December 23rd, 2008

operesque

Examination dream

I had a dream, and in this dream I was back at university. I was sitting a test in English Literature. I took a seat at the back of a sunny lecture room. It was all very civilised; there were even bottles of red wine on the tables, and the exam papers were rendered in watercolour (but the effect was of menstrual stains). We were told to turn the papers over and begin. There was a certain urgency in the room as everyone scrambled to grasp the questions, and tackle the two that best fitted their revision and expertise.

In growing dismay I found there was nothing in the paper I knew anything about. All the poets and writers covered were people I'd ruled out for various reasons. I poured a glass of red wine. While others scribbled, I lay back and thought. At first I thought I might start writing soon, but then I began to know I wouldn't. I started gazing out of the window. I could see buses passing, filled with people heading to a working class area of the city. I envied those people. I knew that in their working class district life was dense and vibrant, there were people from all over the world there, poor people. Because they were poor, life was cheap there, and because life was cheap you could be free, living amongst them. You could be free, and live on cheap Chinese food.

Casually, I walked out of the examination hall. I would walk away from my university course. Why did I even need to be there at all? Why did I need to answer irrelevant questions set by other people? I would find my own problems, my own questions. I would become an artist, and live cheaply in a poor part of town, and be free.

I got into my Mini Cooper (I was already measuring it up as a removals van, wondering how many trips I'd have to make to move all my stuff out of the hall of residence) and drove south. Not to a poor part of town, but to an abbey where friends of mine were rehearsing a wedding. Anne Laplantine was rehearsing her wedding with Xavier, and Toog and Flo were there. Toog was deeply moved, and weeping. They were all very pleased to see me, but didn't interrupt the rehearsal (it was at the most dramatic part).

I woke up with a feeling of liberty (and my head full of the flu). I had the sense that the life I'd woken up into was the life I'd planned in my dream; a cheap life of freedom, a life as an artist in a poor, dense and multicultural part of a big, exciting city.

I think my dream was influenced by the fact that, just before I went to bed, I put six weeks-worth of photos on my Flickr page. Although it feels rather too much as if I've been staying in these last six weeks, documenting my old albums, the photos persuade me that I've been living a rather exciting life as an artist; giving an unreliable art tour, visiting people's apartments in Vienna, going to a Buddhistic house run by Sri Lankans, sitting with David Woodard in a replica of a Polynesian Men's House, visiting the designer Jerszy Seymour in his studio, and so on.

I don't want to sound too self-congratulatory; I'm not sure I use my freedom, even now, as effectively as I could. Just as I drifted, perhaps, too long through my education (a final year at school, a fourth year at university), letting the irrelevant expectations of teachers and family delay my leap into the productive, self-structured life I planned and wanted, so even now I might let the internet boss me around -- is that possible? Is the internet my new "exam"? -- or take on too many commissions from editors (I'm on deadline, as usual, for articles). Well, I do have to live, after all.