Cemitério dos Prazeres, Lisboa, Portugal. September, 2017.
Banyo dong, ghost apts under the shadow of Jangsan.
We go up the streets at the foothills of Jangsan in the night. Circling its enormous base, trying to find temples lit by lantern. We drive through orange lit alleys and sleeping houses. Few old people and uniformed students walking the streets. Our motorcycle can’t take us some hilly streets so we dismount and hike up . We go to the upper most levels and find apartments surrounded by quiet night forests and dead ends. We go down. We discover a line of unlit lanterns and it guides us through more dark ascensions. Shadowy cats cross the inclined mountain streets. A dark wooden temple on a corner guarding the entrance to the forest. We continue our drive. We find a road that runs up and parallel to a great white wall. Cars parked by the side of the road. At the top there a no lights except from the villages and the city fragments below. A dark green lump of a mountain, like a bell top that’s been carpeted by lichens extends out of the city. We look around these small apartments and they remind me of whited sepulchers from necropoleis in dreams. Sacked columbarium walls. Windows black and uninviting to the living. Nobody resides in them anymore. Entrails of structure strewn across the yards of burned grass. A playground. Figures contorted against the night. Swings and swiveling contraptions that tonight appear like childhood nightmare dokebis. She says let’s go and she’s startled by my torch light as it begins to inspect the dead playground and uncovers shadows. We leave. We find a park at the edge of Banyo dong. An old man trains his little dog like a drill sergeant. Two girls talk and look on as the dog runs and sits and dies on command.
Uninhabited apartments in a city made of lightemittingdiods. At night in Sajik the peace of these apartments’ shadows settle in the eyes like unlit forests in a city of fluorescence. A gap in the alluring lights. There’s fleeting life in them like in the body of an animal that once was loved and cared for and now lays in agony and soon will be dead and then dust. And these white apartments are to become rubble and be recycled into something new. On each of those windows a dim aura of deep melancholy of somebody’s lost childhood, joyous married life or mere loneliness.
Saturday night. I’m in another cemetery dream. Fourth one in six months. They are actually never scary but thrilling and filled with expectation.
Night. Graves scattered up and all around a hill lit by orange street lights. City lights spread below like the first sight of Las Vegas driving in from the East. I’m walking up a winding road that snakes through the ruins of Cerro Santa Lucia‘s fortress. The trees have a few purple leaves left. I wake up briefly. Then back to another dream. I’m in the river from The Master. There’s a lone cameraman in the water looking through a large camera as Joaquin Phoenix runs up the banks of the river. The tripod legs run into the water. Southern willow trees in the breeze. I tell the lone man I’ve seen this before. He turns around, it’s Tony Scott.
I’m not surprised. I sort of know this is a dream already. Director Tony Scott jumped to his death from Vincent Thomas Bridge in LA last month. But he’s here, wearing a pink baseball cap. He explains that this camera records into these tapes. Ejects a miniDV tape from the camera and shows it to me. I’m obviously not impressed and he seems distracted. He walks away leaving me to look after the camera. “Red” says a production assistant that stands arms crossed behind me. “I think the camera is a red.” I notice that one of the tripod legs rests on a leather treasure chest under the water. I move the camera to open the treasure. Inside, wrapped in newspaper like the Maltese Falcon, Halloween masks. I’m a little disappointed. They’re John Belushi masks in Blues Brothers character. I wake up.
i just had a dream about your blog.
north africa. first it was a flashback. it’s you and a guide on a dune. you almost step on a nest of snakes while taking a picture. the guide, who is moroccan, attemps to help you, and steps on another nest of snakes. these are not normal snakes… they’re flat snakes with multiple rattle spots along their bodies. he gets bitten several times in slow motion. poor guy. you and the guide jump in the white pickup truck and ride away to a hospital.
as you and the guide drive…
the flashback ends. and i’m in the pickup truck with you, and the guide, who apparently has survived. he’s driving and charges 100 (monetary unit of the country) the hour. we split the cost. i give you a bunch of large reddish bills.
we’re coming back from the same flat rattle snake dunes as the flashback.
we drive by a vast cemetery. dusk approaches. there are immense mausoleums the size of 20-story buildings. some are 30 or 40-story high carved on black marble. others resemble stalinist structures built to honor an eternal dictator. these buildings are besieged by a disorganized sprawl of black pine trees, gravestones, smaller mausoleums, and wooden crosses.
i ask if this is the country’s main cemetery. “yes,” the guide says. he seems annoyed because the snake bites still itch him. now the guide looks like mr. bobby, a motor rickshaw driver who gave me dal recipes in new delhi.
i ask you if this cemetery has been in your blog before.
you say yes. and then it’s another flashback as you explain your blog entry. i come with you into the flashback. it’s dark. we’re walking through poorly lit tunnels inside the necropolis. you take pictures of the signs. they read “no bragging about being alive,” “careful with bio,” “no obscenities to the dead.”
i look at my feet and notice i have no shoes. i say, “i forgot my shoes. let’s go back. i don’t want to get ringworm.”
we head out through a path of red earth in a forest of dark pine trees and elaborate graves. the forest ends on a swamp. we walk into the swamp. we wade, stepping on what seem to be decomposing logs under the water. we’re lost.
we see a tourist van and wave our hands to call attention. it’s driving down a road between the forest and the swamp. it doesn’t stop but the tourists wave us back.
we get on the road and feel silly we didn’t see it before.
at the end of the road we find cheering american backpackers. they are waiting under the grand entrance to the cemetery. it’s dark and lit by a single fluorescent streetlamp.
i try to be funny. i scream “the zombies are coming!”
nobody laughs. i look at you “we just walked through a pond full of rotting corpses and death water.”
i wake up thinking i’m late for work. it’s only 6:27am, korea time. the end.