Dreamed c. 2000/10/20 by Tad Ramspott, editor of
I'll start with the obvious: I am a dragon. Longtime readers of my site will be unfazed by this little revelation...
I had a dream several nights ago. I was not in a dragon body in the dream. (This is usual for me; even in the dreams where I have flown and walked on all fours, my "dream-o-vision" has shown me as a human. Interestingly enough, in one of my more memorable dreams, someone took a few Polaroids of me over the course of the dream, and handed them to me at the end; in those photos I had a dragon body.) However, there also wasn't really any evidence of me "really" being in anything other than a human body; people treated me like a human, and I couldn't do anything a human couldn't do.
I (and an unidentified female, who never really did anything during the dream) had been captured and held hostage by two vaguely redneck types. The four of us were in the Bible Belt somewhere. Both of those men, and I, had guns. At several points I tried to escape, but they threatened me with their guns and I backed down. At one particularly interesting moment, Redneck #2 tried to escape as well (apparently the partnership between the two men wasn't as strong as I'd suspected); I took this as a cue to try to run off, but Redneck #1 at this point entered the room; he drew his gun to stop #2, #2 drew his gun to stop me, and I saw #1 enter (before he saw me) and drew my gun to threaten him. The three of us stood there in what Westerns have popularized as a "Mexican standoff" for a minute or two.
It was about this time that we learned of the dragon invasion.
Details are fuzzy. But apparently dragons had appeared and declared themselves in control. This terrified my captors, although I wasn't at all concerned. There was a clear implication that their rule was in fact tolerant, fair, and generally enlightened, but still these men felt threatened. Somewhere along the line (still during this Mexican standoff, mind), a deal was offered: I'd help them escape into the wilderness, away from this new dragon civilization, and in return they would no longer be my captors but my friends. The dragon landing had made their plans for hostages pretty irrelevant, anyway.
There was no sense of compulsion; there was no feeling of threat. And I said yes. I didn't agree with their irrational fear of the dragons, but I respected their need for freedom. (That was my reasoning in the dream, anyway.) I agreed, with the provision that once I'd gotten them out of Dodge, I'd head back to town and they'd be on their own.
The rest of the dream involved us laying low, slinking out of the city a little bit at a time, and grocery shopping. Not "buying provisions for our trip into the wilderness," but needless cruise-the-aisles grocery shopping. (Thereby demonstrating that my dream world, even at its most coherent and profound, is still fundamentally screwed up.) And then what little sleep I'd gotten came to an end.
The dream bugged me somewhat. I'm not normally much for dream interpretation, but the "moral" of this one seemed pretty clear: Sticking to my sense of fairness, even at the expense of aiding a cause I found reprehensible -- these people were bona fide reactionaries, shrinking back in panic from the proffered paradise of enlightened society -- meant more to me than:
Have I sold out? Am I sticking to principles like personal honor at the cost of everything that is dear to me? Or am I indeed a better person for sticking to these principles, and trusting that from personal virtue and a strict idea of universal freedom, a better world will follow? It was never really made clear ... in the dream it was obvious that I was making a great difference in the lives of these men, that they were grateful to me for my superhuman empathy and forgiveness, but there was no way for me to tell if it was enough to "turn them around"--whether if I went back to that dragon city, I wouldn't maybe be an unintentional target of their next car bomb.
Is it that I have too much faith in people? Is it wrong to think that kindness and principle are sufficient to conquer fear? That everybody can choose to be enlightened?
Are some people just too far gone to love the whole world?
Tad's site helps empower and legitimize those who experience themselves as nonhuman spirits trapped in human skins. I live in San Francisco, where concepts like gender dysphoria and "queerer-than-thou" are routine among the gender- and orientation-refugees from redneck country. So it's easy for me to extend some of these ideas to species dysphoria. In that light, isn't Tad essentially an advocate for species queerness? "Draconity is beautiful!"
So a dream in which he faces rednecks is no surprise. What's startling is that he feels such sympathy, and that the rednecks are so grateful. So I'm going out on a limb:
I don't think these guys represent the very real right-wing humano-centrists trashing every other species on Earth. I think they're internal--Tad's own sense of himself as human. Plenty of gay-rights advocates suppress twinges of bisexuality--any hint of straightness can feel like betrayal, surrender to the redneckdom they fled! So I'm not surprised a busy advocate for species queerness might ignore or suppress a simple sense of humanity.
If so, his moral qualms in the dream mean something important in waking life: a sense of responsibility toward the human body he inhabits. Tad really does identify as a dragon, in dream as well as awake. But a parallel human identity's still there, even if it has to appear in humble, even embarrassing forms. Not an inner child, inner rednecks!
And in the dream, he gives them breathing room. What's wrong with that? No revolution, whether inner or outer, psychological or political, can be stable (or justified) if it leaves no room for dissidence. "The greatest good for the greatest number" is just not good enough; Utopia can't be built on repression.
The banality of that final scene ("Dragons have invaded! Let's go shopping!") doesn't strike me as dream-illogic. First, it's a sly parody of George W. Bush's advice for a panicked nation ("Terrorists have attacked! Let's go shopping!"). And second... what if it's just a little vacation? Maybe time to be ordinary is all his Inner Rednecks really want.
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