Sometimes my artistic efforts, instead of being based upon multiple lines of thought leading to direct, if complex, statements of productive creativity, resort to brooding brown studies of obscure devices (poems, songs, fantasies, contemplations, etc.) that investigate themselves via research, preliminary drawings, random words on scraps of paper, etc. Most often this happens when I want to work, but feel physically unmotivated, unable to rouse myself out of my physical "depression" enough to actually do anything except the most rudimentary words and lines on paper. During these times, it's often too much to even fire up the laptop. I lie in bed, often after having awoken out of a dream and running the images and ideas it has presented me, along with the associations it stirs up, over and over in my mind, looking for unusual connections, words that say more than they are typically supposed to, so as to open new doors into the material that I am and perhaps rouse myself enough to get up and formalize what I am thinking.
Emily, with words, seals off from feeling her pleasure treasures, creating spaces of unconsciousness that are inaccessible, so that she may cherish the pain without the discomfort of having to observe the causative effect of the past that provokes it, a kind of past-in-present (presence) existence that invokes an eternal moment of treasured, sanitized (by words) pain to replace the past that had been so devastating for her. (But it's really the present that's devastating, isn't it, Emily? And yet you can't let go of it, as valuable as it is.) I do much the opposite, examining nuances of a fragmentary past as it associates itself with dreams that are most likely symbolically about that past. I repress the feeling (the pain) in order to examine its causation in the cold light of reason. Thus, the past is very "real" for me, and the present is filled with it, a kind of present-in-past existence. I even make up fictive pasts that examine what I am that I never realized.
I am a doughty kind of guy, hidden away most of the time in dowdy attire, appearing dotty to outsiders who do not know me, and to some who do, but misunderstand the monomaniacal and isolated focus I develop when I feel I must apprise myself of some subject, usually related to my own internal contents, that becomes of extreme significance to me. I take it as far as I can, wear it out, and then forget about it for long periods of time, only to return to it in a future episode. Quantum Cosmology has been a recent obsession. Before that it was Emily Dickinson. I dreamed about her (unrecorded), as if she were here in my present rather than I in hers. There was a certain kind of inexplicable sexual attraction that I didn't quite understand--not the direct kind of physical confrontation that I typically encounter in dreams, but one of a more ethereal quality based on a kind of magical evocation of words that fused time into a surreal landscape that was imageless and left me wanting something more tangible, as if sex was impossible, yet fervently desired. I didn't like this kind of attraction (sex with the dead?) so much as my more (post)modern dreams:
I'm in a motel room with Wendy Bell (a local news reporter, who looks like a cross between Julia Roberts and Uma Thurman) and some guy who's a friend of mine. I'm sorting papers and ideas for school [college; apparently I'm attending CCAC (recurrent) part time in the afternoon and working part time in the morning], classifying them, listing them in a long and complicated manner and putting them into folders and, at the same time that I'm doing this, I'm trying to take a nap [a near lucid state as I begin to awaken and realize I'm trying hard to remain asleep, so that I can continue to organize the papers/ideas] before I have to go to class. Wendy is sitting on the edge of the bed, having just come into the room. She's wearing a low-cut sweater. I sit up and kiss her on her chest, work my way up to her neck and then her lips. At first, she's non-responsive and resists me, but by the time I get to her lips, she's warmed up to me and kisses me tenderly and lovingly. But she gets up and goes away, and then returns a little bit later and tries to explain to me that she's married and can't do this with me any more. Earlier, apparently, we'd had sex, only once, which she had arranged shortly after she'd met me. But now she tells me that she made a mistake, that she only did it because she was mad at her husband and wanted to get even with him; but now she knows that she should have realized before how she would feel about me. She tells me she loves me, but she can't see me any more because she has a responsibility to her family to keep it together and happy. I am very understanding and try to communicate the idea that people can love one another in the fullest, even sexual, sense of love without ever having sex. But she doesn't want to hear it. Even if she could manage to sustain such a relationship, she would consider it cheating. I can't make her understand what I'm trying to say. Each time I say it, it comes out like a concept instead of the experiential phenomenon that I feel it as.
Experience is the essence of dreams. Unless I am able to communicate the sense of it, the intellectual exercise is all but worthless. I'm riding in the backseat of an old car, something like our old '52 Chevy. Dad is driving and Mom is in the front with him. We're traveling along country roads through a mountainous area and when we pass by steep hillsides, I'm afraid that we'll drive over them. As we head west, the land begins to level out onto a high, wide plateau. We pass a farm and I see that there has been a small fire that has burned a few sides of outbuildings. Then, after we pass the large, stone main house, I look back and see that it has been almost gutted by fire, the damage only visible from that side while the other side looks perfectly normal. [One side of me is damaged, but the other looks just fine.] We travel on a bit farther and then we turn around and go back toward the hilly area. I keep my fear a secret for a while, but eventually I make it known--that I don't like riding along this way. My father says, "If you don't like it, get out and walk." So I open the door while we're moving, forcing him to stop for fear that I will jump out and hurt myself. I walk west, in the opposite direction from the one we were traveling. I look back several times to see if he's following me; but he's not. The car is just sitting parked on the road. Eventually, when he decides I'm not going to return, he drives off and leaves me there. I walk along the road, which becomes less and less like the main two-lane and more like a dirt road through the woods. I'm walking along beside it so as not to be on the road when he returns to find me, which I'm sure he will--whether he really will or not; i.e., within myself I feel he'll return, but I don't know if that's his motive. At the same time, I both want him to return to pick me up, but I want to refuse to get back into the car and to this end, instead of walking along the narrow road, which is now only two wheel tracks with a grassy trail between them, I'm walking alongside it through the woods. But I begin to suspect that I've become lost, that I've made a wrong turn somewhere and although Dad has probably already returned to look for me, I'm not on the road he is on. I conclude that this is the case, and it makes me feel sad and scared, not only for myself, but for my mom and dad too, since I know how they'll feel when they can't find me; but at the same time, it's the way I want to make them feel. I both like (ala "revenge") and don't like (ala pathos) this feeling. Eventually, I find the farm again via a back road through the woods. At first I think it's deserted, but then I see a few people in a large field to the east of the house that resembles a soccer field. I see that the large farm house is actually some kind of an institution, a large, red brick building, and the people, more and more of whom are beginning to show up in the field, are people who live and work there. Chalk lines have been laid down around the outside perimeter of the field and we are to run a race around it. I realize I'm not in any kind of shape to do this sort of thing any more, but I "reason" that simply running the race will get me into shape as I progress.
Maybe the race is gardening (a recent preoccupation, since I've just ordered hops rhizomes to be planted when the weather breaks, so that I can use the hops to make beer instead of having to buy them.) This interpretation is a stretch, but it feels right. I've avoided gardening in recent years, preferring to focus all of my attention on writing and art. But I miss it. And I am definitely out of shape now since digging, planting, hoeing, building things, etc. was the only real exercise I'd gotten since college.
This dream also ties my fear of height into my withdrawal agenda: Actually, I'm not at all afraid of heights, but of falling; as long as I can feel secure in high places, I'm not afraid at all. So, the fear of falling is a fear of being insecure, which I withdraw from when I withdraw from relationships. Alone, "independent," I am secure, if I can maintain my various security mechanisms (finance and real estate related, and writing). I substitute these mechanisms for relationship. But in the dream I join others at an "institution" to participate in a kind of rehabilitating running event, to get back into "social" shape by interrelating with them in friendly competition. But the institution's main building was earlier gutted by fire, a symbol for the devastating effect that past relationships have had on me, not only the more minor later ones (the outbuildings), but especially the one at the main house (my mother and father), which is now an institution that seems, at least from this side (of my experience, after the occurrence) to have been rebuilt, although I don't know what the other side of the institution looks like). "Institution" connotes a mental facility; the stress of early life, and later business and social stress, has caused "mental" problems (anxiety; depression), which I am learning how to deal with.
This interpretation feels somewhat inadequate since I recognize that these problems, although mostly unconscious in the past, have always been with me; but maybe they were only really problems as they became conscious. But, then again, no. They were always problems, and less so the more I consciously recognized them.
This is where I am right now. There are things I want to do, and I know that if I just go out and do them, I will feel much better; but...it's winter, and I'm hibernating and cannot rouse myself too much until the spring begins to thaw me. But it's better than feeling this way in the summer, when I will sometimes aestivate instead of taking advantage of the warmth to remain outside. So, with this rationale in mind, that I will feel more productive when the summer comes, I go and take a nap instead of pushing on with work.
I'm on Rt. 22 near Export, heading back toward home after having been doing something re cars. At a hillside that is like the outskirts of a college campus, but is near the intersection of Rodi Rd. and Rt. 22 (recurrent), on a brim of a hillside that is like a narrow ridge of dirt along the side of the highway that I'm crossing over to get to Rodi, I see a woman's delicate hand sticking up out of the dirt. At first, I pass it by, thinking it to be a dead body and not wanting to become involved with it. But I go back to it again, leave it again, and then go back to it a third time. I start to dig at it, and I realize that the woman, a girl of about eighteen, is still alive and all but buried, with only her face exposed, hidden beneath a layer of half-rotted vegetation. I clear the area of her face and chest. She starts to mumble something, at first incoherently; but as she repeats it over and over, it begins to sound like "Peter" or Siefer. A little bit later, she becomes more conscious and repeats again and again not to dig her up until... Robert is... From her babblings, I gather that a she has made a bet with someone named Robert that she can remain buried for... (a period of time).
