Meditative Dreams of Nikolai Gogol
Attending an art school in an unknown town. The instructor asked me to choose a period in history and a specific date in time. A period I knew very little about. I chose Paris 1836, a life abroad with Nikolai Gogol.
Nikolai Gogol, 1845
Photo Credit: S.L. Levitsky
“How much do you know about his life in Paris?” he asked.
“I won’t pretend to know more than do. I never pretend to know that much about any artist,” I replied. I even startled myself with that response. What exactly did I mean by that statement?
“Very well,” he said, amused. Then everyone in the room started laughing.
My research began that day, but not before several distractions managed to divert my attention. A phone call from Inga sobbing, telling me she’s been in the hospital for the last few days. They think it’s cancer. She thinks she’s talking to her friend Francis and began retracting her sobs when she heard my voice.
Leaving the library campus, a couple of girls caught up with me. The one with the curly brown hair gave me an address. She said we would meet there to discuss the project we’re working on. A code for sex. The project she spoke of was completed weeks ago. When I arrived she’d covered the place in thick, white sheets. A fire burned near our feet. Opened books were scattered all around us. Gogol’s The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman and Dead Souls…the first stories I read many years ago while doing Russian coursework. Her sketches of Gogol reminded me of my research. Gogol leaves Paris sometime in the winter of 1837 and goes to Rome. There, he falls in love with a nobleman and completes Dead Souls in 1842.
I observed the subtle scar that ran down her naval as the dream shifted and sent me to Westwood, California to walk its midnight streets.