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Dream Elegies: After the Red Room

Het is alweer een jaar geleden dat het allereerste Mammoetje uitkwam. Ik had destijds de eer om deze te schrijven: een wrang zomerverhaal over een gedoemde liefde. Als schrijver ben je het merendeel van je werktijd kwijt aan allerlei grote projecten, waardoor het als een traktatie voelt om tussendoor iets kleins en experimenteels te schrijven, het liefst iets totaal anders dan waar je eigenlijk mee bezig bent (een boek, een onderzoek). Ondertussen zijn er maar liefst dertien Mammoetjes verschenen, waarvan die van Shira Wolfe en Laslo Antal – zie hieronder – de recentste is. Ik hoop dat er het komende jaar net zoveel inspirerende en gevarieerde Mammoetjes zullen volgen als dat het archief nu al telt. Dat schrijf ik niet zozeer om sympathiek te zijn, maar omdat ik er zelf een belang bij heb: in 2024 zal ik namelijk de allereerste Mammoetjes-bundel redigeren. Dus blijf experimenteren, lieve collega’s, en hopelijk lezen we jullie traktaties over twee jaar offline.

- Nadia de Vries, auteur van het eerste Mammoetje


Dream Elegies

First Elegy: After the Red Room

Shira Wolfe Kunst door Laslo Antal

Beluister hier hoe Shira haar Mammoetje voorleest, met muziek van Laslo op de achtergrond:

“These early dreams in particular are of the utmost importance because they are dreamed out of the depth of the personality and, therefore, frequently represent an anticipation of the later destiny.

- Carl Gustav Jung, On the Method of Dream Interpretation, p. 1

“Neither my childhood nor my future is growing smaller… Being in excess wells up in my heart.

- Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies - Ninth Elegy, p. 17

she unearths

the deepest oceans

of my childhood dream

The dream

In my childhood dream

I am locked into place

by a spotlight in a red room.

My father’s friend tickles me

and he won’t stop,

so it becomes a torture.

In the next dream

I’m in my bedroom,

my sister sleeps.

I climb onto the windowsill,

I jump out the window,

I fall down into cold night air.

Before I hit the ground and die

I wake up.

One of my first memories

is this recurring nightmare

dreamt every night for a month.

I was about five years old

and I am 30 when I go to a dream analyst

to interpret the dream.

The dream which foreshadowed

the formation of my identity.

I learn that in the dreams of children,

we often find something

that anticipates the rest of our lives.

And my dream contains a key triad:

1. it was a recurring dream,

2. it was a nightmare, and

3. the dream is a first memory.

This triad implies that the dream

says something important about my personality.

It presents me with a life task.


“In dream series, the dreams are connected to one another in a meaningful way, as if they tried to give expression to a central content from ever-varying angles. To touch this central core is to find the key to the explanation of the individual dreams.”

- Jung, p. 3

Dramatis personae

We examine the characters in the dream.

Who is my father’s friend

and why did I dream him?

He shares my father’s first name,

he is Jewish-American like my father,

but unlike my father he has no family of his own.

He is funny and strange,

clown-like in character

and an editor by profession.

My father’s ancestors are Ukrainian-Belarusian,

His friend’s ancestors are Hungarian-Croatian,

and some of the Hungarians lived in Subotica, Serbia.

Subotica is the synchronicity

I discovered days before the dream analysis:

it connects his past with my present.

In early 20th-century Subotica his grandfather owned a bakery.

In late 20th-century Subotica my love was born.

In the early 21st century I’m a guest in this city.


“Time comes apart a little in the unconscious, that is, the unconscious always remains beside the passing of time and perceives things that do not yet exist. In the unconscious, everything is already there from the beginning. So, for example, one often dreams of a motif that plays a role only the next day or even later.”

- Jung, p. 9-10

The persecution

In my dream he tickles me,

and crosses the fine line

between pleasure and torture.

I feel persecuted.

Tickling becomes a torture

that drives me mad.