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ALP VARK

Dreamed 1983/11/24 & 11/25, by Chris Wayan

1: THE GODDESS ON THE WALL

My family's dragging me through the doors of a great European art museum. Apparently we're tourists. Inside the double bronze doors, there's a long high-arched hall like the entrance to the throne room of the Wizard of Oz. The walls are paneled in subtle colors: browns, gold, ochres, forming words and pictures. They're hard to piece out, but I see Chinese characters, obscenities, and political slogans--graffiti, in bronze and gold--along with incantations and names of ancient goddesses. There's a strong feminist and Witch element I didn't expect to see; I think of Europe as the heart of Christian patriarchy. At intervals, low-relief sculpture, or perhaps they are heavily embossed prints. I go down the row, taking it all in passively, until I stop in excitement before one that attracts me wildly: an ancient goddess of the Alps, leaning over a door-arch in a sexy curve. She's wonderful--and shockingly modern. None of the usual Euro fertility flab or blowzy pink skin. A brown runner's body like Artemis/Diana... or a surfer. Her bangs and long hippie hair are pale gold, or a gold-silver mix, I don't know my metallurgy. Her eyes are wide open, no European submission or modesty, nor any class/race arrogance--she meets my gaze with American equality. I'm astonished. Sketch of a dream by Wayan: I meet an ancient goddess on the wall of a museum who comes alive and winks at me. Click to enlarge.

I've heard the very earliest Greek statues have something called the Archaic Smile... but this is something else. A look of pure delight, to be a goddess in the Alps. I'm looking at American innocence, the sort of girl a Euro man might sleep with but certainly wouldn't take seriously: no culture. Worship her? Never!

But their ancestors did. I can see why. In her open gaze I see warmth, a teen's direct sense of fairness. This is a goddess anyone could come to about injustice. Except the pompous. The privileged. She must have been hell on them! I think I've discovered the seed of American goodness. (Suddenly I'm a little worried the next panel will be the root of American evil. We Americans always look for a bad guy, huh?)

Her name is scrawled in letters of tawny bronze, but I can't read it. Too ancient.

She waves at me. I blink, but I know I saw it. I stare and... for a moment, she waves again, and grins. Messages pass between our eyes. Then she retreats back into her museum wall like a dryad into her tree. A metal icon again. I feel dizzy. Prickles down my back.

The owners of this place may think of these images as art pieces or historical treasures, but they weren't to the people who made them. They were tools. Tools to summon the spirits they depict. And I had an affinity with one of those spirits...

And she does with me.

My family is at the end of the hall; they call "Hey, come on, catch up. Never mind that old stuff--they have movies in here, we'll miss it!" I gesture for them to go on ahead, but they wait in the doorway for me. "The show's starting soon--we need to get seats now." calls my father. I look at the goddess hopefully, but she stays inside her wall. I whisper "I like you." and walk away, not knowing how much I'd later regret not staying with the Goddess on the Wall, no matter what the consequences. I walk down the Oz hall to its end, and through the arch. The theater doubles as the museum cafeteria; you can eat while you see the show, sort of a cultural cabaret. I sit with my father, while my sister Miriel and my mom go to the bathroom.

My father takes advantage of their absence: "I'm glad you're along, Chris, because only men can really appreciate the accuracy of the ancient landscapes and portraits. The subtlety of those colors... those artists saw the way things really are. Not like that lurid modern stuff that women go for!"

"But... I like bright colors. When I look at real mountains and faces, that's what I see. I make allowances for the old pictures, with their centuries of dirt and fading pigments, but I prefer bright images. They feel realer to me." I feel like I've pushed him away yet again, but why do his attempts to bond with me always feel like ingratiation at some other group's expense? I won't lie to him and reject what I really like...

Or did I? I left the Goddess on the Wall!

2: THE REBEL

As my mother and sister come back, the lights dim and the film begins. An Alpine scene, high in the meadows. A cop or Swiss Guard clad in an opera-bright uniform is lazily riding up toward a little guard-station on his bicycle. Just as he rounds the last corner and is really visible from the booth, he pours on the effort and arrives gasping and yelling "HE'S COMING! HE'S FREED!" Other brightly uniformed guards can be seen now, down the mountain, biking up at hysterical speed... at least when their commanding officers can see them.

The captain comes out to hear the news. "He's out? Is he coming this way?"

