art · Musings · Travel

Surrealist Swedish Summer

I’m currently back in Los Angeles stressing the eff out about my Spanish visa application, but I just wanted to reflect quickly on my Swedish vacation, which felt more than a little unreal.

The Myth of Light, Toyen

My six weeks in Sweden were more weird and wonderful than I can even describe. Maybe it’s the sleeping all day and dancing the night into delirium, watching the nights go from two hours of darkness to five, helping a friend write her personal statements and pick portfolio sketches, squeezing limes until my fingers ached to make ceviche, listening to “Despacito” on repeat with Julcha, meeting my Disney movie antagonist (I met a girl named Ursula) or simply meeting so many people that I couldn’t always keep them straight and Facebook keeps congratulating me on the number of friends I’ve added this month (stop making it weird, Facebook).

Sunrise at 3 a.m.

I don’t know what it was, but I read this poem yesterday and it struck me with all the force you want a poem to strike you with. This is the perfect poem to describe my surrealist summer in Sweden. 

Dreams by Wisława Szyborska

Despite the geologists’ knowledge and craft,
mocking magnets, graphs, and maps—
in a split second the dream
piles before us mountains as stony
as real life.

And since mountains, then valleys, plains
with perfect infrastructures.
Without engineers, contractors, workers,
bulldozers, diggers, or supplies—
raging highways, instant bridges,
thickly populated pop-up cities.

Without directors, megaphones, and cameramen—
crowds knowing exactly when to frighten us
and when to vanish.

Without architects deft in their craft,
without carpenters, bricklayers, concrete pourers—
on the path a sudden house just like a toy,
and in it vast halls that echo with our steps
and walls constructed out of solid air.

Not just the scale, it’s also the precision—
a specific watch, an entire fly,
on the table a cloth with cross-stitched flowers,
a bitten apple with teeth marks.

And we—unlike circus acrobats,
conjurers, wizards, and hypnotists—
can fly unfledged,
we light dark tunnels with our eyes,
we wax eloquent in unknown tongues,
talking not with just anyone, but with the dead.

And as a bonus, despite our own freedom,
the choices of our heart, our tastes,
we’re swept away
by amorous yearnings for—
and the alarm clock rings.

So what can they tell us, the writers of dream books,
the scholars of oneiric signs and omens,
the doctors with couches for analyses—
if anything fits,
it’s accidental,
and for one reason only,
that in our dreamings,
in their shadowings and gleamings,
in their multiplings, inconceivablings,
in their haphazardings and widescatterings
at times even a clear-cut meaning
may slip through.

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