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The Tooth

Dreamed and drawn 2003? by SAO (Shawn Allen O'Neal)

I was in the third floor apartment of an unknown woman and her daughter. I felt the woman was like a 'psychic reader and advisor,' and she referred to a number of charts with unfamiliar symbols arranged in circles. At length, the daughter produced an incomprehensible card as a result of my 'reading.'
Mom & daughter, psychic readers; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
There was a feeling of a late night marketplace on the tree-lined street below. I wasn't sure what was happening, but there were obviously a number of female facilitators to the activity and I milled around for a bit, not managing to get the attention of any of them.
Street, night; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
I saw that the trees were full of books and made the connection that the card I had been given corresponded to one of them. I ascended a ladder and began to search for it myself even though I had no idea what to look for. I didn't discern any titles among the exotic symbols on most of the ancient spines, but they all seemed rare and occult and very interesting. At length, I came upon 'my' book, unable to say how I knew this to be.
tree of books; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
Having obtained the book, I was approached by a couple of 'librarians' who, after a brief consultation, confirmed that this was in fact the correct book. I was immediately somewhat disappointed by the title of this damp little paperback because there were so many other more interesting looking volumes, and also a bit bewildered—in a 'fortune telling' sense, I didn't feel that it applied to me in a very personal way or offered any profound insight as I had expected it would. I perused its jacket and text enough to determine that it was a 'cutesy,' decidedly un-intellectual sort of 'courtship primer,' almost Victorian in tone, obviously written from a female perspective for young people of a different era—despite the somewhat modern use of the little red symbol on the jacket.
book; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
Leaving this bright, unfamiliar neighborhood, I realized I was barefooted and the streets were wet. It was humid, like after a summer rain. Soon I was walking against the flow of a very shallow current of warm water. Eventually, I came upon a wide concrete sluice, a gradual incline that led to an opening in a stark concrete building situated under a radar tower, and I waded, only toe-deep, slowly and pleasurably toward this, feeling very peaceful.
water ramp; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
The interior was like an empty parking garage with a number of people milling around. I knew these were 'homeless people' and that they were locked out of the institution housed by the greater building. I felt instinctively that it would be in my best interest to try to 'blend in' with these lurkers.
concrete space with homeless; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
When an old man offered to sell me a glass of whiskey with an air of challenge, attracting the attention of others, it seemed like the right thing to do, though I was apprehensive. I found that only had a couple of dollars and change in my pockets and this was not enough for him, even though he appeared to only have a number of empty bottles anyway, yet he continued to wheel and deal and made an elaborate fuss, running here and there and causing all kinds of confusion. He was clearly not quite sane.
old man; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
At length, he returned and produced a dirty styrofoam cup and gave it to me with some ceremony. Within were bits of old newspaper and a dirty, translucent white glass box.
cup with cube inside; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
The box was surprisingly heavy. There were small, dense gears inside and a white Cicada was encased in the lid, which sat atop an inner box.
box with gears and cicada; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
It proved very difficult to open, the gears grinded tightly as I pried up the lid...
opening a mysterious box; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
This energy was transferred to the wings of the Cicada which fanned extremely rapidly, causing an intense vibration and tingling in my hands, and an almost a gyroscopic effect to the box. It buzzed with a strange metallic caricature of a Cicada sound.
white cicada; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
It took me a moment to discern what was inside the small inner brass chamber, and then I realized it was a tooth in a fine wire cage, suspended by a fish hook from a tightly wound clock spring, radiating a number of what appeared to be bright red hatpins. I could just barely get a couple of fingers inside the chamber but I could feel a springiness of mechanical purpose to this arrangement.
Red ring, hook, tooth; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
The tooth was segmented into precise slices and held together somehow as part of an interlocking mechanism. It began to change, in steps, as I manipulated it. The hook somehow multiplied into menacingly positioned copies of itself and the surrounding coil twisted and shuttered with an obstructive scissoring. After a number of stabs and pinches I was able to spring the tooth free.
Slices of tooth-ivory; digital dream-sketch by SAO.
I extracted the cross-sectioned tooth on a fine chain, in a loop, like a strange necklace. Each face of each slice was engraved with tiny circular symbols. I could make neither heads nor tails of it, but some of the others vaguely indicated that it was a 'good sign.'
Symbols on slices of tooth enamel; digital dream-sketch by SAO.

EDITOR'S NOTE

Such an intricate dream, such a circular structure--incomprehensible symbols in the first scene, and again at the end! But the dream's fractal or self-similar, too; the slices of the tooth are like the dream-vignettes--slices of time. The dream even comments on its own intricacy & circularity--the vast tree-book library, the clockwork gears of the box, the device holding and unfolding the tooth-slices. Dream as Swiss Army knife!

Yet it all ends in frustration; the final tooth-oracle just as unreadable as that card at the beginning.

SOURCE: the International Association for the Study of Dreams (asdream.org) Psiber Art Gallery archive for 2004.



LISTS AND LINKS: oracles - moms & kids - symbols - frustration - cities - nocturnes - climbing - trees - libraries - books - dating advice - frustration again! - water - homeless - seniors - madness - frustration again, again! - treasures - locks & keys - bugs - clocks - teeth - language - symbols again! - frustration again, again, again! - digital dream art - more IASD dreams - more by SAO

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