Essays About Dreams From My Father

How then to represent what I have come to call sublime trauma, the absolute terror of colonialism that is too gargantuan to be represented, words whose monument deforms our mouths as we speak them, events too much almost to even bear glimpsing?And what right or relationship do I possess to these horrors that happened to other people in another time?I had begun writing down what they said and kept a diary about my trips to death and back, my futile search which I found myself forgetting as I awakened.

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When time passed and the beginning had ended, these dreams would occasionally return and strike him out of nowhere and he found himself gladdened. My consciousness (which seemed obviously something separate from myself) had scrutinized what was happening and decided to correct it with the fact. I walked into another room in this museum/mausoleum and saw growing from the stone floors, a luscious grove, the oranges illuminating the room like lanterns. They were here because the trees themselves had been cut down in the nation above. I was now alone and did not know where in this space my father existed.

This was the only way he could see again the one who had died, a thwarting of death. In the beginning of this next chapter of dreams, I found myself inside a windowless gray room deep inside a large state building stationed across from my father, who sat on the opposite side of a visitation booth, an unbreakable window and telephone apparatus between us, and he must have been in jail, interned at the border between my nation and his nation, he was in immigration prison, he was a migrant held captive at the border of death. In the beginning, when I visited the underworld, I was ostensibly searching for my father, but I could rarely see his body. I made my way across the highway and walked into the city to explore the necropolis, ostensibly searching, obviously failing my impossible quest. The nation above had been cut down in the nation above. Maybe this meant I was an adult, because I was alone.

I told this to a novelist friend, who said that he had experienced similar dreams. My dreams would proceed as they had previously, but halfway through, my father would need to leave, would begin to move out of his apartment (he has never lived in an apartment), would disappear around the corner, would forget about me, would have never have been there at all. I had come not in a dream, but in a time machine did I come to Al-Azhar Mosque when Napoleon shelled it and occupied it with his soldiers, Al-Azhar where he executed a few sheikhs, married an Egyptian Muslim wife as proof of his new and supposed faith (a woman he killed after he fled Egypt), and where the French army and its horses pissed and shat in its sanctified halls. This did not happen since I had not been there two hundred years ago.

In the beginning, he was devastated to see the one who he had lost. The narrative distorted itself to represent the abrupt rupture of grief. This did not happen, since I had imagined the architecture based on the Death Zone tower in .

But adults are not alone, they have families and friends and a community and we call this citizenship.

And I was here in a land where I did not belong, a place that I could be sent back from at any moment for existing without authorization, I was not authorized to be dead.Nourbe Se Philip in There was a moment for me when reading this essay—somewhere between the father’s appearance in dreams and the narrator’s walking the underworld alone—where I experienced an emotional quaking—very jarring, like suddenly becoming tuned in to some new knowing about the relationship between personal loss and the monumental grief empire has produced.There is a tension in this piece about the bigger picture and then a pulling back to the detail, to the naming of the particular, so that the big picture is always tempered or troubled by what resists universality.Yet, this work necessarily has a global reach as it transcends the artifice of borders and nations; it also transgresses the temporal and the line between life and death.Where, asks Chen, in the catastrophic is knowledge located? How can poetry know differently and what conditions do we need in order to manifest that access?*** In the beginning, in 2012, my father passed away and I began making regular visits to the underworld, which seemed polite.Like most people, I had not previously traveled to the underworld and hadn’t really intended to visit more than once.Therefore if at all one writes an essay on his or her father, it must be something that makes it meaningful for the beautiful relationship between the father and the child.It may not be something way over the top and scholarly, but simple words can make greater impact.When we are in the underworld, when we have finally granted ourselves access, what new sight does this perspective lend when one might not legitimately be a resident? Underworld as archive for the self, a slot to slide into, a comfort.What can we possibly say of what Chen calls, “sublime trauma”?


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