Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Impossible Dream


I was admiring used books through the window of a large corner shop in an old downtown district, wishing I could go in. There were some beautiful volumes — ancient encyclopedias and bibles, atlases, literature in different languages, dictionaries, old bindings, and long narrow aisles leading away. But the store wasn’t open. So I crossed the street, and on the opposite corner I found a bookstore almost identical to the one I’d just seen. This one was open. I was greeted by a rather small young man, very thin, who told me that his original plan was to open a market in that space and sell organic foods, but that at the last minute something made him change his mind. “Feel free to look around,” he said, and then he went behind what looked like an ice cream counter, ducked down, and started laughing about something. I assumed he’d found a box of white plastic spoons. His laughter subsided. When he stood up again, he was holding a violin. “It will take me awhile to learn to play this,” he said. “Maybe you can look around on your own?” I told him I understood — and then, to a haunting melody I’d never heard, I started to browse. The first book I picked up was a volume printed in Spanish and published in Chile. It was very heavy and very old. Much to my surprise, just a few pages in, there was a liquid star chart — a shimmering night sky with cold stars of different magnitudes that I could touch with my hands. I picked another spot in the book at random and found a similar page, but on this one the constellations were more pronounced, and above the diagram were the words “For Sailors.” About this time, another customer came in. He said, “That looks like an interesting book.” I told him it was more than interesting, it was a miracle, all the more so since it had been printed in the nineteenth century. But when I tried to show him the liquid charts, I couldn’t find them. The pages were now ordinary pages — beautiful, to be sure, aromatic, yellow-brown at the margins, but no longer liquid. The customer smiled. I thought that in another life he might have been Cervantes, which made me think of the word cerveza. At any rate, he had a black mustache turned up at the ends, and was wearing the hat of a knight errant. The hat was made of meticulously folded newspaper. The man’s eyebrows were headlines. Viva la Revolución.

Note: Not surprisingly, perhaps, I awakened this morning with a stiff neck. But in art there are many such sacrifices, and I bear them willingly. Also, this seems an appropriate time to mention again the recent release of my new chapbook, The Thing About Strawberries: 31 Dreams. Actually, I think it’s a good time to mention all of my books — those titles scattered along the sidebar, winking like demented stars. I think of them as physical evidence of my time here, which, as we all know, could end in a heartbeat or with my very next breath. Maybe that’s not important — the books, I mean — I really don’t know — but it feels important to me — to say that this is my life, and that I’m living it in the best way I can, that I’m setting it down not as an arrogant or self-absorbed lesson to others, but as a conversation we can return to again and again, when the time is right and the message burns brightest. My dear, dear friends. If you only knew how much your observations and your laughter mean to me. Then, perhaps, you would understand. I am a man. A foolish man. A man who sees liquid stars. What I am not is clever. Every calculation I’ve made has gone awry. And so I simply don’t make them anymore.


5.6.2010 #2
5.6.2010 #1 (drawing “Minstrel”)


23 comments:

RUDHI - Chance said...

Shake hands,'Brother' William! Your STRAWBERRY-DREAMS are sweet and reality begins to become blurred the more I read in your Books; I even have to take care, not getting addicted to your winged world...

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, brother Rudhi. You are a brother indeed.

Janice said...

Your words were so beautiful that I could see you in your dream and then it became mine, as if I were there watching and listening but not really a part of the scene...

William you are indeed a dreamer and I am grateful that you share them here and in your books with us.

all ways 11 o'clock said...

William- I have come to look forward to your stories of liquid stars and pronounced constellations in all you write and draw.

Your gifts to us are your dreams.

Thank you so very much.

~robert

~im just only me~ said...

I like your dreams, will you send me some?

William Michaelian said...

Janice, I can’t thank you enough for your kind words. But I’ll try as we go along.

Robert, my reply to you is the same. Like Janice, it wasn’t that long ago that you knocked on my door, but it seems I’ve known you both for a long time.

Sure, Cassie. As soon as I can find an appropriate shipping container. Or I could just send my head, and maybe you could find a way to download the ones you want. I certainly won’t miss it in the interim.

Elisabeth said...

This is an exquisite dream, one that reflects its dreamer.

There is something so magical in this dream, something so powerful like your liquid pages and stars.

Travel on, William, your words transcend the here and now as you leave such wonderful traces behind.

William Michaelian said...

Thank you so much, Elisabeth. Yours is always a welcome voice.

diipo said...

I love your blog, how do I get your book I live in Lagos, Nigeria.

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

such a beautifull dream william!
i wont to meet such a person too in my dream...
Viva la Revolution siempre!!

ALeks said...