"He" is apparently a peasant leader, a religious reformer. A wildly popular young man in these parts. His name is something like Jan Hus. He's played by the tall and gawky Jacques Tati, though according to the French couple at the next table, the historical Jan Hus was a burly farmer. "Hollywoodisme typique!" grumbles the woman. It's odd though; he gets realer and realer as the story develops.

He's walking from prison back up to his native country. All the little Alpine villages come out when they hear the news, cheering and pummeling him. He is actually one of the Gods of the Alps. The Church has had him locked in a dungeon for years, but he didn't age or weaken. Every year in prison just confirmed his immortality. They could hold him, but they couldn't cow him. He became such an embarrassment they finally let him go. The Swiss Guard watches the pilgrim's progress, scared he'll start a revolution. And he might! I dream crayfish-cows in an Alpine meadow discuss Church politics and paternity suits.

Not just the human inhabitants of his native land are affected by the god's return. The scene shifts to a hanging meadow far above an azure lake. Giant crayfish the size of oxen, ruddy and dark and brown, are grazing the flowery meadows, heaving their feelers and plates and claws across sweet grass and edelweiss. They are cows. That's what cows are, here--placid, grass-eating, one-ton crayfish. Their feelers vibrate the news he's out...

"Did you know he's a relative of ours?" says one.

"No! How?" says a brown cow.

"A cow over in Zurich Canton had a baby by him. She sued him for child support and won! The blood tests were conclusive."

"Those gods!" snorts another cow, with a properly scandalized twitch of her feelers, the cow parallel of a loud sniff. Then I notice her great lobster tail is curving up at the end into a mating arch. She's so excited and envious she can't suppress it.

"So he has to be one of us! How could get a Cow pregnant unless he had Cow ancestors? He's definitely part Cow!"

This reasoning seems to please the crayfish-cows, and I sense they're likely to support him. They don't seem to care that he wouldn't support his Cow child until forced to by a court. Gods will be Gods. Or bulls will be bulls, I'm not clear. But Jan Hus is clearly a sex symbol--the He-God. Much is forgiven a hunk.

I think the cray-cows may have a labor union. It could mean a lot, politically. His union with one cow wins him the whole crayfish union. Hmm!

3: A REVOLTING DEVELOPMENT

On the mountain slope above the cowfish, where the grass thins and the rocks begin to show, a demure Southern belle is having a picnic with her two not particularly demure sisters. If they're playing shepherdess, they picked the right animals to herd: what a view up here! You can see the whole lake now, an extraordinary indigo, and the toothy roofs of the village, and the ski resort on the far shore, on the knees of the Three Sisters, a trinity of 3000-meter peaks. A far cluster of horns swims hazily beyond their shoulders.

Belle is sketching the scene. Her sister is complaining again. "Every valley in the Alps is jammed nowadays; resorts, chalets... and a restaurant on every mountaintop!" Belle smiles an archaic smile, and sketches. The Three Sisters; a gentle artistic belle, a sharp boss, and an angry cursecaster

The Three Sisters are not that high, as the Alps go, of course; but they are well-known, since they're the home of three goddesses... who sometimes like o picnic across their lake. Belle seems nice, though she's quiet, not as magnetic as the Goddess on the Wall who waved at me.

The Middle Sister seems a bit critical and bossy, but I sympathize with her about over-development. There she was, a perfectly happy mountain... If I were reading in bed and looked up to find termites building a mud nest across my lap...

But the third! Whenever the South Sister, on the far right, speaks a single word, thunderheads boil up over the ridge and the sisters sit in shadow and the mountains mutter and the air turns ugly and electric. The peasants call her the Goddess of Gloom.

But they're wrong: gloom's passive. Malice! She sweeps her arm over the lake and the ski resort--and alters time. She's making the mortals develop it feverishly, and develop it and develop it... Farting red buses full of tourists swarm in from around the world. Cute little stores and lodges and roads multiply and squirm outward like strangler vines. The valley's grossly over-developed now, cabins choking even the ski-routes, all the way up to the peaks. She's ruined their own front yards. I can't tell if she did it to spite her sisters who loved the valley as it was, or if she hates even herself. For she hates.

Belle, the Goddess who Draws, says "The lights are very lovely in the evening, I confess, but really, life down there must be worse now. How crowded they must be! I wish you'd change it back."

