Truth Art and Dreams

First, and to get it out of the way, it’s possible I won’t do Witchfinder this week.  I really, really, really, am trying to finish Noah’s Boy by Sunday night, and when making that kind of effort, there is no space for another world in my head.  And if I do finish it by Sunday night, I’ll be sleeping Monday, so I might as well save it and do multiple chapters next weekend, because it’s time it was finished.

Second, in case it’s not been blindingly obvious, between Son of Death Flu, the Return and – well, the postponed surgery happened, and though I wasn’t the subject, it still involved my spending the best part of two days in the hospital – it’s been somewhat scattered around here.

It’s also been weird.  Son of Death Flu is on the way out.  Or at least my head cleared two days ago, and at the moment you wouldn’t know I was ill except for a certain occasional cough.  From the inside it’s somewhat different – including the feeling of tiredness and weakness and a certain “stoppage” chestwards.  Oh, yeah, and the dreams.  The bizarre fever dreams.  (Even though I don’t really have a fever – not that it means much, my fever-thing being broken.  I didn’t have a fever while in ICU with pneumonia.)

I actually have three guest posts waiting to go up, and wasn’t going to write anything but Noah’s boy today.  But last night as I was falling asleep, I had the world’s oddest dream.  To begin with it was an illustrated book.  Second, it was told in the form Chinese fables usually are told in children’s books.  Third it was germane to the general area of this blog.

I wish I were a good enough artist to do the illustrations, which were like a cross between Japanese prints and vivid hallucinations, with the beard of the mentor stretching out of the page, to become the fluffy clouds on the next page.

Despite resemblances to the USSR, the story – it’s really an allegory – is of course not set anywhere and… truly, it was just like a children’s book.

But anyway…  In case you don’t have weird enough dreams, I thought I’d share mine:

How to become an artist

How do I become an artist, asked the young man to his mentor.

Instead of answering, his mentor told this story:

In a land far far away (but becoming closer every day) a government that thought of itself as wise and just decreed that all art should serve the state.  That was the only way to avoid offending anyone, and also to serve the cause of progress to that ever brightening future towards which the state was driving the reluctant people.

As head of the state publishing company – the only company allowed to exist, after it was found that left to themselves individuals would give voice to the most scurrilous opinions, such as that the wise and kind men in power might wish to enrich themselves and control others – they chose a man who had written three well-received books supporting the same ideals the state proclaimed.

Everything went well for this man – we’ll call him Joe — until one day, having read a book someone in power liked, he dared write that it was a stupid book.  Real humans don’t act that way.  While in the past great drama has been found in not pursuing love for the sake of ideals or religion, no human being would give up on love for the sake of serving the sterile and bureaucratic state.

Police ransacked Joe’s papers and semiologists perused his writings and it was found he had for some time held deviationist beliefs that maintained that sometimes the kind, wise men of the state could be in it for the power and the riches.

So they sent Joe to a place of punishment – which in this country was an arctic land – where he was forced to work with his hands and was given very little food.  He was told he would be allowed out if he ever wrote a book – convincingly wrote a book – that supported the idea that everything, even true love, should be sacrificed to the state and its forward-looking ideals.

After years in the place of punishment, Joe started writing.  His guards were told to let him stay in the room, and give him wood for the fireplace, and Joe wrote furiously.

The book when it was finished was all the state wanted and approved of.  It was rushed to print and given wide distribution.

It took years for people in the state to realize that behind the story there was another story, and that with his use of words Joe showed that the great tragedy was the characters having to act in this way, against nature, against decency, against love, for the sake of a power-hungry, crushing state.

By then it was too late and everyone had read the book, and people had started thinking that perhaps there was something wrong with the state and that its forward-looking ideals and all the sacrifices for the utopia that never came were merely a way to keep people in subjection.

“And that,” the young man asked.  “Is how Joe became an artist?”

“No.  That is how Joe became an adult human.  It is the right and duty of adult humans to think things through and not bow to the pressure of those who say “this thought is forbidden.”  Art was merely his ability to hide it well enough that, like a seed, it went forth into the dark and made others think.”


And now you know I’m COMPLETELY insane.


