In my dream last night, I was visited by the ghost of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.
He stood before me with his curls and waxed mustache, reeking of smoke and chemicals, and spoke to me in a mixture of broken English and antiquated French. His words were friendly and almost wistful at first, as he chattered on about painting sets for the Paris Opera and covering canvases with trompe-l’œil.
It was all I could do to understand what he was saying, and before long, his tone became hostile. He grabbed me by the shirtsleeves and launched into a barely coherent rant about William Talbot and a missing plate and how it would “change everything”.
Then he let go of me, and vanished. In the dream, I grabbed the closest notebook and furiously scribbled down, phonetically, all of the semi-intelligible French words that had concluded his tirade.
I only managed to capture a handful of them before I was jarred awake by the sounds of the garbage truck outside. The dream, gone, like mist.
It wasn’t until I reached for my glasses on the nightstand that I noticed I’d scribbled something in my bedside notebook at some point during the night. French words, of some sort.
The faint smell of bromide and hot mercury vapor hung in the early morning air of my bedroom.