19 September 2011

Dan Brown's chemistry class

I am in a chemistry class in high school or college. (I think it's high school.) It's pretty small, with just two rows of five or six desks (well, those chair-desk things). The teacher looks to be about twenty-five years old, and somewhat resembles a guy I dated in college, K. Partway through the class I realise that the teacher has introduced himself as "Dan Brown." A hot little blonde girl has been fawning all over him the whole class. At the end of class, the teacher is sitting in a pupil desk in the middle of the front row. I stand and face him. "Are you 'Dan Brown'?" I ask. "The Dan Brown? The DaVinci Code Dan Brown?" He affirms that he is. "I just have to tell you something," I say. "Of course, if I were smart, I would wait until the end of the term to tell you this, because I'm probably gonna fail chemistry now. But in my wildest dreams I never thought I would have the chance to say this to Dan Brown to his face, so I just have to tell you this. Now, I see that you're just, really, a kid. I must be older than you are." He shrugs/nods in agreement. "So, your being so young forgives a multitude of sins. But nevertheless, I still must tell you: Angels and Demons is the most shit book I ever read." A couple of guys in desks over to my right applaud. "And I can tell you why, or we can just leave it at that." Brown gets up and starts making a strange design on the blackboard with two cans of some kind of "blackboard spray paint," one red and one blue. While he is thus occupied, I start to list the reasons why Angels and Demons is a shit book. "For instance," I say, "if you refer to CERN, it is not necessary to refer to it as 'CERN (a particle accelerator in Switzerland).' If someone doesn't know what it is, he can look it up. But when you mention it as 'CERN (a particle accelerator in Switzerland),' it makes it sound like we the readers are stupid, like you're above us. It's condescending." I could have gone on to mention a few more ways in which Dan Brown's writing sucks, but he had finished his blackboard design. It had the outline in red of a large isosceles triangle or rectangle open on the bottom /\ or |‾| in the middle. Around this figure in both red and blue were weird rune- or hieroglyph-looking symbols. "What do you guys think of this for therapy?" Brown asked. "I think, I hope it erases," I replied. Someone from the class stepped up and erased one of the characters as a test; it erased. (He used a small cloth, rather than a normal blackboard eraser.) Then Brown proceeded to erase the entire board. Now even the last few stragglers had left the class. I left, walked down the hallway, and stopped at the threshold of the exit doors to search through my backpack for my sunglasses. I couldn't find any. I remembered my Ray-Bans were in their case in my dresser at home. I wasn't sure where my blue granny glasses were; I hoped I hadn't lost them. In any case, it seemed I would have to walk home shadeless on this bright sunny day. Suddenly it occurred to me that my mother loves Dan Brown and I should have asked him to autograph a book for her before I told him how much he sucks. I wondered if maybe I still could. I imagined holding a copy of The DaVinci Code out to him at the next class and saying in a voice that conveyed


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

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