59 responses to “Truth Art and Dreams

  1. Okay… there was a question whether or not you were completely insane?

    I keed, Sarah! I keed! 😀

  2. Totally. Cool. Dream. I want that book too. But I want Noah’s Boy first.

  3. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I HIGHLY recommend Barry B. Longyear’s short story, “The Portrait of Baron Negay”. It’s structurally very close to this same story, except instead of one writer there’s one painter and one art forger.

  4. The return of the son of the bride of the death flu. . . .

  5. insane in a good way, like so many of those dissidents in the gulag were “insane” for questioning those in power

  6. OF COURSE you’re insane, Sarah. All ODDS are insane. It’s our only defense against the “NORMALS”. 8^)

  7. Very good dream Sarah– You need to find an illustrator for that book. I can’t help you because my drawings are sh*t. Or maybe you’ll be able to draw them soon.

    Yesterday, I dreamed I was on an airplane. We got off for food (or some reason) and I missed the plane. Just a hint– I am always glad when I miss that plane. 😉

    Anyway, I got to run in the dream. I haven’t run in ages, but dream-running was absolutely fabulous. I woke up with the headache still, but at least I was happy.

  8. Still waiting on Noah’s Boy.

    Regarding that “stoppage” chestwards, my Physician’s Assistant advised me to use Mucinex Maximum Strength for a couple weeks. Its dosage includes 1200mg of Guaifenesin every 12 hours. That is 6 times the normal dosage found in regualr cough medicine. She had me couple that with two Sudafed to open the passage ways. Worked for me.

    Insane? Who can tell? Its not like you’re hanging around theaters in Aurora or groping people when they are being sworn in like our Vice President.

    • Yep – been using that cough syrup and it’s been very kind to me.

    • Been doing Sudafed, which helps a lot, but hadn’t heard about Mucinex Maximum Strength in that context. Makes sense. We’re all sick at my house as well. I’ll have to grab some and try it for the cough side of things.

      I hope everyone has a full recovery soon, including Sarah, especially since she’s reduced to just blogging her dreams… 😉

      • I’m mainlining this antiesthamine I took in Portugal went “whoo, this is different and doesn’t whack the writing thing!” Mom now mails it to me when I run out, though I try to save it for the serious times when I must work, since well, I have to get it from abroad.

        When I ran out last, I was doing a search, trying to save mom trouble, and found people order a similar one from France.

        Our FDA isn’t done studying it…

        • Our FDA’s theory seems to be; if it works it needs more study, if it is already on the market and is the only thing that works, we need to take it off the market and do at least a five year study (preferrably ten years) to figure out why it works.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          You have to get it from abroad? Won’t your mother be upset that you refer to her that way? (Runs)

  9. I hear you about the ‘fever thing’ being broken. Mine isn’t broken exactly — it’s possible for me to get what is technically called a fever when I am severely ill — but I am borderline hypothermic by nature.

    My ‘normal’ temperature ranges between 35.5° and 36° C (that’s 95.9 to 96.8 for the Fahrenheitians reading this). If I get up to the 37° (98.6) that everybody thinks of as normal, I get fever dreams and dizzy spells and can’t function properly. It is very hard to explain this, for instance, to a nice but harried hospital nurse who suspects I’m not sick but only shamming.

    However, not having a fever at all whilst having pneumonia is something I’ve never managed. You have outdone me, Ma’am — if that’s any consolation.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Chuckle Chuckle.

      Tom, my sister has the same problem. She could be running a fever but her temperature would still be “normal”. It made things “fun” when she asked our school teacher mother about staying home from school. Mom would take my sister’s temperature and it would be “normal” but my sister was sick. Finally, Mom did realize that my sister could really be sick and have a normal temperature.

      • That’s Robert. Robert runs a good two degrees short. My body for some reason just doesn’t run up the fever as/when it should. I’ve also been known to get hypothermic instead of hyperthermic. I.e. my temperature plummets when very, very ill.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      “Fahrenheitians”… Heh. 🙂

      Everyone in my family normally has lower than average body temps, but only younger son comes anywhere near what you describe. He doesn’t get the fever dreams and dizzy spells at a mere 98.6, but that does represent a fever for him.

