The Dream Sea
Dreamed 1983/8/8 by Chris Wayan
1: Wait Elegantly, or...
Tales are the universal language--almost. Tonight I'm given a map showing the travels of one tale from England across Asia to Japan and the Ryukyu Islands, and maybe deeper into the Pacific. On land, travel and trade isn't as dramatic as galleons and pirate ships: things just spread a few miles at a time through neighbors. But this way they can gradually seep through language barriers that'd be hard at sea.
Now I'm living in the world of tales, of Jungian myth--the fluid otherworld of my dream What You Imagine Happens. The map I saw was just the frontispiece for a book about my own journey through this story-world. My route is marked:
I start at the Entry Pavilion from the waking world, and begin by hopping around, like riding a pogo stick! Many high hops.
Next I have to crawl up a chimney--but as I do, it magically eases to just a burned-out fireplace--the arch of the mantle still standing. I don't really have to squeeze up the sooty flue; it's long gone.
Next I must climb a high mountain. Not terrifying, just a hard hike.
Finally, I must return to the Entry Pavilion and... what?
Just wait there patiently! After our heroic efforts, my friends and I find it frustrating to just sit around. So we ask the pavilion staff "What's the next step? Can't we do anything to shorten the wait?"
The elfin girls on duty, little girl-sprites looking like Victorian flower-fairies, answer firmly "Nothing! Do whatever you want. You can wait elegantly, or INelegantly, it's your choice--but all you can do is wait for paths of opportunity to open up."
And we'd better take them seriously, because though they're small, they're graduates of the Path. They've totally mastered what we're still trying to.
One adds sweetly "It truly is your choice! But banging your head against fate won't affect the length of your stay here. Just... your ENJOYMENT of it."
2: In the Dream Sea
A whole troop of soldiers from the British Empire forged into the Otherspace, visualizing it as a sea. They knew they could float if they believed that, and so they did for a minute or so. But the first doubt made one sink, and once one foundered and floundered, they all doubted, and each doubt proves the last was justified...
So now they must march along the sea-bottom (the British won't allow themselves to drown over a point of mere logic. Now if they'd been French, they'd drown out of their respect for Rational Consistency.) Anyway, the Brits march along a narrow silty submarine valley between crags. It narrows till their columns get cramped.
Whups! Now I'm their leader. Suddenly I "wake" within the dream, not exactly lucid, but I realize how we've become trapped in our own doubts and want to uplift my troops back to the surface. But how? In fact we slip DOWN a few more layers (the dream-substance is clear and bodiless but tends to be layered). The sea is very deep; farther out it looks bottomless.
My lieutenant finds a way back up: "Just look up, forget about creating a solid surface below us and just rise into the upper levels you're focusing on!" I'm annoyed because his technique WORKS, and I didn't think of it. Our lifelong training as soldiers for the Empire limits us so terribly! Even now as we rise easily because we were at a level so far below our potential, the Lieutenant senses our natural level should be far higher.
At last our entire column levitates and makes it back to shore. Crawl and flop onto a cove-beach.
3: Piecing Bits Together
Inland, we see a lone man--by his outfit, a soldier of ancient Rome. He's proudly marching cross-country. But floodwater rises around him. No, not water; it's his PRIDE! Rising higher & higher. I'm him for a moment, slogging along, waist deep in my own Roman superiority over a sea of barbarism. Ugh.
Back to the shore of the Dream Sea... it's a beach littered with, indeed composed of, fragments of people, their clothes, their gear... Any bits of person left behind by those who break up in the Abyssal Hell eventually wash up here.
We try to sort the pieces and assemble people from the fragments, explain what happened so thoroughly that when they recover, they can re-enter the dream-sea and make it through as a whole person. For even a fragment, if conscious and aware of the situation, is enough to visualize a whole self, and thus become that self. If!
You can see why it's so important to sort people out so you don't get duplicates or mixed-up composites personalities who'll panic or disagree with themselves--they'll sink again or fragment again--irretrievably. Great healing potential in the sea of dreams, IF you know what you're after.
My lieutenant is only a head and one hand, and at that he's more complete than anyone in our troop but me--most of my limbs are lost but at least I have SOME limb-stumps, a head, most of a torso.... Most of our men are now just random bits of flesh that can only survive because they're by the shore of the dream-sea.
A lone thigh hops around asking arms if they belong to the same body... and they answer.
As we assemble and regrow, we argue how we could better prepare for the next expedition...
Near the shore stands an empty hall with a checkered floor. On the walls are maps of the players' inner worlds! My friend Tom's map has his house in the middle, in a dry region like Central Asia. There's a huge, shallow lake like Balkhash or Chad or Etosha Pan: his sexuality. The southern half is marked as dry, but I think two large bights may be wet right now, though the main body is probably mud. But Tom's here and he tells me "You were right, the whole south half is mud--dry." Sad.
Tom can't move around to look at other maps right now since he's playing a human chesspiece in a huge game covering most of the floor. The hall is full of players. I don't know how the teams agree on who moves. They invite me, "join the game and see. You can play the Mule."
"The Mule in Asimov's Foundation and Empire?"
The Mule is a mutant, sterile as his name suggests, but psychically powerful: he can alter the moods and loyalties of other pieces, rather than fighting them physically. I agree to the role, and step onto the board. But... I'm given a toy machine gun instead! And when I do fire it in battle with other pieces, they just ignore it--pretend I didn't, and put spells on me, or claim they'd already captured me so my shots don't count.
In short, nearly all the players cheat.
Or was I given the toy gun as a trick, to distract me from my mental powers? Maybe using Mule abilities takes time to learn--focus, visualization, I don't know. Just willing the capture of pieces I face sure isn't enough. So far I'm as helpless as a pawn--neither gun nor mental powers seem to work.
At first I take turns as in chess, but as the others go on cheating, I start to move continuously. I chase a player I feel is evil, a tall figure with long claws like Nosferatu the Vampyre. He attacks everyone, makes the whole game uglier. Several heroes have died and left the game just to break off one or two of those claws. At least I frame the struggle I see that way, and around here, reality edits to fit. "Three heroes dead, each broke two nails, ten fingernails, so now only four are left! I have a chance now."
I catch up with Nosferatu and we wrestle, choke, kick. He's vicious with his remaining claws. But even when I'm slashed and bleeding, I feel guilty for hurting him. What a mean guy I am!
I lose several rounds and hide in a corner, exhausted as much from my guilt for fighting as from pain and blood loss.
The audience standing around the edge of the hall is quite large. They catcall at me "You can't beat him!" and "Quit cheating on your moves!" Though Nosferatu moves freely too, and ignores my designated power, the audience complains only to me, about me.
To them it's a game, but to me it's real. Nosferatu's claws are real and so's the pain when he slashes me.
I think there are some rules to this game they didn't tell me.
Why exactly am I playing this game, again?
NOTES IN THE MORNING
Baffling. Otherworldly, and fascinating for that, but baffling. I see a few things:
My housemates decide to watch Mary Poppins. I sit in. It's full of echoes of my dream:
33 YEARS LATER
I let this bizarre dream languish in a notebook because its plot didn't neatly resolve. At the time I was choosing storylike dreams to write up; I knew nonstories just weren't marketable, and there was no Net where I could post noncommercial material like this--not yet. But recently I've been transcribing those old journals, and this dream's bizarre images, many of them apparently stolen from a film seen the next day, convinced me to type this up. The lack of resolution bothers me less now; not all dreams do resolve. Or lives, for that matter.
What intrigues me now is the dream's apparent borrowing of imagery from a film I'd see the next day, and not by my choice. Plus those two curious borrowings from other tales:
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