But she doesn't force the issue, and the valley stays strangled with light and noise. I like her the best of the three, but I wish she'd act on her feelings, sweep her own arm and undo this tide of time. She doesn't do it and risk a fight. Nor does the Middle Sister. I wish I was back with my Goddess on the Wall. She'd act on her feelings!

4: THE VARK

Below the Goddesses' picnic, on the lakeshore road that's now so crowded with sports cars and buses roaring to and from the casinos, a gangly medieval peasant is plodding along. Jan Hus the Culture Hero, at his own speed, is walking home. Other peasants follow him... it almost looks like a slow-motion marathon round the lake.

My viewpoint shifts; I'm down among them now. And the slow strides of the tall man, that seemed a crawl from the mountaintop, have become hot work to keep up with! It really is a race of sorts.

The Culture Hero stops. Though the busy road goes on, he's reached the end of his path. He hops down to the narrow beach, tears off his shirt and trousers, and jumps in the lake. Several men following him struggle to get their clothes off, but they are wearing long underwear, caps, boots: the proper mountain gear of Swiss Guards under their disguises. They are a crucial thirty seconds behind him now as he wades out into the lake and stands.

This is the moment of power. There is a being in this lake whose duty is to guard mankind from self-destruction on its long road to divinity. In the long war between Pope and Reformers, both have claimed the blessing of this guardian spirit. Now representatives of both are here, in the lake, summoning it. Whoever it chooses is blessed. The great dispute will be decided one way or the other, at last. The Holy Vark walking on water

The water stirs. The cows and people watching from shore gasp. Hus and the Swiss Guard stand still, thigh-deep in the lake. The Vark comes out of the water delicately, slowly. It's a sort of pinkish-gray anteater, thin, long-legged, and translucent. It walks skittishly on the lake's rippling face, doing what Christ did so long ago, so far away, on Galilee. But the Vark is doing it now. Everyone goes quiet as the Vark reaches the Peasant God.

It passes him.

It reaches the Swiss Guard, and sidles through them.

It nears the beach, where I'm sitting among the peasants and skiers and crayfish cows.

It comes up to me and solemnly licks my face, delicate as a kiss, and touches my hand. I stroke the Guardian very gently--fine soft transparent fur, quite dry... on a tense body curved in a C. I feel special and honored. My eyes get watery and hot with tears. The Vark is wonderful.

"Speech!" yells a cow.

I feel shy and stay seated, petting the Guardian. I speak softly, to the Vark, not the crowd. "I believe you came to me because I've been listening to my dreams. I tried and tried to find animal people last night, to make them come... and now you come without any effort, in your own time. I'll try to live your lesson."

The world fades, and I'm in nonrem space a while, vague and thoughtful.

A window in the void bubbles open, and I see a brief vision of a roundish hall with a woman in the middle. She's sprawled in the awkwardest position, her body up and alert, her legs bent horribly. I'm slow to realize both her legs are broken. A voice says "Here there are herbal remedies even for broken legs." The egg-hall swims away from me into the gray void, and I sleep, safe in the unformed healing place.

5: THE ANNOYING RECORD

I wake on the physical plane, in my Palo Alto room, dream notebook at my side. I grab the pen and start writing. An hour later, as I'm recording the scene with the Vark, music starts booming from the front of the house.

"The hills are alive with the sound of muuuuusiiiiic...."

As I finish, the songs go by: Alps, Catholics, Sisters, women picnicking in meadows, cows, uniformed men invading. Even the crossbreeding of Jan Hus and the Cow seems echoed by the song about the (goats') kids and the (goatherders') kids. I can't help laughing, I think it's one of the funniest psychic dreams I've ever had. I go out front to find my housemate Brian playing the record on the recently installed stereo. "Any reason you're playing that particular record?" He has a stereo in his cabin. Never plays music in the main house, let alone that particular record.

"No, just a whim. I was going through that box of old records Judy left in the pantry, and I hadn't heard any of those songs in years, so I..."

I can't resist telling him the dream.

He gets a little annoyed. Takes me a while to get it. Brian, making a great concession, is just willing to accept that telepathy might be possible, but precognition would mean our lives are fated, we have no free will.

