The complete dismantling of time perception torn away, days and nights reversed due to the sudden loosing of all schedules, two-direction time-lag and utter emotional oscillation, sickness and deepest exhaustion of all times, this utter chaos had a last consequence who could have been of the most dramatic if I hadn't been struck by a late epiphany while checking the departure time of my flight to Prague, after a moist and sultry afternoon vaguely threatened by thunderstorms - checking the said departure time in the evening, for the very next morning, whereas I thought having one more day before me. Even dead laughing to my own brightness on the way to the university's printers, it was wantonly adding to the confusion and stress of these strange moments, surrounded by piles and piles of boxes and all the mess to pack in them, and I was deeply and uncomfortably rushed. The feeling lasted throughout and beyond the short night, cluttered with thoughts slowly whirling toward the surface, all in the reverse order, and was only released as I reached the airport of Tampere in the late morning.
The low cost terminal of the Pirkkala airport was the most minuscule I had ever been in: A single bare hangar in which waiting zone and security area are separated by a mere wall, and inside, a souvenirs shop and a small café where most of the passengers for the Dublin flight immediately packed in. I read only a couple pages of Breaking Open the Head before the early call for boarding, and worried already about the weight of my luggage I would have to carry for fifteen hours waiting for the connecting flight to Prague. Looking at the boarding sequence number, the purpose of which I still and ever ignore, displayed on the boarding pass hastily printed the very previous evening, I wondered with amusement if the rest of the journey kept such surprises as its messed up (lack of) preparation.
The impression while boarding on a RyanAir plane is definitely of the ones you never really forget, for how completely weird it is. I was expecting the same kind of greyish, ageing and poor aeroplane as I had already been flying in with other low cost companies; instead of that, reaching the top of the stairs and entering the cabin, one is literally swiped by an exhilarated promotional music and hostesses welcoming the dazed passengers with some sort of hysterical friendliness. It felt like boarding in some flashy yellow and blue rollercoaster of some huge theme park. As priority boarder, I had no difficulty finding a window seat, even thinking of taking the side of the sun. I saw yet with horror the two loud and overexcited couples I waited besides in the hall sitting besides me, fortunately at a seat of distance from the most noisy man of the group. He started to frantically joke about everything, almost as frantic as the welcome inside the plane was; I returned a pale smile and turned with decision toward my window.
Taking off the first burst of speed reminded me suddenly how I do love planes and journeys, and the anguish definitively vanished. The huge and heavy tyres left the Finnish ground, my heartbeat as always tinted once with the grief to fly away from it, and still I smiled through, out of this fantastic feeling of elevation. Rising up spiralling toward the Sun, the oversized metal machine bird soon broke through the clouds, springing up from their sparse layer under the raw and harsh Light.
The two couples besides were ordering beer after beer, while I stared through the window, or seemed to sleep, or read at times. There was a wonderful weather over Ireland and all the way to there; landscapes, shaped by ever-acting forces and human activity, shifted and mutated all the way long. The lakes and forests changed for hedged fields and we landed without any subtlety in Dublin. An airport like all airports: Standard endless and large corridors, delightful loss of nationality and identity among unknowns on the leave one would never meet again, in a place itself without identity, stridden by too many feet. As a slight distinctive feature all signs and boards were all translated in Gaelic, very amusing and nice. Strangely - but on second thought and on a much later remark of my friend in Prague, Ireland still does not belong to the Schengen area - I had to perform again identity checks and security control, to the view of which I looked so disconcerted that an employee of the airport worried about myself fainting out of exhaustion. I got inside the terminal - fifteen hours to spend there. Found the personnel very warm and friendly - is that out of coming from cold Finland? I tried all sunglasses available in the shops around, studied the position of comfortable seat and peaceful corners to spend a night in and realized that besides dragging behind in most of the aspects of European integration, UK still had weird incompatible receptacles. I felt no need to use my laptop anyway, though I was painfully carrying it in my bag; I sought refuge in a fancy café with deliciously expensive drinks, read, settled down for a while in an almost empty waiting zone and read again, my thoughts drifting back in the recent past or remote memories, enjoying the sun going down but still shining on me.
"We're caught in the belly of an horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death." I might be easy to convince, but this sentence of a Godspeed You Black Emperor! song (the first of their first album, depicting our world collapsing in a few such striking words, and whose impression equals what one can find in movies such as Chris Marker's La Jetée or Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys) revolved again and again in my head as I read further Breaking Open the Head. I read about shamans, about the repelling of non-material values though an unusual analysis of Shakespeare's plays, about Walter Benjamin's views of capitalism and Pinchbeck's of the modern destructive world, about how Aboriginals sang their landscapes and how tremendously crucial is language, which I have always sensed, about the meaninglessness of anthropology, which we might have even approached in academical studies, all things that rang a bell or another and explained more about names or ideas I had been considering from a distance for a while - or which recalled from much closer discussions. All things bridging with previous knowledge, conscious or not, sleeping, mostly, or not.
