The Factory

I was at home with my mother and sister talking about a radio interview. My granny called the house and left a phone message and it upset me because she was talking about her sister's death and she sounded so sad. Her situation saddened me, all of her friends and her husband and her sisters all dead. So I got up from the breakfast table without a word and left the house.

 
I went to university and skipped out of my psychology class to wander around the great building, right up to the roof where there was a gathering of people. Some of them were sitting right at the edge. A policeman told people to come back from the edge, walking so close to it that I was terrified. I had a bag full of my things - books, notes, clothes, a computer. Two of them were making fun of me and my hair and the way I dressed. Making fun of my self-image, as if I was vain and at the same time ridiculous-looking. I realized that I wanted to go back to university and that I had enough points - 79 - to do so. I could go to a foreign university to do women's studies and it would make me happy.
 
I went back through the university arts building to go home. On the way I met my girlfriend, who I had been forgetting to call or text (we had only just got together). This is something I used to do when I was a teenager, simply forget to call a girl I was supposed to be seeing. I made a mental note to call her. It was dark when I was leaving university and I had to walk back through a bad neighbourhood. A gang of young men - boys really - starting talking about the bags I was carrying, and started following me. I was just getting ready to run when a woman found me. She was older and very calm and she knew me, and the boys respected her and went away. She brought me to her house and said she would call me a taxi to take me home.
 
She started to read to me from a great thick paperback book she had, full of her own notes - not the Bible, it was called "The Factory" and talked about God as the Factor, the Maker. She asked me to look at a picture of the sea with the sun hanging over it, a great fiery orange ball. It left a flaming reflection on the water. Then all of a sudden it plunged beneath the water, surprising me and making me feel very emotional. Then several suns followed it underwater as if attached by a string. I felt happy and as if I was about to cry.
 
The woman seemed satisfied by my reaction and closed the book and went to call a taxi for me. I wanted to take the book with me but I realized that I couldn't because it was hers. I went into her kitchen and there was a phone message from my mother, who had been worried about me because I left so suddenly. She thought it must be because something she said made me angry. I said no, I was sad about granny. There was a message from my granny too. She was still talking about her dead sister, the funeral arrangements, the end of things. I wanted to cry again, and I wanted to tell her about my decision to leave and go back to university, and about the book that the old woman had shown me.

The King of Friday Night

I had to meet my father in the city centre, and I couldn't rely on the buses, so I ran, and very quickly running normally (which is so SLOW) turned into running on all fours, one of my most frequent recurring dreams. I relax quickly into the steady lope of a wolf, but now and again to get around people I display a primate's agility, running halfway up walls, swinging around lampposts, jumping over obstacles and onto rooves.

Running turns into gliding when the wind picks up, and I let myself drift down streets carried by the air. Sometimes gusts pick me up, and one of them flings me sixty feet in the air, panicking me a little, but it drops me gently again. Then back to running when I hit the city centre, the dense claustrophobic lamplit streets. It's Friday night in Dublin and I'm running through an exaggerated version of Temple Bar, massive cobbled streets and back alley networks stretching for miles and filled with drunks and students and goths and even families wandering around trying to find a way to get their children home safely.

Running on all four speeds up my journey and fills me with euphoria, but the drawback is that it draws everyone's attention, making me feel mildly embarrassed and them either curious or threatened. At least, that's how I explain the fact that Liam Gallagher, on seeing me run past him like this, turns around and yells at me, then gives chase, followed behind by his two massive bouncers. He outpaces them and follows me down a long alleyway, and I stop and turn around and without any explanation he tries to punch me when he catches up to me, a strange kind of joy in his face. I grab his arm and twist it behind his back, hold him for a moment and then shove him away, hoping he gets the message. He doesn't. He tries to punch me again and I grab his arm again and put him in an armlock, then grab his other arm, twist them over each other and flip him on his back and hold him there. Notably, I haven't said anything this entire time; I'm not sure I can speak in this dream. Liam looks up at me with a savage grin and says "Man...you're the KING OF FRIDAY NIGHT!!" He's happy to be fairly bested in the drunken macho ritual of his mind. The bouncers arrive, huffing and puffing, and I run off again.

