At odd moments over the last few days I’ve been trying to understand the hypnogeography of a dream I had (I think) on Tuesday night. It was another excursion into the heartland of my country; but to a part thereof I have not previously visited; and now I cannot reconcile, as I usually can, the dream version with the real life map of those places that I carry in my head. All I know is that these spectacular carved cliffs, a la Mt Rushmore, were due south and a little to the east of the central core of the mountains; or perhaps (and this is the first time I have had this thought) the dream geography was inverted and they were in fact north and west. Which would place them somewhere in the vicinity of the Karangahape cliffs on the western shores of Lake Taupo, where there are pre-European carvings of unknown extent and provenance. These were not those cliffs, remnant of an old caldera, but may perhaps still be found in that rolling, boulder-strewn, dog-haunted country, seldom visited, further to the west. I came across them unexpectedly and was in awe of their rugged extent and intricate elaboration, clearly  accomplished by human hands working on a stupendous scale. With great melancholy, therefore, I have to record that, later in the dream, when I made my way back there again for another look, I saw that what had once been a work of art from ancient times was now something else – a remnant of terraforming done by the art department during the filming of The Lord of the Rings. The outline of the dream became confused then until I came to the scene which woke me up. I was in some sort of discussion with a varied group of people, outside, perhaps at the base of some stairs or in a pause point along a walkway such as you find sometimes in national parks; now I was returning to my room, whose fantastical interior included maps, pictures, paintings, weapons, artefacts, skulls, bones, specimens as in any museum gallery or backroom from the nineteenth century; along with the usual clutter of books; and my desk. Two of those from the discussion group, both Maori, came in after me. One had the face of the Man in the Iron Mask until suddenly he morphed into a malevolent imp, like a narrow oblong paper bag on legs, only a foot or eighteen inches high. This imp of the perverse attacked my credentials and especially my right to the memorabilia in the room; while the other, human-sized, nondescript, hanging back by the door, defended me in a lackadaisical fashion against his friend. I lost my temper – rare for me in life or dreams – and grabbed the imp in my right hand. His delicate body bent at the waist, his mouth opened, his small sharp teeth sank into the flesh of the webbing between forefinger and thumb. I refused to let go : I am from _______! I said. And then, trying literally to blow him away, I pursed my lips and blew. I don’t know what happened after that. I woke up sweating and with my own teeth clamped around the head of the blue cover of the doona I had been sleeping under.

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