Week 15: Dreams

by Daryl L.L. Houston

851: Popescu listens to Romanian intellectuals who are asking him for loans as if he’s asleep or in a dream.

864: As a child, ailment after Reiter goes off to war, Lotte hears him in her dreams, stepping like a giant homeward. Other times she dreams that she too is at war and finds Reiter’s body on the battlefield, riddled with bullets. Lotte’s father asks what the faces of the dead soldiers in her dreams look like, whether they look as if they’re asleep. He says that the faces of dead soldiers are always dirty. Reiter’s face is always clean in Lotte’s dreams, “as if despite being dead he was still capable of many things.”

868: Lotte dreams that Reiter appears outside her bedroom window and asks why their mother is going to get married. He then tells Lotte (in the dream) never to marry.

869: In the country, Lotte dreams about dead animals. Once she dreams of seeing a wild boar in its death throes in the bushes, surrounded by hundreds of dead baby boars. (Her strange response to this dream is to consider becoming a vegetarian but to take up smoking instead.)

870: Lotte’s nightmares have stopped. In fact, she never dreams at all. She suggests that she must dream like everybody else but is lucky enough not to remember the dreams when she wakes up. I think this is a close echo to Kessler’s reported experience of dreams.

875: Lotte dreams that her expatriate son has married and lives a normal domestic American life, but his wife has no face. Lotte sees her only from behind. When she dreams of him with children, she knows the children are around but never actually sees them. There are echoes of two prior dreams here, the first of Norton’s dream in which she sees the back of a head in the mirror and one in which Pelletier is living a domestic life with Norton and is aware that she’s around but never actually seems to see her. Also on this page, Lotte dreams that Klaus’s wife is cooking Indian food. She (Lotte) is sitting at a table with a pitcher, an empty plate, a plastic cup, and a fork, but she doesn’t know who let her in, and it troubles her. This becomes for her what she and her husband call “the Klaus nightmare” for its recurrence.

878: Lotte dreams (her first in a long time) of Archimboldi walking in the desert, wearing shorts and a straw hat. The landscape is all sand. She shouts to him to stop, but he keeps moving farther away “as if he wanted to lose himself forever in that unfathomable and hostile land.” She tells him it’s unfathomable and hostile, realizing that in the dream she’s a small girl again, and he whispers in her ear (sort of a god voice from afar, I guess) that it’s “boring, boring, boring.” Cue here a look back at the book’s epigraph.

880: Lotte is in Mexico and falls asleep with the TV on. She dreams of Archimboldi sitting on a huge volcanic slab, dressed in rags and holding an ax, looking sad. In the dream, she thinks that maybe her brother is dead, but her son is alive. She tells Klaus that she’s been dreaming about her brother, and he confesses that he’s been having bad dreams about his uncle too. When she admits that her dreams aren’t good ones, his reaction is to smile, and they move on to talk about other things.

882: Lotte dreams (back in Germany now) that a warm, loving voice whispers in her ear the possibility that her son really was the Santa Teresa killer. (Recall the dream a few pages back in which her brother is whispering in her ear from the desert.)

883: Klaus tells Lotte (having called from an illicit cell phone) that he had had a dream. She asks what it’s about, and he asks whether or not she knows what it was about. She doesn’t, and he says he’d better not tell her and hangs up.

884: Klaus’s trial passes as if in a dream.

889: Lotte is trying to reach Mrs. Bubis while in Mexico. She goes to sleep with the TV on but muted and dreams of a cemetery and the tomb of a giant. The gravestone splits and the giant begins to emerge. The head is crowned with long blond hair. She wakes up.

890: Archimboldi visits Lotte in Germany, and she tells him of Klaus’s dream that he’ll be rescued from prison by a giant. She tells Archimboldi that he doesn’t look like a giant anymore, and he says he never was one.


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