I awaken at about five a.m. My next-door neighbor, who has just recently moved in, is yelling something that sounds like "Peter," calling to his dog, cajoling it to come to him. [The dog's name turns out to be Caesar, I discovered about a month later when he ran away and we thought that, since he'd been out all night, he froze to death. I haven't yet learned how they got him back.] Thinking about the dream, I realize that, in trying to ignore the half-buried hand--not wanting to acknowledge that it was there, let alone actually investigating to see what's up with it--is symbolism for repression; not wanting to become involved with the buried woman is denial. I have buried some part of myself and do not want to dig it up; but a part of it (the hand) has been exposed by the weather (the spring thaw is on the way), and so I can't help but see it.
For the last few days I've been preoccupied pretty much full time with plans for both gardening and beer and winemaking. I'm beginning to become geeked about the coming of spring and am looking forward with optimism to planting the hops rhizomes that I ordered on the net; and I'm going to order ginger roots and garlic, and pepper, kohlrabi, and spinach seeds. I haven't been enthusiastic about gardening for several years now, and I see this interest as an extension of my recent revival out of a deeply depressed mode of existence.
But I want to be cautious in my attitude toward these activities, because so often in the past I have started major projects only to have them become a burden halfway through. I'm on the cusp here (the low, narrow, long, mound-like ridge where the girl is buried), wanting to get over it, and head on into summer; but I'm a little bit worried that it's a futile effort. Still though, I really like the idea of having an organized and developing garden again, especially if it is planted in perennials and organized in "aisles" of pathways just wide enough to fit the lawnmower through. And it'll be good exercise, working outside again. But I have to dig myself out first. I have to wait until the time period of my bet with "Robert" has elapsed. I wonder who Robert is, what aspect of me he represents. I wonder if he's Rob Reiner from the quote above. The whole ordeal of being almost dead, (non-)existing in another place, feels alien, as if who I am right now must rot away and dissolve like last year's vegetation before I can achieve a perfection of life that doesn't involve changing with the seasons.
I'm watching George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld together at a news conference on tv, but also as if I'm standing in the wings of the stage as they stand behind a podium together, so that I can see what the news people in the audience cannot, that Rumsfeld has his hand between Bush's legs and is fondling his privates, which is, I realize, the reason for the typical shit-eating grin on Bush's face. After they are done speaking, Rumsfeld says, "Thank you, Mr. President," and Bush says, "Oh, no. Thank you." Next, it's my turn to speak. I take my place behind the podium and scan the crowd, looking for an attractive woman reporter whom I might invite up to share the podium with me so that I have someone who can do for me what Rumsfeld did for Bush. I see several possibilities: CNN's Judy Fortin, MSNBC's Alex Witt, ABC's Tamila Edwards; but I think better of this scheme, because I suspect that, not having the status that Bush has, I could never get away with it. I begin to speak: "The current regime's cupidity1 for power..." I continue on, explaining in the best form of a motivational speaker a multi-step self-improvement program entitled " Things you can do to help to end the Bush malfeasance." Step one: Cancel your cable subscription and get all your news from the internet, where you can pick and choose the sources and not be locked into the corporation mindset. (A few of the reporters like this idea and smile wryly and secretly at it while the rest of them visibly bristle.) Step two: Express your opinions willingly to anyone who will listen; and listen in turn to others. Do not refuse to speak for fear of reprisal or of upsetting people. In your particular case, I say, referring to the reporters' role in society, write the truth instead of the administration pap that you are fed. (Again, a few reporters secretly agree, but the rest of them begin to stir, I hear a few subdued boos, and I fear that they will openly turn against me.) Step three: Intentionally act to upset people; people who are not in power, when they become upset, tend to act; people in power, when they become upset, tend to make mistakes. (With this last remark, I begin to win the crowd over.) With each additional step I outline (none of which I remember, unfortunately) I receive a bit more approval from the crowd until by step ten, they are cheering me wildly. Then I notice for the first time that Bush and Rumsfeld are off in the wings watching me and scowling. In an attempt to defuse the threat I feel, I tell the audience that what we, as a collective of advanced-thinking individuals need to develop is a contemplation campaign designed to induce even earlier execution of inevitable karma that misguided and/or intolerant people eventually bring upon themselves. I say that I meditate, sometimes, to this end, and I watch the effects as they come to pass, sometimes thinking that I, in some small way, exerted my influence to bring them about; but I know that I probably do not, but rather intuit the inevitable outcome and sit back to watch it happen. But if we would work on these kinds of contemplation projects together, then our intentions could take hold a lot sooner as we act unconsciously to create a better world, where evil people more readily reap the consequences of their actions. I invite the audience to join me, to meditate daily and to contemplate upon the effect we might produce through concerted mental effort, that the people in the world who are responsible for the pain and suffering will "sooner rather than later" meet with the justice they so deserve. Then I point out that George Bush and his minions, by having extended our military far beyond its potential, have revealed our limitations, that prior to this president's reign our country was respected, if not for its ideals, then at least for the power of its unknown military potential; but by revealing the limits of our military potential, Bush has given our enemies a clear understanding of the limits of our power and has taken away the element of unknown, the fear that we instill in people who might now feel that they are better equipped to attack us. When nations resort to war, I say, almost shouting to make myself heard over the increasing noise of the cheering crowd, it means that they are either unwilling or incapable of resolving differences by civil, humane means and so feel that they must get their way by force. If a nation's war is strictly defensive, the result of having been attacked, and the consequences are that they have driven the attackers to the original borders, then perhaps we may define it as a "just" war. But the nation doing the attacking is not unlike a schoolyard bully. Attacking another nation, for whatever reason, is bullying on a global scale: you don't get your way; you resort to force to get it. Why, after all, should you have you own way when it means that you must invade someone else's personal space? The only people/nations that get their own way all or most of the time are the ones powerful enough and willing to use force to get it. We all know what assholes bullies are. They're a sub-species, throwbacks to an earlier form of life that disregards the advancements of civilization in favor of the brutality of force. Never mind that the chosen enemy may also be throwbacks. So long as your territorial integrity is not violated, you need not sink to their level. But most often, nations try to disguise their brutality as advancement itself. Don't be fooled by the rhetoric of the bellicose sub-humans. They are the scourge of the planet, however "just" they claim their cause is. [See above definition of "just."] Peace cannot be achieved by force; what is achieved thereby is an unhappy stalemate at the expense of a lot of innocent dead, serving only to perpetuate the practice of brutality as the machine feeds itself. As I intentionally try to incite the audience into a frenzy, I notice that FBI agents have joined Bush and Rumsfeld, and I fear that I'm going to be in a lot of trouble. I want to stay and bask in the admiration of the press, but I tell them that I have to go and that I will inform them of another news conference in the near future. They all cheer as I scurry off the opposite side of the stage, away from Bush and Rumsfeld.
Awake, I am amazed at the scope and depth I have retained re the details of the speech and I frantically begin to write it all down before I forget it. I realize that my dream speech is an attempt to address the ennui I've started to slip into again, that I know that I should care enough to try to influence social issues; but it's a whole lot of trouble that creates among people a backlash that I don't at all welcome, even as I relish my position as a social outcast. I want to be seen as a rebel or a renegade, but I don't want to experience the animosity that people will feel toward me when I act out in this role; so I retreat and hide away and remain content in knowing that I am an unwilling participant in the social/political revolt. I "act" artistically, I think, instead of overtly in protest--except that often I don't act, but only wallow in ennui.
Like a lot of the time when I don't want to paint, because it is too much trouble to go to get all of the suppies ready, to sit down in my studio and actually start to work, etc, I don't want to write either; that is, I don't want to become involved in the long and involved process of finishing writing projects. I don't at all mind the daily journal work, even the editing of it and the posting of it to websites--and even into developing projects; but I don't want, then, to rework those projects into a finished, unified whole. Or, rather, I do want to do it, but I always want to do something else a whole lot more. I'm more than willing to start new projects; in fact, if starting projects were an occupation, I'd be the world's foremost expert. I can envision the unified end of highly complex undertakings; but I never want to do the dog work. I have a problem finishing things.
And I'm good at starting things in a different sense: I still hear occasionally from my brother and sister about how I as a kid would agitate our domestic situation behind the scenes and, when the time for consequences came, would dissolve into the woodwork and let my brother and sister take the blame. Okay. I'm an agitator; I admit it. I may still have a bit of a problem in this regard; but I don't do it at all intentionally, and I'm working to funnel the unconscious motive toward the redeemable activity of social protest and reform. There's little else that I get as much satisfaction from as seeing things that I have started take hold and change social conditions and interaction, even when my intent is mostly unconscious and I realize the effect long after the fact.
