27 June 2012

Nox Equus

When the weather starts to get warm and humid I sleep less and what I get is restless and full of strange dreams. I wouldn't go so far to say that I start to have more frequent nightmares, but I definitely sleep lighter and remember more of them.

Recently I dreamt a long winding dream about a caravan of vehicles traveling somewhere. My family and I were a part of it. The dream held no clues of where we were going or why. Another dream involved working in a bar mixing up colored potions. The floor of the bar was dirt, and the stools and bar top were rough wood. The dream was mundane in its plot, but felt somehow ominous.

The lack of deep, restful sleep comes down to one thing. No A/C.

The air becomes damp and heavy, hot, it grows harder to breathe. Sleep becomes more difficult. Breath is shallow.

The Nightmare (1790) Henry Fuseli
Nightmare is a word with its base in Old English. The Mare is a goblin in Germanic folklore that sits on the sleeping person's chest and controls their dreams.

Henry Fuseli found the concept ripe enough to paint not one, not two, but four different versions of what is still his most famous work.

The Mare also was believed to ride horses until they became exhausted and in some cases died. The creature, which was always portrayed as female (naturally) was also responsible for twisting tree growth. These twisted pine are called martaller or mare-pine in Sweden.

Mares are also responsible for a strange matted-hair phenomenon known as the Polish plait. This is what that looks like:

Jagiellonian UniversityKraków, Poland

Take a long look at that thing. It is a 1.5 meter (METER!) long ball of hair, pus, blood, lice casings, dirt, and skin. Yes. All of that. On your head.

It was common in Germany, Poland, Denmark, England, France. Everywhere. It is a result of poor hygiene. In other words, unwashed, uncombed hair. Many would not cut them off because it was widely believed that it was an illness removing itself from the body. Some even actively encouraged their growth by donning special caps and rubbing lard on their scalps.

So yeah, I'm thinking about those things lately. Because nasty, humid, weather does bring to mind gross hair. Gross bodies. Dirty streets, etc.

And I certainly feel like something is sitting on my chest at night. Maybe it's my cat.

Drew Barrymore's soul belongs to that vaguely cat-shaped thing.