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Pescadero Monet,

Dreamed 1983/11/4 by Chris Wayan

Monet is over a hundred now, but he had eye surgery, and he's into something new. My mom, who's always admired his Giverny water-lily paintings, drags my dad and me over the mountains to Pescadero to see Monet. He lives here now, between the redwoods and the sea, in a village he designed himself to show off his new work: radial flowerlike pavilions, creeks and pools. The tourists are already spoiling his new retreat. My mom resents the McDonalds and the ticket booths mixed in with Monet's fantasy architecture--violating the shrine of the Great Man's art. I find the effect jaunty and colorful. It'd be delicate and otherworldly without McDonald's, it's true; but those golden arches add humor.

Sketch of a dream: Monet's built a cluster of radial wood pavilions, pools and paths. Redwood hills in background.
Monet is into performance art now--long rituals. My mom talks us into going to one. We buy our tickets, file into a round pavilion, and sit in a circle. Monet and several students pick people from the circle, with slow deliberation... over an hour! As their choices walk to the center, they change shape and shrink into living statues shaped like kids, tiny horses, and glossy black-furred aliens, like in Tanith Lee's version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

One by one, audience members are inspected, and a few are chosen as players... My parents fidget, bored. Then a burst of motion around us. A sudden, spontaneous dance sweeps us into a long hall. The players circling and breeze through the audience, choosing more people. I watch the choosers this time. It's a DEFINING ritual--closely perceiving what a person's nature is. The chosen ones again become glossy black little horselike beings. When asked, Monet says "they resemble those Native American carvings of horses, yes?" Some in the ring (all unchosen!) take offense: "Those figurines are commercial crafts, not Art!"

Monet just says "But I LIKE those figurines."

He picks some out... again, a dance suddenly bursts forth. Huge energy, flashing fierce smiles, as shiny-black-pelted children leap and spin, leading us into what I suddenly realize are wordless psychodrama scenes--a healing dance! I like it and trust the dance--amazing! I NEVER trust therapists!

Monet in a wheelchair and a ring of tourists watch dark-pelted little creatures and people dance.
A child tumbles and lands, bowing a final farewell, and we file out... I muse sadly "Look at me leaving with the rest when I want to stay and join this community. I must not like them ENOUGH, or I'd turn around, wouldn't I?"

As we leave, I hear people saying, all around me, what my parents are asking me: "Weren't you EMBARRASSED?" I have no idea why. They go on saying it with great insistence. "You mustn't be too embarrassed." "You should try to forget your embarrassment." "What was the most embarrassing moment for you?' The do it so much I almost believe them.

Then my mom goes a step further. "Wasn't that disappointing? That long dull wait just ruined it."

I lose my patience. "It was intentionally long. It was part of the ritual, not a preliminary. The whole rite's not to entertain, but to teach--teach you to look, to see. Once the dancers really see each other, they can choose combinations who can spontaneously create together--without training, without communication--instantly! That's the POINT."

They look at me like I'm a babbling idiot.

Their embarrassing son.


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