Sharing “Terrible Feelings” with King Dude

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Traps In the Midst of Dreams

For this installment, Traps in the Midst of Dreams goes international. T.J. Cowgill, leader of Seattle neo-folk group King Dude, has a passion for the occult and history, especially extracting knowledge from cryptic alchemist poetry, as we discussed in a recent interview. Given this, few Luciferian troubadours seem like a more apt interpretter. We fed him the account of another bandleader’s dream: vocalist Manuela Iwansson of Swedish punk group Terrible Feelings. Iwansson’s lyrics also grapple with macabre subject matter, but in a much more confessional, direct way than Cowgill’s and the pairing seemed just potentially disatrous enough to work.

Here, Cowgill interprets Iwansson’s seemingly innocent narrative of a family reunion with childhood playthings into an allegory of repressed memories of sexual discovery. It should be noted that Cowgill was given no information about Iwansson prior to this publishing, and that an interpreters’ conclusion can sometimes reveal more about the interpreter than their actual subject


I am standing with a group of people in what seems to be my late grandparents’ house. My grandmother is there and someone I think is my cousin but really looks like my friend Erik. There are three or four of us in total. One could be my dad, or another cousin. We’re standing in front of a big bookshelf, which is filled with a variety objects from their house that I remember from my childhood. Toys, comic books, my grandpa’s old sportswear, a cotton loom, an old typewriter – stuff that was scattered all over my grandparents’ house and that all of us cousins used to play with. We’re all looking at and picking up different things, telling each other anecdotes and reminiscing.

My grandmother pulls out the motorcycle side car she used to ride in when she and my granddad went on motorcycle trips around Europe. It’s the tiniest thing, black, with some sort of leather suit attached to it, like a tent over the car; it runs all the way over the windshield and seals in the back. She demonstrates how she would sit down and zip up in this suit, like a leather jacket but with a zipper in the back. She says she usually sat behind my grandpa on the bike, except for when she had her period and it hurt too much, then she’d always be in the side car. She shows us a miniature of the motorcycle they used to have (a Harley Davidson). “Your cousin in Oslo inherited it after your grandpa died” she says. “But it’s broken now. I had to send him some thingy that was missing, to try and get it fixed.”

On the top shelf I find pieces of a board game we used to play as kids, 13th Dead End Drive. One of the character chits along with some cards. I put them back in the game box, which is very withered and used. Just when I’ve done that I notice that the whole end of the shelf is littered with pieces from the game. I don’t feel like checking to see if one of the sides of the box is broken, thus maybe explaining why everything’s fallen out. I just leave it all like it is and return the miniature bike on the shelf beside it. I was standing on a ladder, so my grandma helps me down, and then I wake up.


It sounds like this person had a strong bond with his/her grandparents especially his/her grandmother but also a real sort of fondness for his/her cousins and these occasional family reunions at his/her grandparents. I should note that not knowing the gender, age, or feelings the dreamer had during his/her dream makes it fairly difficult to figure this out with any accuracy at all. But I continue on anyways.

The light nature of the dream leads me to believe that when this person reflects on this time in his/her life with a feeling of love for his/her extended family, humor as well as a feeling of sexual excitement, or discovery (the reference to the leather outfit, motorcycle, and also his/her Grandmother's period lead me to believe there is a sexual tone to this dream for the dreamer). Also the fact that the cousins are present with the dreamer as the grandmother explains how she would zip herself up in a leather suit and straddle the motorcycle behind her husband (and sex partner) except when she was on her period (some couples avoid sex during times of menstruation) leads me to believe that the motorcycle represents sex in his/ her mind and the dreamer's cousins were most likely involved in the dreamer's earliest sexual realization or discovery. Also, I am going to assume from now on that the dreamer is female and refer to her as such.

Often cousins are the best option for sexual discovery and experimentation amongst children. They provide a safe (as they are family) and rather distant (not a direct sibling) way for a child to explore the mysterious realms of adulthood and sex without a great deal of shame, embarrassment or fear of exposure. I believe it's what is commonly referred to as “kissing cousins”. This experience is often harmless and is likely what happened on some level with the dreamer in her very early childhood. Considering the fact that incest in all its forms (no matter how harmless) is often thought of as one of the most shameful acts in our modern Western society and culture, it seems logical that the conscious mind would suppress an act of incest and the feelings associated with it (good or bad). If the dreamer is American I will know assume that she is in her mid to late 20's and comes from an affluent or upper middle class family.

Discovering the board game on the furthest shelf away from her (or rather buried deepest in her subconscious mind) most likely represents a game played with her cousins and likely sexual in nature. The box is withered and old with pieces falling out which may represent the confusion, messiness, and more or less unwanted emotions attached to the game of sexual discovery. She decides that she doesn't care to find out why the pieces are falling out, or why the box is broken, or on what side – Essentially her conscious mind is relaying to her subconscious that she's not interested with confronting this memory and the issues that come along with it at the moment. It's a, “thanks but no thanks” moment between her two separate levels of consciousness.

She returns the miniature bike (or the moment of sexual discovery) next to the board game (her sexual discovery game with her cousins) and is helped down by her grandfather (the ultimate figure of a father, her father's father) leaving her subconscious and returning to her conscious mind and waking.

I hope I'm wrong.