"... we possess the innate ability to regain everything we have lost." I thought back of the striking similarities in the existential and spiritual crisis of one of my friends, echoing so deeply with my own past torments, and of everything I felt having regained then. There. It all sounded so very true.
I was very pleased to read such a great and delicate description of the Burning Man, that Pinchbeck had been visiting several times, and the captivating anecdotes. Through his words and in the space between the lines the wild magic of the manifestation was sensible - I had a slight taste of this kind of event back when I was going to those huge four-day music festivals, in Belgium, four days gradually sinking into mud, chaos and alcohol, and usually ending up in collective nonsense and self-oblivion - for what else should it be, enormous crowds of several hundreds of thousands people all vibrating, singing and dancing on the same music, whatever it is, together in the same time - gathering energies, and finally ending up in collective trance-like state for the final set before the fireworks. I did experience it; thinking back about those four-day trips I definitely find them such a quality, even though this deeper meaning escapes the unaware people there. I first heard about the Burning Man three or four years ago; and read about it, a bit, also. It was a very good surprise to find it in the book, and reinforced me, again, in this feeling of being told about things I already knew somehow and to some extent, and drawing, amused, absurd chain correspondences from everything to anything.
The lack of experience is certainly the cause of finding a last a point to which I could not relate in the same way. "Most people assume that such dreams are manifestations of the personal unconscious. Before my ibogaine trip, I would have thought that as well. After Gabon, I was willing to consider other possibilities." Perhaps the most solid difference between this analysis and my own perception of the substance of dreams is not the revelation that has been Freudian analysis to me, which stroke me to such a point, during philosophy lessons some four years back, that I then experienced right away the most devastating panic attack of my life, so far, and probably ever since then - no, it is most likely another revelation, this time innermost sensed, which occurred a couple of years after. Amusingly enough, it involves a friend with whom I currently experience the first crisis ever of our friendship. Last year, during a difficult period bringing shuttering changes in my life, I successively untangled and deciphered by my own the meaning of two dreams, one still fresh, from a couple days before, and the other which is the oldest one I ever recalled - and which had remained vivid in my memory for, say, fifteen years. The way I sleep leaves only memories of what I dream when about to wake up; dreams in the heart of the night fall into black oblivion. That morning the vision came a split second before I opened the eyes - and seemed to persist afterwards and overlaid the light of the morning flowing into my room by the door. I distinctly sensed that in the last scenes I was acting myself and as myself. Freudian analysis does not rely that much on the contents of dream itself, much more on the way the patient tells it - what makes me regard highly Freud's theories for its emphasis on language. "Les mots faisaient primitivement partie de la magie, et de nos jours encore le mot garde beaucoup de sa puissance de jadis."
This dream was about a friend who would either live or die, which would be know and happen after three months, and about my pressing supplications to him not to die "...and leave me alone in this bitter world of solitude." I wrote then the following: "In the heat of this declaration, I'm strongly holding back his hands from me, taking them by his wrists, as for fear he would try to touch me as answer... But he doesn't. He doesn't even try. Even directly confronted to me, he doesn't react. Nothing less strange : I am at that moment aware that it is a dream, my own dream in the solitude of my own head, and I won't invent the answers I am seeking... "
I've been thinking again and again about it in the following days, and came to a very simple and natural conclusion, which I might consider now, through my writings of that time, maybe more simplistic than simple: Dreams do not bring answers from outside our self - they might even only raise questions, and from our innermost. That morning left me unpleasant sensations, those of being forced into admitting things I refused to admit, forced by the darkest and wildest part of oneself, out of my own will. Simultaneously as I deciphered like a child's play the message sent though this vision, I sensed, not explicitly yet, that it was also about deciphering it according to a code I was myself writing; that there was no other reference than those I chose. It revealed in both directions/senses: If I was the one choosing the references, then the dream, in itself, as product of a part of oneself which is not truly the self one chooses to be, could only use alternate references, which even not explicit and directly meaningful, were still of one's inner self language. I realize now, and to a much wider extent, how it is all about reconciling one's inner duality, one's Will with one's unknown part of the Self, in other words, and in most aspects of one's life - for my part, sexual identity, multiple personalities and aspects of personality, choice to play and success on two fields in the same time, and such. Pinchbeck mentioned at a point in Breaking Open the Head the action of a drug reequilibrating the two hemispheres of the brain, whose unbalancing caused depression and addiction. But this gets much more to the level of the symbols.
The blazing revelation of every element's meaning, down to the deepest detail, was followed soon after by a very natural solving of my childhood's dream. It was about my father, explicitly - but I then understood the range and extent of its meaning, and the whys and wherefores. Actually, this was again not about the dream itself, but about finding the keys to translate not even the dream into its meaning, but its meaning to means of effective action into one's life. Dreams guide us by revealing our self. The most important aspect in that regard is the relation with reality. Funnily, the recent dream about this friend came to gain another meaning afterwards - besides giving me no answer to my questions, it was only talking about myself. Not that friend.