Without finding my father, I realize that I have to go home again. My mother and my grandmother are waiting for a birthday party - whose, I don't know, but it's after midnight and there are no buses (and I don't even know what bus to get) so I start running again. The urgency is greater and so are the risks I take - running across rooftops, diving through windows, impossible gliding leaps. I run through the Irish government buildings to a far door and when I open it I'm out into the Phoenix Park, which is full of teenagers, an entire side of a hill covered with them smoking, flying kites, sleeping, cuddling. There's a young guy in a wingsuit gliding high in the air, but then he loses control and crashes fifty feet down into the grass. I'm concerned briefly, but he bounces up again. I carry on.

The Phoenix park darkens and becomes Cabinteely Park, and I'm getting closer, always getting closer. I jump over a gorge and the earth on the other side rises up suddenly to become a cliff, and I have to climb, digging my fingers and toes into the stone. I'm nearly there, nearly there.

The Great University

I was a student of literature in the Great University, which was similar in feeling to the arts departments of universities I've been in in real life, but twenty times as big, and teeming with millions of students, every one of them following their own stories with all of their energy. I was to be taught a seminar by a Professor Andrew Wyle, the subject being a forgettable book that I did indeed keep forgetting - for a while I was looking for a bookshop to buy it in, then I was looking for another student from my class who could remind me what the book was, and finally I was just searching for Professor Wyle so that I could talk to him. I think I wanted to talk to him about another student of his, a girl who was in trouble. She was in a panic because her fiance had broken up with her and was with another woman, and she was running through the corridors of the Great University unable to figure out what she should do.

The problem was not so much her love for her fiance, although that was part of what was causing the pain and panic - the real problem was the unravelling of the story by which she had been living her life. She didn't really have a backup and so she was going nuts, like a computer whose operating system has crashed. I realized this when I was exiting the university bookshop, still looking for Professor Wyle, and saw the throngs of students streaming to their classes, and then saw a famous old writer on crutches heading towards the bookshop doors. I did my best to hold the door open for him, but it was very heavy and I didn't do a very good job. He did get through through, and proceeded to a table without a word of thanks or even a glance at me. I didn't take it personally, because he had a reputation for being extremely antisocial and unpleasant. I noticed that people were joining him at his table - admirers and helpers, people who wanted to talk to him. He showed no enthusiasm for all of this and I wondered what made people want to be around him.

Then it hit me. He was a creator of stories. People need stories. It's not simply that they have trouble thinking without stories; they literally cannot live without them. Someone who creates new stories, like many types of artist, is let away with practically any form of behaviour because of what they can do. They are like priests, mystics and royalty all wrapped into one. A writer of stories can do what almost no one else can do: they can give you a reason to live. It could be a stupid reason or a beautiful one, but they are the ones with the ability to write new software for your mind. It can be anyone, any story, at any level of expertise in the craft of writing. James Joyce shares the same power with Stephanie Meyer and they give people the same gift. Writers express the gift with the powers that they have been given, and the story is the living thing, not the craft with which it has been created.

I was still looking for Professor Wyle, but now I was running with joy, and the sun was shining on the campus of the Great University, and all the hordes of students appeared to me as something different, a mass of energy directed and shaped by stories, and I realized that it was within me to be a writer and a creator too, and I felt that ability as an energy inside me, driving me faster and filling me with an urgent kind of happiness.

My Collapsing Head

I owned an enormous apartment in the penthouse of a tall building in the centre of a city which was an amalgam of London and Berlin. There were several bedrooms with double beds and silk sheets, and a huge living-space with marble floors which extended around a central room. I had been throwing a party for old school friends and acquaintances, and everyone was crashing out now in the beds. F was there, and we had some kind of brief, animated conversation with waving of hands and laughter, and I remember being happy that we could still get on well together.

An old schoolmate was there who had actually killed himself with a shotgun when he was 15, but this didn't appear strange to me; I just became suspicious when I saw him moving the Xbox out of the main room, because I suspected he was stealing it, so I followed him into the bedroom he was bringing it to and asked him what he was doing. He got a dull, haunted look in his eyes as he explained that he just wanted to get on to Xbox Live, and I saw that this was the room with the modem in it. I felt a little guilty for assuming he was thieving, since he obviously knew what I was thinking.

