Long time no dreamsplaining! I know. I’ve been slacking on offering guidance and counsel to the world’s misunderstood souls. But I’m back on the dreamsplaining wagon and not a moment too soon because Anne Gorrick has three dreams that need me.
Anne Gorrick is a poet and visual artist living in West Park, NY. She is the author of: A’s Visuality (BlazeVOX Books 2015), I-Formation (Book 2) (Shearsman Books 2012), I-Formation (Book 1) (Shearsman, 2010), and Kyotologic (Shearsman, 2008). She has co-edited (with Sam Truitt) In|Filtration: An Anthology of Innovative Poetry from the Hudson River Valley (Station Hill Press 2015). She curates the reading series, Cadmium Text and co-curates (with Lynn Behrendt), the electronic journal Peep/Show. Her visual art can be seen here.
Let’s see what’s in Anne’s psyche and what I can tell her about it.
I recently had dreams about shoes, three nights is a row.
In the first dream, CA Conrad begged me to follow him up this steep hill barefoot, and I did, but the ocean came in and ruined my favorite velvet clogs that I left behind, turning them an indeterminate grey.
In the second, I was trying to keep an appointment with a therapist from my ground-floor urban villa. The appointment was important because they were going to refer me to someone about my herniated disc. But I couldn’t figure out the right outfit. There were clothes tried on and discarded everywhere. I settled on wearing my purple Converse and a black linen dress, but the sneakers sprouted these spangly elaborate ribbony laces that I couldn’t figure out.
In the third, Peter and I were hanging around some real fiddle-y music old barn. On these shelves were a collection of rustic old western shoes. And a scary pair of white cowboy boots with American flags on them. Plus fringe.
Let’s begin with considering what all these shoes are about.
Or better yet, let’s consider what it means not to be wearing shoes. Your foot is exposed, unprotected from sharp objects and the elements. Sometimes little children run around without their shoes on and when they step on bumble bees their moms are quick to point out, “I told you so.” No shirt, no shoes, no service. If you saw somebody walking down the street without shoes you might wonder if perhaps they’re poor, or possibly some wacky new-ager or a 15th century villager.
A person without shoes is lacking something. What might that be? What do shoes suggest? A person living in Alaska without a sturdy pair of snow boots would be suspect. The first day on the job my cousin didn’t yet have his steel-toed boots and he lost a toe. We might assume someone wearing a pair of $1000 Jimmy Choo shoes lives a rather privileged life and we may even consider her frivolous and disconnected from most people. Sneakers worn when not exercising or playing athletics is considered casual and to some, downright sloppy. You can take a whiff of my son’s shoes and safely conclude that personal hygiene is not high on his list of priorities.
Shoes are a representation of what grounds and connects us to this world.
Shoes also pick up some of the dirt we walk through. Some houses of religion require worshippers to take off their shoes before entering. In some countries it’s considered good manners to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home. In the U.S. people with pristine white carpets often require this of their guests.
Shoes reflect where we’ve been and what we bring with us.
The Wicked Witch of the West was willing to kill Dorothy for her Ruby Red Slippers. Cinderella’s stepsisters maimed their own feet to try to fit into her glass slipper. Snow White’s stepmother was forced to dance to death in hot iron shoes. The Twelve Dancing Princesses wore out their shoes from dancing all night in fairyland. While the Shoemaker slept, the elves made his shoes for him helping him out of poverty.
Shoes are serious business.
Applying this all to Anne, in the first dream she follows another poet up a steep hill while barefoot. When she follows another, she does not have her own standpoint. The ocean (i.e. her unconscious) swept away her favorite, longstanding standpoint, stripping it of its color. These once wonderful shoes are no longer so wonderful.
The second dream is her trying to get help dealing with pain, but she struggles because she doesn’t know how to present herself (she can’t figure out what to wear). She finally settles on a pair of purple Converse, but something strange and unfamiliar sprouts from this standpoint. She can’t figure it out.
In the final dream she’s looking through shelves of old shoes, boots from the wild west. One pair in particular, an excessively patriotic pair of white boots, terrifies her.
Anne has lost her standpoint. What had been connecting her to the world is no longer working and this causes her a bit of suffering. She recognizes this, but she doesn’t know where to find her next standpoint. She doesn’t seem to have it already in her closet. The third dream has her looking at traditional, “American” standpoints from the past and I get the sense that these aren’t suiting her either.
Anne needs to keep trying on shoes.