How iconoclastically mundane to claim a dream for a nation — we are all in each other’s dream, whether asleep or not. I think of the alliteration, the sprung rhythm inside the phrase “American Dream.” There’s a hum to the machinery flowing underneath its sub-textual roll in the mouth, a tease for tongue and glory.
Another country’s name just doesn’t run with DREAM as smooth as the word AMERICAN — an entire essay awaits within those two words. Say that a few times — American Dream — aMERicanDREAM. First; the large beginning, our tallest most important structure; the capital letter A. Next; the first stress, MER (ocean) the implication of a country in flux, the water of our woes (if metaphor implicates). Next; I, the individual human reduced in strength by pronunciation, for we are not EYE but IHH, the I that masquerades as ih. CAN, following the I, the dare of our people, of the word’s people, the citizens that inhabit the word CAN dream, CAN do. I Can, a claim to support a country’s evolution, a country’s dream lurking within its syntax.
Each word has its citizens, its own population shaping its existence, its need for travel inside our tongue. We have people inside our tongues, each word, a treaty paid at birth, a whirl imprinted. A – MER – I – CAN…pronounced — Uh…merican. And like a stop sign, we place an unattainable ending, the word DREAM, at its conclusion. The word AMERICAN implies an achievable aspiration, the word DREAM kills it with implied invention. Too sour? Aspiration is the ability to imagine possibility.
American Ingenuity tends to cross borders, the large expanse of the unattainable journey, opens the mindset that prepares for the long haul. I would imagine the Open Mindset could be a giftwrapped meteor that came from American Ingenuity, pointing to an elusive hierarchy championed by dreams without nations. But that undermines human ingenuity with territory, championing one set of ideals for another based on the land mass you occupy.
To dream is to live in transition between embodied physical states — to let me hold what I can’t, to do it now, and then to not. Let me tell you the story of my can and my can’t, maybe hearing me say it will make it happen — and America has many forums for expression. Between the states of my movement, my familiarity with the dream is a story I wish to unfold, continually. To dream at the border of what I am and what I want. America is a land of myriad borders, where you can and you can’t, in countless ways.
The American Dream is an immigrant dream — aspiration develops as you struggle to fit in with what makes you different. Aspiration sets root after age has given you its meaning. Dreams don’t matter as a child because everything is possible. As you get older you lose the toy, question the friend, expand the imagination by finding what non-truths do, eventually the hardship of not getting your reward settles into fluency for accepting change. Becoming mobile with the world you’re in, you move further away from that initial murky all and begin to focus on specifics. Adolescence brings physical changes running alongside intellectual changes. Eventually, the person you’ve become is a meeting of the body and mind while in the act of developing.
What we’re given is a chance to affect that world, back when everything was possible as a child. The nostalgia of having a dream to aspire towards is rooted in childhood by parents, teachers, elders who “knew better.” The awoken dream’s significance is at its core a traumatic shock to the system, disturbed from sleep by the brain’s ability to process the living journey into narrative cohesions of immensity. The dream state of a child is a just forming life, whereas the awoken state of an adult is its own childhood. To dream becomes a religion to believe in — a safe haven for imagination to spawn creative juxtapositions, unexplainable in a waking life, to aspire the unreachable real.
There is nothing straightforward about a Dream or about an American or about aspiration. Which is why we need constant reminders to re-root the map the further we get from our dreams as adults. As a word alchemist, I can trap my trip over these meanings and delight invention’s deepest ontological tip — where my walking awake-state grabs hold of my sleeping out-state to invert language to its furthest reach of borders, in a facility of practice and impossibility. And once at the edge, I am one with my dreams — now… if I could only earn a living from an edge I’ve never seen, I would truly capture a beyond state neither here, American, or Edwin.
Edwin Torres’ books include Ameriscopia (University of Arizona Press), Yes Thing No Thing (Roof Books), and In The Function Of External Circumstances (Nightboat Books). His work also appears in the anthologies, Angels of the Americlypse: New [email protected] Writing, Postmodern American Poetry Vol. 2, Kindergarde: Avant Garde Poems Plays and Songs For Children, and Aloud; Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Café.