One last moment, one last push. All or nothing.
In my dream, the myth ends differently.
In my dream, the son of
a young slave girl and his father are captured by King Minos on the
Isle of Crete. The father, Daedalus, is forced to build the labyrinth to
imprison the Minotaur, his own flesh and blood. The labyrinth is a
perversion of Daedalus’ enormous talent, with its endless twists and
turns designed to hide away a terrible truth. But would any despot be
safe if their sins were exposed in plain sight?
In my dream,
Daedalus and Icarus want to escape from Minos’ tyranny. So Daedalus
builds his own dream. I can see Daedalus as clear as day, with his gaze
fixed on the sea, which is close but inaccessible, through a little
barred window, wondering how to escape from an inexorable fate. His
heart weighs heavy to see how his son’s skin grows thinner and
transparent for want of light, how his hair grows brittle and his lungs
stagnate, how his muscles waste away in the workshop, unable to play,
unable to laugh in the sun.
In my dream, Daedalus is contemplating
a fixed point in the distance when his view of that longed-for beach is
blurred by something: a fluttering that sways in the wind, a
cry of freedom that reverberates around the walls of the prison. It is
brief and ephemeral, like all ideas. It has passed before everybody’s
eyes, like all ideas. But nobody else was able to grasp it, or perhaps
nobody else had the courage to. Like all ideas.
dream, Daedalus searches amongst the materials that are available to
him, finding only what others deem to be rubbish: dry branches, string,
feathers, the wax from candles he uses by night to illuminate the
ever-more-complex tasks demanded of him by the tyrant.
dream, Daedalus is bent over his workbench. Splitting, measuring, tying,
sticking. Stretching and forming with his hands. Trying, testing,
attempting. Failing and failing and failing again until his brain has
moved to the very tips of his fingers.
In my dream, Daedalus
finally manages to define the gentle, incomprehensible curve of the
wings of a bird. The perfect imperfection of nature, trapped in a
structure made of cast-offs. The impossible comes to life at the altar
of tenacity and effort.
In my dream, Daedalus tries his wings, and is astonished to find that they work.
my dream, Daedalus dedicates valuable time to making a second pair of
wings for his son, knowing that at any time they could be discovered by
the king’s fearsome guards. At every instant, Daedalus imagines
footsteps on the stairs, the door smashed into a thousand pieces, spears
sinking into his flesh. Nevertheless, he works even harder on this
second pair of wings, making them stronger and larger, because this
second pair of wings safeguards the most valuable treasure that there
is: the future.
In my dream, Daedalus and Icarus escape from the
cell and climb to the very top of the tower where the king holds them
captive, and now the scraping of leather boots on the stone steps is no
figment of his imagination, but very real. The bronze edges of the
spears are thirsting for blood, and furious cries ring out. Leather,
bronze and noise: everything you would need to end two lives, or to drag
them back to slavery and captivity.
In my dream, Daedalus
hesitates on the stone battlements, looking down at the yawning abyss
beneath them, suddenly doubtful of his art and of his science. The rocks
against which the sea crashes stare back at him mercilessly, defiantly.
Jump if you dare, they seem to say. Others greater than you defied their own nature, and it was the crabs that cleaned away their remains from us.
my dream, it is Icarus who pushes Daedalus. Icarus, born of a slave
girl, who never knew any life but captivity, who never drew a single
breath of air that belonged to him, says Enough. The soldiers
can nearly touch the feathered wings with their greasy fingers, deathly
promises in their empty eyes. One last moment, one last push. All or
In my dream, the cries of fear of father and son melt
into one as they drop to their doom. The time it takes for the wind to
fill the wings is the measure between terror and joy, between shock and
amazement. The faces of the guards turn into rapidly vanishing dots as
the two fugitives rise above the land, arms stretched out, flying to
In my dream, there is no pride, no arrogance. In my
dream, Icarus flies towards the sun, but never gets too close, its rays
never melt the wax of his wings, and his father never has to lament his
ingenuity nor his own longing for freedom.
In my dream, these
images—black and empty—come and go in a heartbeat, vanishing from that
corner of our eye where we sometimes glimpse Death walking by our side.
my dream, I know the truth. I know that the tyrants who enslave us, who
chain us down in the tops of their towers built by our toil, are real.
Over the decades and the centuries, they have ensnared us in dependency.
And it is neither insolence nor arrogance, neither pride nor foolishness to dare to build a future, to jump out of the tower to find a new kind of freedom.
my dream, the answer is to fly as close to the sun as possible. One day
I cast my eyes over a landscape close to Ouarzazate full of glittering
wings, and I knew that I was not the only dreamer.