Shadows in Plato’s CavePosted: October 12, 2014
I had a very peculiar dream last night. I’m normally a pretty sound sleeper, and thus don’t usually remember my dreams very well, but this one impressed itself on my brain… and I think I remember it vividly because I was having it right before I woke up. Now, I’m not a big one for dream interpretation. I subscribe to Scrooge’s theory that dreams are more of an indication of restless sleep than anything else (“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato,” said Scrooge to Marley in ‘A Christmas Carol.’). Perhaps dreams are just a series of images, sounds and sensations flashing through our sleeping brains and we string them together into some sort of narrative afterwards, creating a pattern out of the random firing of mental pistons. In any case, dreams seem like the gift of the subconscious. I enjoy their illogic.
Last night’s dream started with me attempting to attend some sort of medieval recreation event. No, I’m not a re-enactor of any sort, so this didn’t seem like something I would do — but as far as I remember, that was the scenario. In order to join the event, one had to sign up at various tables, fill out forms and pay $127.00 (my dreams are very reasonably priced!). For this price, we were guaranteed a chance to ‘live life as a medieval person might have.’ We would start off as peasants, working on a farm, and then we would be taught to make armor and weapons and be allowed to live as knights. Near the end of the event, we would take part in a battle. And the place was run a bit like a haunted house or an assembly line— while the second group was experiencing ‘village life,’ the first group would be making their armor and becoming knights. It wasn’t really clear to me how long the process of going from peasant to knight took — I was under the general impression it took about an afternoon, but it was a dream, so everything was kind of fuzzy.
The ‘sign up’ event was fairly complicated and required that one fill out several forms at different stations. All of this took place in a large, convention-center like building with cast concrete walls, deep red carpet and indirect lighting. I was supposed to experience medieval life with some friends (they were non-specific friends — this was a dream, after all) but got separated from them in registration. Young kids kept getting in line ahead of me and when it was their turn to deal with whatever person we were all standing in line to speak to, they would just stand with their mouths open, paralyzed with indecision, further gumming up the process.
I finally got through the lines and was given my peasant’s smock and a straw hat which was much too small for my head and looked too much like a cowboy hat to convince me it was properly ‘medieval.’ I asked the costumer if there were any larger hats and she shook her head. I got dressed and hurried off to hope to join up with my group of fellow peasants. I don’t know what I did with my street clothes. Perhaps I left them on the floor of the convention center.
I exited the convention hall and found myself outdoors, in an area where participants who were dressed as knights milled about in improbable armor. One particularly memorable specimen was wearing plate armor that looked like it had been made of triangular bits of metal bolted together to form a giant metal egg that protected the body and articulated arm and leg coverings that looked like sections of stove pipe. Others had some form of scale armor that looked like randomly shaped metal plaques bolted to a coat. There were tents everywhere. To one side, other students of the medieval experience labored at anvils with hammers, creating their weapons and armor so they could join the ranks of knighthood. In the distance I could see pennants flapping in the breeze and hear trumpets blaring as two large groups of ‘knights’ approached each other with weapons in hand — obviously these were participants who were engaging in their final event; the grand battle that was supposed to be the capstone of the medieval re-enactment. I was a mere peon amid these powerful nobles, however, and wanted to get among my own kind. I hurried off to join the peasants.
I could see the ‘village’ from across a field and ran towards it. As I approached, it became obvious that the village was neither as large nor as impressive as it first appeared. While the buildings looked correct from a distance, as I got closer I could see that they were made from cast concrete and plywood rather than cut stone and wattle-and-daub. They were also sized incorrectly; more like children’s play houses than full sized dwellings. Unfortunately, I had approached them from the wrong side and a pond lay between me and the village. Rather than waste time going around it, I hiked up my smock and began to wade through the pond, heading towards an inviting looking stairway at the water’s edge that led into a monastery complete with a concrete cloister and some decidedly non-period looking iron railings that looked straight out of The Home Depot.
The water was deeper than I thought and soon I was swimming the pond/moat. I reached the iron railing and managed to grab it but suddenly I was exhausted. Try as I might, I just couldn’t haul myself out of the water; it held me in place like glue or I was suddenly afflicted with weakness. I could hear my fellow peasants within the village and monastery, talking to each other, but I couldn’t move a muscle. Perhaps this was because I was waking up. I found myself in my bedroom, in my bed. “What a strange dream,” I thought as I awoke.