I fall back asleep and dream of a perfect world, which is a take-off from the Clint Eastwood/Kevin Costner movie that I watched again last night: The FBI has tracked me down for the things I've said in public. But the FBI contingent is headed by Clint Eastwood, who, if not friendly to my cause, then at least is true to the American ideals of free speech and democratic principles and is therefore tolerant of my ideas. But the rest of the agents with him are determined to kill me because I speak out against their intolerance, hate, and repression. But I know that I can't hide away any more, that I must be true to my ideals. So I stand up in a picnic area beneath trees as agents line up with their rifles with telescopic sites on a small rise beyond. I begin to speak, as if I am still in the previous dream, to an audience of reporters, who are lined up on the hill with the agents, cameras rolling. I talk about how, in restaurants, customers should not have to tip waiters and waitresses; owners should pay them enough and stop scamming the public by passing their employee cost onto the customers. Similarly, when purchasing products via mail order, there should be no handling charges; the cost of doing business should be built into the price of the product. Then I state that everyone the world over, but at the very least in this great country, should have the kind of lifestyle he or she most desires, at least in some modest form, that no one should want for any material thing; and I transition into a description of my own personal life and begin to outline the ideal way that I would live (if I could afford it, I think, in a moment of lucidity): I want a nice home, sitting up on a hill overlooking an expansive scenic view. I continue on, outlining my ideal lifestyle as I see a puff of smoke on the horizon, feel a sharp pain in my chest, hear a distant shot, and awaken with a back pain that radiates into my chest, horrified to think that they actually shot me for saying how it is that I want the world to be, forcing me instead to return to and live in this nasty little world that they created, where they kill people en masse with high explosives and nasty chemicals and force people to live in squalor in order to feed valuable resources to their huge, money-hungry corporate machines with their fat-cat executive leeches who siphon off money to maintain their decadent lifestyles. My criticism is a projection of my desire to live a similar, if far more modest life. And that's the whole point: if the rich were not quite so rich, the poor wouldn't be quite so poor. It's a contradiction in my belief system that I have been aware of for quite a while: I want what everybody else wants, even as I recognize the futile nature of rampant capitalistic materialism and it's negative effect on the lower classes. But we all harbor inconsistencies within us. It's a common human condition.
But in another sense, although what I write (and exhibit) is certainly true of me [if not in fact, then at least in the way I think; that is, I never intentionally lie (although, if I did, this might very well be a lie itself)], it is selective: it's a way I want to be known at that particular time. I may be leaving out specific material that I do not want to be known. (Everyone does this, of course; or else they're stupid and reveal their weaknesses, perhaps to be used later against them. And in any case they do it at least unconsciously.)
What may appear to be flaws and faults that I reveal may be instead data consciously or unconsciously chosen for a specific (or more general) purpose, a ploy or design that I use to my advantage, not lies per se, but distortions designed to create a specific opinion about me in the minds of others, which may or may not conflict with other specific opinions I created in the past. [Again, I'm not revealing any kind of pathology here--well, maybe I am; but everybody does it. And pathology can hardly be pathological if it's a common trait--unless, of course, it's generally repressed and projected, which I happen to believe is the case with most of our common traits.]
I mean, why do people write, or talk, in the first place? Many people, of course, do it just to hear themselves prattle on; and/or they give no thought at all to the process. But those who do consider their words are for the most part engaging in self-serving behavior. As a species, we are far less altruistic than we want to believe, especially when it comes to what we report about ourselves. We create our personalities, if not so consciously, then at least with some degree of unconscious intent. I myself try to reveal myself through my dreams. But the practice is deceptive.
I'm near the Allegheny River on the Sharpsburg side, but also near an ocean shore. Steve S. has a speedboat that he's getting ready to take out on the water and I want to go along with him. But I don't want to ask him outright for fear I will be rejected. So I set about to convince him that he needs someone in the "front" of the boat (despite the fact that it's a closed hull) to keep the front end down and avoid a catastrophe should he overpower it. He agrees. I imagine that I am kneeling up in the front of the boat, speeding along with the wind in my hair. (But we never actually go out on the water.) Later, in town, which is like a resort area, I discover that the boat was not Steve's at all, but belonged to his daughter. She makes a point of letting me know this. She's an attractive, buxom girl, about twenty or so, a cross between Rita (a friend of mine) and Jackie on "That 70s Show," embodying the cuteness and fineness of features of the latter with the round, fat-padded face (and body) of the former. I'm attracted to her and, standing off near a hot dog stand [heh!], we have sex, very briefly. (That is, I stick it in, but that's all.) Then she walks away. I think she should have been more affectionate and passionate (and later, awake, I think that if she had been, we might have "stayed together" longer). I walk to the eastern edge of a lake and start to fish. Kids are on the south shore feeding bread to the carp [this is now Pymatuning Lake], which I can see in the shallows in the spaces where there is no underwater vegetation. But [unlike Pymatuning] they're small carp and I have no interest in catching them, so I move toward the north to see if I can see any bigger fish. And I spot one, a pure white one about three feet long that looks to be a cross between a Northern Pike and a small shark. I cast out my line toward it, but the first cast misses and instead I catch a frog. I hurry to remove it from the hook before the big fish gets away, and then I think that I can use it for bait, so I rig it and cast out to the fish and it immediately takes the bait. I wait a few seconds and then set the hook, hard. I expect a big struggle, but it doesn't resist at all and I don't even have to pull it into shore because it comes along on its own, landing about fifty feet to my north. I run up to it and grab it and drag it off the beach to a picnic area where, when I turn it over, I discover that it isn't a fish at all, but a girl with a fish disguise on her back so that when she swam underwater she looked like a fish from above. I pick her up and carry her over and set her down on a table near a refreshment stand [c.f., earlier, the hot dog stand] where Steve's daughter is working, and I delicately remove the hook from her cheek. She doesn't appear to be in any pain. Steve's daughter comes over to the table where the other girl is lying, now leaning up on one elbow. She's wearing a red top, but her bottom is exposed, her plump but not fat legs are spread, and her genital area is totally revealed. Steve's daughter makes some kind of remark that, in effect, asks me if I've gotten the message. Awake, I realize that the fish-girl and Steve's daughter (who is not really Steve's daughter; Steve doesn't have a daughter) are so similar in appearance that they could be the same person. And the fact that they are so close together at the table must mean that they are meant to be the same person. The first version of her was unable to get me to "pursue" her when she walked away, so she resorted to the subterfuge of being a fish that she knew I would pursue--because fish and fishing are one of my most positive recurrent dream motives. I conclude that I don't pursue women (overtly) because I fear rejection; or, more generally, I don't approach people because I fear rejection (c.f., not wanting to ask Steve if I can ride in his boat, but instead wheedling an invitation in a round-about way). This is that same old rejection theme that I've been dealing with all my life. You'd think that at some point I'd come to an understanding of how to deal with this material, instead of dreaming about it all the time. It's way past time to awaken into a new future.
