11 July 2012
19 September 2011
Everything I said to "Dan Brown" in the dream accurately reflects my true waking views about his "writing."
Since quitting work at the end of June, I have been working on writing a novel/novella. For the last few weeks I also have been reading Moby Dick. I never have read it before, and the more of it I read, the more my admiration for it grows. At least every few pages some great insight or brilliant expression strikes me enough to read out loud to D (who read the book years ago). My favourites so far are the likening of of Ahab's pacing steps across the deck to Ahab's thoughts' pacing steps across his forehead, and Fleece the cook's observation that "All angel is nothing more than the shark well-governed." More than once as I've been reading I've stopped and thought, "My book will never be anything like as good as this." But whenever I have that thought, the thought that immediately follows is always the consolation, "But my book will never be anything like as shitty as Angels and Demons either, so there's that."
It seems clear that in this dream, someone is being "schooled." I am a pupil in the class, but I am older than the teacher, and I have no respect for his work. I think this dream is an attempt to bolster my confidence for my writing project. I feel inferior to established authors, so I am in a student role in the class. A bestselling author is in the teacher position. But even though he is very successful commercially, he still is a crappy writer. Realising that I am at least as good as many of the major players in this field gives me the confidence to reverse the roles, and school the teacher. As to why the dream is set in a chemistry class in particular, that can only be attributed to my having listened to Armed Forces approximately two hundred times (seriously) in the last two months.
They chopped you up in butcher's school
Threw you out of the academy of garbage
You'll be a joker all your life
A student at the comedy college
People pleasing people pleasing people like you
You've been around so long but you still don't know what to do
18 September 2011
We are looking over some groceries on my counter, and X notices some sort of unhealthy, carbohydrate-laden food [I forget exactly what it was]. She says, "D's diabetic. How did he get that?" I tell her, "Well, it's not like he has some chip or something in him that rings an alarm at the supermarket checkout line, 'DIABETIC! DIABETIC!'"
I get an idea from this. "You know those scary emails that old people always forward around, because they've never heard of Snopes? [You know the ones I mean. The ones that purport to be written by Andy Rooney or George Carlin, or that claim Obama is a Muslim and his health care system will murder your grandmother. They always seem to promote a decidedly conservative agenda.] We should start one saying that the Republicans want to put a chip in your hand that would be scanned every time you went shopping and prevent you from buying anything incompatible with any of your medical conditions. The commercial would have like this old lady pleading, 'But I just want to buy a gift for my grandson!'. And they'd say, 'You will need documentation to prove your purchase is a gift. File form 4576 with the US Patent Office.'" [I don't recall exactly what denomination I gave the form in the dream, but it was just some random numbers I made up to sound bureaucratic. In the dream, I searched for something that would give the sound of 'faceless obscure government agency,' but couldn't think of anything good so I just said 'Patent Office.'] While I was describing this imagined commercial to X, the dream 'visual' switched from X and me in my kitchen to a presentation of this commercial. It showed a wholesome old lady looking very scared, and then when I was talking about filing the form, it showed a white sign with black lettering, standing in front the exterior wall of a building by a walkway. The sign had quite a lot of writing on it, in varying type sizes, some of it enclosed in a border.] I found this idea for the prank email/scare commercial overwhelmingly hilarious, and woke up laughing hysterically.
I woke D up with the laughing. I tried to explain to him that it wasn't genuine laughter, it was a dream hysteria. He had no notion of this concept. I said I think it may run in families, as I have seen my mother wake herself up laughing many times.
This dream is interesting for two features. First, it starts with a very strong flavour sensation. Smells and flavours rarely make appearances in dreams. I would venture, with the exception of sex dreams, touch sensations rarely figure into dreams either.
The second interesting point is the hysterical laughing. I reported a hysteria dream from my childhood earlier in this blog. I have a personal theory about dreams where an emotion is the primary "image" of the dream. (For another example of this type of dream, see "Walken rapture.") I believe that in these cases, the dream consists mainly in the emotion (hysteria, euphoria, perhaps fear in some nightmares), and any images or plot that accompany it are after-the-fact confabulations constructed to account for the emotion. I do not believe that the emotional sensation arises as a result of experiencing the dream "plot," but rather that the emotion itself is the primary dream element, and the (sometimes more, sometimes less plausible) plot is created to provide some context for the emotion. (For an especially interesting discussion of confabulation, see this New Scientist article from October 2006 [subscription required for full access].) Are there any psychologists (or psych doctoral candidates) out there researching these "emotion"-type dreams? I would love to hear from you!
