Dreamed 2011/3/19 by Wayan
I go with friends to see all the 2011 Oscar nominees for short films. You can skip ahead to the dream if you like, but this dream's all about how the art we see in daylight can mutate in the night...
A mouse learns how telling tales can scare off predators.
The only real twist is that the mouse turns out not to be lying after all. Or did Mouse's stories summon the reality? However it happens, the big bad gruffalo of his tales turns out to be real, and just as predatory as described. So now Mouse has to bluff the gruffalo too...
Lavish 3D animation, but a simple kids' story--slow and a bit predictable.
A man climbs a pass out of his dying alpine village, with his grandma tied to his back.
He makes the summit, sees there are living lands ahead... but she dies in the stratospheric air. Can't carry your past into the new world.
Grand scenery, archetypal images, more adult in theme, but that can't disguise that the story's as slight and predictable in the end as The Gruffalo.
A boy has a crush on his teacher--plans to marry her in ten years, despite her jerk of a boyfriend. Boy tells jerk "You're not good enough for her" and demands a duel. The guy, amused, agrees; she witnesses. Boy pulls a huge pistol on him--dad's a Special Forces cop. Demands the guy admit "I'm not good enough to marry her." The guy, terrified, begs for his life, finally blurts "I don't want to marry her, she's always late, nagging me, the cow." Rings true. The boy fires. BOOM! But it's a toy; a blank-firing replica he begged for, as a birthday gift. Planning ahead! The teacher forgives him; did her a favor.
The Crush deserved the Oscar. Its rivals look simple next to this vivid 3-act: wistful, horror, comedy. And its surprises are earned: we're shown a bright passionate kid, shown his plans, yet we underestimate him all the way.
The God of Love
A dart-tossing lounge singer loves a sexy drummer. But she loves his best friend, who's oblivious. The singer prays for a chance with her. Magic darts arrive in the mail, from Olympus! Anyone stuck is impressionable for six hours. He test-jabs acquaintances, and they fall in love. Jabs his girl and she agrees to a date! He's ecstatic, but he takes her to a tragic ballet, and after six hours, it's obvious they have nothing in common. So he does the honorable thing: jabs his best friend, to give the drummer a fair chance with him. They hit it off. A bow arrives in the mail--a graduation gift! He's the new god of love. The unloved god of love!
It won the Oscar. It's stylish (black and white, crisp editing, Woody Allen look) but slight in the end; did it win cuz it's American? Many foreign nominees were as good; The Crush, better. Or maybe I'm just mad he gets no love himself, since I miss it so.
The Lost Thing:
A fable by Shaun Tan, author of The Arrival. Eerie, wistful, subtle. A nerdy guy meets a monster on the beach--half steampunk robot, half-octopus. He plays catch with it--it's friendly as a puppy. Follows him home. His parents object to such a big... pet? He tries the Bureau of Lost Things. Pretty cold! But the janitor tips him off to an independent place for lost things, and it looks way more fun than the official bureau. Or mainstream society. Should he leave the Lost Thing there... or stay himself?
As he rides the subway home alone, the commuters of this conformist city start looking like the lostest things of all.
Yeah, that earned its prize for Best Animation. At least to a Lost Thing like me.
Afterward we all go to a cafe to talk. My journalist friend Cory tells me of a story she's writing on a war between Anglo ranchers and Indian pine-nut harvesters over BLM plans to thin piñon trees. Sounds crazy to me--nut prices have climbed past $30/lb. That ain't peanuts! Cory says both sides are entrenched, demonizing their opponents, ignoring considerable common ground. Funny--both Cory and I have had dreams of Coyote and Eagle lately; they acted like estranged parents trying to enlist us, make us take sides... If you see Coyote as the Great Basin tribes and the American Eagle as the BLM, I can see why Cory'd have such dreams, but why would I dream of the War of the Nuts before she told me of it? Funny.
At home, read some Kim Stanley Robinson stories, like Escape From Kathmandu. The ultimate shaggy-Yeti story. What a comic short film it'd make! I can see it now, copping the Oscar...
Most of my friends are elves, though at first no one says the word; I avoid even thinking it. But things change when I see a political prisoner chained to a sheltered chair sunk into a hilltop. A broad pipe like an old submarine's speaking-tube is stuck over his mouth, and a short telescope stuck in front of him, fixed on a minipark on a lower ridge to the southwest. He's being forced to spy. Why? They could use a simple camera. But that couldn't speak with human judgment...
Now I'm in the park he's being forced to watch. The speaking-tube emerges from a tangle of leaves and flowers, like an outsize flower itself, a flare or hornish bell of brass... that mysteriously speaks now and then. A bright-colored bird hops around a hedge eating berries. A feral parrot? But it's alone. Parrots shouldn't be. Look closer. No, not a parrot--a species I've never seen, like a big colorful thrush.
The tube speaks! Some strangers listen, baffled. One of my elvish friends is here. I talk to her about recognizing his voice, though I'm careful to sound casual and naïve, so strangers won't learn I've seen the prisoner. I say "Sounds like so-and-so filtered through a drainpipe," when I know it's him. And she knows too.
What's strange is that he never begs for help, says where he is, or even that he's held prisoner. He does what I guess his jailors want: acts like a mystic oracle! The tourists even look around, suspecting surveillance, but they understandably figure it's a camera hidden here in the brush, not a human spy on a hill a quarter mile away!