We (the immediate family, but not embodied in the real family characters; in fact, not embodied at all. The only character symbolism is myself, alone, but as if others, not my real family, but stand-ins for them, accompany me; and yet, the family "spirit," especially that of my father, is present.) We drive to a place far out in the suburbs, beyond the suburbs of a past time period, so that it seems like country; yet, at the same time, in a different time period, it's as if the suburbs have been replaced by a reconstructed rural area. (I don't know, yet, that this is the future--and maybe it isn't quite yet.) We pull the car into a kind of ghetto-grotto, i.e., a nice, but low-class picnic area, a place I think I've visited before, which I point out to the "others," who disagree; mostly my "father" insists that we have never been here before--and yet I feel a strong suspicion that we have, that we used to come here for extended family picnics when I was young; although in another brief moment of lucidity, I realize that the environment is entirely new to me. [And yet, it resembles a park-like area with a huge "pavilion" (more like a building that might be a rustic hotel) where I once attended a wedding, entirely independent of family ties.] "We" don't recognize anyone near the pavilion (which is much more modest that the real version), so we drive out to the main road (still a dirt road) and up it a short distance to a large brick house, circa early half of the twentieth century, where I see aunts, uncles, and cousins milling around on the porch and in the yard, so that I'm prompted to say "See. I knew this was the place," because the "others" had not only doubted that we had ever been here before, but that we were in the wrong place for this particular get-together. [The fact that the "others" are totally without imagery may be my unconscious mind's way of communicating to me that all of these people in my dream are merely aspects of my own self.] I, by myself, out of the car and walking, head farther on up the road to an area that seems more modern, and if all of what has transpired so far was not in the future, then this place I now come to certainly is, although I don't yet fully recognize it as such. I enter (no symbolism for the external facade) a really nice house on the other side of the road, far more modern that the previous structures. The people here are elegant, yet real and down-to-earth, ordinary people, yet with some financial substance. As I walk through the house, another non-person, a young woman, accompanies me as if her disembodied presence is giving me a tour of the place. In a room far into the house, a kind of well-decorated family room, I see a lot of cats, mostly kittens, who follow me around and are inordinately attracted to me and begin to crowd around me and affectionately crawl all over me, calling attention to an ability I possess that is far out of the ordinary and perhaps even psychic. This ability focuses attention on me, so that everyone (the only actual person symbolized is the woman of the house) realizes that I am someone special. In order to divert some of what I feel to be intense attention away from me, I joke that maybe someone has slipped catnip in my pockets; but "no one" takes me seriously. [Later, I will compare this experience with Ayesha's "butterfly" phenomenon in Salman Rusdie's The Satanic Verses, which when I read it, I immediately suspected that the girl, or someone, was playing around with pheremones.] I leave the house and travel back down the road to a place out near the main two-lane blacktop, but still on this side of the road (perhaps as if this side of the road is the future and the other side is the past). This place is outdoors and summery, but as if we are yet inside a building devoted to technological research [as if, I will think later, awake, future technology has enabled building interiors to appear as if they have no walls and exist outside, contiguous with nature, yet afford all of the convenience (summery weather, etc.) of enclosed spaces]. Work stations, which blend in perfectly with the natural surroundings so that they are invisible except when you're sitting at them working, line the road, and the Lucite-like see-through desktops are "computerized" (c.f., earlier description). Already, prior to this, in conjunction with my walk back up the road, I have been "studying" the research that is going on here and have begun to get minor inklings of its nature. The computerized desktops enable research to be carried out via "remote control." It all has to do with genetic manipulation, the evolution of small organisms that, if the research turns out to be promising, can be expanded into larger, animal-like or human-like beings--although very few of the projects turn out to be so promising. Most of them are dead-ends and are catalogued in the computer as large (approx. 3' x 2') complex images with a wide variety of colorations and galaxies of dots that may represent individual molecules. As I examine these images, I become more and more familiar, as if by osmosis, with the technology that produces them, and although I don't really understand the process at all, and although I have only been here for at the most several hours, I seem to be learning at a prodigious rate, assimilating understanding unconsciously so that I can do some preliminary work in this field without consciously knowing exactly what I'm doing. I impress the "people" who work here, especially one young woman, the same girl whose presence guided me through the elegant house earlier (and invoked the attention of the cats?) She becomes manifest (as does at least one scientist a bit later) and begins to help me with the work I'm doing. Everything we do, however, results in a dead-end, which she takes in stride (being used to high failure rates, I presume); but I am not so contented. I want to produce positive results. [It may be a function of my 2005 existence that I demand productivity of myself, whereas the 2023 attitude may be more laid back and accepting; but although this may be a valid assumption re my dream state, I doubt that it would be an aspect of this near future reality. Maybe if the dream took place in 2323...] As I'm about to give up and return to the main blacktop road (to the present?) I hit upon an idea to examine an old image, one that relates to a more "human" subject matter (most of the images are of complex viruses), an image that I "knew" of, but that everyone here had long ago consigned to the past. Unknown to me when I first choose it, it turns out to have something to do with my own genetic make-up. I have a feeling that if I examine the structure in close detail, I will find something important [about myself?]. We isolate a very small section of the image to analyze (because analyzing the whole thing will take weeks of computer time--either the girl or I actually mention this fact--and, as later becomes apparent to me, such a large chunk of resource utilization must be authorized). The small section we choose to analyze will take about an hour of computer time. We wait; and when we get our results, we discover that the "risk factor" (I presume this means the risk that further research will not be fruitless) turns out to be .01 percent. Immediately, the girl says that we must have done something wrong; but we verify the results, which prompts her to report them to her boss via (an elaborate, yet super-miniature) cell phone (that can transmit huge amounts of data, images etc. by a wireless connection between the desktop and distant locations). The girl's boss can't believe the results either. But he analyzes the data he receives, asks why we would even think to have chosen this image, and when he gets the explanation that it's a dead-end project from my past, 1996 to be exact [I finished a very personal and highly symbolic and fanciful novel in 1996 that I never bothered to try to publish. I wonder if this refers to that book.], he questions the choice even more. We try to explain the situation to him without revealing the fact that I am from the past myself. He says to me, "Well, doctor, whatever the reason, why don't you go ahead and do a ten percent sample." The girl says, "That'll take a whole day." But he says he'll authorize the time. I explain that I am not a doctor. He asks me who I am, and so we have to explain my status here, which at first he's unwilling to accept; but after we talk for a while (we're in a kind of immediate presence, despite the fact that he's off somewhere in a distant part of the building/field which prompts me to conjecture that maybe all of the disembodied "presences" throughout this dream are of this nature, people communicating to me via an as yet unknown technology), he intuits that he can trust me, and so he says to go ahead with the research. I awaken at this point, but the dream goes on in my imagination. We further analyze the image and via complex ratiocination we decide on an area to isolate and start the computer run. And the whole point is this: that last analysis, which was as complex as any of the previous dream analysis, was done while awake, with my rational mind using the "facility" of the dream state "logic" and "technology." And when the girl's boss's boss authorizes a full, two-week project, the complexity is still just as complex. But fully awake a few minutes later, I find that I can't even begin to report the intricate details of the procedure. If I could even imagine wanting to undertake such an analysis, I wouldn't know the first thing to do to get it started. But I never would even have conceived of such a project in the first place, certainly not the detailed analysis, and not even the project conception overall, not even the idea that in the future we will have the capability of doing such a thing. I'm not a sci-fi writer by any means. And that same inability translates to a decreasing degree to what follows, because even though I am a psychological writer, I do not, I realize, typically come up with such profound relationship ideas except as the products of dream states that I awaken from. I realize from this dream/awakening experience that much, if not most of my writing (the stuff that is not the reporting of dreams themselves) is born in the dream state and gets translated as ideas later in the day; or days or weeks later; or even percolates into my subconscious and is incorporated into long term projects: As we await the results of the research, I stand out on the "porch" (i.e., alongside the road; but as the imagery progresses, it becomes a conventional porch of the old traditional wrap-around variety where people will sit in leisure and drink lemonade in the warm summer months). The girl comes out to join me, but I hardly notice her, being lost in thought, as if in a trance (which I am; a post-dream trance). She asks me where I am, partially rousing me from my reverie.
"Huh?" I say; and then, "Oh. I don't know. Nowhere."
She says that I am not at all what she first thought I was.
"What did you think I was?" I ask.
"Someone from the past." I say, "I am."
She waves her hands gently and casually.
"No. I mean, someone with a past mentality."
I say, "You mean a Neanderthal." She laughs.
"Well, yeah. Sort of. Not a Neanderthal, but..."
I say, "Macho."
She nods. "But not really macho. I mean, not abusive or anything. Because..."
"You're...because of the cats. You're different."
We're looking at each other fully now, whereas before we had been side-glancing as we spoke. I knew she was examining me closely when I wasn't looking, but turning away when I looked at her. Now, as I begin to examine her more closely, she doesn't look away. I notice that she radiates a kind of brilliance, as if, although the porch shades us, sunlight reflects off her face.
I say, "I think I owe you an apology."
"During the whole time we've been working on this project, I've never noticed how beautiful you are."
She smiles, and then she looks away, but looks right back again.
By this time, I am quite awake and realize that my imagination has lost the effect of the dream process, though not the affect, which I have known for quite a while can last a long time into the day as I remember the affection of relationships that I will develop within dreams. This affection had been there all along, unnoticed, as I was caught up in the research, looking for some mysterious mutation that originated in my far past (my current nearer past), evolved up through my current present, and then was (is) set aside, to be (re-)discovered later (in 2023). I'm going to have to keep tabs on this dream to see if it's predictive, and if it is, of what?
But the affect of a predictive future, as powerful as it feels, cannot compare with that of a fictive past: I'm in the kitchen of my childhood home. My aunt is cooking, frying potatoes on the stove. My uncle, her husband [not her real life husband, but a different uncle, her brother-in-law] is on the back porch, just out of earshot. I am a young adult, only a few years younger than my aunt, who is the age she was when I was a little kid. Her hair is jet black, her face is round, and she is slightly plump, but not fat [in fact, the same female body type that I have been dreaming about for the past few weeks or so]. I start to nibble at the potatoes that she has taken out of the frying pan and placed on paper towels on the stove. She too begins to nibble. We both remark as to how good they are, and we eat all of them with increasing voracity. I say, "You should have made more." She immediately opens a bag of potato chips and dumps them into the frying pan and they reconstitute themselves into sliced potatoes. I lean over near to her as she's doing this. She smells good, like frying food. I kiss her on the neck, then turn her around, lift her dress, and pull down her panties, all the while keenly aware of my uncle's out-of-sight presence on the back porch. We end it quickly, and she feels both grateful and guilty. I tell her how much I've always liked her, and she returns the compliment. Then she starts to cry. I ask her what's wrong. She tells me she feels trapped in an unsatisfactory relationship. I ask, "Don't you love your husband?" We're whispering to avoid him overhearing us. She shrugs. "Is it really terrible?" I ask. She says that it's not, that it's just...boring. I tell her I understand. She asks me what she should do. I tell her she has three choices. She wants to know what they are. "One. Leave things as they are and go along, because it's not really all that bad, is it? I mean, if you went for the rest of your life living the way you're going now, would that be so terrible? He doesn't beat you or anything, does he?" She smiles and whispers, "No." Then, after a pause, she asks, "What's number two?" I say, "Two. Keep doing what we just did and make life more interesting for yourself." She says, "I've never done that before. I don't think I could keep doing it. Not with other men anyway." I smile at her. "What's number three?" she asks. "Three. Decide what it is you want to do and go and do it. Change your life. Isn't there something you've wanted to do that you can't do now?" She says, "I always wanted to be an actress. I really liked myself when I was in high school plays. I really felt excited." I say, "Then go do it." She says, "I couldn't. Not now. It's too late." I say, "No it isn't. It's never too late. Lots of famous actors started their careers later in life. And besides, you're not that old." I awaken thinking that I wanted to tell her that I'd stay with her and help her with her career. Maybe she's that part of me that's a frustrated actor who never had the balls or psychology to "act out" that role. She (the general character type in all of these dreams) must be more than a simple anima/libido manifestation; at least that's the way it feels, that there's a larger message than simple sexual/psychic attraction hidden in these dreams. But maybe not.
