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Ariel

Dreamed 1983/12/26 by Wayan

INTRODUCTION: AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME

Six weeks before this dream, I'd read JW Dunne's An Experiment with Time. He claims that dreams relax more than morality and logic--our notion of "now" loosens, broadens to include the near future as well as near past. Awake, our minds are prone to insist on normal cause and effect--partly by the English language, whose precise tenses force us to treat time as linear. But he argues time is multidimensional, a timescape; and dreams lift us above it, to get a wider view around and ahead. Not just theory: he tests it by experiment. By publishing his raw dreams next to his attempts to label their elements fairly, by naively looking for references to tomorrow's events as well as yesterday's, he makes a (surprisingly convincing) case that his dreams routinely picked up images from both near past and near future--once he got past his cultural brainwashing that this must be impossible.

He concludes our time-theories are wrong. Some form of the future already exists--though our path through the timescape isn't necessarily fixed. Mind you, I find his own time-theory, called serialism, unconvincing; but his critique of linear time seems to me valid--since it's based on empirical data. Cover of 'An Experiment with Time' by JW Dunne with review by HG Wells. Click to enlarge

Dunne was influential:

So when I read Dunne, I tried his experiment with my own dream-journal. I got his results. Indeed I found so many predictive dreams [1,275 so far, as I write in 2020] that I considered the case proven; so when I built the World Dream Bank I only posted those predictive dreams that were also interesting as stories too.

Based on the correspondence I get from dreamers, any serious dreamworker, after the first thousand dreams or so, is likely to experience apparent predictive, clairvoyant and shared/telepathic dreams. I like Enlightenment plumbing, inoculations, and democracy; but about dreams, ESP and time, the weirdos were right.

Science, skeptical but still tolerant up till about 1970, seems to have shifted; simply stopped considering the possibility. ESP is fraud, superstition, or hippie nonsense--end of story!

Science got this one wrong.

So I'm going back through the journals that convinced me and posting more dreams that violate the current linear-time paradigm, whether they're nice neat stories or not.

The following epic dream isn't a nice neat story, but it's deeply Dunnean--a blend of past, present and future elements--too many and too specific to dismiss as chance. Unless you twist "chance" into a pretzel.

DREAM 1A: THE DARK TOWER FROM BEHIND

I see a map of the whole continent of Middle Earth, not just its northwest corner where Tolkien set all his tales. The maps in his books hide that what you saw was nearly the whole continent! In fact what's marked as the Sea of Rhun was NOT an inland sea but really an arm of the Pacific. Tolkien carefully plotted the novel to AVOID the sea, even distorted the plot to keep them inland so that his continent, really just 1500 km wide (less than 1000 miles) would seem more continental. At the east end, I see what will be Kamchatka, and a landbridge across to arctic America. The rest of the New World is either not there or off the map, only potential.

Middle Earth as distinguished from its world as a whole has a proper name: Eldor, "Elfland" in Elvish. And the Shire's elvish name translates "Westedge" or "Westmarch"--even though the sea's out of sight and hobbits never visit, on a world-scale, it IS coastal.

The implication: Frodo & company could have sailed up around that Kamchatka-like peninsula, or south around Harad, and landed behind Barad-Dur, reached Mount Doom by relatively undefended paths. But Tolkien wouldn't allow the Dark Tower to be sneaked up on the easy way; his story required a heroic ordeal.

Middle Earth map revealing undefended sea-routes to Mordor. Dream sketch by Wayan, from map by Tolkien. Click to enlarge.
Translucent bird-planes fight above farmland. Dream sketch by Wayan.

DREAM 1B: STUPID WAR, LIVING PLANES

Now it's America, and World War III. A smug man pushes for all-out war. My dad worships him; but then practically everyone's glad we're 'fighting evil'. Really? The causes they're really fighting for are even dumber than usual: balance of payments, and trade treaties! And America's fighting not just Russia, but ENGLAND too!

At least it's non-nuclear. So far.

I look out from a high viewpoint on beautiful farms and groves. Jets, some transparent, some pale blue, some with birdlike wings. Some seem ALIVE even, organic. They fly and fight on the far edge of my vision. Flowers of fire. I'm moved by the beauty, even as I know that beauty means death for many.

Now I'm above the sea. One side in the war has learned how to cross the sea without fuel--you somehow ride the back side of the swells. A device holds you near the mean sea level, so either face of a wave will pull you along! Though if you lose a wave and are stationary, it's hard to pick up the next; they go by too fast. As with surfers, need to be close to wave-speed.

DREAM 1C: REAGAN MOCKS PACIFISM

We sail from America to the European front. Our ship has steel bulkheads as if a submarine. The Commander of the Allied forces against England and Russia is on board. He's in his middle thirties, bland blond bald, offensively confident, glib, and gifted--but not the genius he thinks he is.