"So I didn't dream what I dreamed? Or are you seriously claiming each of those parallels is a separate coincidence?" Now I'm annoyed with him. Setting up an artificial conflict between precognitive dreams and freedom of choice. Our picture of time is primitive and idiotic, how can he be so damn sure? I just don't buy that my will is any less free, just because my dreams play jokes with time. The same intuitive sense that's sent me the predictions in the first place tells me no such conflict exists. Well, I don't want to fight about it. I wrote the dream down before he played the music, and if he denies that, what more can I say? Sketch of a dream by Wayan: I meet an ancient goddess on the wall of a museum who comes alive and winks at me. Click to enlarge.

I switch the subject to his photography, a nice safe topic, which, I notice only now, was a strategic move: as I talk knowledgeably about a technical subject, it warns him subtly he'd better not patronize me, psychic dreams or not.

The phone rings. It's my father. "Would you like to come with us to the De Young? They're having a special show--the Treasures of the Vatican." I can't believe this! More Vaticans! Ordinarily I'd say no, I find trips with my parents exhausting, but this time, I say yes. What else can I do? There's obviously something going on here. I want to find out what.

I get out pastels and try to draw the Goddess on the Wall.

Actually, aside from the Vark, that's my vividest memory, and it's the part that I can't connect with the Thanksgiving party the night before or the events this morning. I wonder if it's something connected with the Vatican show. If so, it'll be a pretty long-range prediction--the show's a good ten days off.

6: SUSPICIOUS BOYS

That night I have four dreams, in most of which I'm someone else: a blonde girl living with my sister in a jungle, a male TV producer filming a show with Andy Rooney and Felix the Cat, a child watching a Star Trek episode with Captain Kirk trapped in a maze that perpetually changes... Then comes another giant dream, as long as the others all put together, a dream on precognition and free will:

I'm talking to a woman going somewhere in the ridge-top housing tract where my parents live. We're at the narrowest point in the tract, a saddle between two hills. She's walking to her van, and I get on my bike. She says "You must have lots of spare energy to ride up steep hills like that when you could drive."

I say "It's faster than getting your car and unlocking it and starting it up and getting it out of the parking lot! And I like that I'm on my own power. I can cut through driveways and along paths... whole dimensions exist for bikes that don't for cars. You drivers depend on fuel, on streets. You can go only where society lets you go."

But I wonder if I'm exaggerating. Bikes are slower, and they take more effort. Cars are adult. Am I clinging to my bike symbolically, clinging to a child's rebellion? Alice in the shop of elusive goods. Sketch by John Tenniel.

I decide to find out. "I'll race you." I say. And leap on my bike, as she fumbles with her keys and locks.

I gear down and race up the hill. Up and down, more hills than I remember, and steeper, I'm getting tired! Still, she hasn't passed me yet. And steeper, an exponential slope, until I realize the hills have become walls. I'm boxed in. The rock walls lean out and join hands. A roof. I'm in a room.

It's jammed with little crafts projects--ship models, pastels... It's like that Lewis Carroll shop where any shelf Alice looks at is empty--she chased one object, that liked to be one shelf above her gaze, right up through the ceiling.

I suspect this room, like Alice's shop, is an illusion, or rather a simplified representation of the reality behind it--possibly one with so many dimensions I can't apprehend it directly. If I follow an analogy of the bike route I should make it over the top of whatever these hills or walls really are. So I should climb.

I step up onto the sofa, and onto the counter. Hop across to the table, then climb up the bookshelves to the ceiling--and poke my hand through!

I was right. Reality is a semi-permeable membrane.

I begin to realize I've done this before. It is the right way. Through the cell wall! I lift the bike up through the melting surface. I'm careful--I don't want to break anything that may be lying on the floor or ground on the Other Side.

I poke my head up through, and follow. I find myself in a cupola or gazebo, built high in an oak tree. Yes, this is familiar; the right path up. It's coming back to me now.

But some immediate details have changed since the last time I came through. The place has been made into a boys' clubhouse. Not very competent boys--it's not stable. Rocks to the right as my adult weight crosses the floor. I wonder why it's so rickety?

I recall the next step now: up the ladder, unroll the blanket, fold it into a shawl, and become a Bird Person and fly into the Next World. But I feel unwilling to go. The platform just feels too unstable, and I know it's not safe to soar on an unsound foundation. I poke around but it's hard to see what's wrong. Struts seem firm enough. Starship I keep in my pocket: dream sketch by Wayan.

I fold up my bike into a little black cylinder, much like a telephoto lens, with calibration-rings of logarithmic numbers around it. In this form it's very light.

