This week’s Friday Five question is from Marvin:
I don’t usually remember my sleeping dreams, but sometimes I do. I have a handful stored away in my mind, dreams that for one reason or another have stayed with me over the years from childhood on through today. What are your five most notable dreams; when and where did they happen; and what do they mean to you?
Wow. Actually, I also don’t remember my dreams all that often, and so any dream I remember is pretty significant. I’ve been thinking and I’m not sure I can come up with five, but I’ll try.
- The one about the dog camp. I had this dream once when I was kid that nuclear war had already happened; I’d recently seen a new show on what would be the effects of this, and Sagan & co. had just started talking about Nuclear Winter, I think. So in my dream there was a cold, horrible winter and people got around riding on the backs of gigantic mutant dogs. What happened in most of the dream I don’t remember, but I do remember one part where a mutant dog from an enemy camp bit me on the leg during some kind of fight. When I woke up, the leg the dog had bitten was alseep, all pins and needles and hurting. I learned as a kind that what happens to your body affects your dreams. This was when I was living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, as a kid.
- I once dreamed of a woman I loved one-sidedly. It was a strange dream, because she came to me with all of her attitudes changed: suddenly she loved me back, and she’d come to me with an important message. (Sure, she’d come to me seventy years later but she’d had anti-aging treatment and I was about to, so it didn’t matter.) Well, it turned out to be such a crazy thing, she wasn’t even a person, but an animated nanocloud run by a copy of a digitally-uploaded version of the original woman. The copies were multiplying and mutating and that was just the beginning. After I got copied and my copies started multiplying and mutating, all hell broke loose. When I woke up, I wrote this into a short story and I still think it’s one of my more mind-bending stories, even if it is a little too Egan-esque for my taste. Damn, I should submit it somewhere. Anyway, when I told my baby sister about it, she declared, “Geez, Gordon, you even dream in science fiction!” and I realized my imagination is pretty much fit for the kind of writing I do. It happened in Montreal, enough years ago to feel like ages ago, and not just five years ago.
- Once when I was studyng Ezra Pound extensively, and writing an essay about the Tempio de Malatestiano, I was doing a fair bit of studying about Sigismundo de Malatesta, one of those nasty Italian condottieri you sometimes hear about. Well, I had the most hilarious dream about him coming into my apartment, threatening me with his sword for writing about him (“How dare you lot write about me, you and yur modern poet friends!!!”), being rebuffed by my poet friend Michele (“That man needs to take an anger management class.”). The funniest part was that he spoke in very fake Italian, and his words were subtitled in English, just at the bottom of my frame of vision, as if it were some kind of foreign movie. This dream gives me a great story to tell on occasion, and reminded me that not only does what happens in body affect dreams, but also one’s mental environment also influences one’s dreams. This also happened in Montreal, about three years ago.
- Of all the dreams I’ve had about different women, the most memorable was of a woman I didn’t like. In Montreal, a girl showed interest in me (as well as about five other guys at the same time, I later learned from a fellow victim of her interest). She’d flirt, and then ask me to explain Kant to her. “Could you explain Kant to me? I haven’t read him.” I mean, really. Kant’s work is huge, I disagree with so much of what I know of it, and I’ve only actually read a small fraction of it. When I told her that, she flattered me, etc. It was an obnoxious conversation. Well, she kept at it with me for a while, and I was kind of vacillating about whether or not to give her another shot when I finally got sick with a horrible fever. I got so sick that when I woke a few days later, all the posters had fallen from my walls, from the moisture in the air because of my sweating. It sounds unbelievable, but it was a small apartment, and dammit, it’s true. Anyway, in the dream, that girl visited my apartment and played all friendly. In the dream, as in real life, I was barely able to move, so when she climbed into bed with me, I had little resisitance to offer. Besides, I thought maybe it would be one of those dreams. That is, until she turned into a vampire and hauled my innards out through my mouth, one by one, and made me watch her eat them, liver and kidney and all. It was a horrible dream, but I did stay the hell away from her after that.
- Once, in my apartment in Montreal, I had a dream about some mice in my apartment. There were no mice, in fact, but in the dream, I woke to hear a very quiet, squeaky little argument going on in my kitchen. There was a voice with a squeaky little French accent, as well as one with a comical little drawl. As I listened closely, I heard some words very clearly: “Historical dialectic”, “the market”, “the bourgeois class”, and so on. It was a Texan and a French individual arguing for free-market capitalism and for Marxism respectively, both of them sounding like idiots. Then I looked up and in the dim shadows of my kitchen at night, I saw two mice levitating, wrestling with one another in the air. One wore a beret and the other a cowboy hat. They were arguing furiously and the whole thing seemed absurd to me. When I woke, I realized it expressed a lot about the kinds of discussions I was letting myself get into online, and I decided to devote more time to discussions that weren’t ridiculous and extremist or partisan, arguments that went beyond the two polar default positions that are all most people see. It got me thinking about the ills of partisanism in government and voting.
- Runner up: I once had a very strange, strange dream, all of it so epehemeral that I’m surprised I even remembered it. It was a strange cascade of sounds, and colors, but with no actual people and no story to it. It was like some kind of weird art film or something. Yet it was so very peaceful and beautiful. I think I had it in high school, but I’m not sure.
One of the things I’ve learned again on this holiday is that if you sleep enough, you have a much better chance of remembering some dreams. I’ll see if I can’t manage thatsleeping enoughonce in a while once I get home again. We’ll see.
There’s one more dream, by the way, that means more to me than those above, but it’s precious enough to me I’ll keep it only to myself.