The alchemy of dreams

Aníbal Merlo
In the plot that memory and dreams weave some fabrics have its nature exchanged. Iron is like a cloud and water is like thought; the sparrow is a pheasant that whispers lies to passers-by, or writes about caravans moving in dark alleys approaching the entrails of the earth. A part of the load gets lost, other one is retrieved.

Further away, in a distant country, a fleet is getting ready to sail without knowing the departure date or the port of arrival. Sailors grease capstans, tighten riggings, inspect halyards, ironworks, sails and masts. Repeatedly, they verify the obedience of the rudder and the geometric safety of portholes for those who during a night of insommnia will see through them the shining pupils of a marine animal, the longed light of a lighthouse, or the vague silhouette of an unknown port. Often they study the navigation charts and mark the dangers that are on the lurk. With an invisible smile, and striking simultaneously the wooden hulls of the ships, they enjoy in advance the excitement of the voyage and the feeling of roaring seas. Already in open seas, it is possible that some of these ships evoke her vegetable origin and dream of throwing roots again in firm ground.

Terra firma: arriving or departing. The territory turns out to be vaguely familiar; we see small recent ruins in which we perceive tracks of the retreating human being. Our thought follows a route in which there abound hollows and patches, forcing us to stop constantly, to settle or change the sense of the march, avoiding black mouths of water wells, that we estimate as being gigantic inverted towers; we observe constructions that are there only to defend those empty spaces, or safeguarding us from them. There are forgotten rooms that we know by intuition and that one day we have filled with our lives and tracks of carriages in the street stones, marks and stamps of days and days.

Confrontations: The dreamed reality, crossed by the unreality of the awakening. The look opposite to the invisible thing. The imperfectly rational opposite to the perfectly irrational. Time opposite to what flees away from us. The object against its representation. The dogma questioned by discovery. The order opposite to the chaos that covers and wishes it. The soothing certainty opposite to the fruitful disorientation. The truth of absurdity discussing with the inexorable logic. The questions that are aswers in front of the answers that do not admit questions. The geometry harassed by its own shades. The naked construction opposite to the magic. The big errors redeemed by the small wise move. The obsesive planning against the negotiating dialogue. The mirror assuming the multiplication. The clarity of a sunny morning smiling at the abysmal blackness. A shade of unreality opposite to another shade of unreality. One half separated from the other by its unembraced innards. The blinding light coming from the hand of the illuminating darkness. One, meaning all, opposite to nul, meaning nothing. The wall in front of the strange object. The ships arriving to destination port.

Little by little I am discovering a landscape of forms I dreamed, lines I have drawn, volumes I have sculpted, textures I have painted, spaces into which I have imagined to journey. Luminous trees, stairs that climb towards the vacuum, doors that perhaps shut up or open out some puzzle, zigzagging pathways, unexpected architectures. A voice inside my head says to me: “You can take with yourself what you want”. Then I take out a magic tool that up to this moment I did not know I had and begin to capture images one after another. A strange joy invades me. At the same time I am  myself and another person. The caravan has turned into a blind and roaring truck crossing the labyrinth at vertiginous speed, altering the peace of the inhabitants with the din of its engine. What mission does it take if it never stops?

As every day, I am coming to a new starting point. I look around me and observe the small petrified surrounding ocean, now tinted with autumn colors. I open the door of my study and as a dog I smell the aroma of the wood. I am surprised that everything is just as yesterday in the evening when I left this place in which some dreams insist on fighting for that transmutation that will do for them a place in the world of tangible things. Some hardware is on the floor, and the table is covered with papers, gouges, pencils, chalks, knives, brushes, bottles, pigments, oils, compasses, strips of wood, shavings, whetstones, photographs, squares, ropes and other small instruments. The time, on the other hand, is absent, as if it doesn´t exist.

Madrid, november 2000