"Wow! Do that again!" I turn to find boys entering their clubhouse, staring at me and my black cylinder. I take the bike out and unfold it carefully, placing it on the floor as its full weight returns to this reality level from its storage dimension. I fold it up again, and the boys snatch it from me and pass the cylinder around suspiciously. I don't intend to let them know what's in my other pocket, folded up, waiting to be used in the next level past the Winged World. My starship. My pocket starship.

No, I don't want them passing that around.

"Where does it all fit?" says the lead boy angrily. "It's impossible. It violates the laws of physics." I try to explain that a four-dimensional storage pouch doesn't violate three-dimensional laws, but the boys get mad at such doubletalk. They don't want the truth. They want known dimensions.

I want them to quit pestering me. "Okay--fine. I lied. The bike is mostly hollow struts that fit inside each other, it's not magic."

"Where'd you get all that bullshit about 4D space then?"

"College."

Lied again. Should I explain it's the computer onboard the starship in my pocket? Sending me the equations through a neurolink?

They spat out the truth; I don't owe them a second helping.

"The physics comes from my 'calculator'--see how the rings around the lens form a circular sliderule?" They huddle and stare. The eldest boy has to admit the many mysterious log scales could give me all sorts of arcane data... I'm pleased to see one thoughtful boy holding back from the rest, musing "I never thought of putting a sliderule on a cylinder like that. You could solve much more complex equations than on a straight one or a disk. Maybe the guy is telling the truth--it's all just elegant design."

Too bad the brightest boy is farthest from the truth, and the dullest and most suspicious is closest--that I'm lying to pacify them. A 25-pound bike really can't fold into a one-pound cylinder. And on the next level, that cylinder plus my cloak can be folded up and put in my pocket next to the starship. Tree of Time with a kids' treehouse saying SCIENCE CLUB and NO GIRLS. Dream sketch by Wayan

To tell the whole truth, I hid that folded starship up here in their clubhouse, under a floorboard, for months. I feel a little guilt for using their place without telling them. But not much. You see..

This has been a path up through reality levels, a jumping-off place for soul-flight, long before the Boy's Science Club built its clubhouse. I'm not flying away today, because the platform feels shaky and needs work; but I refuse to give up my rights to come through here. They built this treehouse, but they don't own right-of-way, let alone the Tree. You know what Tree I mean; the tree of spacetime, with its wonderful climbing maze of branches. The tree whose leaves are lives.

And the boys built their exclusive little clubhouse right on a main branch, hogging the runway we bird-types take off from. No, I don't owe them a thing.

I wake and write... and feel both better and bitter. No need to be mad at Brian. He's only one representative, and a very humane one, of a whole tradition of suspicious boys. The Scientist's Clubhouse. No mushy girl stuff allowed!

But I will no longer let them block my way up the tree.

I spend the whole week in a dream-fever, immense dreams each night, filled with bizarre magic. And nearly a thousand words to write every morning. For good or ill, my world is changing--permanently.

7: AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME

I've been meaning to look up J. W. Dunne for some time. He was a dream researcher early in the century who wrote a book called "An Experiment with Time" that several other dream researchers have footnoted--though most of them comment that they haven't actually read it.

I find a copy in the Stanford Library, and check it out.

My my. He deliberately set out to look for precognitive elements in ordinary dreams, rather than wait for spectacular exceptions. He kept a journal of his waking and dream experiences and then looked for echoes in his dreams of waking events--but one day ahead as well as one day back. He found--get this--references to events in the future were, as far as he could tell, just as frequent as those referring to the past. While his examples were quiet, nothing spectacular--an arrangement of fields and gates, a particular house, that sort of thing--his dreams clearly did have what anyone approaching the data naively would have to call a symmetrical pattern of references. Lots of connections to events one day off in either direction, fewer two days off, and so on, forming a bell-shaped curve: ordinary Gaussian distribution centered on the present, but spreading into past and future equally! The mind as a balloon sailing over the landscape of spacetime; the present, beneath, is easy to see, while both future and past grow foreshortened near the horizon.

But of course Dunne was not objective. He says he had a terrible time recognizing even rather obvious parallels that were precognitive; only if he pretended they were in the past would it suddenly be clear he had a reference to mark down. He describes it almost like a sticky film of hypnosis he had to shake himself out of over and over again. A reluctance, even blindness, toward what he had set up the experiment to test! Exactly the opposite of the credulous eagerness I've heard so many "rationalists" attribute to psychics and dream researchers... It's as if our linear-timed culture had him in a hypnotic trance so deep he couldn't see the evidence before him without constant effort to shake it off.

