Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dreams of Finishing

Back in the days when you were in your larval stage, you lived on the fringes of an enormous housing development, then known as The Metropolitan (for the life insurance company) Project later to become Park La Brea Towers ( because of its proximity to the La Brea Tar Pits), and later, in another attempt at civic ├ęclat, to Park La Brea.

By virtue of its size, over one hundred sixty acres, Park La Brea becomes a phenomenon, the largest housing development west of the Mississippi.  Thus two landmarks in your lifetime, shared with others of your generation.  You were alive while it was being designed, laid out, constructed, inhabited.  The western boundaries began on Fairfax Avenue, extending from Sixth Street north to Third Street.  The eastern border was at Cochran Avenue.  At various times, you lived directly across the street, at Sixth and Hauser, and indeed had the entire westward sweep as an extension of your back yard when you lived at 443 So. Cochran.

Park La Brea being one phenomenon, the other was your membership in the generation alive and avid of story before the commercial appearance of television, meaning you got your early introductions to story from fifteen- and thirty-minute radio performances, ranging from serials and soap operas to Lux (as in soap) Radio Theater, Suspense, Lights Out, and Inner Sanctum.

You well understood how these aspects of story were fictional exploits, devised by men and women much like your parents and neighbors, who, by acts of conjuery, brought them to a semblance of life.  Thanks to your sister, who taught you the word simulacrum, you had an early launch into the speculations about real versus imaginary, actual opposed to fantasy.  

Thus, what does it say about the larval you, after you discovered a thick book, printed on the same kind of paper your comic books and Big Little Books were printed on, and took it for absolute, no nonsense reality?  The book, likely to have been a companion of one of the workers in some way responsible for the construction of Park La Brea, was Madam Toussaint's Authentic Book of Dreams and Revelations.

You'd had enough experience with dreams to know you could expect their arrival, perhaps not on the same scheduled basis as, say Captain Midnight or Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy, but often enough to expect their appearance.  At the time you discovered and began to paw through the contents of Madam Toussaint's Authentic Book of Dreams and Revelations, one of your most memorable dreams had been of you, holding in both hands a double orange Popsicle, one stick in each hand.  

You may well have had vivid and memorable dreams before, but that one was by far the most vivid, including the detail of a slight degree of melting, which prompted the dripping of the frozen orange-flavored water onto your hands.  To this day, you recall your disappointment at waking up to discover nothing in your clenched fists.  You also recall your sense of such things as Fate or Pre-destination, or the ability to see into the future as a result of your mother, later that afternoon, interrupting you at your reading by giving you a dime at the time the ice cream truck habitually made its way down your street, and her suggestion that you might enjoy an orange Popsicle.

You later learned the origin of the name Toussaint, including its political and mystical implications, thanks to your natural range of curiosity and your coming into the editorship of a magazine, Borderline,  whose mission statement said it was "The Magazine that dares the unknown."  In its way, Borderline reminded you of the baggage of superstition and speculation you yet carried about, offered the virtues of cynicism, and further suggested conversation, readings in science and skepticism, as well as healthy pragmatism.

Having survived Madam Toussaint's Authentic Book of Dreams and Revelations, Borderline Magazine, and pseudonymous authorship of such books as Dowsers, Divining Rods, and Water Witches for the Millions, Phrenology for the Millions, and UFOs for the Millions, not to forget editorship of Borderline Oddities, here is what you think now:

There is a handy and accessible relationship between story and dreams, balancing on the fulcrum of reality.  In one dream you recall, you were aware you were flying to London.  In the dream, you soon arrived, witness the buildings and geography, which you took as confirmation, "Ah, here we are already."  Still in the dream, the question of transportation arises.  You were flying.  You were the vehicle.  You know this because of the times when you were aware of being inside a plane, asking one or other of the passengers, "Where are we going?"  Their answer, "London."

True enough, dreams need decoding and unraveling, but not as Madam Toussaint would have them.  You have to understand the difference between literal and figurative.  If, for example, you dream of falling, had you, as in one dream, jumped, or, as in another, were pushed by an old high school chum named Bruce, or, in yet another, had missed your step on a stage and fallen?

Dream is an individualized take on Reality in the same, personalized way Story is a variation on a theme.  Story relies on relevant, meaningful details in much the same way Dreams rely on them.  Often in dreams involving automobiles, the car in which you appear is a VW Bug.  No surprise, there have been any number of them in your life, and when they come up against realistic anomaly of behavior, they relate to the two variations on a theme, respectively a VW hatchback and a VE square back, each of which embodied idiosyncrasy to a fault.

Dream and story are your own, cultivated, agenda-driven platforms, presented by and from you as simulacra of Reality.  Just last week, in a dream, your dear old pal, Conrad, appeared, saying, "Why don't we try something different for lunch?"  And you were thinking, How good to see you again.  Death has not changed you.  Under better circumstances, you'd suggest lunch at the newly opened Brewery in Carpinteria, where, at the same location before it became the Brewery, Conrad had an exhibition of his paintings and rascally trompes l'oeil.  The Brewery does a mischievous hamburger, which you can order to go, then head back to Santa Barbara and the place where Reality has dictated he wait for you.  

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