01 May 2011
"It is night, and I am asleep in my bedroom. I wake up frightened. I walk into the living room; it is very dark and I hear the hiss of the gas heater. Crouched beside the heater is a man masturbating. I can only see him in silhouette. None of his features are visible. I am terrified of this man. I have a pencil in my hand, and I stab him with it. When I stab him, he groans softly and ejaculates onto my hands.
This is one of the most intensely frightening dreams that I have ever had. The most vivid aspects of the dream were the sound of the gas heater and the noise he made when he came. Sometimes in a terrifying dream, I become paralyzed, but here I didn't have any difficulty moving (even though my heart was beating so hard!). I was always scared of the heater in that apartment--scared that it would ignite a fire or something. I used to sleep on the couch a lot, and always had my ear open for when it would come on. The heater was almost as ominous in the dream as the guy."
H had this dream some half-dozen or so years ago, but wrote this account for me recently. I know the apartment she was living in at the time. The heater was in the living room, which was between the bedroom and the kitchen. After she sent me the account above, I called her to discuss it further. I asked her if the guy was on the bedroom or kitchen side of the heater. She told me he was on the bedroom side, crouched against the narrow stretch of wall between the heater and the doorway out of the apartment.
We could not come up with a satisfactory interpretation of the dream, but we did mention a few ideas. A pencil resembles a penis both in its form and its name. ("The penis mightier than the sword"?) I brought up the possibility that the scary heater might be a fear of her own libido (heat of passion, bitch in heat), and her stabbing the guy with her pencil could be a representation of a desire she might have to be the active, penetrating partner rather than the passive, submissive one in some (sexual or otherwise) relationship.
27 April 2011
The layout of the second room seems based on a room I spent time in recently at a class I took to get a taxi driver's licence. I loved Mad About You in the 90s. I know Paul Reiser has a new show on NBC and (even though I've heard it's not very good) I've been wanting to watch it at least once, but I haven't seen an episode yet. Besides seeing a few commercials for his new show, Paul Reiser also is on my mind because his face is on the cover of my sheet music for "Final Frontier" (the Mad About You theme song), and this piece of sheet music was among many old songs I dug out recently to bring to a restaurant where I have been playing piano Saturday afternoons.
Last week I dreamed of stairs (risers), and this week of Paul Reiser. My position at work and in life have been very much on my mind. I feel very precarious at my current job because I feel I haven't been performing up to their standards there. In addition to my anxiety regarding my security at that company, I also have deep ambivalence as to whether I even want to continue in that field at all. Living in a cubicle for nine hours a day, having only ten vacation days a year, and being too exhausted most days when I get home to do much of anything else is not my idea of a life worth living. I have been trying to start my own business, but this has been extremely difficult to manage while maintaining my full time job, especially when so many things I have to do (visit government offices to obtain permits, telephone suppliers to place orders) can only be done during M-F 9-5 hours. I also want to devote more time to writing seriously, and I want to actively pursue opportunities for musical performance. I believe that having a "day career" (as opposed to a "day job") is robbing me of the time, energy, and scheduling flexibility necessary to make an earnest attempt at fulfilling my major goals.
Therefore I have been considering downgrading from this full-time job to something with less mentally demanding requirements and more flexibility such as a bartender, temp, or taxi driver. However making such a change is very scary-- I would have an unreliable and drastically smaller income and no health insurance. Yet the consequences of not making this change may be even less acceptable-- letting another decade of my life elapse without dedicating myself to the pursuit of my true vocation. I already have deep regrets about choices I made (or failed to make) in my twenties. If I continue to follow the same regret-ridden path through my thirties, adding links to my chains each year like Marley's ghost, will I be able to bear that burden when I am forty?
I will have to make a descent (leave my current job, and accept all the risks that that entails) before I can rise (fulfill my musical and literary goals). In the dream, a birdcage is suspended from the ceiling: even though my current job is fairly "high" (it provides good compensation and benefits), it is a cage that traps me. I may have to lower myself, and crawl like a dog, in order to escape it.
10 April 2011
D and I have driven to another city. We park in a large (several storey) parking garage. The interior of this garage is very grey and blue-grey. We enter a stairwell to descend to street level. The stairs are very odd. Each riser, instead of being positioned with its broadest surface parallel to the floor, is situated at a severe angle, with the flat surface nearly perpendicular to the floor. I am wearing chunky-heeled boots a couple of inches high, and I see there is no way I will be able to get down these stairs.
I am trying to go down to the basement of my grandmother's house, but all the stairs seem to have been replaced with whimsically patterned slats. Grasping the railing, I try to descend, but the risers are very weak wood, or perhaps cardboard. I try placing my feet at the very outer edges of the stairs, but to no avail; each one breaks as step on it. (Yet somehow I don't crash through the entire structure and fall to the bottom.)