09 January 2010


These Dreams: The Desk That Was an Organ

They may call Nick Rhodes the "Synth God" . . .
but we all know that title really belongs to Thomas Dolby.

Most of my dreams are set in houses I have lived in--houses that no longer exist in the waking world.

This includes my the Time Travel dream: the flat in [English City] where my friend and I stayed bore an unmistakable resemblance to an aunt's townhouse, which developers demolished over a decade ago.

Early this week, I dreamed that I was back in my childhood home--the house where I lived for the first twenty years of my life and which I barely recognised after the new owners were done remodeling it. Of course, in my dream it looked exactly the same as it did when I was a child . . . except that most of the clear glass in the windows had been replaced with glowing stained glass.

I was walking downstairs to the formal living room, where my grandmother's social climbing tastes had been allowed free rein, and which one of our poltergeists claimed for its own after our family fortunes took us from "new rich" to "impoverished rich" and could no longer afford to entertain so lavishly. It was also where we ended up moving the Yamaha organ which my grandmother had bought in the 70s, to impress the neighbours, when she really should have bought a piano. It was a room full of all sorts of ghosts, at least one of them literal, but in my dream it was bright with coloured sunlight and not frightening at all.

And in the corner, instead of an electric organ, there was a desk . . . a desk with a cabinet full of books . . . all books by "Bad Catholic" authors: Father Andrew Greeley, Bud McFarlane, Diana Gabaldon. The book jackets of their novels were glowing as enchantingly as the stained glass in the windows.

Then I woke up and knew exactly what the dream meant.


In It Might Get Loud, The Edge said he considers the guitar his voice. He uses the sustain feature on his amplifiers to make his notes converse with the notes he played seconds before. His present music becomes a duet with the very recent past. I've always wondered what it was that made U2's music so compelling. In a large part, it's this conversation between the past and present, this "sustain," that has been taking place right under my nose all these years without my being aware of it.

I think Pentimento uses a sustain feature in her writing. I've often read one of her posts . . . and wondered what is it about her writing that makes me want to keep reading. It is the conversation between the past and present that is so skillfully executed, I hardly realize it's taking place. It's no coincidence she's a musician as well as a writer.

-- Betty Duffy on what makes compelling music and enchanting writing

That "sustain" feature might be what Barbara Taylor Bradford had in mind when she advised Romance author Lisa Kleypas not to write another novel until Kleypas turned forty. Obviously, it was advice Kleypas didn't take, but advice she did come to understand: "You have to live through some difficult experiences before you get to be interesting, as a person and as a writer." What she then could have emphasised further (in this reader's unimportant opinion) is that the reason writers need all those experiences in order to be interesting, is that so much of their work involves sustaining the richness of the past in the writing process of the present.

Anyway, it was after reading Betty Duffy's post that I realised I wanted to write like Pentimento.

It should be a safer and yet much richer exercise than my last one, which was all about writing like Arturo Vasquez.

You might know that I really hit some raw nerves with that one, and though I've apologised for hurting people's feelings (because I'm really an awful softie), I do think those who were angriest were those who were most in denial. Furthermore, while I stand behind my more controversial posts, I'm almost afraid to admit that they were also just a new hat I decided to try on for December.

Indeed, the only reason I feel safe enough to say that now is that I've padded this blog with enough nonsense to keep "serious" readers away . . . and put a wild picture of Nick Rhodes at the top of this post, with a video from circa-1985 Heart right before the "Keep Reading!" marker, as final security measures. If you're reading this, then you must really like the way I write. Wow! Thank you! =D

You must also really be wondering what all that has to do with my dream. Well, let me draw you a timeline . . .

Though I had been thinking of retiring Sancta Sanctis since I started Shredded Cheddar last July, and actually almost did it on All Saints Day last November, it was the amazing reaction to my final post of "Bad Catholic Month" last December which settled the question for me. The day I finally decided that the last day of blogging at Sancta Sanctis would be Ash Wednesday 2010, also happened to be the day I read Betty Duffy's post. So it is the threads of music, of writing, of "sustained" memory, and of "Bad Catholics" that came together in my illuminated dream.

My subconscious and I understand each other reasonably well.

Image Sources: a) Nick Rhodes, b) The Edge


twowaysofrenouncingthedevil said...

You are tricky.
My favorite romance novels are the Kristen Lavransdatters. I'm only sorry that I read them after my first kid, because I wish I'd read them in my twenties, then my forties, then my sixties and then eighties. Missed one.
Still don't quite get the quitting the other blog thing. . . .

Enbrethiliel said...


To tell you the truth, even I kind of don't get the quitting the other blog thing! =P

It has something to do with my being tired of being controversial. I know that I don't blog stuff to offend people or to rouse the rabble--and I think that fact might come across more effectively if my blog were bright purple with yellow and green text.

By the way, having Sigrid Undset as your favourite Romance writer just makes you classy. You know that, right?

twowaysofrenouncingthedevil said...

I sit typing in my bathrobe with a bag of chips open beside me, two old coffee cups next to it, a broken trailer window to my left covered in melted ice and a bookcase to my right covered with an old saran wrap box, two diapers (clean, surprisingly), kids books, glucose strips (used and not), a hairbrush that was used by my kids and then became the dog brush and has somehow managed to become a people brush again, a doll that is damp from being rescued from the lab's mouth this morning. . . .I am the very epitome of class. . . .

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, that bursts my bubble!

I'd better not describe the room in which I am typing this comment . . . Let me just say that it might just make you feel very happy about yours!