HA!!! Tears again! Tears of joy and pure and simple happiness from realising how fortunate I am,among our other friends in art,friends in life,to be a part of this magnificent dance,our mutual dance!!
Only I hate to think you are in any kind of distress,no matter what,even if it is part of life or whatever!!
Moj drug William!! :O) Hugs and smiling smiles are coming your way,
I love your with dreams woven world of words!Dream on !!!

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Diipo. If you will send me an email and tell me which book you have in mind, we will figure out the details. My address is on the profile page, and also at the bottom of the blog.

Laura, maybe he will wander to Vienna and visit you soon? I hope so!

Aleksandra, your hugs and smiles are gratefully received!

Momo Luna said...

Oh how you are a magician with words. I am a dreamer and it's so great how you can pull me into your dreams....
As Ruhdi pointed out to be careful not getting addicted. i ám already addicted to your winged world. But it's a good addiction for bringing joy.

I sure will buy your new book and the ones i don't have yet When the time is right (meaning not an empty wallet ha!)

Sweet greetz for you and i am going to dream a bit further about your liquid stars. Nothing is just impossible, your beautiful words shows that to me.

William Michaelian said...

Momo Luna, how well I understand the empty wallet. But you know, sometimes I think that’s where dreams come from! You are a good friend and a wise soul, and I thank you (as always) for your inspiring words.

Woman in a Window said...

will you think me mad? i cry. i dare say, i am weeping. robert has been talking of you for some time with reverance, although i dare say i think you might reject that kind of talk. but i came today. i read. i was washed over by magic and observation, hope and hopes perhaps - not dashed - but in perspective. gorgeous gorgeous you and here. thank you.

(I LOVE THIS FRICKEN STORY! I'd love it on old paper. I'd love it to be real, a real happening, mine.)

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

Erin, of course you are mad — and I mean that in the divinest, most complimentary sense of the word. I would hate to think of you and Robert as otherwise. I feel we are kindred spirits. It must be so if we’re able to meet and understand each other in this way, for distance to be rendered superfluous through the silent exchange of our words and pictures. And I think that makes this dream as real as a rock or a sidewalk, and as much yours as it is mine, for the truth is, our dreams belong to no one and to everyone.

Thank you for your wonderful words. Later I will rub my eyes and return to them.

Anthony Duce said...

It does feel good when a dream stays alive long enough to be remembered and recorded as you have done. I believed it was really happening until almost the end.

The contribution of ideas and stories and what starts in hour heads, your art, is in the end more important than the many other things you could be doing with your life.

William Michaelian said...

Anthony, thank you. As I’m sure you’ve considered, there’s a point where art and life must merge if either is to be completely fulfilling and fulfilled — a point where living is an art, is the art, and where one term aptly describes the other. It is so, I think, in all walks of life. It was so for my father, who was a farmer, and who was no less an artist in his work than Tolstoy or Van Gogh. Beyond that, the miracle — the daily miracle is that art itself can inspire others toward it, and toward recognizing it in themselves. It might be as simple as the way a loved one arranges flowers, or an old man tends and smokes his pipe. It’s about instinct, and countless unspoken things. Thanks again. Your comment means a lot.

Silvie Martin said...

"At last, when his wits were beyond repair, he came to conceive the strangest idea that ever occurred to any madman in this world...to become a knight-errant and roam the world on horseback, in a suit of armor; he would go in quest of adventures, by way of putting into practice all that he had read in his books..."

A man who sees liquid stars is not a fool. He is a man with imagination. Thank you for reminding us beautifully that we all need to abandon calculations and see liquid stars sometimes...impossible dreams feed the soul.

William Michaelian said...

As does your comment, Silvie. My heart leaped as I read that familiar passage, and then again with your words that followed. Liquid stars and windmills. A stick horse named Rocinante.... What joy, to see the world as it really is.

Old 333 said...

Chuckin' dream, William. Really good one. Probly should get some kind of little award for small stories and tiny wonders.

Thanks for sharing. I'm enjoying heck out of your stuff so far - there are so many of us out here, yet I find that my little clickythingy is led down paths made of steps made of links that lead me very fast to places I needed to be. I think I needed to rede that little story (and some of your other stuff, i like the shovel one did i mention?). I feel like I might not be so much running low on pomes as filling up on prose (like a vast underground pool lit with skyglims from hid holes it waits below - why are all the streams dry? and a single note, its low harmony, thrums through the black pool in response...)

Thanks, William. Really liked it.

PG

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, PG. Running out of poems — right. More like they’re running out of you.

And I find the same, with the clickythingy, to be true.

Momo Luna said...

Oh yes William, i think that too. Dreams never come from a wallet loaded with money, i'm sure. And an empty wallet doesn't bother me at all. It can be annoying sometimes, money can be easy, but it never feeds the soul. And my soul is most important after all. Besides i cannot live without my dreams. :-)