I bitterly oppose his war; predict outcomes ranging from bad to total destruction. He calls ME an impractical idealist, a shirker, an unconscious coward. Amused at my fulminations against his war: "Just retread sixties rhetoric, ignorant of political realities!" I make analogies and practical predictions about his course--if he escalates, he risks massive civilian casualties.

He doesn't listen. Hears a few key words and fills in the rest with his own assumptions about people like me and answers those cliches, not what I really said! Patronizing answers too. His simplifications are so distorted that I keep wondering if I misspoke, said what he claims I did. He's successful, respected, even adulated. It's hard to believe in myself. Ronald Reagan.

I seek assurance from a tall young woman I respect, a pipe-smoking officer--Teri? "What news of youth in Europe and America? Have they organized a peace movement yet?" She says "No. The middle class is so sure of its view that even students and workers use their language... if they object, they shamed, even made to feel treasonous. Aside from a few individualists like you, people's doubts are unspoken and thus stay vague. Unshared; they dare not even put labels on such thoughts."

I say "But... lots of Europeans remember the devastation of World War Two..."

"Even they are silent, swallowing their doubts; Reagan's [sic] talk is too slick." [Oh, so THAT'S who this guy is!]

I say "Well, I won't work for the war. I WILL NOT contribute to the destruction of all of us!" Reagan overhears, assumes my reason is fear of danger and rough conditions--says "why are YOU worried? With your poor health, you're unfit for combat! You'll get an exemption and a desk job!"

He simply ignores my conscience; my pacifism's just cowardice. He alone gets to think about consequences! But I see catastrophe and want to stop him.

My dad keeps injuring my sore foot. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.


DREAM 1D: DAD CRUSHES MY FOOT

My dad's on board, as a low-ranking officer--a crony of the Commander. Believes every word his hero says. He steps through an oval bulkhead and puts his full weight down on my infected toe. Agony!

He's done it over & over. Each time, I tell him "That hurts!" and he DISCOUNTS it just as his boss discounts my analysis of war-risks. Idly apologizes... and does it again. I finally grab him & scream in his ear "Don't EVER do that AGAIN!" He nods, shrugs, and almost immediately stomps me again. Agony. Again.

It's not just disdain; he's getting deaf, too. Barely hears a scream. Nothing personal!

But that doesn't mitigate my pain. And as long as I'm near him, I'll stay crippled. And he'll deny it.

DREAM 1E: ANYTHING BEATS APOCALYPSE Timeline of American writing, 1770-2170! First half wild, second half tame. Dream sketch by Wayan.

We land in Europe. A shallow, craterlike valley. Lovely farmland.

Woman & I talk. I bitterly say "Even if the enemy may invade, is that any reason to fight? Let them invade! The Germans occupied all Europe, right? How long did they last? 2-4 years. Yes, millions dead, but Europe survived and the Nazis are gone. But World War III will have no survivors! I lived under totalitarians in my childhood"--I mean my family!--"and it was horrible, left permanent damage--but that beats total, mutual destruction!"

In the valley, find a mansion with a library. Find a set of books, summaries of American literature; the series runs for centuries, from the mid 1700s to 2278! At first annual, now two or three a year. Maybe the future dates are because of this acceleration and they aren't years, just consecutive numbering--deceptive. Regardless of exact dating, they reveal a historical cycle--early days, for nearly 200 years/vols, were wild, lively, rebellious and risky. Then nearly 200 of elegant, structured, respectable belles-lettres, trusting tradition and authority. Like war leaders.

Now, I think, it's time for the pendulum to swing back, time to experiment, ignoring authorities. Dissenting.

DREAM 1F: TOYS NORMALIZE WAR

I try to distract myself from this militaristic decade with ice cream, T-shirts and tank tops, and toys... I find a cute toy, pick it up, turn it over... and underneath is a small tank. Everywhere, symbols of war! Promoting it--by normalizing it.

Barbie and My Little Pony dolls hide tiny soldiers and tanks. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.

DREAM 1G: JAMAICAN FUTURIANS

This valley becomes... Jamaica! We're riding inland on a bus. Mountains. The land gets drier than I expect for the Caribbean. To the west, a peak with a red & black cliffy bowl in its shoulder. It's the site of a world-famous controversy over resources versus erosion; a quarrier's defying farmers downstream. Now I can fix our location.

Head east... the hills above us have outcrops, get overhangy and delicate till they're sandstone keels and beaks, birdbones. Impossible forms. Yet they ARE natural--common in these hills, and nowhere else. Ahead, narrow valley opens to a round flat dotted with ruins--definitely artificial--from a native Jamaican civilization, and very old--3-4000 years old! I'm unsure about the dates and feel I ought to know them as well as the Olmec. I feel embarrassed when someone asks, and evade.

