Dreamland

Sometimes I have vivid dreams.  Sometimes I have dreams I can remember very clearly.  Sometimes I have entire cinematic episodes in my head, conscious or unconscious.  Perhaps this means I should be a movie director, or a fortune teller, or street bum who talks to herself.

Regardless, the most recent epic is about me, from the future, coming back in time to relive my life and rethink my decisions.  You see, in the future, I was working for a big old corporation that was up to no good.  There were some natives who had some stuff they wanted (the same old story) and they were determined to get it.  I was sent in as some kind of consultant to try and get said natives out of our way.  Of course, it didn’t work, and of course the mean old corporation was going to push them out by whatever means necessary.

In this case, ‘whatever means necessary’ involved a highly sophisticated device that looked just like a vacuum cleaner.  There was some sort of related vacuum-type air suck portion to the machine, that would selectively blow natives away from the goods we wanted without damaging the items themselves.  However, the visual similarity with more mundane devices meant that you could stick a vacuum brush on one of the nozzles and completely blend in with office cleaners anonymous.

That’s how I stole the thing the first time.  I decided it wasn’t right to blow away the natives (literally) and I was going to do something about it.  With my newfound vigilantism however, I made the world bad for everybody.  I used the device on corporate headquarters, and it ended up taking out the whole office building, as well as a sizable amount of the city around it.  Economies collapsed – anarchy broke out, and gray and dusty and dreary holocaustic times set in.  But I had a chance to go back and make things right, to try to find a better solution.

Of course, my return involved romance.  That’s what second chances are all about, right?  So I tried to talk to someone in the corporation’s hierarchy about how what we were doing to the natives was wrong, and this time I actually had some time to get someone to listen.  The younger son of the corporation owner in fact listened, fell for me and I for him, and I told him the whole story.  I told him what had happened last time, how horrible it was for everyone, how driven I’d felt at the time to do something, anything to get someone to listen.  I told him about all the damage I indirectly caused, and about my second chance.  And he talked to his dad, and got me the opportunity to talk to the old man myself.

The old man, of course, was exactly what you’d expect – crotchety, generally dissatisfied with both me and the world, and hard of hearing when it suited him.  I told him my whole story, everything that I’d confided to my love interest in secret.  I told him what could happen and what I didn’t want to happen again.  I tried not to make threats.  I appealed to his superior wisdom.  I told him reminded him how the whole thing was like Dances with Wolves, but that he had the chance to change the ending.  In my dream this made sense, but it’s really been too long for my conscious mind to understand how the dream is like the movie.

But in the end, the old man was unmoved.  For whatever reason, stockholders or inflexibility or the color of shoes I wore, he wasn’t buying it.  “That’s not even similar to Dances with Wolves” he said.  So he basically told me to get out and leave him alone, in the most barking way he could to his son’s love interest without endangering their relationship.  And then I was left with what to do, yet again.

I couldn’t stand still.  I found that even though I knew the results of my actions, I had to do something.  And there was really only one thing to do – I stole the bomb that was a vacuum lookalike, again.

You’d think the second time around they would’ve learned their lesson.  And they did have some security – an armored car for the device itself, and plenty of armed guards walking the car to corporate headquarters.  But still, a woman in a  cleaning uniform is eternally overlooked.  Once again I just stuck a brush on and walked off with the thing.

Of course my love interest found me.  And when he found me, so did the old man.  But then I not only had a bomb in the office, but two really important hostages.  I wanted to cave, I just wanted to get out of the situation without hurting anyone, native or not, but I didn’t know how.  I talked to my love interest, and told him the whole thing, even though I was holding the man by force.  He motioned to his dad as I spoke, talking about how I didn’t want to go through with it.

“You don’t have to,” the old man said.  “I went to see them, the natives, and you’re right.  It IS just like Dances with Wolves.  I understand now.  You don’t have to hurt anyone – we’ll find a better way to come to an agreement with them without using the device.”

