Eye Candy (39)

By: Peggy Nelson
September 1, 2020

What happens when Eye Candy closes its eyes? It dreams.

The Dream Delivery Service sounds like something straight out of China Miéville or some other of our favorite philosophical fantasists, in which dreams arrive not in the usual way but in envelopes, via bicycle, hand-delivered by the local Dream Poet Dispatch Service Center.

Eye Candy is happy to report that this Service is indeed real, right here, right in this timeline. The dream-child of poet Mathias Svalina, the Dream Delivery Service delivers a newly-minted dream to one’s door, before dawn, by the poet himself on bicycle, every day for a month that the Service is in town. And for out-of-towners (or not-yet-towners, or towners-during-COVID-lockdown-towners), a mail subscription Dream Service is available. And finally, for those who may or may not have a fraught relationship with their own dreams, or the idea of dreaming in general, The @DreamDeliveryer is on Twitter, posting a new haiku-like dream into the æther every few days.

Eye Candy has been eagerly following the Service on Twitter, keeping an eye out for when it might be in the same town (Eye Candy moves around a lot), and continually impressed with the tweeted dreams, which inhabit various zones as coherent micro-narratives, Zen koans, and haiku, with an impish dose of Kenneth Koch.

This is no accident. Mathias Svalina is a poet who imagines a different vehicle upon which to transport his work to the people. True to his Revivalist cohort (see here for more on Josh Glenn’s generational periodization scheme), Svalina revived an older delivery method. And this is not merely because the Dreams arrive on paper not pixel. Eschewing platforms such as publishing houses and literary journals, Svalina brought back the bicycle and repurposed it for more than just transportation and athleisuring. Ink on paper is just a ferry to bring ideas to your head. So is your mobile. So is conversation. So is a bicycle.

From an interview in Poetry Society of America:

One thing I love about dream logic is that nothing comes apart, or if it does the coming-apart is also a binding. Any thing can intrude in a dream & it’s just like Well, yeah, of course, whereas intrusions in reality-logic are difficult & cause rupture & require processing & understanding. In the dream every new thing emits tendrils of meaning & sympathy to help the whole cohere. The stumble becomes the first step to flight, the stupid a means of profundity, the natural estranging. It is the instantly re-self-making rhizome of meaning, a hermeneutical swarm, a scenic shitshow of potential. — Mathias Svalina

Due to COVID-19 the IRL dreams are mail-order only, which is also a delight. Following along the twenty-teens’ trend of #slowtwitter, and certainly aligned with our slower, locked-down present, receiving brief, gnomic missives in the mail can be a tangibly bright moment in the day, even more so than the online version, as we have become so inundated with digital spam that we must pre-curate our minds before even looking at a screen. Which is also to say nothing of the support that mail-order gives to the USPS, an institution very much in need of our attention these days.

Svalina, as befits his avatar of Mercury, the trickster-messenger, has more tricks up his sleeve. DM and you shall receive his TEN SCIENCE FAIR PROJECTS zine, a collection of, yes, ten science fair projects, experiments existing somewhere between the rigorously conceptual and the absurdly practical, in the tradition of Fluxus and Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit.

Like a fortune cookie, but meaningful. Like bibliomancy, but personal. Like poetry, but — and! — very like a whale. Explode your bounded nutshell by subscribing here.

Oh and this being 2020 – yes nightmares are available, but extra.


Mathias Svalina: Twitter, website, Tumblr
Dream Delivery Service: subscribe, Twitter, website
DM for TEN SCIENCE FAIR PROJECTS: Svalina on Twitter
Interviews: Poetry Society of America, Bennington Review