The dream engine takes me almost to Paris

by , under dream engine, life

That’s the second time the dream engine sends me on a train to Paris and it doesn’t turn out the way I expect. This train went to Hendaye, anyway, but Paris was its first major destination and I distinctly remember saying “but I’m not going to Hendaye this time!” We didn’t actually reach Paris on the train because people looking like marines stopped it and selected random people for quite violent questioning. The woman just in front of us, long brown hair and black jacket and trousers, was asked for the names of the Muses and could only come up with four[1], so they beat her until she knew the other five (which she didn’t).

[1] When I tried to remember names of Muses on waking, I thought I knew four as well: Melpomene, Mnemosyne, Clio and Erato. It turns out that Mnemosyne is the Muses’ mother. Wikipedia tells me that the Muses are Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry), Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore (dance), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Urania (astronomy). I don’t know how I can have forgotten the other six, because their names are probably easier to remember than the ones I did remember.

As the marines herded us to the front of the train I saw several other people being treated this way: the worst being a man with his head in a plastic bag, apparently full of earth.

I had a small shoulder bag that Fr T must have lent me, because it contained a name-tag with his name, a personalised plastic spork, and a poster of an appearance by him at an event that mentioned that he’d been mistakenly wanted for murder once and that the king of some obscure country had threatened to cut his head off. There was a lightweight fleecy jacket as well, which I put on and immediately felt less miserable: part of the misery must have been the cold.

I don’t remember whether we actually ended up in Paris, though we were told that everybody from the train would be received in a joint Christian-Muslim cultural centre, given a short sightseeing tour, and then taken somewhere else, which may or may not have been our original destinations. I did end up in an Orthodox church, reading the Hours, with one troparion in English because they didn’t have it in Dutch. People kept taking away lecterns and tables that my book was on, usually book and all, so eventually I stood in a corner reading from loose sheets of paper while Fr T, behind me, was hearing someone’s confession. His vestments were blue, and his mitra was a pointy hat covered with blue silk or satin.


  1. Adrian Morgan

    Some (late night) thoughts:

    – I admire your dream engine.
    – It would seem the inefficacy of torture was on your mind for some reason, perhaps something you read.
    – Is there a muse of violent questioning?
    – The marines could have been quizzing people on a whim, but the more interesting interpretation is that they were hunting down the actual muses themselves. Dangerous band of terrorists that they are.
    – Though interpreting the inefficacy of torture in mythological terms, their actions could be seen as driving the muses away.
    – As a child I once had a dream in which the interior of a police station resembled a bouncy castle. As an adult I mentioned this to a police officer, who expressed a wish that it were so.

    • Irina

      I’m very pleased with my dream engine too; most nights it treats me to private showings of interesting movies, usually interactive. Last night it was an escape from a cage full of monkeys and apes (apparently the captor counted me among the apes) by cutting the wires, and trying to find my way in an Australian city without a skirt or trousers (I was wearing the rest of my clothes, but only a pair of grey boxer shorts on my butt). I wanted to find a second-hand clothes shop first, a police station second, in order not to be arrested for indecent exposure. I don’t often have no-clothes dreams, so I was a bit surprised.

    • Irina

      Anyway, the Muse of Violent Questioning would be either Clio (history) or Melpomene (tragedy), depending on the circumstances and the outcome.


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