Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Recapturing the Vision Thing
It's a sort of cliche that a child can penetrate to the central truth of things, and at the onset of puberty this ability fades away. This rule of fantasy is the very essence of hundreds of novels from the Golden Compass to my own Riverrun Trilogy. And even if it were not true, it feels true.
As a child I know I saw visions and heard voices, more vividly than anything in my adulthood. Ghosts were real to me and I spoke directly with God ... or at least to the Gods ...
I am convinced now that when you get old, when you start to realize for a fact that you're going to die, the power starts to come back. Because, it seems, one's dreams again become predictive, and one's inner eye is open once again.
Perhaps this is just some foolish way to ward off one's fear of death.
Dead people and barbecues have figured in my dreams all week. Both of these are a little frightening ... death of course, is self-explanatory, but barbecue because I'm violently allergic to vinegar and the smell of barbecue is something I find absolutely horrifying. In both cases, too, a dead person was somehow mislabeled, or given a wrong identity. Both dreams were also strongly connected to the world of science fiction. This, too, I think is about recapturing the past....
So having said all this I suppose I have to describe the dreams (even though bodily functions do figure in them,)
Last week, the dream is about a huge open-air barbecue. It's on a hilltop somewhat like the artificial hill in the house I used to live in as a child. This is a restaurant, however, and there is a huge trough of chicken legs in those metal dishes they have in buffets. So, I seem to be a special guest at this restaurant and I'm in fact the ONLY guest there, so they have in deference to me replaced the barbecue marinade with an Indian curry sauce. But they didn't clean out the metal trays completely and I keep finding as I move further and further down the aisle to the right that there's vinegar clinging to everything … that there may indeed be no chicken for me to eat.…
Later on, I give a lecture in a library on science fiction. A wildly successful one. I am lionized and applauded, but I have an attack of diarrhea. Desperately I run to relieve myself. In fact, my trousers have fallen to my ankles by the time I reach the toilet, which is outside and is shaped like a giant mausoleum, all marble … more mediaeval crypt than lavatory. I am banging on the door, embarrassed that I might have soiled myself, and I finally get in. Caught at this most private of moments, a fan looms up. An old man, towering over me as I try to defecate. "I loved your lecture," he tells me. "And I adore Cliff Simak." The man in fact, resembles Cliff Simak in some way. The stoop, the gray hair, a sweet but slightly skull-like smile. And I say, "I know Cliff Simak. I wonder what he's doing now.…"
And I wake up. For my musician friends, who know naught of the science fiction world, Simak was an important writer who wrote of, among other things, talking dogs from the future. He was a kindly man whom I knew a long time ago, but he is long dead. In the dream, it seems to be Cliff himself who meets me in the lavatory-cum-crypt.
So, only a few days later, in another dream, I am in a very nice hotel in Phoenix. Some people (I don't know them) have invited me to a huge barbecue buffet. I can't of course eat barbecue but I am being polite. I tell my guests I have stayed at this hotel many times and I was never more popular than at the 1982 Worldcon in Phoenix which was at this same hotel where I stay frequently. (Another wrong fact; my dream-self seems unaware that the 1982 worldcon was in Chicago. It was the last time I was ever nominated for the Hugo Award.) The buffet is in a huge marble restaurant; vast vistas of diners.
The buffet is full and they escort me past a huge balustrade to a diferent restaurant reachable by climbing over huge gargoyle-like stone things; I can't keep my balance and instead squeeze through via a post office. We're on the second floor of a shopping mall and it's ANOTHER barbecue restaurant. The owner is Greek and long flowing hair, fat, beard. I jump and embrace him and shout Kalimera, and he says "good to see an old friend." As we sit down I explain that Sharon Webb and her husband Doug always took me here. (Sharon's husband's name was in fact Bryan). The name Doug appears in conversation several more times before I wake …
Again you see, the dead figure, with mistakes about the past, and with food I'm allergic to. What are these dreams telling me? At their most obvious, it's like a prediction I'll soon be joining my deceased friends, perhaps after a bit of food poisoning....
But it all seems more complex. The dead, it seems, aren't being properly remembered. The gargoyles and sweeping balustrades of the second dream are clearly cousins to the crypt of the first. Gothic spectacle, bodily functions, and mistaken identities of the dead.... and then there is also the Thai belief that when you see dead people in dreams, you will shortly win the lottery.
I post this blog today because I've had a worried email from another Brian, this great guy (from Phoenix!) whom I've known since he was about 12 or so and always used to see at conventions. He's worried about my health because I haven't blogged in a long time and wants to know if I'm okay.
There are actually about 6 half-composed blogs in this computer; they will at some stage be finished and posted. But the truth is, I'm going through a number of crises; political, artistic, and what not. The news will probably squeeze itself out, a bit at a time....
Posted by Somtow at 2:36 AM
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