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TEMENOS

Dreamed 1997/6/16 by Chris Wayan

I'm at a Robert Bly workshop for men, held at Harbin Hot Springs in northern California. We each have a mentor or guide to help us find our masculine identity. I did try. I even looked under the sofa, but I just couldn't find it. Oh well, if you can't find one, make one! Over this long weekend, I'll sculpt and decorate a Temenos (a sacred phallus), to express and establish my masculine identity.

But first I'm trying on clothes--they're being altered for me by the staff. Old shirts, bright-colored but torn, are taken apart and made into sleeves and decorative trim for others. A total fashion makeover, all-new yet all-recycled. My mom's always had big problems with men and masculinity, but to my surprise, she's helping redo the clothes! Auspicious. Sketch of a dream: the shaggy phallus of a satyr, covered in a Papuan-style penis-sheath, but made of white beads.

As the clothes are being sewn and finished, I plan my Temenos, while naked. Nudity doesn't bother me, it's fairly normal for my species. When we must enter a theater that's not reserved for the workshop and not clothing-optional, my guide has to remind me "put on clothes or they'll think we're lovers." I don't want that because my guide's male, and I want to announce I'm straight and single and hoping to find a mate here at Harbin. I see it as a big opportunity--Harbin's famed as a tolerant place, and I need that. Since I'm not human.

So what am I? A sort of satyr or faun, I guess you'd say. I'm bipedal, but reared-up like a horse, not vertical like a human. My penis is always erect like a dog's. A bone inside? Not quite sure, and at first I wonder if I'm sexually excited and just don't recognize it. Test it by stroking the head of my penis, but it's just not swollen or sensitive the way it'd be if sexually excited. This is normal for my species, then.

I do know it's our custom to wear a decorative penis sheath. Mine's a mesh of large plastic beads, each one an oblate milky ball about 2 centimeters wide--like white Go stones grown fat as M & M candies. And big. Their short axes parallel the axis of my phallus, rather then the flat sides paralleling the skin as I'd expect. It's a minimal, austere, even stodgy sheath by my people's standards, and unlike my flamboyant taste in capes and head-plumes. I tried to be austere and tasteful, since I knew I'd be among humans at the camp, and they have strong phallic taboos.

Robert Bly tells me "I'm sorry, but you have to sculpt your temenos out of the material in those beads. Too bad you didn't wear a bigger sheath."

Out of the BEADS? That won't leave me much leeway! I feel cheated. If I'd worn a huge, flamboyant, obscene penis-sheath I'd have more to work with. Damn.

And as I stare at my paltry spheres, I realize they're my big Robert Bly lesson in the art of masculinity construction:

It takes balls to make balls.

NEXT MORNING

Photo of a sculpture by Joyce Scott: a figurine of a southern belle with heavily beaded blouse but an open wireframe skirt with a phallus of black beadwork thrusting in.

NEXT DAY

One of my housemates drops by our old house and picks up the mail. On impulse I look through a flyer from the San Francisco Art Institute, though it's not addressed to me, but to a woman who moved out months ago. Hmm... there's a show at the Institute of sculptures by Joyce Scott. I'm shocked to see the image from my dream almost perfectly executed: the white ceramic head of a woman, one of those cutesy collectables, with a southern belle's big gown, rendered above the waist by a mesh of milky beads, but bare wireframe below, except for little white porcelain hands petting a huge, beaded phallus thrusting inside the sketchy lines of her skirt. Title: CUDDLEY BLACK DICK #1 (sic--not cuddly. Is CUDDLEY a typo or a name?)

Whatever it says about me, or Joyce Scott, it's a strong psychic hit--giant beadwork phalli aren't exactly an everyday image, after all! Verifiable too, since I wrote the dream down AND told it to a friend before the mail came...

LOOKING BACK, LATER

It's hard to look past the shock of apparent ESP here--even if you go through the mental contortions it takes to label this coincidence, your attention is still on the ESP issue, thumbs up or thumbs down. Like a big, flamboyant, beaded dick distracting you from the rest of the body...

So let's pretend for a moment that I'd seen that flyer the day before and it provoked this dream--not a predictive but an ordinary reactive dream. How would you interpret it then? Does Joyce Scott's beadwork clarify the dream?

In her sculpture, the white beads are the female part, the black beads are the male part. In my dream, the phallic sheath is of white beads, not black. So my penis-sheath suggests that my femme style hides my physical masculinity. I play the part of a southern belle! It's a vivid physical image of a real (and deep) character trait.

What IS the black beaded dick in her piece? It's a race comment, not just a comment on gender. Does the phallus in my dream speak of race? Not quite, and the difference is telling. Mybig shaggy bead not-especially-cuddly dick isn't a race statement--it's a species statement!

Looked at this way, the dream seems to warn that my gender dysphoria is partly the result of much deeper differences. I'll never fit the Robert Bly model of men. For I'm not a man--in the species sense.

And the ESP? Maybe it's nothing more than my dreams reminding me just how different my world is from consensus reality.



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