It all feels absolutely familiar. Wonderful to see somebody describe the feeling you get when the training that defines you as a human being in a world of linear time pulls you one way and your real perceptions and your reason pull you the other way.

To be fair, I find Dunne's explanation, his theory of "serial time", unsatisfying.

But he's right that conventional spacetime fails to explain time's flow as we experience it--and even today's far more flexible physics (like our still rather inflexible common sense) can't handle an unconscious that routinely sees the (or a) future. Our deep belief that this is impossible censors all but the most spectacular evidence. Yet Dunne shows his dreaming mind routinely sees spacetime events as if they were a landscape spread out below his mind-balloon; things directly below (both past and future) are very clear, but increasingly foreshortened as one looks further into the distance. Whether there's curvature, a horizon, Dunne couldn't say; he had at least one precognition years before the event (a vivid peak experience: flying in a primitive plane). Like a peak on or over the horizon?

Though I don't find his own tentative time-model convincing, Dunne's findings pose a real problem for conventional physics and psychology. Overall, I feel heartened. Dunne may not have transformed the science of time, but he certainly didn't fudge his data any more than Mendel did, or Freud. His results are worth testing, and those who have actually bothered to try his experiment, like me, get the same results.

8: THE GODDESS ON THE WALL

And now it's the weekend of the Vatican show in San Francisco. My parents and my grandmother and I all meet in Golden Gate Park. Walking through the sunken Oval, with its pollarded trees, all warty stubby limbs. To the pool before the De Young Museum. On the island in the pool, a bronze flutist lures a bronze cougar. Not a Vark, but... two boys catch crayfish in The Pool of Enchantment (1983; west of current circular pool) by San Francisco's De Young Museum.

On the low stone rim surrounding the pond, its name is inscribed: THE POOL OF ENCHANTMENT. Children are poking at something there, and we stop to look. They're poking small reeds into the water. They wiggle them a while, then gently pull them out. Big crayfish, some as large as my hand, claw at the reeds, and won't let go, even when they're dragged through the shiny sticky ceiling of surface tension into another world. The kids have an egg carton, much too small to keep the crayfish trapped, and I watch them stubbornly crawl out, back across the gently curved stone rim, over the edge into their element, ignoring the will of the giant boys who summoned them from their lake.

I had wondered about those crayfish! They seemed like such an incongruous element. I'm grinning all over, but I don't say anything. My grandmother might not start an argument, and my mother would listen closely but reserve judgment. But about psychic experiences, my father is a closed as Brian.

I like the show all right. But I'm looking for my Goddess on the Wall. I don't see her.

I watch my father. My father plods stubbornly through the horde of rich people with sunglasses on in the yellow museum light, with their guided-tour headphones on--looking like skiers somehow, all bundled up in gear to insulate them from raw culture--like raw nature. Skiers zooming by Jan Hus, my father, a plain working man, who walks skeptically on below cliffs of religion--as, in his youth, he walked skeptically through the Army, and then through the arches of Stanford, stubbornly ignoring the upper-class orthodoxy of selfishness.

My father stares at a small Greek vase forever. His voice glows with love as he says "that's Memnon and Eos. I've seen reproductions of this all my life, I've taught their story..."

He's never even mentioned Memnon and Eos, and he eagerly shared his love of Greco-Roman mythology when I was little. It occurs to me my father has his own life, his own knowledge, his own treasures, utterly separate from mine, despite all his attempts to share.

I stare that way myself, at Leonardo's wild half-done picture of the ascetic Saint Jerome in the desert, smashing at his own heart with a rock, while his pet lion roars in protest.

Melozzo's beautiful angel-musicians. The De Young people are clever to pick one of them as the emblem for the show. Sweet, charming, safe. They wouldn't dare use the tormented Leonardo or naked Apollo Belvedere.

I look for a long time, too, at the bas-reliefs... seeking the Goddess on the Wall. The one figure I can't place. I'm trying to tell myself she's a composite, part Barbara C. at Thanksgiving dinner, who I got a crush on, partly the marble statue of Eve in the De Young's foyer... and these do indeed feel like they contributed, but they don't quite click. I feel obscurely disappointed. I didn't expect to be kissed by a Vark, but... a teen goddess seemed quite possible.

