Dreamed 2016/2/13 by Wayan
I go to San Francisco's main library for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. The rules: kids film a Newbery nominee or winner (the Newbery's the top American prize for best kids' book) condensed to 90 seconds.
Jammed, energetic, funny. I especially like My Father's Dragon done in claymation, The Graveyard Book with its blue ghosts, Jennifer Hecate and Me Elizabeth by an adorable duo, Changeover (tale of two basketball brothers, not Margaret Mahy's fantasy as I expected) done gender-bent by three tall cute basketball girls, and Ella Enchanted with fairy godmother who keeps trying to steal scenes (and boyfriends)...
I'm reading Diana Wynne Jones's last book, Reflections. Her essays have a blithe, casual tone, but she sees deep into the structure of fiction. She sets aside the spectacular world-building in The Lord of the Rings to explore it as pure narrative--the slow shift in tone from petty/childish/fairytale (with the expectation of rescue at the climax), to myth/hero/tragedy (resolved only by personal sacrifice). A labyrinth of foreshadows and codas, echoes and parallels.
For example: the twin scenes in which a hobbit at a party dons the Ring and vanishes--first Bilbo at his birthday safe in the Shire, then Frodo, feeling briefly safe at Bree; the first is comic but the second sinister, and makes you rethink the first--at the time it seemed Bilbo was just Bilbo, a gleeful nonconformist acting out his (AND our) irritation at hobbit stuffiness. But after Bree, that first party looks different; you have to wonder uneasily if the Ring was prodding Bilbo to recklessness, to create a public scene that Sauron's agents might hear of. Even Bilbo, no fool, was just too innocent to suspect it. As were we.
She's sharp, too, about CULTURAL expectations of what stories are and should be. Generations swing between free and moralistic. In her 1930s childhood, adults scorned not just fantasy but imagination, mystery, creativity. All they wanted was commonsense, conformity, comfort. She argues that bias blinded them, led to shortsighted policies--appeasing Hitler, for one. Things opened up in hippie/punk times, but then another dreary era of wholesome, improving, issue-oriented books set in--more sermon than story, where race, gender & circumstances define you. Now literalism's relaxed a bit, but a surface acceptance of f/sf tropes masks rigid genre, gender & racial expectations--jamming both people AND stories into tight little pigeonholes.
Jones always thumbed her nose at genre (and societal) rules, annoying publishers, marketers and critics. The industry pushed back. To my surprise the worst pressure to dumb it down was on her adult books! Publishers evidently think readers want only comfort & predictability. A product. Even sex got her more flak in her adult books (characters could fuck, but must end unhappily, since all relationships are dysfunctional! Who knew?); she got away with wilder stuff in books for younger readers.
Lifelong, she wrote bizarre scenes that then came true--weird houses she then came to live in, train & plane troubles that then happened, grotesque dinners, even a baby found in the snow... (this astonishing material merits a page of its own: The Magic of Writing). She worried she was CAUSING them. Oh, she jokes about it, but seems to have been a functional witch without conscious control over her gift. She wrote an unclassifiable mix of realism, fantasy, science fiction, surrealism, and metaphoric fable because she lived in a magical world. Like it or not.
Brass. Old wood. An express train through Wales.
Cloud hills. Two sisters & mom. Little Dot's pale,
ten. Precocious eyes peer out bangs, coal-black.
Unnerving sexkitten. I'm not just smitten; Dot in fact
is half cat.
A wizard on the lam turned black cat to hide; met mom,
Charmers. Educational too! Diana & Dot next to me
Aberystwyth Station. Lovely kits, farewell!
Turns out her story's more deliberate than
Cats are patient stalkers. Who's she hunting? Me.
As I combed my journals for dreams worth adding to the Dream Bank, I found a forgotten one two months earlier, of a pale girl with black bangs, about ten, who I meet on a train! Parallel, but creepier. She was fleeing sex-slavers--Witch-Pimps to be exact. She absently flashed men on the train; but her past was so bizarre this meant very little.
That dream, taken in isolation, suggested I flirt to get attention; just the opposite of my guess about this dream, above, that I ignore sexual vibes because early brainwashing taught me no one will want me.
But looking with stereo vision, through the eyes of both dreams, I see a deeper message: my bizarre past blinds me to sexual norms; I blunder from flirty to clueless and back. Neither extreme means much, given my roots. What matters is... I've "trained" myself partway out of my sexual vulnerability, but I still fear re-enslavement. That fear's what I need to work on.
But enough about me (ah, never! Me, me, me.) The point for you? Many dreams are about the present, but recurrent dreams & characters address longer-term problems, from multiple angles. They have to be compared to be understood. Jung was right--sometimes you MUST take a longer view.
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