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POTLATCH SMOKE

Dreamed 1988/5/10 by Chris Wayan

THAT EVENING

Just before sleep, I see a TV show called "Who's the Boss?" Prim, middle-class Angela has sexual dreams of working-class Tony--she talks in her sleep and everyone hears her. Tony's daughter encourages Angela to go for her dad; she seems much more adult than Angela--open and matter-of-fact. But Angela's mortified, and flees to a bar.

The bartender tells Angela "There's no real conflict. You really do want him, but you're not ready yet, that's all." Huh? You can want someone but not be ready? It strikes me as a blinding insight--that's how backwards I am. As dumb as Angela...


THAT NIGHT

1: MARINE WORLD HERMIT

I'm one of a foursome, two elegantly dressed couples, walking by the sea, on a coastal terrace that used to be Marine World. Now it's just a big grassy shelf with hidden pools and streams... a fence still surrounds it, but the buildings are long gone. Will it be a park? It still costs a dollar to get in. I fish out quarters and dimes, embarrassed at the evidence of my poverty, though the others don't care that it's small change. We sit in a thicket. my anima won't come out of the water.

Then one of us, Silky, disappears! At least the others can't find her. But I see bubbles rising from a pool: she's hiding underwater! She has some seal ancestry, so she can stay down there nearly forever.

I'm afraid I know why she's doing it, too. She plans to live here in the park, hiding from everyone. Marginal survival... alone. She needs solitude that much, now! I don't know why she's withdrawing from the world; I thought she was happy! She had both a girlfriend and a boyfriend who love her.

One of them me.

I'm miserable, but I don't tell them where she is. We can't force her back.

Can't force her to love us.
sketch of a dream: silouetted sacrifices before a bonfire at a potlatch.

2: POTLATCH FALLOUT

Night. I'm at a Northwest Coast potlatch; huge poles with broad carved figures and faces, smooth and bright-painted, almost metallic--more like digital sims than real wood. They throw another copper on the fire, and sparks rise. In the sudden flood of light, I'm afraid I see a couple of slaves with wrists tied, waiting to be killed, to prove just how rich these folks are.

Conspicuous consumption is one thing, but human sacrifice...

But I mustn't endanger our mission here. There are far more lives at stake.

We're here trying to solve a mystery of interdimensional flow: smoke particles from the potlatch fires have been flying up into two other worlds. And in those worlds, each grain transforms into a refugee! Hordes of sooty people have been straggling into both realms, causing friction between them. Each government assumed the other was dumping their undesirables! One world resembles the soap opera General Hospital; the other is a futuristic world like Dr. Who.

At least we know now the refugees are coming from a third reality, unaware of the problem it's creating. A Hieronymus Bosch ghost turns out to be the Goddess of Love.

3: WHAT WAVES SAY OF LOVE

Seaside caves and great halls, with deep tidal pools designed as rooms for mer-people. Dr. Who's familiar, an intelligent wolf, is asking everyone here about a grotesque Bosch figure who's been haunting the caves: vaguely humanoid but insectile, made of rounded chitinous armor, wasp-waisted with a sort of skirt, and just an antenna'd ovoid for a head. The wolf tracks down the Chamberlain (No. 2 in the sea-cave world hierarchy) who reluctantly summons up waves in a sea-chamber, slapping and clashing until great, arching spray-fans rise like monstrous wings above us...

And the interference patterns in those fans tell him the answer.

"The armored figure you ask about has appeared in both worlds recently. It's the Goddess of Love! By her nature, she's partisan, and supports the loving side; she spies for that side in the other world, the one that scorns love. But I can't tell from the waves if our side is the one she considers loving, or not! I'm sorry... but I truly do not know if she's friend or foe."

The Chamberlain also locates the two sides in this quarrel over refugees:

"Both in the American West, near the coast, at an altitude of about 1400 feet, on a coastal plateau."

The wolf muses "Our coastal plain here is just above that level."

"Then you'll have to dig a little to uncover them." says the Chamberlain. He stares into the splashing waves again and suddenly adds, sounding surprised, "Dr. Who uses the Goddess of Love." The wolf's ears go up. The Chamberlain did NOT say "serves." He said "uses."

I didn't know ANYONE could use the Goddess of Love.
Wolf-person head; ink, profile; by Wayan

4: IN FIVE YEARS

Wolf jumps universes. Home! A place and time that's much like the Earth I know, except it's called In Five Years... and it's a civilization built by wolves. Dr. Who agreed to meet Wolf here. When he visits, the Doctor becomes a wolf too, of course, to be polite--not that it helps much.

All Wolf's old packmates are mad at him. They snarl "You're no Wolf, you're not independent! You're that Doctor's damn dog!" Is this envy? Do they just resent him for being a shaman and world-hopping?

And it doesn't die down. "You only look like us."

"You're just like the Doctor now--human in a wolf skin."

"You have nothing to do with us now."

"Don't come back here pretending!"

I wake, feeling sorry for the wolf, who's tried so hard to fix the leak between worlds, and save his home, only to lose it.

