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Death Date

Dreamed by Jim Shaw, (early?) 1994.

...I started driving & put on sunglasses, but all I could see was blackness, so I took them off & my vision was blurred. Now I was in werewolf make-up, pinned by centrifugal force to the front of a moving truck. I convinced the driver to stop, possibly with my superhuman strength, which made me think I really was a werewolf.

Werewolf pinned by wind to the front of a speeding truck; later, he climbs into a weird attic. Dream sketches by Jim Shaw. Click to enlarge.

I went into the upstairs of the house, which now had a higher, grey-carpeted floor. In the corner were the tops of doors which seemed like grave markers. Werewolf in an attck finds dead rats and a grave marker for a friend--but the death date's 1996, two years in the future. Dream sketch by Jim Shaw. Click to enlarge.

Every time I stuck my head to look in, a couple of dead rodents appeared, along with fleas & flies, etc. One grave had the death date of a high school pal of mine, only it was two years in the future, making me wonder if this was a premonition or if I was in the future.

--Jim Shaw


I hesitated to post this dream--for me, it raises privacy issues. If Shaw hadn't already let the cat out of the bag so thoroughly, I probably wouldn't put it online. But he drew this, framed it, hung it in a gallery, and published it in a book--a dream predicting a friend's death! Sheesh. How would YOU feel, stumbling across this?

On the other hand, Mary Black's a common name, and online searches get flooded by refs to the Irish singer Mary Black, making it unlikely indeed that Shaw's friend could stumble idly on this image of her own gravestone; she'd have to look for Shaw's name in conjunction with hers; she'd almost have to know the dream to find the dream.

If, of course, she didn't in fact die in 1996! Feel free to search. I'm not touching that one.


So what's a dream like this mean? Freud insisted dreams are wishes. When Jung dreamed of skulls buried under his house, Freud famously interpreted it as "Jung wishes me dead." Modern psychology might allow grief or fear, not just hostility. But ANY psychological interpretation makes sense only after contact with Mary Black. Shaw sounds like he hasn't seen her in years--has no reason to think of her. His own suspicion--that it foresees she has only a couple of years to live--makes more sense to me, since I too have had dreams warning of friends' illnesses and early deaths--accurately, as it turned out. Shamanism isn't all fun.

Internal evidence also suggests a shamanic interpretation not a psychological one. He gets this message after turning into a werewolf, then climbing up a space not meant for daily living. Not so different from a Siberian shaman becoming a bird and getting messages from heaven. Shaw's just an American shaman--using American mythology. That is, monster movies.

--Chris Wayan

SOURCE: Jim Shaw's Dreams, Jan. 1995, Smart Art Press. This is just half of Shaw's second dream that night. In the book it's untitled and undated; but the grave marker implies 1994; the dream's position in the book suggest early that year.

LISTS AND LINKS: I'm Just Not Myself Today! - species-bent dreams - were-creatures & transformation - animal people - wolves - on the road - climbing & ascent - shamanism - death - the power of names - time travel &/or predictive dreams - pencil dream art - more Jim Shaw

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