Thursday, March 12, 2009

Part of Chapter Three of Vogel #5

Löwe was sitting at his writing table in front of two French windows overlooking the garden and the swimming pool. He held a Cartier fountain pen in his left hand. In front of him was a short stack of white paper made in Italy, which Löwe specially ordered from a shop in Venice. The top page was half covered by his strange, tiny handwriting. To the right was a copy of Plato’s Theaetetus in Greek and further to the right, a stack of blue index cards. Drago took no notice of the books or the writing; he simply placed the tray in front of Löwe, who had pushed his papers further to the right to make room. “It was always like this,” thought Drago. “He is like a baby bird waiting for me to bring his food. When it arrives, he pushes everything away to snap up every morsel. It is like he is starving. What an appetite for such an old man.”

Löwe was hungry as he always was in the morning. He fantasized that his dreams burned up a lot of calories throughout the night. He had been thinking about his dreams when Drago knocked on the door. Last night he had had a strange one. He was fighting in a medieval city against a large foreign army, equipped with war elephants. In the midst of battle, Löwe stood upon an elevated podium and called out to the elephants to come to him until they heard and came, one from the right, one from the left, and one from the center.

What did it mean?” he asked. An elementary component of dream interpretation was to say the elephants represented a part of him. He suspected they represented three primal sources of power, which he could not control. At the beginning of the dream, they were out of control, destroying men and material, but upon his command, they came to him and stopped.

“Why were there three?” He asked as his mind wondered over the number three. He knew the images had at least two components: meaning, which could be deciphered intellectually; and emotion, which would have to be investigated from the standpoint of its feeling-value.

In other words, to fully comprehend the images he would need to meditate upon the image of the elephant from several viewpoints, a task, which, once begun, seemed quite daunting in its complexity. He rubbed his head, an act which was unconscious, and which signaled he was deep in thought as he let his mind wonder over the image of the elephant, he felt its great size, its color, the stiff hairs of its body protruding from its leathery skin, its smell, its sound as it shifted from right to left on its ponderous legs, larger than tree trunks. He examined the metal and leather harness, which held the platforms onto the three great elephants’ backs and he could see the armored bodies of the archers perched on top of the elephants. He saw the legs of the men sitting on the necks of the large beasts, the wooden handles of the hook in their hands, which they used to turn and guide the great beasts. He imagined the elephants’ pink mouths and their swinging trunk. He asked himself how he felt about the elephant and his first reaction was a feeling of awe at their great size and strength. So how did he control them? What power did he possess to call them?

The dream reminded him of Ganesha; the elephant-headed God of the Hindus, and the first god worshipped at every ceremony, which had the head of an elephant and the body of a round, rotund, overweight man. Accompanying Ganesha are the hooded snakes wrapped around his waist, the lotus, which Ganesha holds in one of its two left hands, an ax, which symbolizes Genesha’s ability to destroy evil, a noose, which emphasizes mankind’s connection to human desire, and the mouse, which provides him with a mode of transportation.

Ganesha was a good sign, thought Löwe, and the appearance of the elephants in his dream was also a strong vision, a message from his unconscious.

Löwe also recognized Ganesha’s duality. He found, or least suspected, a difference between those creatures that bore the head of an animal, such as Ganesha and the Minotaur, and those creatures like fauns and centaurs, which had human heads and animal bodies. He felt that mythological creatures with animal heads were controlled by their natural or animal instincts while those like the centaur and the faun had their human nature controlled by their lower body, which was more basic in its demands and desires. He had not worked out all of the associations and differences, but he suspected a difference. Ganesha, of course, was nothing like the Minotaur, who was rapacious and sadistic.