5: ANGELA, YOU'RE NOT READY

I wake up on a futon in a hall on a stony ridge. Beautiful views in two directions: inland across a 1400-foot-high plain, and west to the sea. A broad stair leads to the lower level. I know this is where the wolf wanted to dig... In a meadow, Asian teen halts a big blonde who seems attracted to her. Dream sketch by Wayan; click to enlarge.

But a teenage girl blocks my way. She looks familiar: slight, dark-haired, beautiful, in an elegant dress out of place here... oh! Silky! She left us to live in Marine World! Now she's found a better hermitage.

I feel happy I've found her again and embrace her, but she puts a hand between my breasts, holding us slightly apart and looks me in the eyes. I blush, noticing my heart is pounding and my nipples are hard. I still want her as much as she wants... solitude.

I feel plain: just a big bland blonde.

Silky says "Angela, you can't go down there yet. You don't know enough. There's something out to the south you must see, first."

She speaks with the voice of a visionary and I know I'd better do it.

6: THE JOYS OF SIMPLE SPEECH

Silky turns and walks briskly to the southern end of the hall where a great arch looks out over San Francisco. Well, the bridges and towers are similar, but it's not quite the city I know. She explains "This world is an empire, not a democracy. You have no say. The regime maintains it partly by forbidding people to use long or abstract words. Not just a style--it's the law. It works, too. Keeps them from thinking..."

I say, "I hope you don't want me to go down there. I'm not sure I can pass. Some long words are necessary for clear thought."

"You're pushing the edge already, with words like necessary" she says dryly. "Originally, it was an egalitarian idea: they were trying to prevent people from defining social classes by language like the English did. But now.. it just keeps people from asking awkward questions..."

And I wake.

An alternate Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, from high on the Shamanic Ridge.

7: A LEAFY BED

I wake on a bed, not a futon. A bed standing out on my front driveway, between the rose bushes and camellia trees. Magenta petals and yellow leaves spiral down from the trees and land on the bed. Under the leaves is a deeper layer of bed-mulch: magazine clippings and scissors and Scotch tape and books and cassettes.

Embarrassed, I get up and clean off the bed, sorting the junk. I have to leave soon for work--if I leave all this in the front yard, won't people steal it? I hide them under the covers at last, and remind myself not to come home and flop onto the bed without checking! Each time I glance at the bed, it seems more elaborate: from a plain mattress to four large posts and a headboard and footboard that grow until they support a canopy. Add wheels and a red paint job, and the bed is now my VW camper! I stack the books on the front seat thinking "I really should read these; maybe they have some answers."

And then I wake again.

8: FOES MAKE THE BEST FRIENDS

Silky tells me what's what

I write my dreams in bed. At the far end of the house I can hear a science fiction or fantasy show on TV. It sounds a bit like my dream. I get up and watch it--with growing glee, as it parallels my dream in many places, and I happily mark "PSI!" all over my dream-record. My housemate Elizabeth has a friend over watching the show. She's small, slender, dark-haired... familiar.

Oh! She's Silky, my dream lover again! She says "I've come to help with this world-hopping business. It manifests strangely, in the very best minds, like yours! You may call the symptoms a psychological block, but it's not; it's worse. You're fragmenting! If you dream of friendly people who speak your language, they're probably parts of you! You must ignore their overt messages and treat them only as a danger sign--of fragmentation!"

So alien to my thinking that I have trouble grasping the idea. Did she really say that making friends in a dream is evidence your mind is breaking up? Wait--isn't SHE giving me friendly advice? Well...yeah, but hers is nearly incomprehensible. So it's not QUITE the paradox of "Ignore this warning"...

She adds "...but if dream characters are hostile or incomprehensible or indifferent, they're probably real! Wayan, your only real friends are the ones who fight with you first."

Uh-oh. I'm sorry to say I understood that.

Silky adds "You have to take this seriously if we're going to fulfill our Quest." I feel a strange deja vu: I'd forgotten about the quest! We not only swore to fix the leak between the worlds, but to reunify a great singer and physicist who fragmented, scattering mind-shards in three worlds... or more.

She says frankly, sadly, "I'm not sensitive enough to music or physics to know where the personalities are, but you have talent in both areas -- maybe you can."

And I wake again.

9: UNITY

I find myself standing on a city street looking for facets of the great singer-physicist (though first, being a dreamworker, I write notes of the previous dreams!)

I have a reference photo of the genius's personalities, all lined up on a park lawn, smiling for the camera. But there are other people's souls mixed in -- the Beatles, for example! I start sorting out the soul-shards, scrawling "guide" or "musician" or "assistant" and so on next to each, and weeding out the Beatles and collecting their souls to mail back to them later.

I realize I'm half-asleep and try not to break my trance so I can remember more, but it's hard.

And I wake AGAIN...

MORNING NOTES

Apparently, if I can unify my personality enough, I can be a musician or a physicist. I like physics, but as a career it's too dry for me--and weapons-prone, these days.

Musician, musician, musician!



LISTS AND LINKS: quests - I'm Just Not Myself Today - cross-gender dreams - career advice - dream beings - gods and goddesses - love - rain and spray - Silky - solitude - animal people - wolves - Dr. Who - false waking and nested dreams - multiple personality disorder (MPD) - dreams on dreams - Native Americans - Northwest Coast - Orwellian Newspeak - duty and responsibility - pure digital art - picture-stories - Beatles

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