So to this light maybe my own perception of what dream is can coexist with the idea of a communication with the spirit world, which Pinchbeck assumes. I might have merely scratched the superficial layer. The question of the unpleasant presence of a darker part of the Self remains, and - who knows about its exact nature. Maybe this does not matter that much. I came to a sort of syncretic vision of dreams - if Pinchbeck, after his experiences with hallucinogen plants, got this sense of an otherworldly knowledge and independent intelligence, I can only, at my level, assume such an existence inside our minds. This might also coincide with his own view: the depths of the human spirit remain a virgin and unexplored area, and can materially be where more than we are conscious to be resides. The spirits of Pinchbeck's family and friends visiting him in dreams would in some sense not exist if there were nobody to dream them... Or would they? Drifting into such thoughts, I recalled having thought that reality was wholly inside our minds - that assuming that was the sine qua non condition to bend reality. The further I wonder about it the more numerous old memories and connections arise and spring up... "Since is Life a dream at best, and even dreams themselves are dreams..." Calderon himself and the underlying meaning and the incredible beauty of his language, entirely made of connotations, symbols and figures, might answer to Shakespeare's invocation of repelled abilities and practices. It seems that the Hidden Story of the world does exist, a network of similarities, analogies, processes and coincidences provoking themselves by their own, of dimensions beyond anybody's imagination. "We are at the threshold of the world" - and there is a labyrinthine basement, reaching the deepest inwards of Earth, under the small one-piece house that the world is. Reaching the depths like the roots of a tree. I did not realize all implications writing that a while ago.
Drifting and rummaging half-conscious in old dreams and new old ideas, I got back to the trees. The alternative option to the inner universe is the existence of another external intelligence, wonders Pinchbeck, again. That of plants themselves ? Putting into words the sense I had of thee while discussing with a fellow student about Finland gave some sort of reality to it - how surprising. I had barely formulated it, once I was just out of the sauna on the little closed terrace, steam rising in thick volutes from my skin at a mild sunset. Above the enclosure could I see the crowns of the trees, and I suddenly thought about them as protectors and guardians. Unravelling the past, recent or remote, they had always been there at some point. A recent occurrence happened in January, in the tiny backyard under the branches and looking up to the stars, pushing myself further back in my childhood's garden, and down into the basement of the bar, invoking an old vision in which I was seeking peace and nesting to sleep. In that childhood's garden was not only the forsythia covered with bright yellow flowers; there was, long ago, two poplars. The huge trees were the same surrounding the cradle of rock, from with no bird could be heard, only the innumerable leaves rustling. It was the soundtrack of all the days I spent in my garden till they were cut down. I was very happy with them - at Spring long, conic and dark rose flowers were falling off and covering all the ground around.
One of the two poplars was slowly dying and began to lean, threatening to crash on the houses besides. The other one remained healthy, but soon followed anyway - all the huge trees of that part of the district were cut down one after the other, for their enormous and slowly unstoppable roots made cracks in the roads, walls and floors of all houses around. "You stupid monkeys think you're running something."
Caught in grey walls and inhuman cities we lost these sense of symbiosis. These trees, all trees have become a complete obsession to me.
This was in substance much more and much less than what I thought about in the Dublin airport waiting for my connecting flight, reading Pinchbeck's book. The surrounding of businessmen staring severely at my waiting camp settled on four seats, at my improbable picnic and my toe-holed socks increasingly disturbed me; I packed everything and left the Ties and the Suits to their crucial concerns. The departure gate for the next morning was of course at the other end of the airport - and featured draughts and metallic seats with armrests. Height of horror, my precise gate was in a ready-built shabby hangar. I turned back horrified and decided to settle down again in the comfortable waiting room at the other end of the main terminal. I took the wrong corridor and ended up in another terminal roughly as unwelcoming as the one I just came from. There was no possibility to turn back now. I was told to join to the security check for connecting flights again, did so and found a closed door. I turned back once again, with the increasing feeling of stepping further into nightmare and getting pushed further away from my destination at each step, was told to get out of the terminal and pass the main security check again, rushed there, and was denied entrance because my flight was on the next day. The personnel was very compassionate and did not understand at all. "I can't fucking sleep in the public part of the airport with a laptop and all papers and cards and money with me..."
I hadn't been so completely pissed off against the whole world and myself in the first place for quite a while. I ended up in the café of the airport among other travellers, somnolent in seats which seemed to be purposefully designed so as to be simultaneously too big and too small to feel comfortable in them, and slept a couple of hours trying to keep an eye on my bags, and from two and a half waited for the security control to open, which actually opened only two hours later. I then came back to my dear comfortable terminal and got a good rest for less than two hours, got back afterwards to the terrible one at the other end and waited for another hour. The wind gusts over the tarmac, and the cold air I eagerly breathed walking between the boarding gate and the plane, were a deliverance after all those hours spent in a mice maze.
I thought back of the boarding sequence number with sensibly less amusement.