Ink & Penwipers

Scribbles, screeds, speculations, and the occasional reference to Schrodinger's cat.

16 November 2004

In Which My Dreams Are Self-Explanatory

As often happens when I push a big wad of stress through my costive nervous system, my brain takes out the change in dreams that become increasingly and transparently symbolic, as when I dreamed I was trying to give my old English Department chair a ride in my car which suddenly turned into a bicycle that careered across the parking lot, hit the retaining wall (which I couldn't see because the jerk insisted on sitting in front of me), and as we went into space, his last words before I woke were, "This is all your fault." Heh. That one was a classic.

Here, for your, er, delectation, is the dream produced by the waking nightmare of the election and my current financial troubles:

Somehow a couple of West Wing characters were involved. I was part of a team deputized to research international quasi-terrorist groups of religious extremists. As we hunted our way through a building full of narrow corridors and mahogany doors, Josh was suddenly spirited away from us. I attempted to give chase but there were too many doors. So I changed tactics and began to focus back on the groups I was studying, looking for an opportunity to rescue Josh from almost certain torture.

One way and another my team and I wound up in what was supposed to be Africa but was increasingly becoming somewhere in the wilds of America itself, among a colony of people who were a sort of Christian Taliban. The men were jackbooted and dressed in worn flannels and T-shirts; the women wore varying types of headgear. In the dream I was both fascinated and repelled by the women, who continually jumped to be accommodating and were cheerfully willing to accept the shame of the whole tribe for whatever went wrong. My cachet as a Christian enabled us to be safe among them while we worked out how to find Josh. Oddly enough, we found not Josh but Charlie among them, who got up on the platform in the meetinghouse and gently denounced the tribe for not practicing true faith. "We thought you were one of us," the disappointed men told Charlie. "Well, you thought wrong," Charlie said; and he left.

Cut to nighttime, and there was some sort of raid in which I was asked to be involved. Something went wrong, which turned out to be manifestly my fault. I turned and saw a group of the cheerful women starting work on something at a table; I drew near and saw that there was a small selection of red, ugly, hairless puppies awaiting...something. The women explained to me that because some fault had occurred, a woman had to eat a dog, and since I was a guest they were perfectly willing to bear the punishment for me. "What," I said, "do I have to eat it alive?" "Oh, no," they explained, "it can be cooked if you want." "Well, I'll eat it then," I said, indignant at their complicity and useless solicitude.

In a trice the dog was prepared and served to me at the outdoor table, in a row of yellow cups, each marked at the base with a rough-cut glass letter. The row of cups spelled UNRIGHTEOUS. I sat, contemplating the meal I was about to take, when the leader of the clan, a large bilious-looking man, clamped a hand down on my shoulder. "I thought you said you were one of us," he accused. "I'm a Christian," I said calmly. My two team members, hovering on the edge of the crowd, looked at me apprehensively; clearly our cover was about to be blown. The women of the tribe also hovered at my shoulder, looking confused even through their headgear.

"Oh yeah?" the man said. "What church do you go to?"

With a wild laugh I let my cover blow completely: "Christ Church Episcopal!" I cried in triumph.

"I knew it!" cried the leader. "Seize them!"

With another wild laugh I jumped up, abandoning the meal of shame, and picked up one of those indoor flagpoles with an eagle on the end. It held no flag, and I somehow knew that it was one of their torture implements. Brandishing it like a vaulting pole, I charged through the crowd, my team after me, and darted into another low building full of corridors. I made a sharp left, away from what I instinctively knew to be the torture area (aha! when we had escaped we could rescue Josh) and into a women's restroom. I plunged directly at the transom window and rammed it out of its frame so that we could climb out into the quiet night. And then I woke.

I wonder what Claude Levi-Strauss would make of that dream.

In any case, it is a prime example of my waking suspicions as they currently stand regarding politics and my own religion. I leave it for posterity to interpret.

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