He immediately thought of a series of dry points, which he had seen in Picasso’s atelier during the war in Paris. He remembered they were called the Vollard Suite and the one, which he remembered vividly almost fifty years after he had seen it, was #68, the Minotaur Caressing a Sleeping Woman. He remembered the day he had visited the atelier. He appeared along with several others for drinks with the Spanish painter. Although he was a German, a soldier, an occupier of Paris, he was on good terms with many of the artists. After all, he was a cultural attaché and his good will allowed many artists in the city to continue their work, to enjoy the patronage of the Third Reich, to sell their art, to receive ample food, and to enjoy their life. Picasso was a Spaniard and Spain was friendly toward Germany. Although Picasso was no friend of Franco and the existing Spanish government, he was willing to meet with Germans who were interested in art in 1941. There were many young, well-educated German officers who were appreciated surrealistic art, even degenerate art, as the Nazi regime called it. Löwe thought the Nazi propaganda against the expressionists and surrealists was ridiculous and he was very interested in Picasso, as well as several others. He was a personal friend of Cocteau and Brasillach and he tried to court as many of the French artists as he could. He had read Breton on surrealism and he obtained a copy of the magazine Minotaure from a friend in Paris, who provided it to him while he was training in Russia in 1934, the year he had met Sartre and Raya. Consequently, when he arrived in Paris as a cultural attaché, one of the first things he did was attempt to see Picasso. It was no problem to find out where the Spaniard lived and he could have easily entered the atelier, but he did not want to use the power at his disposal; instead, he decided to court the Spaniard and play to his ego. When he finally met him, he asked about the Vollard Suite, about the series of dry points, which spanned many years. When Picasso showed him the works, he was immediately attracted to the mythic character, which Picasso was obviously using as an alter ego. Löwe realized immediately that Picasso’s Minotaure was connected to the Dionysian spirit and he began to identify with the lusty representation of the Minotaur. As a result of the strong feeling tone he associated with the creature, Löwe began to investigate the source and quality of his feelings. He now believed that the appearance of Ganesha was similar to those earlier associations with the Minotaur and that his identification with the Minotaur and the appearance of Ganesha were signaling some significant change in his psychic life.

Löwe believed in both physical and spiritual evolution. The spiritual evolution was always a movement toward wholeness and this progression manifested itself to consciousness through images, images sometimes in the form of mandalas. With the appearance of the elephant, he felt his unconscious was trying to signal something to his conscious mind; therefore, he had to use various psychological techniques to learn the meaning of the images. This process was tedious and long in duration. He knew that now the elephant had appeared to his conscious mind it would stay with him for some time. It would stay until he understood its meaning.

“Shall I put this down, sir?” asked Drago, reminding the old man of the present and his hunger.

“Of course. I am sorry, I was lost in thought.”

Drago had the coffee pot in his right hand and a cup and saucer in the left.

“Your food is getting cold.”

“What time is it?”

“It is 8:25.”

“I must hurry. There is so much to do before the journalists arrive.” Löwe said absently, as he began to eat the now cold oatmeal.

Drago poured him a cup of coffee and then put the silver coffee pot down and retired from the room, leaving the man to his thoughts.

As Löwe slowly chewed the oatmeal, he imagined the Minotaur lying on a bed with a woman sprawled across his lap, while the sculptor, another character of the Minotaur saga of Picasso, lay on the other side of the woman, holding a champagne flute in one hand and a swooning woman in his left. The Dionysian atmosphere was so obvious that one had to start from there in the analysis of the sketch. The image of the Minotaur touched a psychological cord and reminded him of his years in Paris before the war, a time of great emotional and intellectual activity for him. Now, another mythical creature had entered the stage, Ganesha, a mixed being as well, full of strength, exuberance, and life. Löwe, though old in body, felt ripeness in his mind and a stirring somewhere in his loins. He was not dead yet.

He felt the images of the elephant signified a feeling of strength, a solidity of mind and concentration. He reached for the stack of blue index cards and wrote the words: Ganesha, Dionysus, Minotaure, Picasso, and Elephant. He would have to explore each name and meditate upon them. He had had a long experience with dreams and dream analysis and he knew the dream was the via regia to his unconscious mind and that once this passageway was opened, unlimited images would force their way into his conscious mind, just as water would flow from the earth to the surface at a spring. He imagined himself dipping a gourd into a spring.


SarahA said...

Well written, you.I have always believed that about dreams meaning something too.I dreamt last night I lost all my teeth....I wonder what that means!

Vogel said...

I originally wrote this poem for Cyd Adams, a friend,woodcarver, and poet, who lost some of his teeth while in a seminar.

In talking about this poem with my therapist, he thought the tooth represented "poetry."


He did not plant the larch.
He thrust it into the earth like a spear.
Beside it,
he laid a limb of ancient ash
and a molar that he pried
from his bleeding gums
with his nicotine-stained
left hand.
Using only his thumb and forefinger
he worked it loose
and studied its caries
before he pressed
it darkly into the tree’s
etiolated root.

SarahA said...

Love it! Ha!
But what does it mean me losing my teeth? I am losing my Poetry?!!!!!!!!!!!!Oh my!

Thieone said...

I really like this one. ;-)