Walker Percy Wednesday 118


I look at him steadily. “That every society has a right to protect itself against its enemies. That a society like an organism has a right to survive.


I know that you work with dreams. What I want to ask you is this: Is there something which is not a dream or even a daydream but the memory of an experience which is a thousand times more vivid than a dream but which happens in broad daylight when you are wide awake?”    “Yes.” I am thinking of his “spell.”


“I was dreaming of Germany. Germany! Why Germany? No, not dreaming. It happened. I was wide awake. I was lying down after you left yesterday. It was getting dark but the sky was still bright against the dark pines. It reminded me of—what? the Schwarzwald with its dark firs? I’ve told you about it before. I don’t know. Anyhow, it was as if I were back in Tübingen, where I’d been as a boy. I was lying in bed in my cousin’s house. It was so vivid I could have been there. I stayed with them a year. I would wake every morning to the sound of church bells.”    He moves the kerosene lamp again, leans forward.    “Have I spoken to you about this?”    “About Germany? Yes.”    “But not about—” He stops, rubs his forehead with both hands. “Yes, the church bells. They had a special quality, completely different from our church bells, a high-pitched, silvery sound, almost like crystal struck against crystal. Even the air was different. It was thin and clear and silvery and high-pitched too, if you know what I mean. It had a different—smell. Or was it lack of smell? Anyhow, nothing like our old funky, fertile South. No, it was a smell, a high-pitched sweet smell, almost chemical, yet sweet too, something like the cutting room of a florist’s shop—like old geraniums? Of course it is impossible to describe a smell. But it came back! I would wake in the morning to that high silvery ringing and the chemical geranium smell. I slept in a narrow bed covered not by a blanket or a quilt but by a soft goose-down bolster, like a light mattress. It was like an old-fashioned Southern feather bed with the mattress upside down. There was also the vague but certain sense that something was about to happen.”