I am sitting in a café called Les Oubliettes thinking about remembering. I can’t remember my dream from last night until I read my notes. Before I read them I have a single image: I am standing at the top of a high, long, dark wooden staircase. That’s it, just a place.
When I read my notes the whole word comes back. The moment on the staircase is the moment of finding out that there is a tuberculosis outbreak, the feeling of the city and maybe the whole world slipping into darkness. (In the real world at the café I just sneezed, and the gent I’m sharing a table with is on the phone with an airline agent who hears me and tells him to tell me ‘Bless you’… driving home the dream warning that a virus in this connected world will travel quick.)
I head outside in my dream, where somehow the epidemic and the dark are related, and I go into an old man bar for something I need. The men are sitting around big round tables (a lot like this one at Café Oubliettes actually, where I’ve never been before today.) There is a giant stone bowl on the table like one for French Onion soup (which Marc is making for dinner) but 100 people could eat from this one. It’s enormous and communal, but it’s empty tonight in the twilight of plague. The old men sit around it drinking small glasses of beer.
The man next to me at the bar is talking. He says he is getting all new parts. He turns to show me that his face has been replaced.
An image of safety pins and skin.
Do I use dream logic, and try to extend the narrative inside the dream to understand this plot twist? Or do I use the narrative and symbolism of my daily life? Is the Man getting new parts to fight or fend off the tuberculosis that is shutting down the world?
Or is he a symbol of how I feel about Men and Masculinity these days, despite the many kindly men I feel love and sympathy for – the men sadly waiting for communal logic to return?
The air these days does often feel virus dark, heavy with #MeToo stories, and the disease of power summarized by Harvey Weinstein and his spies.
Yet last night I went to bed on a wave of optimism as Americans elected openly trans leaders, new immigrants and Black Lives Matter advocates.
Maybe the Man is slowly getting all new parts, not just a new face?