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Radar Bear

Dreamed 1983/6/17 by Chris Wayan

I'm working in a MASH unit in the Korean war. Radar O'Reilly, the moon-faced clerk, has a beloved teddy bear. Someone steals it. No, kidnaps it--sends him a ransom note! Hawkeye the surgeon dictates an answer to Charles Emerson Winchester III, the snotty but very literate doctor. Charles writes the letter but critiques Hawkeye's style: "Really, this contains too many conventionalisms." Hawkeye yells "It's a business letter!" They bog down in their perpetual style-feud, as Radar does a slow boil.

He goes off to save his bear himself.

Radar builds a flimsy toy U-2 spyplane to find and threaten the kidnappers. Like a one-winged bird--pathetic. He builds more--a new design every day. He intends to find that bear. Becomes a running joke, as his creations stagger and flap around camp. Most of them now have four parts, one for thought, one for the senses, one for feelings, and one for intuition.

Then one morning a gigantic chopper wakes up the whole camp. It's triple the size and horsepower of any Army chopper, with vast firepower. And it hovers over the camp like a vulture, drumming and shadowing like a guard on a prison-camp tower. No one knew the Reds had anything like this! Hopelessly outgunned--we'll have to surrender. The war may be over--lost in a night. Now we know how the Japanese must have felt after Hiroshima.

Radar's imperturbable. He just says "Anyone turned in my bear yet? If not, I'm gonna take some leave time, fly down to Seoul in my new machine and scare them a little. And if they don't have it, I'll try up north."

It's his. One of his pathetic wind-up toys. He just kept building till he got one right.

And he REALLY wants his bear.


Not subtle, huh? You tinker and tinker with balances of action, thinking, hunches, choices, and nothing works out, and you get discouraged, and then one day through dumb luck (only it isn't; it's called perseverance) you get it right, and terrorize the world. And, usually, when you do, you still don't know what to do with it. So you terrorize the world to get a teddy bear, and then go home, because you have the rare and awesome power of a truly functional human being, and the ambitions of a gnat.


I posted this in 2001. Recently I was transcribing a dream a few pages later in the same handwritten journal and noticed something about this dream I'd missed. I dreamed six dreams that night, woke, scrawled key words on a card so I'd remember them, rushed off to work... but when I got home, ready to write up the dreams, I couldn't find the card. And drew a blank on all six dreams. I left space in my notebook in case it turned up. It did, under my bed--fifty days later!

Yet the bare outline on that card was enough so I recalled all six dreams--maybe not every detail I'd have had if I'd written it out that morning, but all the essentials.

Accidents like this make me skeptical of research claiming dream-memories fade fast. Only the path to the memory gets lost--not a memory problem, an indexing problem! We remember by association, and since our dreams are often (on the surface at least) distant from our day-life, it's hard to retrieve them without prompts. The memory's buried like an uncatalogued book in a big library.

But even after months, a bare call number was enough.

LISTS AND LINKS: MASH dreams - Korea - teddy bears, and others - choppers and planes - Four Jungian functions - perseverance furthers - dreamwork - memory - that dream (similar themes!) a few days later: Here Comes a Chopper

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