Clone Sex Jokes
Two more of our group are in trouble. One, a blond androgynous bisexual guy, is kidnapped by wizards. They make a dozen quick clones of him, and pen them all naked in a moving van with a skylight, a tilted floor and no windows. Where are they being taken? And why?
They joke among himselves. I feel a growing unease as they joke with knowing glances as if they share a private punchline. One tucks his cock back between his legs to look female, another stuffs the shaft into his foreskin til he looks intersexual. This sexual clowning is totally unlike the original guy, who's always been rather shy about sex.
Will the clones go along with their creators' plans? They're perfect copies, so they should share their original's values--and he opposes these wizards. So why clone him at all? Am I missing something about these copies, are their minds not my friend's? They look like him, but don't feel right. Joking about captivity!
A Faerie Cyclotron
The other friend in trouble is a plump angelic blonde, with sleepy eyes and upturned nose.
I go to her house. Well, university housing--she lives with her dad, a professor, on a local campus. It's my first time here. The building's slick and corporate, several floors high. Search. I feel lost. Hear her voice higher up. I find an oval porthole in the ceiling. A hidden attic?
No ladder or even a rope. The only way up is with hands alone. Leap, grab the lip, try a chin-up. A real struggle with my weak arms, but at last I pull myself through...
But both stairs end here on the second floor. From here on up, the only way's the endposts.
So I swing outside the structure and climb on. Dusty, but this space is clearly not an afterthought--meant for clambering. So I keep on til I reach the third floor.
Voices, steps. Above me on a long straight catwalk bolted on the concrete wall (not the tower) I spot Blondie's professor dad. And on the metal stair below, I hear a brunette friend in our circle who I have a crush on. Up in the tower, glimpse a cartoon hero, a hulking guy named Tom Strong, with a mighty Clintonian chin. They talk with others I can't see, but I recognize voices of friends of mine--all ones with elven auras. Is this an elf project? Did that hatchway lead into Faerie? It sure was hard enough--felt like a birth. But if this is Faerie, it's sure not what I expected.
Since I can see them they must know I'm here, but no one challenges me--or welcomes. Uneasy, I climb on. Reach a back corner. A cobweb curtain. Clearly no one's come this way in years. I tear a hole through. A doomish finality to the rip. If there's a Shelob, I've rung the bell.
The back "yard" is a bit wider, 2-3 m. And not empty. People with sharp, rusty auras, like dried blood, lounge on the beams as calm as cats, despite the 5-10 meter gulf beneath. Must have come out from the tower--or flown down and perched. They eye me mockingly. Creepy. I'm unsure what their auras mean, but they're sure not human. Vampires perhaps? I keep a wary eye on them. As long as I stay alert, they don't attack. Just waiting. For what?
The tower's third and fourth floors hold a huge experiment. Bulging maroon plastic whaleguts--insulation over huge, powerful coils, I guess. At least I sense high energy inside. Some feels good, but some just awful. Merely a powerful negative charge of some kind, or true evil? Don't know what my revulsion means, but it's strong. Inside the rough tangled torus, a control room--switches, dials. Superficially like a small powerstation, but that's not normal electromagnetism I felt! I wonder if they intended this, or if it's gone bad and they don't know.
Whatever this thing is, it horrifies me.
And then... the whole University suddenly shrinks, in the space of a minute, to hedge-size, the people small as wrens or butterflies. Except for me. I'm back in the park by the trombone-flare of the speaking tube. The buildings settle into hedging. All hidden. Faerie closed its gate. Did I trespass too far, see too much?
I miss my friends the most. Cast out.
Or is it... lesson over?
But later, I meet one of the elves, the slender girl with dark bangs. She sits at a table with brochures and big display panels that hint (for those with second sight) at Faerie. She offers passers-by paper scraps: "Write a saying and post it on that board."
She doesn't seem mad at me at all; invites me to sit with her and tell what I thought of Faerie. Shows me snapshots of the tower. I warn her "I sensed toxic energy; I couldn't tell what it was. If it's a weapon, it'll work all too well and you'll regret it; if a power generator or a transporter, they're in danger." I also warn that the rust/blood auras of the folk out back also felt like trouble, though a more organic sort. She listens closely but doesn't comment.
Next she shows me a photo of a rather Mediterranean valley with a dike or dam across it, seen from below so we can't tell if a lake's above it or not. I doubt it. Gothic arches lead inside. And vertical slots. Could be sluice gates, but too many for a dam, and too near the bottom. It'd be unsafe. On the slope facing the "dam", a tall building full of Gothic-arched windows. Clear glass, not stained.
I say "I love the architecture; the building is inhabited, since there's glass in the windows and healthy plants in pots on the balconies, but I do feel a little worried about flooding, after the tsunami." She looks disappointed in my human ignorance. Elves aren't shortsighted; they build to last.
I think she's overconfident. The Japanese built Fukushima to last, too.
But she also invites me to go through the slips people have pinned to the boards. "I think you'll find them interesting." Most have just phrases, but some sketches too. Some are crumpled as if their creators gave up. Slowly I notice many of the slips have magical traces, or their words show awareness of the other world. This is a recruitment table, a filter! We're finding new witches and wizards.
Only this time around I won't be the token mortal of an elvish group, but the co-founder of a new group.
Cast out? Sure. I'm a seed! Can't cling to the parent plant forever. When you ripen, you have to be cast.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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