Jan Švankmajer

I dreamed last night that, together with a few others, I was on some sort of quest to find Jan Švankmajer’s “new’ film (but this was not his actual new film, Surving Life, which I still have not seen). Locating the film involved having to find Jan himself, in order to solve certain clues. I found myself in the corridor of something like a large, old hotel, with dim yellowish lighting and dark wood panelling. I knocked at the door of one of the rooms and it was opened by Jan Švankmajer, or, rather, someone who resembled Jan, as if it was an actor playing a role in a film, in which I too had a part. Without speaking, he gestured us to enter the room, which was large and filled with piles of old books and papers, like an alchemist’s lair, and which had the same dim yellowish light as the corridor. Upon being asked about his new film, he opened an old leather-bound ledger in which there were columns and columns of lists, neatly hand-written in pencil. Then, as if in a close-up, he ran his finger down each list and looked at us questioningly, to see if we had found what we were seeking. I cannot recall whether we were seeking the title to the film, or whether it was something that we knew and would recognize. However, I did notice the name of Stephen Clark in one of the lists. And then more lists, but nothing was resolved, no clues unravelled or answers manifested. Suddenly, nodding as if something significant had occurred to him, but without uttering a word, he led us to a large, dark-wood wardrobe, which he opened solemnly. He indicated another hand-written list in pencil, pinned to the inside door of the wardrobe, then ran his finger down it to a particular word and nodded towards the interior of the wardrobe, which was filled with garments made of a heavy, dark cloth. At this point, it was as if I was watching myself step into the wardrobe, pushing aside the heavy garments, but at the same time experiencing this directly, with a strong tactile element. I felt a sense of unease and foreboding as I entered the wardrobe, which grew into fear as I felt I was being suffocated by the heavy material, which seemed to be pulling me further into the darkness of the interior. I awoke from the nightmare, but felt myself to be paralyzed in the hypnopompic transition from dreaming to waking, desperately trying to cry out for help, but unable to do so.

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