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Flights and Cats

Dreamed before 1949 by Colette
From her Journey for Myself (1949)

It is beyond dispute that I can fly in dreams. You too. I add 'in dreams' because my efforts, like yours, have not succeeded--by a sound, a strangled sigh--in crossing the frontier that separates the two worlds, only one of which we designate, arbitrarily, as 'real'.

I can cross a valley; pivot, to turn, on one or other of my flying arms; and swoop down, head first, feet raised to gain speed, then straighten my trunk to regain the horizontal for climbing or landing. And how I sport with the wind, in this entire universe! Entire, because it possesses its pale day-star, its nights less dark than earthly nights, its plants, its population of the loved dead, of the keenly staring unknown, its animal life especially.

The most recent animal I encountered there dates from last week, for the full moon, which sends cats delirious, authorizes my brief visits to this boundless continent. A black feline, as big as a Great Dane, was waiting to fight with me and we fought gravely, not in frenzy but as if for sport, while meantime I noticed the shape of its eyes, more horizontal than those of cats, and the particular pink of its mouth, opened whenever it wished to frighten or bite me. A very real animal, in fact, whose contact and appearance inspired my dreaming double with no more than normal curiosity, the normal desire to vanquish a strange animal, and the confused ill-formulated conceit of bringing off a victory up there: "They will be pleased with it; I'll display it to them as if it had always been mine..."

But it was the same with the beautiful black feline as with that little tortoise with the bird's head, so friendly, that climbs in the trees and cheeps... you know. No, you don't know. The bird-tortoise remained on the far side of the gate with the great black feline, the intelligent sociable serpent, the dog that silently regards me and puts his hand in mine, the man who holds out an open notebook which I never have the time to read....

Thanks, no doubt, to my perfect digestion, animals and people in my exclusive nocturnal empire are courteous and peaceable, even in combat. The flights that carry me over a familiar valley of dark fir-trees do not break my bones and I land, instead of falling, in the middle of the bed after one of those jolts as severe as any earthquake.

Did the same flight haunt the dreams of a Maneyrol, a Barbot, a Simonet, of all those who seek the dream-remembered motorless soaring, the everlasting wing?...

LISTS AND LINKS: flying - play - transcendent dreams - big cats - reptilian people - dog people - animal people in general - Colette's fan Catshall meets a similar black cat in One Fruit Remains Uneaten

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