I won’t often add things from my Dream Journal as I think it inappropriate, but in this case I felt like sharing. This is of course an extremely personal window into my thought processes and contrary to what you might think, I don’t want your opinion on me. I do want your opinion on what this might mean in the larger sense: what does this dream have to do with our collective anxiety?
Without further ado….
June 22, 2013 Saturday
The last dream I recorded was back in March. It’s not like I don’t dream. I do dream, but lately it would be more interesting to write down Zoe’s dreams. This is a very interesting development. Usually I have such vivid wild dreams, but hers blow mine out of the water. Last night was pretty full on. I believe I know why I had this odd dream. It was disturbing. And bloody.
I am in the woods. There are others with me. We are wearing clothes that look like something a peasant would wear. White cotton shirts with gray or brown pants held up with suspenders. Our faces are begrimed with mud. We are carrying rifles with muddy hands, but they are antique rifles, rifles from perhaps the First World War or the period just before its outbreak. The woods are cut through with long shafts of opaque light, but mostly the woods are clotted with darkness. We are immersed in twilight in the woods. The thin trees are spaced evenly apart, their high branches above us forming a nearly impenetrable canopy high above us. The rolling ground is soft with dead leaves. I and my comrades are hunting, stepping carefully on the dead leaves. A few shots can be heard dimly in the twilight mist. But we have no bullets. We have run out of bullets. We must approach stealthily. Quickly and stealthily. We must leap on them in surprise. We approach closer and closer. I am anxious. I am afraid. But, I also have wrath in my heart, in my throat. I want to kill. Suddenly, we are upon the enemy. A few shots are fired, but the fight is hand-to-hand. My enemy leaps to snatch the rifle from my hand. We struggle, but I force him down and hit him with my rifle, smack him, his head, with the butt of my rifle. It makes a wet sound. I hit him again, slap, like smacking a wet towel on water, and I run onward. There is little time and the enemy are many. Someone flies at me from the side. I barely dodge his thrust. I parry, slashing downward diagonally, spin, turn, and crush his skull with one blow. I am fast. I am desperate. Our enemy is dressed as we are. We wear rags, old clothing, peasant clothing. I don’t know how we can tell who is friend and who is not, but we do. People are fighting, killing, and dying all around me. I feel the weight of it, but now I cannot stop. As I run, I cry out. In rage. In horror. I run forward looking for more enemy to kill. A tree explodes near my head. Someone shot at me. I look up, around at the thin tress, and I see him. He is preparing to shoot again, fumbling with his gun, shrinking into the tree trunk as much as he can. Too far for me to reach him. I stand frozen for a moment. But he is out of bullets. He cannot shoot me. Something in me, on my face, fills him with fear, and he runs away. I pursue. The soft loam turns sharp and hard. The ground begins to swell upward and downward precipitously. I do not relent. I want to find him and kill him. He is just ahead of me. I slide down a short, leaf-strewn slope. He has ducked into an improvised lean-to. I slow down cautiously. I sneak carefully to the front of the lean-to. He pops out, and I am surprised, will I die? No. It doesn’t matter. He is dying. Somehow his rifle was shoved through one arm, across his back, on top of the back of his neck, and out along the other arm. The wound is grotesque, impossible, awful. His face is pale with the supreme pain he is feeling. His arms are pinned straight out from his sides as if crucified, and he cannot fight back. Another man, dead, is lying on the floor of the lean-to. I look at him. I do not know if he was a friend or an enemy. I think this man killed the man I was chasing, but I do not know. My quarry, my prey, is dying. He sinks to his knees. His breath comes in short deep painful gasps. I watch him. His face is sweaty and begrimed just as mine is. He has a beard like mine. He is dressed as I am dressed. He is very afraid. Why is he so afraid? I don’t know. Then, he tells me. The wolves are coming. He is afraid of the wolves. He is afraid of being eaten alive. I don’t know what to do. But I am afraid of the wolves too. These wolves are very large, very hungry. I have not noticed, but it has gotten dark. The dull report of bullets has died off. Their sound has been replaced by howls. Except for the dead and dying, I am alone in these woods. There are more howls. I wake.