Overhangs, arches and fins of sandstone in the Jamaican hills. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.

Beautiful buildings. Carved letters or pictographs. A literate civilization!

Now we're up on the plateau-rim, looking down on the round valley. A futuristic village up here--for tourists? No, I think--it's real. Aliens or people from the future live here. Beautiful, small-scale, curvy, cheery. Fountains, little monorail-cars. We each get in one. A friend first, then me, then my sister Miriel. The track steepens and plunges down a hole. WHOOSH! The tunnel dumps us out onto the floor of a solarium/cafeteria, underground but sunlit and full of hanging ferns & flowers. I do land on my feet, but my sore back is slightly wrenched by the impact. Ow! Damn. Reinjured AGAIN!

DREAM 1H: WICCAN PEACEMAKER

In the end, I come to a temple. People fight within. My own side sees me and SCORNS me--laughs at the unarmed shirker, the coward, the military incompetent. They even threaten me, want to FORCE me to join their fight... until with great resentment and reluctance--it feels so wrong to meddle--I call at last on the Goddess to help me.

She appears and holds her hands to my temples. I offer a memory I value: the meaning of the Elvish words in the hymn "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" from The Lord Of The Rings. In exchange, I get the forgotten Summoning Verse that invokes the Goddess's power in me directly. I resent having to sacrifice one invocational hymn I like for another, but so be it.

Now, with a word, I manifest the Goddess in me; I split into three. We debate internally, and agree to bring my rational side to the fore, as an interface; else we'd be radically disparate facets of me, hard to keep united.

The Goddess gives three of me magical powers. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
We walk amid the warriors fighting in the holy place. One by one, with just a touch, I freeze them. As three divinely (or demonically) swift warriors, possessed, we freeze them all and conquer the Temple... and go on to force their war to a stop. I resent having to sacrifice for "friends" who aren't, and mad that they refused to believe me... yet obey my strong sense it has to be done, and even-handedly--I'm equally kin to the enemy. Feel sorry for all these soldiers, who'll now be POWs or worse (frozen in place? Will they all survive it?) till politicians face peace. But they left me no choice.

They were right that even pacifists sometimes have to use force. Just wrong about who we have to direct that force at.

All of you idiots.

Cover of 'Ariel' by Steven Boyett, 1983 edition.

NEXT DAY: ARIEL

I stumble on a new fantasy book about a unicorn, Ariel, by Steven Boyett. Not a good book, but apparently a memorable book--so memorable, I remembered it before reading it.

The gender subtext (well, text; nothing sub about it!) disturbs me. Despite the title, our hero isn't Ariel but Pete, a young Southern guy who means well but just can't listen. Not to females at least. Like Shaughnessy, who voices clear feminist objections to the rigged set-up as the book pushes toward war, or at least vendetta. Annoys me that the guys ignore her. And Ariel for that matter--a four-legged girl.

I'm more attracted to Ariel than anyone else. But Boyette hints unicorns may not even have sex, since they're embodiments of virginity, magically untouchable to non-virgins. He doesn't clarify exactly what virginity means, or how and why such untouchability gets enforced magically. Sex dreams are apparently virginal. So's masturbation. How about phone sex? A hand job from someone else? Oral sex? What if you were raped, are you still innocent according to this unthinking Southern code?

Horses come in all colors--why not unicorns? But Ariel's means purity and purity's white. And vain. A white southern belle to be patronized but defended from creeps trying to take her hymen horn (ha!)--those gosh-darn minions of the Dark Lord. So are they, er, darkies threatening white purity? Tolkien's full of white=good, black=bad, but I find it forgivable: he was born in the 19th Century, he grew up in South Africa, his characters are untraveled medievals... and they do at least make real efforts to outgrow their biases--it's Tolkien's point. Real heroes protect life as a whole--not just their own kind. Can't Boyett do better?

Ariel bothers me for other reasons. She's sometimes an independent character trying to keep that independence in a world out to get her; sometimes she's a magical symbiote needing a mysterious Familiar-ship with her chosen human(s), and having intriguing familiarity with other strange beings (including whales); but often, her own writer flattens her into a literary symbol of childhood innocence you can't have once you've entered the real world (by fucking, apparently, not mayhem). Feh.

And then come the buckets of blood.

Boyett's violence and patriarchy reflect the unquestioning values of the jerks who beat me up as kid. And yet... I can't say he's unquestioning: Boyett argues explicitly that if you're marked and hounded you MUST fight; bullies don't negotiate with prey. I reacted so violently to that because I was taught extreme pacifism, practiced it, and got treated like prey. He has a point. Given my extreme history, it's no surprise I'd react strongly to the opposite extreme.

