Shadows in Plato’s Cave

eggknightI 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.


C. A. Smith’s “Ultimate Weird Tales”

I had today (Monday) off because of Reverend MLK’s birthday (observed).  Unfortunately, I have a touch of flu I picked up from my co-workers (thanks!) and felt like crap.  I got some drawing done in the morning, but definitely felt off my game. After walking the dogs for about 45 minutes, I had to go back to bed.

About the only good thing that happened is I found a huge collection of 133 C.A. Smith stories for the e-reader at $1.99 via Amazon.

I’ve also been enjoying this online collection of C.A.S’s artworks.

"Lemurian Ghost" by C.A. Smith

Drawing-a-Day 2012

Like most good ideas, I stole this one from someone else (Theo Ellsworth at Thoughtcloud Factory News).  Like Theo, I will be making a drawing (or trying to remember to make at least 1 drawing) per day in my “sketchbook diary.”  I’ve been doing a lot of drawings for other people lately and the emphasis for this sketchbook will just be on drawing whatever I want, keeping the eye and brain entertained and doodling out my stray thoughts and daydreams. I’ve always wanted to keep a journal but never managed to stick with it; hopefully this one will stick.

For the 1st day of 2012, I drew a space-man on the moon (top half of page) and for the 2nd day of 2012 I drew the aliens that lived underground and are rolling their eyes at the earthman who claims to have ‘discovered’ their planet/moon I guess:

For days 3, 4 and 5 I did the following:

Beneath the guy getting shot through the chest will go the drawing for 1/6/2012 and so on.  I’d like to try for at least a 1/2 page per day — or more — and give myself the option of either continuing the drawing from an adjoining space (like the man from today is getting shot by the Voltaman I drew on 1/3/2012) or starting something new or just doodling randomly.

Strange Dream

Sorta like this...

OK, this is a dream I had last night (at least as well as I can remember it).

The dream started with me playing some sort of video game.  The first part of the dream took the form of a computer video game involved loading a musket.  One had to select the proper tools and parts from a list (like the ramming rod, wadding, ball, powder horn and other stuff) in the proper order and drag and drop them onto the right part of the musket.  I have never loaded a musket, so it felt kind of ‘educational’ to me.  There were a lot of weird looking tools in the menu; I suspect some of them were just ‘red herrings’ that my subconscious inserted in there to make the game more challenging.  I think  if you didn’t load the musket properly, it wouldn’t fire.

The second part of the video game was what they call a ‘first person shooter.’  You are looking down the barrel of the musket across an area where there are trees, houses, etc, as well as the shore of a river.  As you sit there, possible targets appear, some of which will be things that one might presumably lose points if you shoot them (fellow citizens, milkmaids, sheep, etc.,) and enemy soldiers.  The goal is to shoot the enemy soldiers (who look a lot like Hessians from the American Revolutionary war) without getting shot or wasting your shots on civilians, sheep or cows.  I think every time you shoot the musket, you have to load it again.

Somehow, through the magic of dream logic, suddenly it was not a video game any more.  I was in the battle, and instead of a bucolic, colonial setting, I was a part of an army defending a cliff.  We could see the enemy swarming up stairways and towers.  We had obviously just lost the battle.

I was dressed like this but my clothing was more colorful

The dream somehow transitioned to me being a captive.  A group of soldiers were walking me and a companion down a road.  My friend and I were dressed up like conquistadors;  jackets with puffy sleeves, helmets and breastplates.  I suddenly became convinced that the enemy soldiers behind us were going to shoot us in our backs and I told my comrade this.  We decided to run and advised one another to run in a zig-zag pattern to make us harder to hit.  The street we were on looked like part of a neighborhood that I lived in when I was growing up.  We ran down the street in our zig-zag pattern and as I was running it occurred to me that  by zigging and zagging it was taking us a lot longer to get away from our enemies than if we had run in a straight line.  As I considered the advantages and disadvantages of both, we continued to run.  We reached a hedge and dove through to escape our enemies.

Suddenly we were rolling down a hill.  I was OK with this sionce rolling head over heels down a hill in a dream didn’t seem dangerous and we were getting away from our enemies much faster.  At some point I landed on my head and squashed my helmet so it no longer fit on my head.  It seemed to be made of thin aluminum, but, in my waking world I have been repairing our roof which involves a lot of shingles and aluminum flashing metal, so maybe there is some connection there.  My helmet seemed to have been made from aluminum flashing so I don’t imagine it was much good as a helmet, anyway.

We reached the bottom of the hill and decided that although we had evaded our enemies for now, they would be looking for us, so we needed to ditch our uniforms and dress in some other clothing.  Searching through a dumpster, we found some ragged old clothes and changed.  At this point we were somewhere near Williams Pharmacy (which is also near where I used to live).  This seemed to make sense since Williams Pharmacy is three or four blocks north and downhill from the corner of Lindell and Asbury  (where we evaded our enemies).  I noticed that the pharmacy seemed to be closed and paper was taped up over the inside of the windows so you couldn’t see in.

After this we crossed a busy street and hid near some railroad tracks.  I realized that my companion was actually my partner, Annie.  She pointed out a mutual friend of ours, Phoebe, who was unloading some stuff from a trailer that was hooked up to her car along with some other people.  The ‘stuff’ looked like furniture and boxes of personal items which they were dumping on the side of the busy street.  Annie suggested that we could ask Phoebe for a ride but I didn’t want to because I was suddenly self conscious about my ragged clothing (which isn’t really like me — in real life I wear ragged clothes all of the time).

And that’s where the dream ended.  Weird, huh?