silent films

Excoriated Pan

Chemistry is a sort of a dream. Or a code anyway.

London. Autumn. Perhaps my last birthday or the one before that. Except I was born in the spring so that’s not right. I had just signed a contract for a book I did not want to write.

None of this is the dream. I’ll let you know when it starts.

Chemical compound for phosphorescence:


S is a singlet and T a triplet whose subscripts denote states (0 is the ground state, and 1 the excited state). Transitions can also occur to higher energy levels, but the first excited state is denoted for simplicity.

Chemistry is a sort of a dream. Or a code anyway.

We were at my favorite restaurant, heavy on David Lynchish pretensions to culinary oddness. If he were a restaurant this is definitely the one he would be.

(It used to be in where-the-fuck-is-this Bethnal Green, London. It’s closed now and the chef is at the Chiltern Firehouse—which is nowhere near as interesting.)

Seated by the boy with the bouffant hair whose face I have since replaced with my friend Kevin Townley’s, I ordered an artisanal gin and organic tonic. (I have discovered that becoming of a certain age affords you the attentions of young men in a different way. They solicit for an elegant power now and I prefer it.)

In that mysterious process of the oneiric recalling and retelling to which those of us on the edges succumb, I remembered the dream. What ignites the memory of a dream is a movement of mind in relation to space that cannot, essentially, be perceived. I think, in this case, that it was to do with the blue of the chairs but I would not swear it. And why would a certain colour of blue make one recall the dream below? It makes no sense.


Pan. Part goat, bottom half. Part man, upper half. (Don’t you just despise the word rut?)

On a proscenium, in front of bordello red curtains. A Victorian red of prurience and not-your-grandmother’s-kind-of-sex and voyeurism and what we call Entertainment.

My poised goat hooves glued to the boards. My man torso and face muscles exposed. Skinned alive. Oozing bits of congealed blood like slumbering maggots (the blood moves only slightly, swaying to the movement of my breath). Around my neck a garland of neckbones. Tiny bones from inside my body. In the skinning, they were extracted.

Incidentally, I am mute—as I often am in theatre dreams.

Smell: Musty, dusty from the golden days of theatre right before the silent films and then, too quickly, the talkies. It is hard to make transitions. (Is there a name for osmic dreams?)

A side show or front show or filler between acts. Skinned, bloody, oozing. No membrane, no viscera, no epithelia. No fucking skin. On display.

Pan-me unable to move or speak or scream. Searing phosphorescent lights. Dust settling on my whole-self wound. Delicate throat bones. A necklace of intricate beauty.

The audience waits in silence for it to be over. I remember them, perhaps optimistically, as horrified.

Time passes and the dust settles onto my exposedness. Then the audience begins to throat-clear and Pan-me recedes into darkness. The freak show mercifully completed.

Colophon: The Jewish-cum-Hindu homeopath who rages on about money and its absence is convinced that my remedy is phosphorescence.


The substance used to illuminate stages with a greenish undershadowed light. A refraction of sickness and magic. The unflattering glow accentuating all the wrong curves and bones under the faces of dancers and actors and whores.

Where S is a singlet and T a triplet whose subscripts denote states (0 is the ground state, and 1 the excited state).

Does this skinlessness look bad on me? Do the worms of congealed blood improve the situation at all?

For some reason, the homeopath refuses to give me my remedy. He says, Sometimes it is better to go through the back door. You shouldn’t always treat the obvious with what it obviously needs. I stopped going soon after that. What am I? Time and money?

Transitions can also occur to higher energy levels, but the first excited state is denoted for simplicity.

T is the first letter that ever struck me. No, it was S. Nuala (whose image is at the top of this dream) says she’s very fond of B because it “belongs to the west [of Ireland], to the time back then before electricity and shoes that I didn’t belong to. They are smooth curves that curl gracefully inwards at the beginning and end […] in a very particular way.”

Perhaps it is the throat bones that make the goat-man. Undeniably, it has the flourishing touch of style. The issue with being a goat on the bottom half is that I am very fond of shoes. Man on the top half has no great attendant issues that I know of. Skinlessness, however, could be an obstacle to the first excited state.

Aside: As I write this dream I think of John [Joseph] Merrick. The Elephant Man was on television when I was too young to see it…yet I did. He died because he wanted to be a human being. He wanted to sleep like other people do—on their backs—and he suffocated in his sleep. Or so it went in the film. Some things are hard to bear and it seems to be exactly those things that cannot be erased.

Dream of the Drawing for Everything alchemies dream-like things: images and texts and films and sketches and philosophy and half-thoughts and visions and moments and fragments of all kinds. Resting and exploring here may deepen your relationship with the oneiric and, therefore, all apparent reality. Resting and exploring here may augment your psyche’s healing tendency—as Jung called it—through highlighting and delighting in humanity’s hallucinatory creations. (Without them, after all, neurologists assure us we would go starkers.) It is time there was a potentially infinite, intimate museum to what cannot be seen. Welcome to the museum.

Dream of the Drawing for Everything is some of the collaboration between artist Nuala Clarke & writer Crystal Gandrud. Our work arises out of what dances on the edges of perception and our collective attention gravitates to the dream-like nature of human experience. We have been in collaboration since 2010. Our merged practices of visual and textual art unfold on a continuum, as part of an interconnected series evolving over time. Both performed “Fair Shouldered One” (a book which is not a book) at the &Now Literary Festival in Paris, 2012 and installed “Between Spaces”, a Yeats inspired dreamscape at the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo, 2013. Most recently participated in the Find Arts Project in Castlebar, Ireland. Our public art installation of words and images printed on linen, “Woven Found”, hung on Castle Street. The project won the best commissioning practice award from Allianz Business to Arts, 2014.

Nuala Clarke

Nuala Clarke, visual artist, lives and works between Co. Mayo and New York City. Educated at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, she moved to New York City in 1993. In September 2007, she received a fellowship to the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Mayo and began returning to Ireland from NY to work every year. Clarke has been represented by Boltax Gallery, NY since 2005. Recent shows include, Amid a Space Between: Irish Artists in America at the SFMoMa Artists Gallery, San Francisco, (2012); to Tremble into Stillness, a WB Yeats related show at Hamilton Gallery, Sligo; RHA invited artist; and A drawing for Everything, Ballinglen Arts Foundation (2013). BLINK, a public art installation at the Westport Arts Festival, Co. Mayo (2014). Upcoming shows (2015): Impressions of Yeats, Hamilton Gallery, Sligo; Of this place, Sligo and Madrid.

Crystal Gandrud

Crystal Gandrud, writer, lives in New York City and Normandy, France. She holds an MFA, Creative Writing and a BFA, Classical Theatre. Recent publications include “Yeatsian: Numberless Dreamers,” The Encyclopedia Project, 2014, “Here,” Lost Magazine, and “Idiom: Woodbird Flies Early,” The Encyclopedia Project. Her dissertation, “Murdoch: the Mandala Maker,” was presented at Kingston University’s Iris Murdoch Conference (2006), London. At the most recent Murdoch Conference, she performed a multi-media excerpt from a work-in-progress entitled “The Forgotten Man,” inspired by Murdoch’s philosophical writings. She is under contract for a memoire entitled “Astonishment: A Litany of the Uncanny.”

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