19 December 2009
Dreams & Animals
From Salon ...
You've said before that your dream life is very important to you.
HARRISON: It's not been vivid for years, because I'm not having a nervous breakdown. That's when you get these really vivid electric dreams that are probably in their own way your subconscious trying to save your sorry ass. If only we paid as close attention to our dreams since the Pleistocene period as we have the global economy for the last 20 years. But the global economy is supposed to be relevant, right? Well, fuck the global economy. Why should we discard a third of our lives? I remember I was quite upset once because I had this dream that people were murdering me in New York. They were pushing me off of this enormous waterfall and at the last moment I flew away, but of course it's very difficult to fly. I landed in a tree and looked down and I was a bird with a bear's body, a bear with a vast wingspan. The bear and the bird is what helped me survive. Of course I live in close contiguity to so many bears at my cabin. We even have some down in Patagonia [Arizona] that come from way over the Oachuca and Patagonia Mountains and down around Sonoita Creek. I like that kind of contiguity. One night I couldn't go to the bar where I go because two bear cubs were playing with my garbage cans and the mother was leaning up against the pump house looking at me, like, "Let my kids play, asshole." [Laughs]
Animals play a major part in your work, and you often note the similarities between the desires of humans and animals. In a very fundamental sense they're not all that different for you, are they?
HARRISON: They aren't. Of course, I grew up rural, around animals. I had my eye put out when I was a kid and ran to the woods, and I'm not totally sure I've emerged. [Laughs] This strange Hasidic scholar I know named Neal Claremont, a brilliant young man, said to me one day: "Don't you really think that reality is the accretion of the perceptions of all creatures?" I said, Jesus Christ, that's a monster statement. But of course it's true, and what a marvelous thing to say. I don't think I'm any more important than a dog or a cat. It's become alien to my nature -- that sort of self-importance that is so egregious in this fucking pop stand. I could do my imitation of an important novelist entering Elaine's, but why? There's no bigger trip than self-importance -- to blind you, to decrease the energy of your art. So the animals come in there -- whether horses, dogs, cats, bears, birds -- to help keep you ordinary. You know, in terms of the history of language, the first Chinese ideograms were really imitations of animal tracks. I like that. I like to hike after a good rain because every track is fresh and I always have Olaus Murie's "Field Guide to Animal Tracks" with me. The tracks speak their own language. They reveal everything that happened -- what crossed here, what went that way. But we don't know about that any more. We've become more dislocated and urban. Most people who eat beef and pork and chicken now have never known a cow or pig. They've never held a pig in their arms or chased a rooster.