Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Walk on The Street of Dreams

It is so delicious to be utterly vacant. To have no thought that you should be any particular place at any particular moment...to be severed from schedules, time, and appointments...to wander freely.  So I permitted myself to wander down one of my streets of dreams... to mingle with so many walking along the street and to indulge myself in the fantasies of the past and the moment. To take snapshots of the mind and explore without any sense of accountability.

So I started toward Houston Street.  On the way, I came upon one of my favorite haunts, The Mercer Street Bookstore. It is a haven of quiet discovery. There is always something that catches my eye. On the shelves are so many possibilities that beckon like beacons.  Currently the most attractive section for me is the poetry section.  Here I discover poets with rich imagination... I stumble upon them in a much more meaningful search than Google could ever hope to deliver. I touch the covers,  leaf through pages, my eyes wandering over words and lines in random paths.


Today, as I walked into the store, sitting on a prominent display shelf was a book on American minimal music that I had never known. It was an electrifying moment of discovery.  Then I explored the books of poems and found many gems, but two caught my eye and ear right away. Celia Gilbert's voice in Bonfire was strong and sensuous with a clear sense of poetic rhythm and shaping metaphors that were inspired and insightful. I often like to read the poems aloud, and these seemed so so rich with possibilities.

In addition there was classic rough news, a profoundly erudite poetic voice of Kenneth Fields, who seemed to echo the tone and sensibility of Robert Graves. I always have loved Graves, and here I thought was a new found friend.
Both of these volumes reached out to me. I had gone in with the intention of just securing one new book to keep me occupied for an afternoon, but I left with three books. Even so, the cost for these is minimal compared to buying as new books, but they are usually mint condition, for the fate of poetry is that many poets publish, but few of us really listen to our poets. So these books have never been opened, never been read. Somehow poetry was something we learned to avoid in our classroom encounters in public school. I never understood this since so many of my high school friends "secretly" wrote poems that were expressive of the anguish that most of us go through as teenagers.


 I left with three books that are always a rich resource for my thinking and planning, for dreaming about the realities that lay ahead, for hoping to discover something of myself in these new voices, these new singers for a 21st century. How can one not succumb to the mystery of a a used bookstore, the filled shelves of books that have already taken a journey to end up on those shelves, lying like explosives ready to be ignited by the some incandescent insight triggered by the power of language.

My journey had barely begun and already so much was discovered and uncovered. I headed east on Houston Street, crossing Broadway and migrating to haunts that were once part of my younger days... most of them gone now, and most of the friends that inhabited these east village streets are gone. Crossing Mott street, the Rodgers and Hart tune of We'll Have Manhattan sounded in my head and I found myself singing "and tell me what street... compares with Mott Street..."

Not far from Mott street, on Elizabeth street, a dear friend had a serious struggle with drugs that removed her from my life for a while. We finally renewed contact and she had developed a promising career as a site specific composer... and then she disappeared and I have not heard from her again.

Crossing Chystie Street, I see the Sarah Delano Roosevelt Park which connects with Canal Street at the other end, an oasis amidst the brick and cement.  The trees are verdant green and the afternoon is punctuated by basketball players and people strolling almost aimlessly. The afternoon sun is bright, but the air is fresh and pleasant from the rainstorm the night before.

I continue east and soon I come to a poster for Another World, a film about Earth II possibly from a parallel dimension.  The film is about synchronicity and dual existences, a subject that has caught my attention and imagination.  It even figured into the idea of Creating New Worlds recently performed by 2011 IMPACTORS. As I look at the poster, I begin to realize that maybe there was a subconscious destination of the Landmark Sunshine Theatre, an Indie House that I haven't visited in a long while.  It really isn't so far away, but psychologically, across the great divide of Broadway, it seems remote and inaccessible.

I check the time and the film will start in about ten minutes, so I decide this will be a deviation from the journey.  Another World is metaphoric, for it is clear as the film begins that this is an investigation of alternative paths, of parallel lives where something creates a rift and a new possibility.  The film is focused on the narrative.  All though the film, I couldn't help wondering why such a large planet so near to us would not create extensive flooding and earthquakes, but that would be more the sci-fi element and not an examination of parallel possibilities.

The sun is starting to slant toward the western horizon as I emerge from the Sunshine Movie House.  I start back west along the the same path, now reversed, eerily aware through the movie that this route has been altered by Time.  I come upon the Puck Building, which once figured prominently in fundraising efforts for the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Center. It also was to be  a major asset in the plans for creating a new commuter university, The East West University of Art, Science and Culture. It was to be the second acquisition of a bold new venture in higher education, a venture of the spirit of Donghwa, the blooming and exchange between East and West.

A few yards further is the building that would be the first building acquired for the new university, a perfect location where subways converge.  The Addidas Building would lend itself to conversion with classrooms, a technology center, and the beginnings of the library. It would be the primary building that would become a first class commuting university where students would find an alternative through collaboration to the current competitive paradigm of higher education.  But it would also offer the world's best collection of Asian culture, literature, art, and science in the midst of the mecca of the West.  It would be a true meeting of East and West defined in new terms for a new era.

I found myself at the Angelika, another Indie film house.  I realized my journey of dreams  had film palaces at each end like book ends.  Not long ago, Woody Allen's Paris at Midnight opened in this theatre and helped me understand how the past erupts in the present and always colors our experience.  We all long for the greatness of times past, to be part of it. But I realized that today my journey was a mixture of past and future.
Inside the crowd was intent on the latest openings, and Paris at Midnight had no line. I could have walked right in to that showing.  But I was busy watching people and feeling the rhythm of the universe in the random collisions of people vying for position in the lobby. Over the entrance to the theatres, Angelika loomed as radiant as ever, a harbinger of dreams created with light and shadow on the screen... a dim reflection of reality like Plato's shadows in the cave in The Republic. Plato's allegory of watching the shadows in the cave has become a reality in our universe. We go into our caves and watch the shadows on the wall, more convincing and commanding than whatever we once understood as reality.
As I left the Angelika and continued toward the falling night, I passed Picasso's Bust of Sylvette as cryptic and alluring as ever.  She had sprung from the imagination of Picasso and had been rendered and enlarged, executed by Norwegian sculptor Carl Nesj√§r from a smaller original sculpture by Picasso. I realized that we seek to create permanence as best we can.  Stone survives the ages much better than film in canisters. Picasso's Sylvette is poised to survive wind and weather, even earthquakes. But we have outwitted the physical world through our reduction of the world to binary code. Films now exist as code transferable to various media until the end of time. Somewhere in the dreams of this afternoon's journey, reality flirts with imagination within the structure of awareness.  It is a Donghwa, a flowering of the essence of a new spirit, with new generations uncovering a world that has been waiting for us beyond our dreams.

1 comment:

carletonpalmer said...

Odysseus' journey had ne'er so many wonders.