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THE MAN WITH THE GUITAR

Dreamed 1992/7/4 by Chris Wayan

Dance class full of cute women. We learn to leap. Click to enlarge.

BEFORE THE DREAM

I was studying dance in San Francisco when this happened. A fun time: no job or money troubles, friendly (and sexy) classmates, exercise, good diet...

Yet I kept getting sick: eruptions of abdominal pain and swelling. Not colitis, appendicitis, bladder infection, spastic colon, ulcer, or diverticulitis... the doctor just couldn't figure it out.

So I asked my dreams to show me what caused these eruptions.

And... they did.

THE DREAM

I'm a tectonic risk assessor. Not just quake risks--there are other, subtler factors. Easterners, for example, rarely realize that one hidden reason housing's so expensive on the West Coast is that our urban areas often have slopes so steep they'd be called unbuildable in the East. No choice; the West is just more mountainous because it's so seismically active. Slides are more common too, as a result. And there's always the outside risk of a volcanic eruption--lava flows, explosions, ashfall...

Sketch by Wayan of a dream: a volcano erupts in San Francisco
I hear of a place out on the mudflats of the Silicon Valley where a researcher claims a volcano may be forming. He's a bit fringy, so I'm skeptical, but I drive down to see for myself. Hike around it, curious. It does look like a lava dome! But appearing out of nowhere, squeezing up through placid mudflats like a pingo*.
* Pingo: Arctic term for a conical ice-hill erupting through flat marshy tundra. Sketch by Wayan of a dream: a become a volcano researcher
I'm walking back to my car, a few hundred yards from the dome, when suddenly the hillside explodes! The hot shockwave knocks me yards, even at a distance. Stay flat on the ground, scorched, in pain, but alive. I was at the very edge of the blast zone. I wait for more, but the hill--no, the baby volcano, no question now--just belches smoke and steam in a steady gray column, now that its throat is clear.
Sketch by Wayan of a dream: our local volcano explodes. Click to enlarge.
The researcher I was coming to see was inside, in the heart of the zone.

Killed by his own volcano.

I run east to a bus stop where I saw another geologist waiting. I start to warn him "A man was killed in the explosion..." then trail off. I caught a flicker of movement back on the hill face, deep in the blast zone. A cave mouth? No, a neat symmetrical arch. Artificial! Sketch by Wayan of a dream: after an eruption, in the blast zone, I spot a cave.

But nothing could be alive up there. That pyroclastic cloud was small, so it cooled fast, but at its heart it was hundreds of degrees--enough to cook a human being in that first minute.

But the geo man lends me his binoculars, and I watch that arch patiently. For three days! I camp out on the spot. It's still too risky to go closer. We can't even recover his body. If it's there. Sketch by Wayan of a dream: on the third day after the eruption, through binoculars I spot motion in a volcano-cave.

And on the third day, another flicker of motion. Only this time, I'm ready. Through the binocs I see a man in that cave--a tall thin man with black hair, craggy chin, hook nose. He's playing his GUITAR!

It's the mad vulcanologist, all right. He's always been notorious in our field for his recklessness--a LUST for eruptions! And for that damn guitar, which should be charcoal...

An insane certainty creeps into me, seeing him in that cave of fire. He's no mere eruption junkie with a charmed life!

He SUMMONS these eruptions he studies. Pele? Vulcan? Loki? Satan? Hell no! The REAL spirit of Earth's deep fire is the Man with the Guitar!

Fire gods: Pele smoking in a grass skirt, Hephaestos at his forge, Loki grinning in his flames, and Satan's pitchfork.
But he's a furtive god. Scuttles back into the cave as he sees me pointing him out to the geologist next to me. Yet, an hour later, he passes the cave mouth, inside, lugging some gear through inner tunnels. A god with a short attention span! Or he just can't believe I've caught on.

Who'd look for life in a blast zone? Sketch of a bearded man in a green shirt. Rather crazy eyes.

IN THE MORNING

I woke, wrote the dream down. And think "What was THAT? I make MYSELF sick?"
As I dressed, it changed to "My CURIOSITY makes me sick?
As I ate my all-natural vegetarian breakfast, it changed to "Trying to CURE my illness makes me sick?"
Biking to dance class, all that receded. Instead I kept thinking obsessively "Why that GUITAR?"
As I climbed the stair to the dance studio, I passed an acquaintance coming down: a tall, dark-haired, craggy-faced musician with slightly crazy eyes. He's carrying his guitar. His name is Stakho.

I suddenly felt disoriented, and stammered "Oh, uh, hi."

His entire response, word for word: "It's the man with the guitar!" And walked on down the stairs.

I stopped, stunned. I thought I must still be dreaming. But as class went on, and my day, and my life, I had to face that I was awake. And that he really said it.

MONTHS LATER, WHEN I DREW THIS

So... why'd my dream pick THAT little phase up from my future and build a god on it? Or was Stakho unconsciously psychic, did he voice the phrase my mind was blaring, without even knowing quite why he had the urge?

I think the simplest explanation is... Dreams ARE psychic... AND they love a joke.

The only practical advice I saw was: my dreams felt too much introspection's toxic! They wanted me to quit questioning my own motives. So I tried to.

And yes, I got better.

A 1999 NOTE

In fairness, I have to add that when I quit eating wheat a few years later, the attacks didn't just improve, they stopped. Hypochondria and obsessive introspection was a real problem, but there was also a clear physical cause the dream ignored! Maybe they didn't know, yet, or maybe they didn't really care about healing me, or even preferred me sick, and only answered because I asked point-blank.

Yet the psychic hit was quite real, and pointed to an issue I hadn't seen.

In the end my dreams' purposes seemed as paradoxical, as bold and as furtive, as my elusive fire-god.

All that was clear was that dreams have powers that can only be called... explosive.

Faceless man in a safety helmet plays a flaming guitar.


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