Monday, March 5, 2012

Nightmares and Dreams

From The Iron Claw
One of the things I hate most in all the world is to listen to people tell me about their dreams. There's a quality to dreams that makes them real and meaningful to the dreamer, but we just can't express that quality to others. There's a great quote from Heart of Darkness that argues that our lives are the same way: "No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence—that which makes its truth, its meaning—its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream—alone."

I think that's true to an extent, although it's gloomier than how I would phrase it.

Lots of people talk about how great dreams are. The part of Inception I understand the very least is all the people who flock to that little den so they can get their dream fix. I hate dreams. I've had maybe half a dozen good dreams in my life. If I could choose, I would never dream.

To illustrate my point, I'm going to tell you about the dream I had last night. You won't like it. For one, no one likes hearing about other people's dreams. For another, I only have awful dreams.

I was driving down the interstate. My brothers were with me. My younger brother was still very young, maybe pushing nine. The road got more and more congested, but instead of slowing down, traffic kept speeding up. Think of how water shoots through a constricted hose nozzle. The medians kept coming closer and closer until there was just one lane. As the lanes lessened, my dread increased.

A nasty fog rose up, so I had to follow the tail lights of the people in front of me as best I could, but eventually the car in front of me got too far ahead. I didn't dare go any faster with the narrow winding road being how it was.

Without warning, I came to a part of the road that I couldn't understand. There were too many divergent lanes. I decided to hang right, but I instantly knew that was wrong. For one, there were immediately signs that said NO TRESPASSING and PRIVATE PROPERTY. But this was out in the middle of nowhere, and I needed to turn around, so I decided to drive just past the signs and make a turn in this lane to get back on the interstate.

As I was about to go into point two of a three point turn, I heard the back left door open, and a tall, middle aged man got in. His face was half hidden by a broad-rimmed hat, but I could see that it was badly mutilated and his fingers disappeared into bare bone claws at the tips. He put a gun to my head and told me to turn off the engine.

I did.

"You've screwed up now," he said. Then he started laughing. He told me that the old man would come for us.

He did.

The old man had the same sadistic air as the man in the car, the man with broad-rimmed hat. Although the old man's face wasn't deformed, his eyes were maniacal. He was obviously gleeful to find us. He told me that he'd be taking my younger brother, and we would wait in the car if we knew what was good for us.

I grabbed the old man's gun from his holster. It was a colt six-shooter. I pulled back the hammer and squeezed the trigger, but there were no bullets in the gun. Then I felt bone claws rip through the flesh of my face. The younger man had come up behind me. The older man laughed and said he was going to have his way with my brother. My older brother offered to pay them off, but the younger man laughed and said we could never afford it. I got the sense that this was a long-running operation, and their sneers betrayed a smugness that comes from security and practice.

I grabbed the younger man's gun from his holster. It was a colt six-shooter. I pulled back the hammer and squeezed the trigger, but there were no bullets in the gun. This time, though, I didn't bother waiting. I pistol-whipped the man in the broad rimmed hat across his already maimed face until he fell to the ground. Then I threw myself at the old man. His claws went deep into my shoulder, but I grabbed him by the waist and hurled him off the road, into a trench.

I pulled my brother back into the car, slammed and locked the doors, and then we drove off.

This ended much better than most of my dreams.

I've been on a Poe kick, and that was a man who loved his dreams. This is from "A Dream Within a Dream":

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand -
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep - while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

And along those lines:

Uns're Freuden, uns're Wehen,
Alles eines Irrlichts Spiel!

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