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Rebel Owl

Dreamed 1971/10/9 by Wayan, age 17

A man-sized Owl pinned on the wall of a museum. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.

Dawn. Our city's wall is breached. The enemy pours in. We're occupied.

Morning. I join the guerrilla resistance. Fighting in alleys. Hit and run. Mostly run: we're way outgunned.

Noon. In a market, we outbluff a small enemy squad. Back away with no shots fired.

Dusk. In a huge hall with stone arches, a vicious firefight. I'm caught weaponless. Terror. Hide.

Midnight. An enemy squad chases me. Trapped in a dead-end alley, I commit an act of desperation--transform myself into a gigantic owl.

I don't want to; owlness may be irrevocable. But it was owl or die.

I fly over town to the enemy headquarters--City Hall. Inside the dome, I swoop on their commanders. Guards open fire; I set off a brilliant flare that dazzles the gunners, but there are just too many of them. I take multiple wounds but still stay aloft. Catch, claw, lift and drop a few, but I can't snatch their leader; too well defended.

At last a team manages to turn an anti-aircraft gun around, and fires at me inside the dome. Chunks of ceiling fall on their own heads, but it works: I fall dead to the rotunda floor.

As a ghost, I observe my owlish body baffle the enemy's medics. Not just that I'm a huge owl-person; that I took 32 bullets and an anti-aircraft round! Owls are tough, but that tough?

And still it wasn't enough.

In the end they stuff me. Set me on display in the city museum as an Inexplicable Phenomenon.

City stolen, body gone. Guess it's time for my soul to move on.
Albrecht Durer's etching titled 'Melencolia I'. Winged woman broods over an idea. Click to enlarge.


I read Virgil's Aeneid. The Greeks take Troy; its heroes die. The refugees move on--to found Rome! Or so Virgil claims. Did he make it up to justify Rome's conquest of Greece as tit for tat? This copy's intro doesn't say. I'm skeptical; the Romans knew only Homer's account, the site of Troy was lost. But today, we have the ruins. Do its inscriptions look proto-Latin?

Next I start Nabokov's Lolita. Painful for me. When I read, I lose myself, become the narrator--and here that's toxic. Being Humbert Humbert is bad for me. For anyone. I might like & identify with Lolita more--but Humbert won't get out of the way to really let me see her. I don't care much about his pedophilia--if she likes him, who cares that she's underage?--it's his sexism that grates. He just won't see her. And I'd like to.

It's the weekend, and my parents decide to take us to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, a museum in San Francisco. They're having a show of Albrecht Dürer. Such obsessive detail, such gloom. But I do like some. The intensity of "Melencolia I"--melancholy is not, in Dürer's view, mere sadness. His Angel of Melancholy just withdraws--quiets herself so she can concentrate; plan a complex project. Plasticine sphinx by Wayan, age 17, star of a 6-minute claymation.

At home again, I start sculpting with plasticine, that oil-infused clay staying flexible indefinitely. Shape a thoughtful, sexy sphinx with manycolored wings. I plan to make her the star of a six-minute claymation, "Oedipus and the Sphinx", for my animation class in community college...


My journal at the time doesn't comment that the dream anticipates the winged figure caught for eternity in a museum that I saw next day. Or the story of a beloved city taken, refugees fleeing... Feels now like the dream was predictive.

But even if not, if that was coincidence... I suspect that the Inexplicable Owl (winged, intelligent, feline-faced, city taken) and Dürer's Melencolia (winged, intelligent, brooding) fused somehow with Virgil's Trojans (brooding, city taken) and even tinges of poor Lolita (exploited, not really seen)... all four blended to inspire the brooding, winged, feline-faced sphinx I began to sculpt.

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