A lot of my dreams seem to be trying to get to a specific point but beat around the bush getting there, symbolically zeroing in on it in a round-about way without actually addressing it directly, until the very end, which is often a whole lot more specific and less symbolic than the earlier material. For example, in this fairly short dream, I'm in my current home, but it's significantly changed. It's an apartment building, and I live on one of the upper floors with a view across a courtyard into other apartments, but as if they are rooms inside my own house. Two gays live in one of the apartments adjacent to my room (I live in a sparsely furnished single room), and they always have a lot of "guests" over and participate in various combinations of "group endeavors." I try to ignore them, but it's impossible not to see what they're up to because there are no curtains on their or my windows. I'm trying to sleep (it's daylight outside), but I can't because of my neighbors antics, so I get up and go outside to get the mail, and I see my neighbor, a girl I used to date [not in real life], sitting on a chair beside the street across and down the road a bit [she may be my neighbor who lives there, but at a far younger period in her life], as if she's just out enjoying the summer weather, yet looking a bit out-of-place. I'm happy to see her, but she had broken up with me a short time ago, saying that we weren't meant for each other. So I'm unsure if I should say hello to her. But I go and get the mail and then continue down the street to see her. She glances up at me several times as I approach, but continues to read until I reach her, when she looks up and says hello. I get the idea that she really likes me, despite the things she said to me when we broke up. (I also get the idea that she was intentionally waiting here to see me, but I pretty much ignore my intuition until later when it recurs in the dream.) I smile at her and we start to talk, but the local D.A. (a fairly recent recurring theme), a woman who arrives and begins to canvas and cordon off the area, interrupts us. The case she's working on involves, ostensibly peripherally, my gay neighbors. The D.A. doesn't want me talking to the girl until after the court trial she's preparing is over, so since I'm interrupted from talking to her, I walk on down to the end of the street, along with the D.A., who's following a trail of ground meat that's washing down the gutters. Agents at the bottom of the hill near the intersection are straining the effluent and collecting the residue meat into chunks of approximately three pounds. I discover while talking with D.A. and her assistants that the meat is human remains. CUT TO, after an unspecified period of time, a small town square park outside the courthouse of a small, unknown city--all a bit quaint, as if it were a set for "Matlock"). I see the girl hurrying over to a park bench along the route I'm about to take across the town square. She settles in and begins to read a book. As I approach, she looks up and says hello, as if she's surprised to see me. I smile warmly at her. She says we're not supposed to be talking. I tell her I know that. Previous to this (as if in a flashback) she had a conversation with the D.A. As a part of her interview [my walk down the street with the D.A., I now realize, was my interview, since we talked about the case and she gleaned information from our conversation that she would use in the trial] she told the D.A. about our previous relationship and how she wanted to re-establish it, but this case was keeping us apart when she had been just at the point of getting us back together. I realized that I had intuited this as I had approached her the first time on the street. So this time I know for sure what she's up to (thanks to the modern miracle of tv/movie flashback technology symbolism). So the entire ensuing conversation between us is permeated by a mutual knowledge that we each know our intentions and what she's up to; yet we're playing this kind of game where we can't come right out and admit it to each other. We have a short, but clever conversation where we pretend that, ostensibly because of the restrictions of the court trial, we don't want to talk to each other, when we really do. We tease each other with our rhetoric. [Unfortunately, I can't remember most of it.] Just before we part, she says something that hints at us getting back together. I point out that she's the one who broke up with me, that I wanted to stay with her. She says she knows this. Then she changes her attitude and says, "So I made a mistake." Several times during the conversation, she (and I) made comments to the effect that we were not supposed to be talking to each other and that I should be moving on; and we say this once again [as if the dream is making sure that I don't miss the point], promising each other that we will get together after the trial. But now it's my turn to tease her, and I say as I depart that maybe, by that time, I'll have become interested in someone else. As I'm half turned and walking away, she says, "No you won't." I say, "How do you know?" She says, "I know." Although filled with psychological content that has taken a lot of words to render, this dream was very short; yet the earlier parts of it avoided the simple resolution, that we wanted to get together and heal the split. It's as if my unconscious mind had constructed a "plot" that had to be resolved via the two conversations (the complex details of which I immediately forgot).
I enjoy these little heavily-plotted mini-films I dream up. They're a whole lot better than watching a real movie. They're kind of like a virtual interactive film that lets you participate. Unfortunately, this next one was very long and extended over several awakenings, which caused me to forget the earlier parts.
I'm Leonardo DeCaprio in my early teens. I live with a large extended family, or else we're having a family get-together at our very large and complex home. (The context is unclear or has been forgotten.) Our home is a combination of a number of real places: my teenage home, my grandmother's house, my brother's house, my current home, several recurrent dream versions of these four places, and various other strange places. (Interestingly, my childhood home, which I dream about a lot, is not a part of this mix.)
An earlier scene: I come home from work, tired and needing to relax, but my mother, Tuesday Weld, is preparing to leave with all of my brothers and sisters, heading out for the evening, and she has only been waiting for me to arrive home so that I can baby-sit my infant sister Cissy. I object. I tell her that I worked all day and was planning to take a hot shower and fall asleep watching tv. She says, "You can do this one thing for me." I protest, saying that I'm going to fall asleep and end up not watching her because I'm so tired. But she knows it's an idle threat, that I would never do anything so irresponsible as that. As I ascent the stairs to the second floor, she shushes me, warning me to be quiet so as not to awaken the baby, and they all hurry out of the house.
The later ongoing film: I walk into the kitchen amid a conglomeration of a large group of relatives and friends. Some or all of them may be visiting and some may live here, but it's impossible to sort out which is which. They all act as if they belong permanently, as if the party has been ongoing for at least several days. I must have been sleeping, because I enter the crowd a bit disoriented and dazed. I'm hungry and I've missed the noon meal, which must have been an elaborate affair, because there's leftover food everywhere, and lots of it, as if it's intentionally been prepared to be way more than enough so that people will have enough food for the rest of the day, and then some. [This is a remnant memory from the previous night's episode of "That 70s Show" where Kitty, in order to deal with the conflicts evoked by the death of her mother-in-law, starts to cook and bake non-stop and piles up mounds of food. Later thought: Maybe this dream is about my own grieving, which I've never really done, ever in my life--except for one particularly good dog I owned.] But, despite the fact that I'm hungry, none of the food interests me, so I open the refrigerator and find several boxes of donuts, each half empty. But I have a problem choosing which ones I really want. The ones I would have chosen, cream-filled eclairs, have all been eaten, except for a few mostly-eaten pieces, which I avoid. I think I might want a bear claw, but instead I choose a sugar donut, and instead of a second donut, I take a tart-like pastry from among a collection of compact sugary treats and candy-like items. I carry them into the living room to eat them while watching tv. CUT TO:
I decide to go upstairs and see my mother who hasn't gotten out of bed yet. When I enter her room, she's lying in bed, awake and naked. Unlike in the earlier scene, where she was an older woman, here she's young [and looking as good as she did in her earlier films--not that she doesn't look good in her later ones.] I'm sexually attracted to her and find nothing at all wrong with that [because she's not my real mother, but Tuesday Weld]. So I crawl up on the bed beside her and I get carefully closer and closer, pretending to be just affectionate and nothing else, as if I am not a teenager, but a six year old. I lie down beside her and lay my head on her naked shoulder, intending to get gradually more and more intimate, because, I have memories of having been intimate with her before, a number of times. She, also, finds nothing wrong with her teenage son being this close and intimate and I feel like my wariness is unnecessary, that she wouldn't object no matter what I did. But before I have time to try anything, a guy who I hadn't noticed who has been sleeping on the floor on the other side of the bed (having fallen out of bed in the night, I know without having been told) awakens and crawls back up into the bed. My mother introduces him to me. He's a semi-macho-type of guy, yet amiable, not tall, but wide-shouldered with 70s styled blond hair, like an actor from one of those shoot-'em-up, beat-'em-up, cheapie films. He's happy to have me join them, thinking, I suspect, that we may become involved in a threesome. I get out of bed and head toward the bathroom, but my father, a famous actor that I don't know, enters just before I get there. My mother comes out of the bedroom with the guy. Both are fully dressed. She tells me to take care of Cissy, saying they're going to get some breakfast. "You mean lunch," I say, sarcastically, suddenly feeling very ornery. I go into the bedroom and see Cissy in her crib. I hadn't noticed her there before. She has an abnormally large, round head, but otherwise she looks adorable. She's dressed in a small nightgown that looks kind of like the clothes that Sweet Pea wears in the Popeye cartoons. I pick her up and carry her to the stairs. Despite the fact that she's too young to speak or walk, she says (or communicates to me in another way) that she wants to climb down the stairs herself. I tell her no, she's too young, and I carry her down. CUT TO:
I go down to the basement to be alone, but my sister is down there, doing laundry, naked. She's an actress that I've seen before, but I can't remember her name or what films she's been in. [Samantha Morton?] She's blond, with a round face, like Cissy's, but not exaggerated, proportional to her body, which is slim and straight with small, but shapely breasts. She turns to face me as I enter the back room. She stands perfectly straight with her hands at her sides, as if posing, which accentuates her narrow hips. I walk up to her and embrace her and we kiss, full-mouthed. My intent is to arouse her by rubbing up against her and kissing her before she breaks it off, bored, which I manage to do. Apparently I know that this is her normal routine. If she doesn't become immediately stimulated, she loses interest and tells me (and presumably any guy) to get lost. CUT TO:
The backyard near dusk. A vehicle has overturned onto its side up on the undeveloped flats above the hillside, and my father, Clint Eastwood, is up there with a group of men, trying to upright it. It looks like a modernized version of a stagecoach, but as I get closer, it turns out to be an elaborate kind of mini-bus. I join the men and try to help, but despite our efforts, it won't budge. Someone suggests that we call my brother, Seth. Clint says, yeah, that's a good idea. Seth shows up immediately. He's a big, barrel-chested actor that I don't know, but of a type I'm quite familiar with, except that he's over seven feet tall. Several men have to move aside to make room for him. Despite the fact that we have fewer men at the vehicle now, as soon as we begin to lift, it is easily uprighted. I hardly lifted at all and I suspect that the same was true of Clint and the others, that my big brother did it all himself. Off above the far southeastern ridge, a huge helicopter, far larger than any in real life, hovers precariously out of control for a few seconds, then crashes on the property of an oil refinery, but far enough in front of the stacks and tanks so that the resulting fireball poses no danger of spreading to them. We watch as the flames quickly die down, leaving us completely in the dark, as if there is no artificial light at all, as if we are back in the old west. Clint says, "Well, you don't see that everyday," and he walks away toward the house. We follow. I'm having a hard time seeing where I'm going. [The meaning here is quite clear.] I try to orient myself by looking at the house, which I think should be illuminated brightly with a lot of interior lights because I remember that when we've had parties there, that's the way it always looked when I would come up on the back hill to be away from the large crowd for a while. As I stare into the darkness, I begin to see glimmers of light from the place, but their source is apparently not modern electric bulbs, but old-fashioned oil lamps and/or candles that put out a warm, inviting, low-level light. FADE TO BLACK.
