As national debates on war and health care rage on, veterans' lives are now at the forefront of our minds. How do they go about their irreversibly transformed lives, moving from the unspeakable back to the speakable?
In the best of circumstances, civilians and veterans will grow old together as fellow citizens. But veterans must carry images and marks of war within themselves for life. To better understand how we can live together as veterans and civilians, we must find common ground.
Dreams might be such a place. We are all confronted with our memories and our subconscious in our sleep. Dreams are a territory where we experience the terrible, the mundane, the fantastical and the comical, where we find ourselves revisiting moments from the immediate or distant past.
We are also aware that dreams can be the most difficult part of many veterans' lives, and that they might be exactly what separates the veteran from civilian. If so, it is our job as civilians to try to bridge that difference, by listening at the very least.
We - pianist-composer Vijay Iyer, poet-performer-producer Mike Ladd, and the arts organization Harlem Stage - - are developing a project focusing on the accounts of dreams of young veterans of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We want this project to ask: How are young veterans getting through their lives, and what are they able to dream about?
We envision developing a "dream database" in which veterans can contribute, share, and communicate through these dream narratives. We also envision veterans telling some of these stories on stage in a creative dialogue with civilian artists.
At this juncture we would love to hear all submissions available describing any sorts of dreams that veterans celebrate or endure. They can be riveting or boring, beautiful or horrible. They can be submitted anonymously or with the intention of performing them personally. Anything goes. Please feel free to post submissions in the comment section or get in touch with us directly via email.
The point is to get them out in the world, both during our current time of war and afterward, as the effort to forget increases ever more.
We will never forget.