I wasn’t really sure that this would be appropriate for the blog, but I suspect that this dream will show up as source material for a painting one day.

I was at a funeral in a hall. The body of a man lay across a platform raised three steps from the floor, on the right side of an altar, his hands placed on his chest, his head close to the altar, feet pointing toward the right side of the room. My old school headmaster (whose name was “Jock” Campbell) approached the cadaver from my right and placed a wooden device over the body’s fingers so they were secured inside its framework with the palms together. Having positioned the device on the chest he took some string and made a cats cradle network in his own hands, placed the string into the top of the machine and smacked it hard with the palm of his hand, pushing the line quickly down around the dead man’s fingers and tying the hands together in an attitude of prayer.

As the headmaster turned his back on the body, two men strode forward and in quick succession efficiently threw their burdens onto the corpse’s chest; first a coiled rope with a noose tied into one end; then a live cat. The cat landed on the body with claws extended, digging them into the man’s flesh. The cadaver’s head turned toward the audience, opening its eyes and began to slide sideways. I expected it to collapse down the stairs, but even though his mouth opened to reveal a blackened tongue and somehow his chest opened to show the embalmed organs, the man was impossibly alive, and reaching out his arms, now instantly freed from restraint, extended his spread fingers to the floor to prevent his fall upon his fingertips.

Appalled, I realized that in spite of his hanging on to life even after being embalmed, he would not live, and the ceremony would most likely continue anyway. Horrified, I woke (and wrote the dream into my sketchbook).

About pearce

Michael Pearce is an artist, writer, and professor of art. He is the author of "Art in the Age of Emergence."
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