When I awaken, I dwell on this dream-film for a long time, reviewing it and reinforcing it so that I don't forget it, and trying to remember the earlier scenes that I've already forgotten. But except for that one instance, they are gone. This is very dissatisfying to me so that I almost don't document this dream. I hate it when I see only part of a (real life) movie. If I happen to miss the beginning of one, I find myself not wanting to watch the rest of it--especially in light of the fact that the part of most Hollywood movies I like best is the premise and early plot development; many modern films get boring for me after I realize what's going to happen as they devolve into a standard denouement. I hate typical (conventional, traditional) story resolutions. And if I start watching a movie, I must watch it to the end, no matter how bad it is. This dream-film had a non-conventional resolution, the kind that leaves things a bit up in the air so that you have to guess or use your creative imagination to determine what it means, which is the feeling I get from my dream-film. It would have been a lot more satisfying though if I had "seen" how it was initially set up and developed. I suspect that there was an opening frame that mirrored the ending and content that developed the "intimate" family relationships. All of the scenes I remember seem a bit disconnected, but I have this substantial feeling that the apparently random details follow up on earlier situations and resolve the earlier forgotten scenes in a way that ties the dream-film together into a unified whole--a metaphor for my whole life, much of which I forget day to day, but which influences and affects me nonetheless.
Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of how my past affects me. Lately, I've been worried that maybe my productive life is over, and has been for quite some time, that my "disability," which I see quite clearly from time to time, when I am not denying it [for the right reasons, of course--in order to prevent it from escalating and/or interfering with my productivity] has prevented me all along throughout my life from remaining in a fully productive mode, that my back problem, which has been developing since childhood even before it became obviously manifest, as I have denied that it has been a problem and have acted as if it were not, at all, has been in fact a detrimental syndrome that has affected my whole life. I can see how I was "discriminated" against at various jobs because the syndrome reduced my stamina and effectiveness--although earlier on I could transcend it, at a high cost that I was too naive to recognize, in order to maintain my status as a highly intelligent and productive employee; but time wore on me and I deteriorated, so slowly that I never noticed it until it was too late. Or maybe it was inevitable and I could have done nothing about it in any case, nothing except take it a bit more easy, which I ended up doing unwittingly anyway, unrecognized and to my detriment.
No one ever believed me when I described my pain (the mental pain included, of which people never even understood what the hell I was talking about); either that or they didn't care. So I stopped telling people how I felt. This didn't happen all at once; it was gradual change of life strategy that I adopted toward certain people early on and extended to a wider circle of acquaintances as I grew older, as I recognized that, when I would have difficulties doing certain kinds of tasks, mostly having to do with bending or twisting or remaining in one position for a long time, people would resort to criticizing and even chastising me for my lesser abilities, even more so when I tried to explain how my back problem limited me from doing what they wanted me to do. They always thought I was making excuses for simply not wanting to do it. For example, my wife would scoff at my complaint that I couldn't wash the dishes because the sink was too low; or my army sergeant would get in my face because I couldn't stand still in formation.
But then, everyone has limitations that reduce productivity and amiability via distraction from the task at hand. No one is fully productive; people seldom live up to their full potential. Or else everybody does. But then again, some people manage, by sheer act of will, to set aside their limitations in order to work long, dedicated, focused hours, day in and day out. We all know members of that sub-group of overachievers who succeed by sheer effort. It may be the single most important factor that enables people to move into the ranks of the rich and famous, more important perhaps than skill or innate talent. I was, in fact, one of those overachievers early on. But I wound down too early to matter.
And so here I am now, given in to a life of relative ease, a life that I had wanted to live all along, but felt I needed to transcend in order to be suck-essful. Now I'm thinking that maybe I'm too far past my prime to succeed at the things I really want to do. Most people peak in their careers in their twenties and thirties. Second careers are seldom as brilliant (assuming that the first one was at all brilliant) and are often manifested in a less than manic pursuit. But then again again, there are exceptions, and I could very well be one of them, if I can maintain a positive attitude and not give in to the morose belief that my life is winding down. There's no need to bust my ass any more; the kind of success I really want can occur within a calm and peaceful, stress-free state of mind. I conclude that there's no need to give up yet. I have always been a late developer. But development only goes so far.
The Fourth Turning. is definitely winding up. It's a long, slow, painstaking wind, but it seems to be actually finally happening. Every day now I see an increasing number of indications that we're just about ready to being the mass public protests. Discontent is everywhere, waiting in the wings for its opportunity to counter the establishment.
The American government is supposed to work via checks and balances. Where are the checks against the current fascist regime? Someone needs to get into the mix and give King George a big fat hip check. At the very least, the media should be doing something; but if it weren't for the Internet, we'd have no check at all on the abuse of power. Mainstream news organizations, whether out of fear of political repercussions, or for bottom-line concerns, or whatever, have circled the wagons and defend themselves by refusing to play their traditional role, which is to find the facts if not the truth, to stir things up. They've become administration shills. Journalism is supposed to be about reporting facts, whether they favor the left, the right, the middle, the blue, the red, or the purple. One-sided reporting does not fulfill the media's responsibility. When one side of any multi-sided issue is suppressed, either intentionally or by superficial journalism, then the dangers of autocracy arise. We are in danger right now. The autocrats have taken over, and we're allowing it to happen.
But I feel the winds of change blowing. A "friend" of mine believes that I am unpatriotic for questioning the actions of my government during a time of (in my opinion, a manufactured) "war." But I maintain that it's unpatriotic not to question authority--at any time. It's downright un-American to give the government a bye when you think or feel that it's doing something wrong. And I think the government is way wrong. This is not my America, the one I was taught existed. Not at all. I want my America back. I don't care if the world has changed. I want to live in a real democracy again. But real democracy requires involvement, and I have never been very much involved; so the problem is as much mine as anyone else's. I resign myself to allowing things to go on the way they are if it means that I must go to all the trouble of interacting with people to bring about change. I spent the first fifty years of my life interacting with people, most of the time when I didn't want to. It took a severe toll, stress-wise. I don't see anything wrong with spending the second fifty years alone if that's the way I want to be, interacting only when I feel like it. I'm still trying to recuperate from life. I may not have much of a social life left, but it's life nonetheless. And, although I may hang around the house in a disheveled state, at least I still go to the trouble of making myself presentable when I go out.
