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Shy Sphinx

Dreamed 2009/11/27 by Wayan

I'm in an art class. The teacher shows us Japanese temple decorations. A grim subject: the Hell Cafe! It's trendy--the hottest place in town--only you end up on the menu, cooked by conformity-demons. Can you go against the eager flow of victims? Those old Buddhists loved horror-comedy.

They're painted bas-reliefs, very flat--thin plywood layered like topo maps. Big stylized shapes with few details, since it's all softwood. Yet the teacher never explains why! I speak up: "Unlike Europe or the Americas, Japan is full of softwood with few hardwoods. Pine was cheap, so architecture and decoration developed uses for it and customary places for it; detailed freestanding hardwood carving just couldn't compete." He'd never thought about how cost and availability spur or stunt the sophisticated uses of different media. His blank "I never thought about it" disappoints me. Another dim teacher! I'm in the wrong art program...

A girl I like but who has an unstable aura--crazy or just strange?--painted at least two murals on the classroom walls, then covered them with drapes and panels. On a wall to the right is a colorful graffitish mural, but it's behind some leaning panels; peer under their edges, but it's too foreshortened to make out.

The other's a big abstract, but a shy sphinx crouches, peering at us, from the lower right corner. I know how she feels. Face, forepaws, breasts; too shadowy to see if she's winged. I try pushing away the drape that half-hides her, but it keeps sagging down.

Detail of a dream painted by Wayan;  a shy sphinx peers out from textured rocks.
Maybe she's intentionally hidden. This class full of postmodern cynics, all trying so hard to be cool. Doesn't feel like a crowd who'd welcome a shy sphinx. Probably just sneer. Painting of a dream by Wayan; abstract textured oval with shy sphinx peering out from rocks. Click to enlarge.

"What if she's wise to hide?" I think, and wake.


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