Urgently Going Nowhere
If they had prizes for Dream Directors at the Festival de Cannes, mine would have won many years in a row.
From the smart and dazzlingly apocalyptic (stuff CGI will never catch up with) — to eye-winking fourth-wall smashing metafictions.
(The former: The visual phantasmagoria when the earth’s center of gravity went off by a degree or two. The latter: Someone approached me in a dream, looking for a job. I pointed him towards an open garage door—explaining that they were hiring in there—clarifying that it was where my dreams were created.)
But then, a year or so ago—as Mr Python, Monty himself, had said “and now for something completely different”—some mysterious distributor brought in an ongoing agonizing series of B Grade dreams created in a New Wave Frustration NeoRealism style.
There must have been a reason or cause for these dark churning flagellations emerging from my hippocampus—but alas, the screenwriters were not making me privy. And Dr. Sigmund was on sabbatical.
I pondered setting up some fMRI scans to examine my brain activity. Maybe then a hypothesis would arise for this Ennui Festival that was now running nightly in my cerebrum cinema.
Synopsis (Wanderings Amidst The Humdrum):
In each one of these chimeric aberrations I travel a road that is familiar only from other nights’ visit here. I am always soon lost.
The Production Designer and Art Director—I think they came over from working on television series—seem fixated on exploring nothing more than ever more frustrating hurdles for every night.
Not much of a script for me to work with: focus on getting exhausted in the effort of trying to get somewhere. Close-ups on being stuck—physical and mental wheels spinning without traction. And the destination matters little — it exists simply as excuse to feed the urgency—which in turn feeds the exhaustion. Action!
Turns in the road that make sense in the moment are guaranteed to go awry. Defective public transportation, increasing bad weather—often mud. The prop guys are amazing in the different ways they can make a cellphone dysfunctional when I’m in a bind. Dead ends turn into pinball flips sending me off in other directions, all ultimately false.
Traffic flows by on roads like blood in veins in medical films — carrying the streams of cars wherever. The people, nebulous, are not there to provide any information.
I know very well that the amorphous outlines of other people’s dreams are pretty boring to listen to—so I’ll just share one.
Yesterday. It was something concerning a stadium I had to get to, someone was waiting for me.
The sidewalk I was on was so narrow that people pushed and shoved to get past. It turned into a dirt path, weaving through woods with houses slightly visible through the trees. It ended at a fence with barbed wire at the top—no bypass.
Quite clearly I had taken many wrong turns. Attempting to reverse course in a labyrinth is a tail chasing activity. The cameraman used a drone shot to help me try visualizing the geography from above.
Who knows how but somehow I made it back within sight of the stadium. The crowd was already leaving in buses and cars. I could see the parking lot lights all going out in the distance. Rain started pouring.
As I trudged on my legs began to hurt badly, my boots as if filled with lead. I leaned up against a tree, unable to go on.
At first there was a sense that I could not extricate myself from this mire.
And then, in a mix of panic and despair I woke up!
I turned on the lights, cranked up this wordsmithery machine—and wrote down these thoughts.
One of my favorite movies—Invaders from Mars (1953)—begins with a kid waking up and seeing a flying saucer land outdoors.
The story builds on the tension of an alien invasion—the 1950s Red Scare paranoia was at peak—and at the most scary moment, when the kid is in a panic, they pull out that famous escape trope: the kid wakes up! and calls out to his parents.
His parents reassure him it was all a dream and go back to their room. A little while later he gets out of bed, goes to the window, and sees the same flying saucer landing.
After writing the above I went and looked out the window. No stadium. No saucers.
I went back to bed, to sleep.
The next morning I added what I experienced when I fell asleep again.
There was huge room of people and a roll call was being taken. On and on and on and I knew that it would continue thus and that I would never be called.
(Franz K. came to mind.)
I awoke a bit panicked, took a drink of water and returned to the bed.
I was in a dressing room struggling to put some clothes on—as a bunch of bats zig-zagged around my head.
Another panic wake up, another drink of water.
A locked metal door, a large ring with hundreds of keys—and I had to find the right one. And a cellphone locked into Chinese characters.
Exhaustion kept me from waking up again.
Any remaining Frustration Featurettes from that night were erased from the memory blackboard upon arising in the morning.
I longed for the apocalyptics and theatrics of my dreams from long ago.
Added two days later.
Well it seems that somebody up the cortex finally got the message.
Last night I had a variant of my fabulous old topsy-turvy apocalyptic dreams. Something big had happened. My world was all shapes and angles, nothing distinguishable, everything evenly covered with a grey 9/11-like dust. I was a small figure walking around a collapsed version of Louise Nevelson’s Dawn’s Wedding Chapel IV.
Thankfully, whoever was now in charge of mise en scène was keeping with my tradition of avoiding any Hollywood blood and gore. Crowds were rushing around in a smooth, almost ice-skating choreography.
I looked around, suspecting that the catering truck would be arriving soon. Whatever the cosmic turbulence, the cast must not be allowed to go hungry.
And so—is this an indication that my grey matter is back on track with dreamscapes worthy of a Palme d’Or?
Over the many months of these confounding slumberland confabulations the ongoing pandemic has certainly been underused to speculate some exotic subconscious blockbuster fictions upon.
Ennio Morricone died last year, but I’d love for the The Tiger Lillies to provide a soundtrack.
Now I wonder if I could have saved myself months of submission to these wanderings amidst the humdrum—if only I had woken up and taken the time to write a formal complaint to the producers sooner.