Celebrities are complaining about the new show that highlights them at their worst, candidly, not dressed up, without make-up. What the fuck are these people going on about? If photographers are sneaking into their backyards and taking pics through their windows, that's one thing. But the photos I've seen are ones of them out in public, shopping, etc. If they go out looking like they do, what do they expect? That no one will see them? So they get their picture taken? What about the people who happen to be shopping in the store while they are there? Do they think they're invisible to them? Like anyone else, if you want to be seen in a certain way, dress for it when you go out in public. It's not the photographers' or the media's fault that you look like a slob; it's yours. And anyway, boo-fucking-hoo. You're treated so unfairly that the millions of dollars you rake in hardly make it all seem worthwhile. Hire somebody to do your goddamn shopping if you're so ashamed of the way you look and can't manage to make yourself presentable, you prima donna assholes.
Meanwhile, I stay at home and make my plans alone. I'm way into planning my gardens for the spring. For the past few years I've been wanting to get back to this again, but every time I've thought of it, I've concluded that, although at the time I'm planning them (mid-winter) I'm quite enthusiastic, I feel like I'm not going to want to be bothered doing all the work by the time mid-summer rolls around, that the goals are great, but the regular daily maintenance will be a pain in the ass. I mean, I don't even like to cut the grass, let alone having to go out and weed, water, cultivate, transplant, etc. all summer long; and then harvest and preserve throughout the fall.
But something is different this year. I feel like, finally, I may be able to realize my dream of a fully planted yard with garden beds, terraces, and a mini-orchard. I'm thinking that if I convert the whole lawn into terraced gardens, then mowing will be severely reduced and can be incorporated into the daily garden maintenance, one terrace per day cultivated and the path below it mowed. It's more work, but it's more varied--and fruitful.
I recognize my previous hesitancy to get back into gardening full time as a symptom of the severe "down" state that I've sunken into over the past few years, not seeming to have pulled out of it so much at all except for brief periods. But I feel differently about it now. I feel like I'm back in control again. I've been focusing so intently on planning so as to reduce the amount of work I need to do, inside and out, that I've planned myself into a hole where I haven't been working at the things I want to accomplish.
So I'm going to go all out over the next few years to begin to live outside again, and carry the gardening on through the winter in window boxes. Who needs all of these damn houseplants that tend to die off anyway when the temperature drops inside the house while I hide out from the cold in my bedroom. I'll plant cold hardy crops instead and eat them as they mature, and replace them with seedlings started in the warmer bedroom. I already have some garlic seedlings started. I'm on my way.
And while I'm on the subject of resurrecting old activities, I guess I have a new hobby--home-brewing. (It's not really new; it's just an extension of winemaking, which I've been doing for over thirty years.) But I hate the whole concept of hobbies (if you can't do what you want to do in a dedicated way that is more your occupation than pre-occupation, then why bother to do it at all?); so I have to work at developing my skills so that making beer becomes a simple matter of routine maintenance, something that I do instead of buying it.
I put my latest batch of beer beside my bed so that it doesn't have to be out in the cold house and can take advantage of the warmth of the bedroom, because I like darker beers and don't so much appreciate the colder-brewed lager varieties; and, anyway, it sometimes gets too cold in the house in the winter and I'm afraid the yeast will quit working.
The beer bubbles away through the fermentation lock, and as I listen to it's gentle breathing, I find myself experiencing it as a living organism [which it is, yeast, a collection of individual cells not so much unlike the collection that makes up a more complex bio-being--except that they lack a coordinated effect, although the net effect is concerted], much like I used to experience the presence of my dog as it lay huffing away in sleep beside the bed. Life is life, however you experience it.
And maybe I'm also in the process of mentally developing my long-standing fantasy of an acting career into a tendency toward something real. (This past fall I passed on a chance to be an extra in a Halloween horror flick because I couldn't rouse myself to go out for one lousy Saturday. That may have been a mistake.) Paul T and I are walking up Third Street. We come up to an open area just before the pool that is a kind of semi-junkyard. We find a 55 gallon barrel with large fish inside it that are obviously too crowded and not likely to survive. Paradoxically, there are too many fish for the barrel to hold, especially as it only contains about a foot of water, and yet they're in there; but they keep trying to jump out, and occasionally one of them makes it, but we quickly pick them up and put them back in. The fish are of a number of different varieties, some of them elaborately ornate carp and goldfish, others very large versions of ordinarily smaller tropical species. We find a piece of cardboard to cover the barrel to prevent the fish from jumping out. [I have been keeping my creativity locked up in "containers" that, although relatively large, are too small for the prodigious contents, which try to get out, but which I keep putting back in.] Paul asks me if the fish are worth anything. I tell him, hell, yes. Their size makes them very valuable. He says he thinks he might be able to sell them, so he goes and gets his pick-up and we boost the barrel up into the bed and transport it to the fire hall, where we intend to keep it until he sells the fish. He asks me where he should try to sell them. I say, I thought you already knew. He says, no. He knows he's a good salesman, but he needs leads. I tell him to try to sell them all at once to an aquarium store. So we go out to Monroeville to Elmer's Aquarium and he sells the whole lot for $100. Outside in the parking lot, he tries to give me $20, but I refuse it. I just wanted to help him because I like him; I don't expect to be paid. But he shoves the bill into my shirt pocket anyway.
I go over to the Monroeville Mall and meet db there. The place has no stores, but is more like a huge cafeteria (without food outlets). I'm supposed to have a bit part in a movie that's being made. I go and sit down at a table with the female lead and a few supporting characters, and then I find out that they're actually right then filming our performance. But I'm cool. But as it turns out, I'm too cool. After the first take, just as I'm about to say my lines, the star says she wants to take a break, so db and I go off to the other side of the large room to get a Pepsi. But neither of us has change. And then we see that they've started filming again. I hurry over, but halfway there I discover that I have been replaced. I look on, and when the scene is done, the star walks toward and past me without looking at me. I thought I might catch her eye and prompt her into revealing why she didn't want me in the film. The producer comes and explains to me that I wasn't working out. I tell him that there are better ways of firing someone, that you have to take people's feelings into account. He asks me if I'm hurt, and I am, but I tell him no, I'm okay. I feel tough enough to resist the rejection, even though I do feel a small twinge of pain inside. db and I go back to the Pepsi machine. I put a dollar bill into it, but the machine won't take it. I notice that the bill is torn. I see several bills hanging out of a slot above the input slot, and I think to take them, but then I think that probably there is an atmosphere of trust here, since this is a college campus (this is the first time I realize this) and so people will not steal the money, which is obviously not supposed to be there. Instead, I get another dollar out of my wallet and I put it into the input slot. I hear the mechanisms in the machine start to work, getting ready, I assume, to dispense a can. And then I realize that I haven't chosen what type of drink I want and wonder how the machine knows what to dispense. But instead of a can of Pepsi coming out, the entire can delivery area fills up with quarters. db, who hasn't been paying attention to what I've been doing, comes up and wants to know what happened. Then I realize that the input slot for bills was not to get the Pepsi, but to get change, and I tell her, erroneously, that I must have put a "fifteen dollar bill" into the slot. (But it's more like fifty dollars worth of quarters.) She wants to know what we're going to do with all of the quarters. I tell her to find something to put them in, that I'll roll them and take them to the bank. Behind her is a stand that sells brown paper bags with an honor system slot for paying for them. I tell her to buy a small one, but she says that it won't be big enough. So we agree to get a medium-sized one, which costs a quarter. She turns to me and asks, trying to be funny, "You got a quarter?" I tell her to stand guard as I hurriedly fill the bag, because I'm realizing that I had in fact put in only a dollar bill and we're actually ripping off the Pepsi machine. Then I grab all of the bills that are sticking out of the slot and shove them in the bag and tell db that I'm going to stash the bag in the car [despite the fact that I didn't arrive in a car; but maybe db did]. When I come back inside, I see Eileen hanging around over near the table where they're still filming. I see her walk behind the table, pretending to be interested in the books on shelves there, as if it were a bookstore. But I know that what she's really doing is sneakily trying to get into the shot, so that she can be in the film. Eileen, my assistant, engineered the work situation at my last place of employment so that I would be fired and she could have my job. She probably thought that I knew nothing about what she was up to, but in fact several people had warned me more than two years earlier, so that I monitored her every move thereafter. But, unlike several other similar earlier situations that I headed off, I took no action and allowed the inevitable to occur, mostly because I was burned out and fed up with all of the chicanery and decided that, if the company management was so naive that they couldn't see what she was up to, then it wasn't the kind of place I wanted to work for; and I didn't want to quit because, not only was that a behavior that was psychologically acceptable to me, but I wanted to collect unemployment for a while and vegetate. And as it turned out, through a complex series of fortuitous financial circumstances, my period of unemployment turned into a very early retirement. I like to believe that my ease of life now is what I deserved, having overworked myself for so long; and duplicitous Eileen is what that company deserved too. For years thereafter I spent a great deal of my time happily gardening, living an idyllic life. And then I stopped, concluding that it was too much of a burden. That was a mistake. But that's the way it is with everything I do: sooner or later I get tired of doing it.
"Aren't you going to do anything at all today?"
"I am doing something. I'm doing a lot of things."
"Like what? Name one thing."
"I'm losing weight."
"That's not doing anything. That's..."
"It's my primary goal."
"What else are you doing?"
"I'm making beer. I'm growing plants."
"They don't count either."
"You can't count things that don't require you to do anything."
"So if I, like, plan how to do something..."
"That's not doing anything. Right."