But what I find startling is that I reacted so strongly to all the book's sexual and political biases the night before I read it, not after. That's the real point of this dream. So many peculiar details--and they only make sense if you concede that dreams violate linear time. Like Newtonian physics, one-way time is a handy approximation, that's all.

NEXT NIGHT: THE UNICORN COMMITMENT

I have to fill out and sign a page with ten to twelve questions. It's a contract, titled The Unicorn Commitment. Others have their own sheets with questions, but theirs have the answers marked for them! In heavy colors, too heavy for my taste.

I decide I have to reject their boilerplate contract. Oh, I'll sign the Unicorn Commitment--no question! But I have to write my own answers--commit MY way.

I, as a unicorn, sign the Unicorn Commitment, but personalize my vows. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
NEXT MORNING

Wow, I'm still reacting to Boyett's Ariel! Clearly I must define my own relationship to magic. And sex and politics. And time! The standard models won't work for me.

Do they really work for you? Read before signing!

2020 NOTE Cover of 'Ariel' by Steven Boyett, 2009 edition.

So now--just 37 years later!--I've transcribed, edited, illustrated and published this complex ambivalent dream, and its complex ambivalent anticipation (preactions?) to a not so complex or ambivalent book. But, to be fair, a less bad book than I said in 1983. It was reissued in 2000 and in 2009 with raves from Cory Doctorow, SM Stirling and Patricia Briggs. It also has a long afterword on its slow genesis that made me soften my assessment. A first novel, written at nineteen! In hindsight, Boyett himself feels Shaughnessy gets treated harshly, partly because we see her through narrator Pete's eyes--a 19-year-old Southern boy--but partly because it was written by a 19-year-old Southern boy.

The 2009 cover (right) is grim, but more honest. No unicorn in sight. At core, the book's about boys fightin', not about unicorns, or even magic, really. I called the book bad because I didn't want what it offered--a gritty action fantasy. I wanted unicorns. I wanted Ariel.

The reason's simple. A million books out there about Petes! I wanted books about my species. I'm physically delicate, herbivorous, magical (not just psychic--with seven senses, I don't even share your pentasensory world), and my relations with humans are fraught for the same reason Ariel's are--they mostly want a piece of me. I'm not totally virginal, but my all lovers have been strange, psychic, and barely human. Normal humans don't all burn me at a touch, but... actually, some do.

I now know, as I didn't in 1983, that much of my strangeness is genetic--I'm a mutant. Three genetic oddities combined. A child prodigy, 170-200 IQ; a psychic who senses auras, finds touch overwhelming and dreams the future; and a "zebra"--slang for someone with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome--fragile, super-flexible, often autistic, often musical prodigies (the violinist Paganini was one of us). Each syndrome's rare, one in thousands--and as far as I can tell, they're unrelated, so having all three is one in billions. For decades, philosophers have used 'unicorn' to mean something theoretically possible but in fact nonexistent--or at least so vanishingly rare as not to matter.

I am a unicorn. I do not intend to vanish. I intend to matter.



LISTS AND LINKS:
Intro: ESP - examples of predictive dreams - JW Dunne's dreams A Factory Fire & Half Past Four - Dunnean dreams from James Joyce & Vladimir Nabokov
1A: Dark Tower from Behind: other worlds - Middle Earth - mappish dreams - quests - predictive dreams - ESP in general - book-inspired dreams - gender & sexism
1B: Stupid War, Living Planes: time-bent dreams - the future - war - towers - weird dream beings - planes - birds - violence - predictive dreams again
1C: Reagan Mocks Pacifism: war - pacifism - politics & presidents - rank & pecking order - same dreamer, same president: Ronald Reagan Stole My Soul!
1D: Dad Crushes My Foot: family values - dads - my dad Jerry - legs and feet - pain in dreams - assertion - diagnostic dreams - predictive dreams AGAIN
1E: Anything Beats Apocalypse: war & pacifism again - the alternative: apocalyptic dreams - threats & bullying - self-flagging dreams - predictive dreams yet AGAIN
1F: Toys Normalize War: war - politics - sociology - kids - predictive dreams YET AGAIN
1G: Jamaican Futurians: islands - Jamaica - on the road - scenic dreams - archeology - siblings - Miriel - diagnostic & prescriptive dreams - self-flagging dreams AGAIN
1H: Wiccan Peacemaker: temples - shamans - gods & goddesses - Wicca & the Goddess - language & memory - violence, pacifism & assertion AGAIN
Ariel: book-inspired dreams - unicorns - living with ESP - gender & sexism, predictive & psychic dreams in general, violence, pacifism & assertion AGAIN
The Unicorn Commitment: oaths - unicorns - pacifism - religious & scientific conformity vs. shamanic individualism - pencil & digital dream art - I'm a Bastard Unicorn

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