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Monkey with a Gun
Dreamed 2010/8/7 by Wayan
I read Olaf Stapledon's FOUR ENCOUNTERS. As weird as his more cosmic stuff--a rogues' gallery of midcentury archetypes--writ extreme.
Shows all four worldviews unsparingly, and he doesn't spare himself. One of the subtlest horror scenes I've read is when Stapledon tortures a fly to make a point.
- The Christian (an unquestioning friendship with God, but he has a monopoly on truth. Hey, isn't pride a sin?)
- The Scientist (equally closed-minded, even more sexist, and dangerously amoral--a gun for hire.)
- The Mystic (so pure he condemns this world as hopeless. Hey, isn't despair a sin?), and
- The Revolutionary ("Stalin a monster? Capitalist propaganda! And what if he is? The end justifies the means"...)
In the evening, my housemates and I watch The Lightning Thief. The images and cameos are vivid--Medusa, Charon, Hades and Persephone. But the plot and ideas are just childish. Such a contrast with Stapledon...
Branches arch over a jungle creek--bridges for a troop of big monkeys or small apes.
Uh-oh. One female somehow got hold of a gun. And clearly saw how it's used. She deliberately sights and fires at a comrade. A female monkey on a branch collapses. Blood sprays like a firehose. She bleeds out in seconds--fatal for sure. I feel sick, scared, sad.
Weirdly, as the blood-arc slows it also thins to pink then clear--plain water now!
NOTES IN THE MORNING
- Monkey with a gun fires without knowing the consequences: Stapledon's view of humanity after Hiroshima, in Four Encounters. Monkey with a gun indeed! In one Encounter set at a party, Stapledon meets The Scientist, who calls a girl across the room a mere animal, a blind stupid sex-thing. He reveals an ugly tangle of desire/envy, sexism, puritanical body-hatred and cynicism (we're all just machines)--flaws latent (and sometimes blatant) in mid-20th-century science.
- Casual/reckless shooting: in Lightning Thief, the real thief (once exposed) quite recklessly and guiltlessly blasts away at Percy Jackson, wrecking penthouses and rooftops.
- blood turns to water: also in The Lightning Thief, water heals bloody wounds if Percy asks it--a gift from his dad Poseidon. So does the water here mean that this "fatal" wound is magically healing?
I bike down to the theater district to check out a singer-songwriter workshop. My friends Mike & Cory meet me at the club, a place called Biscuits and Blues, on the corner of Mason & Geary.
I feel nervous and brusque as a skinny, slightly punk, quite gorgeous blonde at the door tries to talk to me... and I just can't, despite her friendliness. Place feels warm, welcoming, but I'm uneasy. Dunno why. Sit with my friends, stick close, stay silent.
Mike's old songwriting teacher, Bonnie Hayes, analyzes people's songs:
Thank God it's over. Mike, Cory & I walk out... into a disaster zone. Cops all over, lights flashing. Looks like Hell's disco. The whole intersection's webbed in yellow tape. A German woman was killed by a stray bullet--just in the way of the gunman, who was after someone else.
- Kev: "When You're in Pain, I'm in Pain." I'm baffled. No idea what it's about except shared pain.
- Kat: a simple folksong about songwriting. I like the chorus but think the verses need compressing. Bonnie feels the same, suggests Kat trim half a verse.
- Billy: "Every Day". Raw, just written, but rich chord changes & nuanced moods. Mike & I agree later it was the best all night. Bonnie's critique disappoints me--she doesn't like the bittersweet mood or complex chords, seems deaf to its richness. I can't trust her with MY songs--equally complex. During the break, I track down Billy and praise that song, say Bonnie seemed unfair. He's the only stranger I talk to--still feel weirdly on edge.
- Rick Hardin: three songs, each one a mood-slab: monotonous speed, style, rhythm. No development! Some clever puns, but his emo singing--well, mumbling--sabotages himself.
- A Girl Named T plays three songs: "Beautiful", "Bellisima" and "Green". Relentless whanging on over-amped punk guitar drowns her words. I like what snippets I can hear, but her crude playing drags the songs down. She may be trying to overcome street noise--loud backfires and sirens. To her credit, after "Beautiful" she asks "How's the balance?" but before anyone can answer, Bonnie says "Uh... those were GUNSHOTS!" A growing chorus of sirens prove her right. Lights flash in the windows. Soon we hear that someone was murdered outside.
- Alex Carline: a practiced stage presence, but he tries to win back his rattled audience with sheer volume. Painful. Stick fingers in my ears.
We're forced to detour a block. End up crossing Market on Sixth Street. Grimmest slum in town! Grotesques loom in the fog, limping and muttering through the reek of piss. Like Dante. OK, purgatory not inferno, but I'm edgy after earwitnessing a murder a few blocks back...
On Mission Street my friends catch a bus, and I bike home, contemplating what I heard. And what I dreamed the night before.
TEN DAYS LATER
I didn't just dream of this reckless shooting one night earlier. For the last month, I've been typing up and illustrating a vivid, dark dream, A Date in Minsk, that I had exactly one year ago; finished illustrating it three weeks back. Minsk has closer parallels with the songwriters' workshop--and the murder--than Monkey. In the Minsk dream...
Two final oddities:
- A Central European woman is shot outside a cafe full of sexy women: literally true.
- I'm called away, return with a tall guy: that day, I ran into Mike downtown; he urged me to come straight to the Biscuits and Blues event, but I biked home to eat, then back to meet him
- In the cafe I met two skinny friendly sexy blondes I feel uneasy with. Again, literally true.
- The shooter was female too, and aimed for the victim in both Minsk and Monkey with a Gun, yet the suspect in the Geary Street shooting was male, and after someone else. The repetition of these discrepancies suggests they're signal not noise. Debating the existence of ESP, you can slip into dismissing such differences as inaccuracies, rather than as comments or creative use of (future) material. But are dreams out to report the future literally, to confirm the theories of dream researchers, or to say things (often complex, mixed things) we need to hear? Mind you, I don't know what it means--just that the repetition hints it's intentional.
- A Date in Minsk crawled with references to Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife, a book full of time-loops. At the time I didn't think much of that. Now I wonder if the dream wanted to WARN me it was a time-loop itself. Can psychic dreams flag themselves as psychic? Maybe they do want to help out parapsychologists, after all.
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