I follow my folks into the new museum cafeteria. New to me anyway, I haven't been up here since they built it. There's a life-size sepia photo of the huge bronze Doré urn that stood in front of the De Young all through my childhood. It's a piece celebrating Bacchus and wine--covered with foot-high nymphs and satyrs all drinking and eating grapes. I didn't grasp till adulthood that it was probably intended to promote the early California wine industry! Which it doesn't do: if you believe the urn, wine makes you kiss giant flies and fuck anything that moves. It's grotesque, feverish, crazy. Fun crazy, but crazy.

Ten-foot bronze urn by Gustave Dore covered with nude drunk partiers. Click for larger photo Nude drunk orgy on ten-foot bronze urn by Gustave Dore. Click for second closeup
The huge sepiatone on the wall was taken around 1912 during the Pacific Exposition; a ring of maidens in Grecian robes, holding hands in an Isadora Duncan sort of dance round the bronze orgy on the urn. They're deeply unlike the women in the Vatican show--big-eyed lanky modern girls playing Bacchae, with not a Christian hint of virgin, mother, hag, sinner, or saint about them. They're very sexy and sweet. And bronze-tinted, circling a bronze relief of nude demigoddesses. Yet they are real girls, not bronze, not statues--possibly even alive today. Hanging on the wall! (And yet I did not make the connection, as I stared at the Goddess on the Wall. J.W. Dunne was right--even though I'm aware of the cultural trance, I still censor time-anomalies, won't see what's before me.)

My father follows my eye. He points dramatically at one of the girls. He says "I've always been in love with her." I'm astonished he says this with his wife there. He repeats it. Oddly obsessive, trying to communicate something I don't get, his voice having the same tone as when he saw the Greek urn inside.

He says loudly "I worship that girl." Sketch of a dream by Wayan: I meet an ancient goddess on the wall of a museum who comes alive and winks at me. Click to enlarge.

I burst out laughing. The Goddess on the Wall! My trance breaks and I hear what he said and really look at the picture. It's so unmistakable, on the other side of the break. I feel blessed. Kissed by a Vark.

And I tell them all the dream.

My grandmother is delighted. She says "You seemed lost in yourself for a long time. You seem to be coming out now." The psychic stuff doesn't bother her in the least. Pioneer pragmatist.

My mother is a wary noncommittal sponge, soaking in the story.

My father laughs too when I come to the Goddess on the Wall. "Of course, it's a shame you didn't write that dream down before this happened." he smiles. "Then you'd have some impressive proof." "I did." I say, surprised. "I write all my dreams down, you know that. Why would you think I'd skip one this important?"

He laughs, but not the same laugh at all now, and shakes his head. And this time I feel the anger I suppressed with Brian. Yet rather than say "So you think I'm a liar, then? Or a psychotic?" I ask "Do you want to see the notebook, read the dream, check the dates?"

"No, no, that's OK!" he says with a sidelong look to his wife and mother-in-law. They are the in-group now. I'm the out-group. The crazy son.

And I realize my father is a boy in his clubhouse, who doesn't want to know. Who never will want to know. Who will accept me--if I give up a dimension. If I give up soul-flight.

9: OUTSIDE THE TREEHOUSE

It is generally considered bad taste to insist that merely because a poorly-told story is true, it deserves to be taken seriously.

I like bad taste. This story is true. Take it seriously. Thumbnail of mind-as-balloon sailing over the landscape of spacetime.

The dreams, and the basic events in waking life, are from my journal. I have filled in details from memory and outside sources where my notes were thin (mostly the Vatican show), but I have taken care to recreate my experience accurately. These events happened, and they happened in the sequence you see. Dunne was right. Linear time is a cultural trance.

This story is a call to you all--you who see ghosts, who hear others' thoughts or feel their emotions as your own, who sense the history of an object when you touch or see it, who feel others' illnesses in your body, who see events from afar... all of us, in and out of the closet--it's time for us to quit conforming to their phobia. Their fear of us. Scientific superstition! They don't always jail and drug us (though they often do) but they certainly keep us off the air and out of the government. Well, those of us out of the closet! A study of corporate leaders a few years back found the most successful were not the smartest or most knowledgeable, but those with very strong hunches they acted on! But of course they didn't go around saying they were psychic. That'd be crazy! Or... at least... you know... queer.

A kids' treehouse saying SCIENCE CLUB and NO GIRLS. Dream sketch by Wayan



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