And that was that.  No holocaust, no bombs or forcible removal, no need for a weapon at all.  The vacuum stays a vacuum, albeit an unusually powerful one.

Dating.

In some ways, it’s unfortunate that myself and others in my closest friend circle remain single.  However, there are benefits in the choices we make, the freedoms we have, the adventures we can choose to embark on (or not), and most importantly, the stories we are later able to share.

Among the diverse dating hypotheticals that could come up in singledom, the one that’s caught my fancy for the moment is Captain Hook.  If we’re true to the musical of course, Hook stole Wendy to be his and his crew’s mother, rather than to get a date.  However, if Wendy were a little older, things could’ve been very different.  I mean, how hard is it for a hook-handed man to get a date even, let alone maintain a serious relationship?  Sure, he’s good for a back scratch, but what about a foot massage?  Have you ever received a one-handed foot massage?  Not the most pleasant.  And what if you’re double hooked?  Or what if you’re just a stumper, with no cutlery at all?  Or what if you have extras, like that girl with six fingers and no thumbs?  How does this impinge on your datablility?

Sure, we’re in a highly technological society.  Protheses are no longer limited to metal implements and peg-legs.  But birth defects and injuries still happen, and the solutions to such problems are still reactions, rather than complete preventative measures.  Somebody still has to cope with not being able to physically do what other people can do.  And yet, genetically and otherwise physically a person could be totally ‘normal’.  What does this mean?

I guess that although I haven’t come out on top on the dating scene yet, I also still have all my limbs.  So that’s a positive.

The Great Escape

DISCLAIMER: There will be nothing about WWII in this post, though a certain kind of airman might be mentioned.  Sorry, wrong great escape.

There are certain stories that we relegate to the kiddie library without really thinking what we’re doing.  There are the typical toned-down Grimm’s tales that were made by adults for adults to contextualize their worlds.  There are the Roald Dahl stories with only slight undertones of his creepier adult fiction.  There are the much-edited mini-versions of classic tales: Frankenstein, Oliver Twist, Macbeth.  One of the key ingredients to the acceptability of such stories for children is their unreality, whether or not they are based on actual events or could be.

One of the authors that directly disturbs this illusion of fantasy is Jules Verne.  Ok, so we haven’t made it to the center of the Earth and discovered a whole new world full of weirdo people and strange dangers.  But a submarine?  We live on ’em.  Around the world in 80 days?  Way less, probably about 3.  I’m guessing here though, and using commercial flights.  Evidently his Paris in the Twentieth Century was fantastically accurate, but I haven’t read it.  In fact, other than the three I’ve mentioned, I haven’t read any of his 55 ‘known’ full-length works.  I couldn’t tell you what they’re about.  But probably they give a  depressingly accurate of the way our own advancement has trapped us in closer contact with each other and the broad world. We can’t downplay these as fantastical, and it’s hard to ignore the gloom and doom  attitude even the most positive versions show.

Of course the most clear example is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Nemo is the bad guy of the tale in many ways, mostly because he’s living his dream, away from the tainted world of man.  We identify with this.  We want this, in a world that seems to press in against our personal freedoms and allows us few choices.  Why else do so many intelligent young people switch professions or linger in higher education, seeking fulfilment?  Why else are there so many wanderers across the now highly connected globe, seeking something else in a different place just over the horizon?  Why the lust for adventure, for danger, for some montain-climbing, river-riding rush?  We are looking for our measure, which is hard to find in a world with no barren places, no hidden corners to really explore.

As Verne struggled with this, as he struggled with the idea of the scientific mind as a means and a tool for such escape, I wonder if he actually came to any conclusions.  Nemo dies, his dream failing.  Fogg and Lindenbrock both achieve their goals, get some acclaim, and supposedly live happily ever after, but who really buys into that?  As a scholar noted at a recent speech, “Verne is not intent on saving the world, but on creating a secondary world where he’s in command.”  Isn’t that hat all writers do?  It is enough?