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A Sphinx's Sketchbook (cover)

Dreamed 1994/7/19 by Chris Wayan

I dreamed of a sexy, magical picturebook in the library called "A Sphinx's Sketchbook." But people passing me eyed me strangely, and I felt embarrassed to be seen with it. So I slipped it back on the shelf to check out "later," and walked away.

But suddenly, on impulse, I went back and opened it, despite my blushing, and, standing in the stacks, I read a whole picture-story. The book purported to be a translation of a journal by a sphinx called Tehura who visits humanity from a Pacific island, and leaves her sketchbook full of her anthropological notes on us, some funny, some quite embarrassing. The dream seemed to be mirroring Gauguin's famous sketch-journal of Tahiti, "Noa Noa," which I'd been reading. I was struck by the one-sided picture of Tehura, Gauguin's lover and model; she published no journal telling her side of the story. So Tehura the sphinx's journal, beyond its sexiness, humor and fascination, had a haunting depth for me. And if I hadn't overcome my shame and gone back, when I woke I'd have lost her story.

In dreams, there is no "later."

Awake, I drew Tehura's journal as a comic book; this is the cover.

The black glyphs arching over the city are Tehura's notes in Sphinx, identifying the scene as "Golden Gate Park's Strawberry Hill, in Biped City" as she called San Francisco, where she visited, and where I live.

(Wait, that's not the whole truth. In the dream, as in many of my dreams, these glyphs appear. But my dreams didn't invent it. It's a super-compressed private shorthand I consciously invented for WRITING dreams years ago. I had a nosy girlfriend at the time who would snoop through my diary and get mad at me for dreaming "wrong" (anything politically incorrect or unflattering about her or even slightly complimentary to any other girl, and she'd have a screaming fit) so I invented this to write my dreams. She never did crack it. Lost the snoop, kept the script! I still use it when space is tight or privacy's needed.)

Tehura the sphinx and her human friend Aline looking out over San Francisco from Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park. Click to enlarge.
The spot in Golden Gate Park is real; but if you climb to the top of the waterfall today, you'll find it's already changed since I sketched it--way more overgrown, and the waterfall has algae problems, and the bridge is rotten, and the old museum was torn down as a quake hazard, and rebuilt. Stow Lake is still there...

...but Tehura isn't. I avoid the spot now, for I feel so sad when I go there and don't find her...

LISTS AND LINKS: urge and impulse - shyness and embarrassment - literary dreams - dream beings - sphinxes - sexy creatures - round and nonrectilinear art - comix - a sample page of A Sphinx's Sketchbook: Tehura Tries Comics

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