I had to write “a provisional indication of the subject area in which I might write my dissertation” for the MA course I’m applying for. Here the results:
– European studies: interdisciplinary approach (history, sociology, cultural studies, international and European relations, soft power) to the “nationalism” issue. Issue already investigated in the course of my studies (paper written for a course on Canadian Studies: “’The Imperialist’ and the roots of the ‘failure of Canada’”).
– European studies: interdisciplinary approach (history, economics, law, international and European relations, soft power) to the “prison system” issue. Issue already investigated in my bachelor’s thesis (“De Beers and Segregation: A Vicious Circle”).
For the first time in my life I can list my areas of interest. I wonder whether I should feel comforted or claustrophobic. No wonder I ask myself such a question, due to that “prison system” I’ve just written.
I’m having strange dreams. It all started after writing my thesis, when I told myself I had gotten too “barren”, which is like feeling dead if you see yourself as an artist.
I fall asleep focusing on the narrative I’m working on. I’m structuring the plot itself when I’m awake – now I know the plot is set somewhere near Demyansk, somewhere between December 1941 and February 1942, I know who was there (Army Group North, Einsatzgruppe A, SS Division Totenkopf and/or SS Polizei Division), I know Mr Protagonist is unlucky and what will happen to him, who will save him and that he’ll be wandering throughout Europe with three people. I know one must flee, one must be left alone, one must die. I know, of course, what happened in Europe in that period, and I’m merging historical info with the plot. I found out / decided three characters are orphans, and so realized I must decide what role the Lebensborn project will have in my plot. But I lack all the rest – that “rest” that turns a set of events into a narrative.
Therefore, I fall asleep focusing on details. I try to leave my mind wide open. I actually don’t know what an artist is, but I know I need to be able to conceive other worldviews if I want to speak about other worldviews. It all started when I dreamed about the core of this plot. It wasn’t a well-structured dream, but it was revealing – it revealed me how a relationship between two people could, and can, be. I endured this bad-structured plot from their points of view. I woke up and tried to write down everything I could remember, but I could scarcely remember and therefore mentalize what I had just dreamed. It’s like when I try to describe an expression I see everyday but I never need to describe. I think most things just pass before our eyes and then flee, leaving a subtle footprint of their existence. We saw them, remember them, but can’t summon them again. Our memories are flawed: a mixture or recorded data and assumptions based on what we’re already aware of.
Therefore, I fall asleep focusing on details. I try to enter these characters’ worldviews once again. I try to remember – to summon – the way they saw each other, their expectations, and above all what they took for granted. They didn’t speak much in that dream: there was no need. I must give up being myself, when I fall asleep, and beg them to let me enter their minds. Theirs and that of other characters I’ve given birth to since that dream.
I’ve been trying to leave my mind wide open and it’s working, and it’s stressful. I knew it would be. I knew it was the only way to feel alive.