When I left the room, I noticed something a little strange about my head. My forehead felt strange. I found a mirror and was shocked to see that my "forehead bone" had become displaced and was moving around my face, making it misshapen. I thought, "Oh Christ, I've punched myself in the head too many times and this time I've done some real damage, I'm so stupid." I pushed it back into place with my fingers, and it slotted back in painfully and slowly, with a horrible feeling in my face of it sliding around under my skin. I was in a mild panic, and I decided I had to find a doctor. I ran out of the apartment and found some strangers and said "I need a doctor...please help me..."

The next thing I knew I was being examined by two doctors in a surgery. They were fascinated by my dislocated forehead, and they decided it had to be replaced by a prosthetic. While they were in the process of removing the old forehead bone (for some reason I was awake and calm during this procedure) they discovered another thing that interested them - my entire upper jaw had been replaced by an "orthodontic plate". I remembered that this had been done years before when my jaw disintegrated, and I'd forgotten about it. The doctors moved the pieces of my head around like a jigsaw and put me back together.

I went back to the apartment afterwards to find Jo and explain what had happened, because I'd been out all night, and I thought she might think I was out cheating on her. When I got back she told me that she knew what had happened, and she looked at me with deep concern, because the work hadn't taken properly yet. I looked in the mirror again and saw that the prosthetic forehead protruded at the sides and that my eyesockets were in the wrong places, preventing me from seeing properly. I tried to manipulate everything back into place, but it had all become plastic and my face kept morphing away from anything recognizable. My nose grew and shrank, my eyes moved around and even my skin tone changed.

All of a sudden my face turned into my father's face. It was his complete likeness, and I thought "OK, this is possible because genetically I have my father in me." I spoke to Jo, and my voice was my father's voice too. Then a little more manipulation and I changed again. At one point I looked like myself again and there was a sense of relief, but I knew that at any moment it could change again; that what was holding my face together was very fragile. I was trying to think through the implications of this when I woke up.

Stealing Books

I was working in a medium-sized open-plan office space halfway up a skyscraper. The view outside included streets, other buildings, and the landscaped gardens of some dark-stoned stately home. I answered my phone, and the voice at the other end said "Look at your monitor," in rather ominous tone; so, of course, I did.

What I saw was myself, in grainy black-and-white CCTV footage, hauling an entire shelf of books out of the front door of a large bookstore in a wheelbarrow. A moment of amnesiac confusion, and then it hit me all at once - oh Christ - that stupid, drunken night! I remembered: breaking a window, browsing the bookstore shelves blind drunk while the alarm sounded, tipping a whole shelf into my handy wheelbarrow and exiting in a relaxed, happy manner.

Now the full possibilities of consequences hit me. "God, I'm so stupid," I said, and the voice at the other end sounded amused but not moved. There was some kind of wordless communication of futures: prison, fines, humiliation. I thought of my family and felt so guilty that I'd let them down and failed in my responsibility.

Little Wooden Bull

I found a wooden bull in my granny's house during a party in which we were all there, at least all of my mother's side of the family. I brought it into the front room and it suddenly turned into a large and powerful real bull. I was afraid it was going to run wild and destroy the house, so I grabbed it by the horns and wrestled it to the ground, but I knew that the bull wouldn't stay passive for long and that we'd all be in danger when it rose up again, so I started asking my family what should be done with it, and who was going to take responsibility for it, since they had been keeping it in their house. No one was interested and no one wanted to do anything about the bull, so I decided I had no choice but to take charge of it myself. It had changed back to wood in the meantime, so accompanied by my mother I carried it up the road to St. Enda's Park, where we released it.

Straight away it came to life and started rampaging around the park, smashing through trees and fences. Other animals began to pour from its flanks and come to life themselves: a wolf, a tiger, a kangaroo, a dog, a rabbit, and more. We were glad that the bull was contained in the park now, but I was worried about unsuspecting people who might go into the park and be in danger. There was nothing we could do about that; people would just have to be careful.

