That is the title of a great Wim Wenders film written by Peter Carey. At the end a few people are stuck staring at videos of their own dreams, they become so addicted to these images that they lose themselves entirely in their own solipsistic world of private imagery that no one else but than the individual cares about. They just keep playing their own images over and over.
This film was made in the 1991 and was projecting a dystopian future of 1999. It is now 2012 and I think that end bit where they are looking at hand held video screens that look almost exactly like an iPhone or iPad is kind of eerie in its prescience.
I say this not as some detached observer but as someone who can get sucked into the internet and my minor-league social networking (Linkedin and Twitter - no Facebook for me or I'd never get up off my chair) or the ever-dangerous Googling of oneself or others and suddenly hours have flown by - where have they gone? Who the fuck knows, but it seems odd that this can happen and does happen on a distressingly regular basis to me. I hate admitting this. But there it is.
The movie comes to mind because the only way the woman gets cured is when her batteries run out and after a few days of junkie like withdrawal, the guy who she broke up with but has followed her around the world, writes her a story on an old manual typewriter and gives it to her with some tea (he's British). Eventually, she reads it and seems somewhat becalmed. The guy she had fallen in love and his father are found wandering around caves in the Australian outback (where the guy's father was doing the research) and taken away by the CIA to get the dream-catching technology.
I watched this movie over and over for a period of years, before I ever had internet access in my own home. I knew there was something important about it, and now that I feel like that woman, I know what it is. This shit can be addictive and I have an addictive personality ergo am susceptible.
Perhaps I am writing this now because I'm focusing more intensively on meditation and expanding to mindfulness meditation - which includes mindfulness during daily activities. When I was intending to drink a cup of tea mindfully today, I instead found myself at the computer emailing people back, looking at my blog and twitter, then vacuuming, then at the computer...etc. So my 'mindful' tea drinking lasted 10 minutes and made me late for a meeting in real life. I hate that I can get so easily distracted. I also do not fully understand the dastardly space-time continuum of being on the internet. Something happens, it eats time...it feels like the opposite of mindfulness, a kind of semi-conscious zombie state wherein all things one does kind of meld into one so the hours drift by and you wonder: what have I actually done? Even if I have 'done' a lot - meaning got some things accomplished that needed doing, contacted people, got information, etc., it feels kind of well like nothing really. Like a long ..... whatever.
I almost miss a typewriter enough to get one again. I wish I wrote these blog posts, as I used to do, on Word and then cut and pasted them here so I could be writing without being on the internet, but I got lazy and now write directly to the blog.
On the bright side, I spent a lovely evening with the writer Barbara Garson and her husband Frank at their place in Westbeth (and oh do I envy the Westbeth residents with their subsidized artist housing! But at the same time glad for them, because at least Someone has subsidized housing...). We chatted about things artistic, political and international - comparing countries has become a bit of a group sport for me with folks who've spent time abroad. We talked about the monarchy in the UK, our crazed political system, which country's class system was worse (toss up), where racism was worse (toss up) and watched yet another British detective drama on TV and laughed our asses off at the horrendous American accent of one of the actors. For some reason everyone in British drama schools learns an American accent that sounds like someone from working-class Chicago - and there is no class variation - so upper class Americans are supposed to sound this way, too - which is a cause for much hilarity on this side of the ocean. This is also why I could not listen to most BBC4 radio dramas with American characters because the accents were inevitably atrocious. Barbara noted that the British version of American accents tend to always sound somehow smarmy. We wondered if this signaled contempt. From my experience in the UK, I don't think it's only contempt (not always - though sometimes, yeah, it is) but sometimes ignorance or perhaps the inflections are just too weird to wrap one's mind around if one has learned British English first.
It was nice tonight to speak with people who could understand why I came back here to NYC and yet miss aspects of the UK at the same time (like oh say health care and a social safety net, funding for the arts, all that whacky stuff). Barbara especially got it from the political and writerly angles - that the words don't work the same - they resonate differently (see above in re accents - imagine that transposed to all the varieties of word usage, subtleties of meanings and connotations, etc.) and the politics - as in where on earth can I stand politically if I'm an American in London without seeming like a total jerk? The answer for the most part is: nowhere. Even if I write plays that focus on US politics, it's like shooting at a barn in Britain and like who cares?
Coming back up to Inwood tonight from the Village by the subway and walking up the steps to the street, I once again remembered why I came back here. I just love it. No matter what, it's an effortless and a weirdly unconditional love. I feel lucky somehow. Don't even know why specifically, I just do. I feel if I keep up this attempt at mindfulness and let myself believe from one breath to another that I can indeed begin again, all will be well. That is if I don't get swallowed whole into the internet vortex.
Speaking of which, time now for bed...
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now.