoke me. There were corpses everywhere, you see, dead people. The rest of the scene was rather old fashioned; it was like in an old mansion, mahogany furniture, carpets and curtains, and so on. But daylight was flooding in, and I began to see: I saw those dead people, and realized there were dead people in the rest of the building too. Then, suddenly, one of the dead people, one who (it turned out) wasn’t dead, rose up from a bed – confused and disoriented, the way you are when sleep abandons you, and the ordinary consciousness grabs on to whatever clues are there. (Actually what was happening to me, but of course, in the dream I was someone else; I was already awake, watching the person waking up. And it wasn’t a lucid dream; I didn’t know I was dreaming.)
It occured to me I had to get out of there before this other person discovered all the dead people. It seemed necessary to abondon the place. It would have been so difficult to explain the situation: where did all the corpses come from? Being implicated or not in the mayhem (I didn’t know, but I tend to blame me, so why shouldn’t others?), I realised things weren’t looking good. I called on mr Dog: quick, let’s go!
But the weird thing about the buildings in my dreams is not only that windows open were there are none, or stairs leading to the underground and then (as if by magic) suddenly to the heavens, but also that doors disappear were there were previously doors, stairwells close up, with no sign of them left, and so on. Someone was out to get me, that’s the feeling I had; perhaps because of quite concrete reasons (I could intuit that being in a house full of dead people was a suboptimal position to be in – people would wonder, you know!) or because whatever we do, or don’t do, we are guilty of being born, guilty merely of being human.
I read, not so long ago, Steiner elaborating on the topic of dreams; there are basically two types, he says, and they have different origins. The one I had must be categorized as a dream that deals with outer experiences; and one needs to focus on the drama that unfolds and the emotional content rather than the – surreal – events. He says that the extent to which the dream – of this kind – transforms (or distort, one should perhaps say!) reality, how actively the dreamer is engaged in what takes place, is consistent with the control and ablity to consciously guide one’s life in, well, actual daily life. So much for that. I had windows, and light, I could see the outside, but there were no doors – and I could not conjure up any doors, except the door to ordinary waking life. And out I went.
I woke up. And I’ve been in a frightfully elevated mood since. The kind of mood that can only result in a terrible fall from up high and a crash, and a hurting spirit.
Maybe this unnatural excitement is why this picture that I came upon this morning fills me with such – inspiration. It’s so alive, you know. Ordinarly, and this must be said from the start, I don’t care much about celebrities and their occasional dabblings in esoteric things, and I don’t in this instance either. But the image speaks for itself; it glows. It shows actor John Cusack in Steiner’s studio, by the Goetheanum in Dornach; the studio where (among other things) he carved that enormous wooden sculpture that anthroposophists still worship (I can assure you: they do).
First, a confession: I have occasionally entertained this daydream of taking dark yet (it’s a difficult thing, technically, I’m not skilled enough) rapturous images of anthroposophical phenomena – you know, things anthroposophcial. I’d be hanged for heresy, if I did it, and of course it won’t happen; my fears stands in the way. I have in my head this idea of what the result would be like (that itself an omen, suggesting failure). I prefer it when it (I mean anthroposophy now) is not made to look nice, soft, cuddly – safe. When it doesn’t invite you to be lulled (an experience I have of most imagery in this area). There’s nothing lulling about the Cusack photo; presumably, that’s one reason I like it. It has the quality of hightened consciousness, not of sleepiness. It’s throbbing with wakefulness.
Another reason may be this one. Every now and then people tell me off: why, when you don’t have to, do you keep obsessing about that deranged man who has nothing to say to us in the year 2016? Perhaps he doesn’t. Then, on the other hand, and this is so very difficult to describe in words, there are those moments that radiate the same quality and urgency that somehow – mysteriously! – this image radiates, encapsulating darkness and a sense of life, at an ecstatic high, at the very same time. There’s no exuberance without the possibility of a plunge into unfathomable, painful depths – in fact, anthroposophy itself (despite the superficial cosiness) by its very nature presupposes the darkness.
I suppose perhaps the impression is heightened by the contrast between a certain aura, the human presence, and the environment, and the contrast between Cusacks expression and that dismal face of the ever-present Christ impulse. The latter, an object of years and years of anthroposophical reverence – it would be too theatrical of me to try to imitate the kind of obsequious words and texts I’ve come across. You only look at the Christ impulse with the most despiriting seriousness; you bow down, you don’t rise up. Submitting, not exulting. There’s a kind of deadness to it all, a sense of pro-longed hibernation rather than just temporary depressed drowsiness; one wants to lift it up, to shake it alive – in the hope that some alchemical reaction would take place, and the dreary brew begin to glow.
Or perhaps – it must be said – these reflections of mine may have got to do more to do with my sense of coolness than I care to admit; a coolness of a certain metaphysical quality. It would have been a better adaptation to life – in our times – to be into superficial style or fashion. What the image exudes, however, its strong will and power, captures me. Like so many images in the past. Perhaps its simply another kind of vanity.