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THE DREAM JOURNAL
OF L. CARUANA


DERELICT DREAMS


       This series of dreams begins with a childhood memory, which I only recollected after the final dream.

       As a child of four, I was playing with my cousin in the backyard where a disused boat was propped against the side of the garage. My little cousin peeked behind the boat, then ran away screaming that ‘the bogeyman’ was there. As an innocent child, I went and peeked behind the boat.

       To this day, I don’t know if what I saw in its darkened shadow was real or merely a vision from my childhood imagination. But I do know that the disturbing figure I saw behind the boat came back to haunt me some twenty years later.

       I am walking towards a subway station in Toronto. It is night and raining hard. Suddenly, I momentarily lose my balance and my vision narrows. And at that moment, a figure appears out of the corner of my eye, moving fast toward me. The more I turn my gaze toward him, the more he stays just out of my vision, always moving closer. I awaken in fear. I am twenty-three years’ old, sharing an apartment with my girlfriend, and studying Philosophy at university.

       Another night, another darkened alley in Toronto. This time he confronts me directly. I cannot see his face or hands, which are lost in the shadows of his hat and the folds of his long overcoat. But our confrontation is immediate and merciless. In the struggle, he arcs a blade across my throat. I awaken, unable even to scream.

       But his most dramatic appearance comes one year later, when he lies unconscious at the foot of a doorway which opens, literally, to my own damnation. Curiously, it was only then that the childhood memory of my first encounter with him was finally recalled.

       When, as a child, I looked in the shadow of the boat, I saw a derelict in a long coat with a hat pulled over his features. He was reclining, lifeless, and apparently unconscious.

       The most frightening appearance of this derelict is marked in my Dreambook, Dream of the night of February 14, 1987: ‘Depart ye into Everlasting Flames.’

       Over the course of that night, my dreams had descended into ever-earlier incarnations of my childhood self. Then, I found myself to be my present age again, and was together with Ludwig Wittgenstein, a philosopher whose thinking had profoundly influenced my own. His philosophical technique was to analyze a certain question, probe ever deeper into it, never let it go, until finally it revealed its hidden truth. In the dream, we were in a room at the University of Toronto, and he was accompanied by two of his students. Wittgenstein was questioning a black-haired girl who resembled A. in many ways. This greatly intrigued me, as I felt his line of questioning would lead to some hidden truth regarding her madness.
       But the dream suddenly shifted, so that we were now standing at a street corner in the rain, and
I was the subject of his investigations. Wittgenstein stood around the corner with one of his students (thus fulfilling Freud’s technique of analysis, in which the analyst remained out of sight of the analysand). The philosopher asked me to think of the Bible and the first passages that came into my head. Lines from The Book of Revelation immediately came to my lips: “The false prophet, who worked the signs by which others were deceived,” “The hour of judgement has come,” “Depart ye into everlasting flames.”
       Satisfied, Wittgenstein, his student, and myself walked down the street, turned into an alley, and then passed through a doorway. We were now in a section of the alley that was terribly dirty and delapidated. A very old wooden staircase led upwards to a wooden door set into the wall of a dirty brick building. At the foot of the stairs, an old man was lying on his side, wrapped in a dingy black overcoat and wearing a hat that hid his features. He was in a drunken stupor, unconscious, maybe even dead. The student and I approached this derelict, and the student pointed to an oddly shaped chalk mark on his coat, like a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. “The number of the beast,” the student said. Then, as Wittgenstein watched, the student read some more of this odd script that was chalked onto the wall. “It says you are to go this way,” he intoned, pointing to the stairs.
       I tried to read the mysterious script, but couldn’t make it out. Then, I started ascending the steps, trying to read the obscure script through spaces in the stairs, but there were too many unrecognizable characters, similar to the ones chalked onto the derelict’s coat. Finally, I mounted the final step.
       In a flash, all became clear to me – I was not able to read “the writing that is on the wall.” The derelict was a terrible portent. Like the False Prophet, his presence signalled the end of all things. The hidden truth, which Wittgenstein had sought through his analysis, now stood before me revealed. The student said
“Depart ye into everlasting flames!” The wooden door swung open, and I was drawn irresistably through it. Beyond the door was an infinite spiralling abyss. Screaming, I flew unwillingly into the depths of my own damnation.

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