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The Flying Horses of Mien Mo

Dreamed Nov/Dec? 1957 by Jack Kerouac

THE FLYING HORSES OF MIEN MO---I'm riding a bus thru Mexico with Cody sleeping at my side, at the dawn the bus stops in the countryside and I look out at the quiet warm fields & think: "ls this really Mexico? why am I here?"---The fields look too calm & grassy & bugless to be Mexico---Later I'm sitting on the other side of the bus, Cody is gone, I look up in the sky & see that old ten thousand foot or hundred mile high mountain cliff with its enormous hazy blue palaces and temples where they have giant granite benches & tables for Giant Gods bigger than the ones who hugged skyscrapers on Wall Street---

And in the air, Ah the silence of that horror, I see flying winged horses with capes furling over their shoulders, the slow majestic pawing of their front hooves as they clam thru the air flight--Griffins they are!---

So I realize we're in "Coyocan" & this is the famous legendary place---I start telling 4 Mexicans in the seat in front of me the story of the Mountain of Coyocan & its Secret Horses but they laugh not only to hear a stranger talk about it but the ridiculousness of anybody even mentioning or noticing it---There's some secret they wont tell me concerning ignoration of the Frightful Castle---They even get wise with Gringo Me and I feel sand pouring down my shirt front, the big Mexican is sitting there with sand in his hand, smiling---l leap up & grab one, he is very tiny & skinny & I hold his hand against his belly so he wont pull a knife on me but he has none---They're really laughing at me for my big ideas about the Mountain---

We arrive at Coyocan town over which the hazy blue Mountain rises and now I notice that the Flying Horses are constantly swirling over this town & around the cliff, swooping, flying, sometimes sweeping low, yet nobody looks up & bothers with them---I cant bring myself to believe that they are actually flying horses & I look & look but that's what they have to be, even when I see them in moon profile: horses pawing thru air, slow slow eerie griffin horror men-horses---l realize they've been there all the time swirling around the Eternal Mountain Temple & I think: "The bastards have something to do with that Temple, that's where they come from, I always knew that Mountain was all horror!"--- Flying horses around mountain temple; dream by Jack Kerouac, sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge

I go inside the Coyocan Maritime Union Hall to sign for a Chinese sea job, it's in the middle of Mexico, I dont know why I've come all the way from New York to the landlocked center of Mexico for a sea voyage but there it is: a Seaman's hiring hall full of confusion & pale officials who dont understand why I came also---One of them makes a great intelligent effort to have letters in duplicate written to New York to begin straightening out the reason why I came ---So if it's a iob I'll get, it wont be for a week at least, or more ---

The town is evil & completely sinister because everybody is ugly sneering (the natives,I mean,) and they refuse to recognize the existence of that Terrible Swirl of Flying horses---"Mien Mo," I think, remembering the name of the Mountain in Burma they call the world, with Dzapoudiba the southern island (India), on account of Himalayan secret horrors---The beating heart of the Giant Beast is up there, the Griffins are just incidental insects---but those Flying Horses are happy! how beautifully they claw slow forehooves thru the blue void!---

Meanwhile 2 young American seamen and I study them flying up there miles high & watch them swoop lower, when they come low they change into blue and white birds to fool everybody---Even I say:"Yep, they're not flying horses, they only seem to be, they're Birds!" but even as I say that I see a distinct horse motioning lyrically thru the moon with a cape furling from his infernal shoulders---

A broken nosed ex boxer approaches me hinting that for 50¢ a job can be arranged on a ship---He is so sinister & intense I'm afraid to even give him 50¢---Up comes a blonde with her fiance announcing her forthcoming marriage but she interrupts her speech every now and then to wail on my joint in front of everybody in the streets of COYOCAN!

And the Flying Horses of Mien Mo are galloping with silent ease in the happy empty air way up there---Tinkle Tinkle go the streets of Coyocan as the sun falls, but up there is all silence & the Giant Gods are up---How can I describe it?

(Written after a Chinese dinner in Chinatown!)

--Jack Kerouac


I posted this dream for its vivid central image, coming back over and over like a bass theme, despite all distraction. The dream's over 800 words, one of Kerouac's longest; and he's a high recaller, often retaining several a night.

But Kerouac's ambivalent. Why? He describes these horses/pegasi/griffins as happy. They seem beautiful if scary. Why the repeated word "horror"? Are they perhaps Jungian Shadows? Jung thought figures you instantly fear or dislike without good reason can be Shadows, embodying what your conscious rejects as not-me (even if it could be--or already really is). Examples of this horrified rejection: Lizard Husband, Laced with Terror or Auspicious Tractor Hate.

SOURCE: page 319-321 of Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac, expanded (2001) edition, City Lights Books.
DATE: estimated from sequence. Page 304 was 1957/8/24; page 324 is still 1957.
TYPOS like "clam" for claw (I guess?) in the first paragraph, and other punctuation and capitalization oddities are Kerouac's, not scanning errors.
ILLUSTRATION: me, not Jack. Just a sketch to set the mood. I'm not clear how griffinlike those pegasi were. Hooves not claws. But wearing capes! How could I resist? So Phantom of the Opera.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: Mexico - mountains - holy sites - gods - horses - pegasi - griffins - fear in dreams - invisibility (or ignorability) - nocturnes - Jungian shadows - collaborative dream art - digital dream art - more Kerouac

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