As we turned to leave, the bull came back into view, charged into a thicket of oaks and reared up on it's hind legs. It was thirteen feet tall and its head was huge and horned like that of a bison. It looked straight at me, calmly and with immense power and authority, and I thought it looked like a god.

Re-entering time

at the end of a long sequence, I accidentally entered a version of my own past time-stream through a story that must have had some similarity. the story was of an infidelity. then I witnessed a play - the stage made of doll's house cardboard, the puppets cardboard cut-outs of children, the movements controlled by real children - my sister and I, very young. I talked to myself. I was afraid to say much in case I should teach the young me something that could change the future. then I met me when I was 13 - taller, long hair, still a child but now more aware. I was writing code. I asked myself what I was writing. a code review. "but only if it turns out to be interesting. you're my guinea pig," i told the young me. He grinned and thought it was a waste of time. in the meantime, in the programmed drama, the man left the woman. I woke up explaining:

    We can know the immediate causes
    we can know the events that caused us to program ourselves as we did
    but we cannot know the underlying causes
    the deep motivations at the instant of decision
    that level of history can never exist and is lost forever
    and every attempt to recreate it is ALWAYS in some sense:
    A FICTION


or:    we cannot locate awareness in the past
    we can only locate it in the present


or:    thinking is based on programs
    (memory, stories) created in the past
    awareness is not thinking
    and only exists NOW

Werewolf Poetry

I was in my old school    it was mixed    there was a different feeling to other dreams of being back at school        I wasn't stressed running from class to class    it was more like I was a visiting ex-pupil on a celebration day     then we gathered in the main hall, which was huge and round like a great lecture theatre        they started to play a piece of music    the words were from one of my poems    I was annoyed about this    my mother had sprung this surprise on me        I was uncomfortable with the attention because I didn't like the tendencies it needled in me    love of attention and need for approval

***

I was coming down a snowy and steep mountain slope, my travelling companion a girl. All around us were amazing patterns of ice and rock. I fell and slid down to the bottom in a mini-avalanche that buried me, but I was OK. It was a bad line to take down the mountain, the girl admitted. Then we found ourselves on the edge of a tall warehouse building. I was scared to approach the edge because I thought I'd slip on the icy surface.

My companion went ahead of my to a door in the side of the building, while I stared at the street below. When I followed her, she was gone, and the warehouse was dark and silent and full of closed doors and long corridors.

I chose one way and ran towards a door at the very end of a long straight corridor. I felt there was something behind me. When I reached the door I found it locked, and when I turned around I saw a small figure behind me, hunched over a light. I ran back that way, loping like a wolf, struggling with my own fear and trying to make myself appear powerful and dangerous. As I ran past I saw that it wasn't one small figure but several - children, all huddled together around the light, terrified of me. I ran on, realizing that a werewolf had been preying on these children at night, and that was who they thought I was. I wanted to explain that that wasn't me and that I wouldn't hurt them, but I didn't. I ran on and found my exit.

***

A storm was coming to my grandmother's house. The cats' things in the garden would blow away and we were anchoring them with stones. The cats themselves were confused and scared.

***

I was in a second-hand shop with Paul, wandering around. It was run by a Japanese lady and therefore had a lot of Oriental things and a lot of kitsch Western stuff. Weirdly, there were also a lot of things I remembered owning, such as mugs and comics and silly ornaments. I was browsing these old things of mine wondering if I should buy them because they gave me a nostalgic feeling. Then I thought "I gave all these things away, so why would I want them back?" They all belonged to Liadain and I, and we gave them away one time when we moved house. I found it very funny that this little shop contained so much of my and Liadain's life together and were redistributing it to strangers.

I sat down in the shop where a group of people were performing an odd birthday ceremony for one of their number. They were lighting candles and blowing them out with an exhalation of cigarette smoke. At one point they decided to start over because something in the ritual hadn't been quite right. For some reason I thought that the ritual had involved taking pills at the start, because I said "You can't chemically reconstitute these, you know. You can't turn back the clock and begin again - the drugs are already having their effect." The guy who had decided to begin the ritual again turned to me and his attitude said that I really didn't understand something. He told me a few things, most of which I've forgotten, but the most important thing was "Don't ignore things that exist." I asked "Like what?" and he answered "Well, like love." I didn't know what he was referring to or what I was missing, but I woke up feeling like I've been allowing something to slip by me, or that I've been ignoring something real in order to live my own life or to choose what direction I should go in. I've been wondering if I turned my back on love, or on my family again, by isolating myself. There are so many demands for love and companionship. I'm not just an empty means for the needs of other people to be fulfilled. I am a being unto myself. But what am I and what guides me? What am I missing?