The dream disturbed me, but I think I know the roots of this one. I read until very late last night, reading Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. In her preface she discusses how the Jewish Question and Anti-Semitism played significant roles in the rise of the Nazi party, the outbreak of WWII, and the eventual systematic genocide of millions of people. I also watched an episode of Boston Legal, and in it Alan Shore delivered a passionate defense in which he lamented the apathy of the American people despite grotesque and overwhelming evidence of the US Government’s malfeasance, specifically: no evidence of WMD in Iraq; torture in Abu Ghraib; rendition; and finally I think spying on the American people. His speech—a thing on a TV sitcom/drama—rang like a clarion, reverberating in my core.
As I listened to his monologue I too felt betrayed by my government. I felt incensed. Four years later, little has changed. In fact, after reading Arendt, that’s one of the things that shocked me most. Some of the atrocities of WWII she described, particularly her concerns for the future, were prophetic: curtailment of civil rights, expanding shadow governments with their nefarious secret police and intelligence services, steady arrogant assumption of power by more developed nations, less developed countries trampled underfoot and shackled to inequitable fiscal policies. As Arendt pointed out: the United States was the major player in this new version of ‘The Great Game’. We are not totalitarian, of course not. But, something weird—even wicked—is going on in our country. Someone could make a very compelling argument about the autocratic nature of our government. The representatives seem less and less accountable to the will of the people. I am an American. I do not agree to these actions perpetrated by my government, but I feel powerless to do anything about it. I never agreed with Iraq—never—nor do I agree to violence in most cases—it seems civilized enlightened people exercise other options before resorting to war. Torture has been discredited as a viable means of obtaining information (in fact Open Source Intelligence has been shown to be as accurate and in fact demonstrably quicker). The notion of rendition should be anathema to a democratic society, particularly ours, which specifically defends people from such abuse. And finally, why should we ever turn over such intrusive powers of spying to a government that has proven to be dysfunctional, self-interested, and corrupt? If I thought our representatives could be very careful and quantitatively demonstrated that they had our better interests at heart I might acquiesce to someone watching me 24/7—I have nothing to hide and live my life as if I lived in a fishbowl, but these perverted bloated avaricious officials don’t care about the common average American, at all. The more time passes I get the feeling that we the people are just so much cannon fodder, expendable disposable parts in their monstrous polluting factories. So, no, they don’t get to listen to my conversations. Our government and their police arms like the FBI are too often put in the employ of Big Business. We no longer have a Military-Industrial Complex—it has become a Military-Industrial-Financial Complex, a recipe for disaster as President Eisenhower warned so many years ago…
I have strayed from the central topic. But, as you see I feel passionate and supremely saddened by the current state of the country where I was born and raised. America gave me my conscience. America gave me Jesus. Can you imagine Jesus saying, “Go ahead and waterboard that Afghani motherfucker?” Or: “Screw the poor!” I don’t think so. I really don’t think so. Perhaps I’m wrong. These morals are, I think, currently not in vogue; they are useless for succeeding in the business world, not to mention the political sphere. And these are the dominant paradigms in our society: economic and political. Not religious, not moral. So, I feel betrayed. Why did I learn about Jesus when I should have been raised like a Klingon or a Feringi? Why was I taught The New Testament when The Prince and The Art of War would have been so much more useful? [The truth is that both these texts are much richer and more scrupulous than their infamous reputations would have us believe, but that’s a discussion for another time.] I think this frustration and anxiety about the state of the world and the future, and this means of course my future with my beautiful little Zoe, has resulted in an anxiety dream where I and people who are essentially indistinguishable from me are forced to battle in ragged clothes with scarce resources in a murky landscape. Is this my future? Is this the legacy of our forefathers?