"I think that it's more important to accomplish things..."
"So do I."
"...than to just go through the motions."
Planning is the way I deal with being tired, physically and mentally. It can give me a new perspective on old ideas and changes the course of my personal history as I mull over what I've done to date and how I might have done it differently. I do this when I don't feel like doing anything else, yet want to pretend to be productive. And I do it to prepare for responsibilities, when otherwise, as when I was young, I might tend to evade them. It's a way that I avoid the anxiety that I have long associated with a certain class of social/civic responsibilities. I plan out how I will go about a coming obligation, as in creating an itinerary, for example; or else I plan how I will organize my physical and mental arrangements on a day-to-day list--that is, how I will put things in order, because order is control, and control is domination over that which disturbs you. I "take" responsibility by controlling the anxiety (fear) that arises when I see it coming. In this way I find that I can face up to what I "have" to do without evasion, by making sure that my "life" is organized and in control before I start out on the responsible (ad)venture.
In fact, he himself is (or has been) quite irresponsible (and so projects it onto me) if for no other reason (there are a lot of other reasons) than the fact that he has owed me over $400 for over five years, back at the time when I helped him out by working for him on a number of occasions when no one else would (presumably because he hadn't paid them either). And he's always trying to take advantage of situations and people, getting over, for example, on companies' liberal return policies to return stuff he or his kids broke. (He doesn't do this himself, but has his wife do it; but she's willingly complicit.) And there are a number of other ways he acts or fails to act that demonstrate his irresponsibility. I'd document them here, but I don't feel like going to the trouble, or to actually end up getting him or anyone else into trouble. I only want to make the point that my tolerance of his projections of his irresponsibility is wearing thin (as is my tolerance of others' projections in other areas.) I'm tired of bearing the burden of others' sins.
This has been a life theme of mine, one that I have not been so happy with. For some reason people find me a particularly good hook for their projections. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive; maybe everyone fulfills this function in society. But maybe not. I can hypothesize that I am more susceptible in this regard, due to my unwitting propensity to let my guard down when among people. Apparently, I am so consciously focused on-guard that my attention is distracted from away from large areas of content, which seems to enable an unintentional expertise at establishing unacknowledged rapport (often without ever even having to say a word) that, when I notice it, often overwhelms me (it always has), which is the motive for my keeping the rapport (communion) unacknowledged in the first place, so that some people who are not so intuitive will conclude that I am not "sociable," when in fact it is they who are not truly sociable, mistakenly thinking that sociability is a more superficial interaction, when it is really a depth they are unable to plumb. Unfortunately, I've let these kinds of people feedback their projections onto me and thus convince me that I'm not very sociable, which I believed for a long time, growing up and living as an adult, thinking I had a "social skills" problem, which may have been true; but being skilled in the traits of a superficial society is a dubious talent.
In fact, I am sociable, in the sense of effective unconscious interaction. True, even to this day, I can't schmooze people so well--well, I can; but I prefer not to. I find the practice disgusting and intuitively withdraw from people who try to schmooze me. (I always have.) People who do not understand the true nature of sociability easily adapt themselves to a "social" world of superficial sociability, where schmoozing predominates. Isn't this the way it always is? People, through denial, projection, and manipulative feedback, subtly influence and thereby dictate "social" opinion by controlling consensual shallow definitions of what are really profoundly complex phenomena, so as to create surface conditions that are exactly the opposite of what they really are beneath the surface, where superficial people fear to look. [Repression > denial > projection > feedback > influence > self-image manipulation of others > definition of a "truth" opposite to one that reflects the actual phenomenon.] It's just another example of the illusion of separation. I've always been very good at rapport. But because I've been so wary of the phenomenon, I convinced the more superficial proponents of "society," in their turn, to intimidate me into thinking I was not. It's like not knowing something in a dream, but acting despite the missing information as if you knew it all along.
I awaken (within the dream) after an unknown (i.e., unremembered) ordeal, in a small bedroom, as if in it's a cheap hotel, but I know it to be some sort of an institution for teenage kids with problems [hmmm]. I was allowed by the administrator, Matt LeBlanc/Tony Danza to sleep here until I "recovered." [Woke up? I know all of this within the dream despite never having dreamed any of it.] I gather my few possessions together and leave the room to try to find Matt/Tony to thank him, but I get sidetracked in the hallway by a musical device that is playing loudly. I try to track down the source of the music and I discover that it emanates from a CD player hanging from the side of a cage-like wall made of wire mesh. I then notice that the entire hallway is constructed of this material, floor, ceiling, and walls. The CD player is connected to an audio line that runs from my backpack that, instead of being in the room on the bed where I left it, is lying atop the wire mesh of the ceiling. The vibrations of the loud music is jostling the backpack and causing it to move closer to the edge of the "cage," threatening to fall off and down into the void that the hallway is suspended above. I reach up and grab it before it falls. Then I go back to the room to get the rest of my "things," despite the fact that, if the backpack is with me, there's nothing of mine left there. A man and a woman are in the room. They're the cleaning crew, and they're celebrating over the fact that I left a nearly full case of beer there, which they'd thought that I abandoned. (Maybe that's what I went back for.) I decide that whatever I left there isn't worth disturbing their joy, so I leave. And on my way out I find Matt/Tony's office and I talk with him for a while.
The cage is that which traps me. What is it? That which music is suspended from. So what does music represent? Whatever it is, its source is (within) the backpack, which represents my collected possessions. At last a recurrent theme I understand: my obsession with controlling the "things" I need to survive and prosper, things that are, in reality, themselves symbols of control. And music is another way I attempt to control, not my environment, not things, but my psychological contents, via fantasy while listening to songs I identify with. My musical performances in other dreams are an antithesis of this control, when I am freed from the perfectionism that plagues me and prevents me from performing freely and spontaneously in real life; in short, that prevented me from having become an adequate musician; and, if music is a symbol for life, from being spontaneous in general.
The bedroom, where I had to return to get the rest of my "things" was a safe and secure place that I vacated, which allowed others to enter and to take what I had left there. I have an intuitive sense of the meaning of this aspect of the dream, but its exact interpretation eludes me. And wanting to interpret it, "exactly," is an aspect of the control obsession that it seems to be pointing to. Something deep inside is telling me not to interpret it so strictly, to leave it loose and free; so I will--for now. Spontaneity is an ideal of mine that I seldom realize, because I'm always attempting to tie up the loose threads of my life, to weave them into something more permanent and ordered. But excessive order is a propensity that breeds evil things. Life is better taken and left as it is.
Hitler is considered by many people to be the ultimate personification of evil, the most evil man who ever lived. But I doubt it. He was probably not any more evil (or mentally disturbed) than lots of people living today. But he had power that they do not have, which he gained via a superior intellect combined with the circumstances of living at a unique point in the history of the world, where a lack of checks and balances combined with German feelings of inadequacy that resulted from WWI (and earlier). [It is often said of Jesus that his "fame" is the result of having been born at the right time and place; so we could say that Hitler was born at the wrong time and place--for the Jews, at the very least. And ditto, Jesus; but let's not get into that right now.] Lots of people today, if given this kind of social/cultural situation, might arise to accomplish an amount of evil equal to that of Hitler--maybe even surpassing his, given today's advanced technology. Even George Bush might be tempted to push his limits--except that I doubt that he has the intellect to do it. A friend recently told me that it's indecent the way I talk about the president. I don't think so. Indecency is something else altogether.
No one is hurt in any way by any form of "indecency," whether it is the written word, the spoken word, the image, or the act. If someone is offended, especially if they are offended to the point where they feel they have been hurt, it has nothing to do with any "material" that is encountered, but proceeds from within the offended person. Well-adjusted people are not offended by their encounters with real world content. Offense, shame, shock, etc. are maladaptations to the environment, society, and/or culture. If you feel these affects, it's because you identify with phenomena that evoke them and, since you can't accept that these phenomena exist within yourself, you repress, deny, and project them onto similar phenomena in the real world.
I myself am offended by certain real world phenomena, especially ones like belligerents dropping bombs on innocent people in the name of freedom and justice--because I fear that, given the right (or wrong) circumstances, I might be tempted to engage in violent acts myself. In this sense, I am maladapted to the real world phenomenon of violence. I can't accept it for what it is, neither in the world or in myself; and I want to change it (or for it to be changed) in the real world, while denying any need to change it within myself; yet if I could manage to change it within myself, I would automatically cease to fear it in the real world and would adapt in this respect.
But, thankfully, I am I'm not maladapted sexually. And when I hear people complain about "filthy" language on the radio, or analogous images on tv, or pornography, or whatever other very human acts that they consider to be "indecent," I casually say, "Fuck you" (whether to their faces or not; most likely not) and go on along my merry way, disregarding their ignorance. I personally am not hurt by what I hear or see re sex; that is, I don't hurt myself in this regard.
But I still do hurt myself when I see video or hear reports of innocent people being slaughtered in the name of political beliefs, so that when I say "Fuck you" to George Bush, it's not a casual, dismissive remark; it's a vindictive, nasty explicative that projects all of my repressed hate onto a president who exemplifies what I see as the worst of human evil (the worst that I find within myself). What is it that you find within yourselves that you choose to complain about, using others to hang your projections on?