The Shah's True Love

I was playing a computer game with my friend where we had to invade a Nazi stronghold, and we could never get past the final stage, a train station full of guards in turrets and behind barricades, the air full of bullets. Finally I dived into the water of an open stream that ran parallel to the tracks, the bullets making tracks all around me as I stared back up at the helmeted soldier whose machine-gun was pointed at my face. I spoke to him through the water, marvelling at the fact that the AI of the game was so well-designed that the soldier seemed as complex and real as a character in one of my dreams. To get away from him, I swam deeper, searching for an exit. Finally I saw one,

and surfaced in the swimming pool of the Shah of a hot and isolated country. The Shah has wonderful gardens in his palace all ringed around with pools and vegetation and gifts and dedications to his ladies - he looks like Burt Reynolds with a fake tan - I am a visiting prince petitioning him for a bride from his harem and to show the intensity of my intentions I water the flowers from a can into which I draw the water with my own breath. He guides me from garden to garden and shows me where the names are carved in stone: her who he loved and left, her who he worshipped and discarded. I swim in the pools and water the plants until finally I let my guard down and fall in love with the only woman he has forbidden me: the wife of his heart, small and dark and full of gravity and electricity like the black sister of the sun. I painted white and orange flowers for her on the side of the pool, and when they were seen the Shah and his servants were full of anger and recrimination, and I had to make explanation and reparation, but behind her dismay I heard her soul singing back to me.
 

Seven Seven

I was in Iraq, staying in a large house with my wife, my Italian cousin Francesco, and Saddam Hussein. Francesco and Saddam got on very well because they were both heavy metal fans. They especially liked a song by Bruce Dickinson called "Seven Seven", which they were playing and singing along to constantly. One of the lyrics of the chorus was "I am the mother of Touch Hero."

My wife and I were getting bored watching Saddam and Francesco get drunk and play air guitar together. Saddam's face was getting redder and redder, and the right hand side of it had taken on the colour and texture of raw beef, leathery and pink. He looked very unhealthy, close to death even. I was playing with a cat, who kept trying to crawl on to Saddam's lap and bite his fingers. I pulled it back and said "Silly kitty, don't scratch Saddam," and I nearly added out loud, as a joke, "Or he'll gas and torture you," but I stopped myself because it occurred to me that he might not find this funny.

I turned around on the bench we were sitting on to look out of the window. We were on the 1st floor of the house, and I could see people in robes and sandals walking on the path below. The air was full of huge wasps, each one at least as long as a human thumb, some of them even larger, buzzing angrily over the heads of the people as they walked.

My wife and I went out for a walk because we were so bored of Saddam and Francesco's little double act, but she turned back after a minute or two because of the wasps. It was hard not to panic, hearing them buzzing and circling just overhead. It began to rain, at leat at first I thought it was rain, and I thought, "Good, now maybe the wasps will go away," but there was something strange about the impacts on my hood and my coat. I looked around, and I saw that it was raining locusts. They were bright green, and they were falling from the sky in their millions, hammering on everyone's heads and clothes and turning the earth green. I ducked and hid around the corner of a building to get out of the shower. A voice in my mind told me that these locust storms happened regularly in Iraq, and that it was illegal to collect the locusts when they happened.

Finally I made it to a large, dark cathedral or mosque of some kind, a historical building which was full of tourists. I was glad to make it in out of the rain of locusts, but then I looked over to an alcove on the left and saw that it was a polar bear enclosure, separated from the rest of the interior by a thin rope barrier. There was music playing, and two of the polar bears were having sex in the missionary position while the others loafed around and read books. I was scared of the bears, and decided I wanted to get out of there. Then I woke up.