      • I used to be able to function up to about 101° F, but then I had a nasty bout of bronchitis and went out for a long walk in a cold wind. (I was out of my head with about three kinds of grief as well as the fever.) That gave me a nice big case of what my doctor called viral labyrinthitis, and basically roasted out my inner ears, nearly destroying my sense of balance. That was over 20 years ago.

        Since then, even a small variation in body temperature is enough to bring on vertigo. The fever dreams are probably a consequence of being dizzy in my sleep.

  10. Off to Siberia with you.

    • apparently. And I’d hate it. I think sixty degrees is cold.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        And I run around outside in short sleeves (and at home, sometimes shorts) when it’s 40, as long as the wind is not blowing much.

        • It hit 40 here yesterday; I thought spring had come early. I’d have gone frolicking through the fields if they hadn’t still been covered in snow.

          • When I was in High School, anything above the freezing point was mild weather and celebrated as such. Down to twenty F was pleasant.

            Just before the Type II Diabetes demanded treatment I ran low temperatures (as in “I don’t care what the thermometer reads, Nurse, he obviously isn’t dead.”) and provided enough heat that Beloved Spouse declared me “as good as two dogs on a cold night.”

            With the blood glucose under control Beloved Spouse deems me a worthless SOB when it comes to warming the bed.

      • Heh. You’ll get used to it. Just below freezing feels cold to me in the fall, but in the spring I have gone out without gloves and a cap in well below -10 C and thought it was pretty mild, especially if there had been a very cold period just before. During the 80’s, when I moved where I live now, there was a local eccentric, an older guy who supposedly never wore anything but a pair of shorts and running shoes, and sometimes a t-shirt but only if the temperature started to get close to about -20 C. The local paper usually had at least one story per winter, and while I never saw him personally I knew more than a couple of people who had seen him, dressed like that, and in winter. I do, however, presume he was not in the habit of just standing around on the outside during the really cold times but did something, like run or clean his yard of snow…

        On the other hand, I have also been in circumstances when I could not get really warm for several days on end, and that really sucks. Cold can be endured best if you can also get toasty warm at least a time or two during the day, even if it’s only for a few moments.

        • It’s amazing what the human body can get used to. It was 8 F here this morning. That felt cold, because Wednseday it was 47 at 5:00 am, and we had a high of 51. If the weathermen are right (don’t laugh, they’ve already been right once this year) we should have highs in the mid-teens for the next week, after spending a week out in that 8 will be comfortable as long as the wind isn’t blowing.

          • We’re supposed to be in the low 30s with lows in the teens to singe digits, possibly crawling back into the low 50s by next weekend. It’s starting to feel a lot like the 1890s and 1950s down here.

            • I’m actually fine OUTSIDE with fifty to sixty. Inside the house I prefer the seventies, though. Yes, yes, we walk around barefoot, read Stranger in A Strange Land and listen to weird music. And my kids are definitely like a bad acid trip.

              • Polyester with large prints in brown, orange and white, with perhaps a bit of lime green or some shade of violet in there somewhere…? 😀 (Agh, my eyes, my eyes… I didn’t really want to remember those. I like brown, though, as long as it is not in large prints and combined with all those other colors).

                Well, barefoot maybe was one of the perhaps actually smart ideas of that decade.

              • Oh, well, inside my house it is seventies or eighties in the winter, outside I prefer it cold, but not too cold (teens to lower twenties is perfect) with no wind. With no wind those temps actually feel warmer than mid-thirties because it is cold enough you stay dry.

            • This morning it was zero deg F with a predicted “high” of twelve. The Broncos playoff game will have great amusement factor in it.

      • “I think sixty degrees is cold.”

        And you live in Colorado?

  11. I thought “Joe” should have been “Alex.”

    And I’m a 96.8er, myself; that’s 36 to you celsiusicans.

  12. Apropos of nothing, this was inflicted on my eyes by Aaron Williams, and given the audience here I couldn’t keep the suffering to myself: Curated by Nathan Shumate, btw.

    • Oh, chucks, Oyster, half of those are in the good-to-decent range for TRADITIONAL covers.

      • Apparently hanging out with painters and graphic designers has ruined me for most art as badly as hanging out with you lot has for most writing. They say ignorance is bliss; I’m beginning to think that that applies to taste as well as knowledge.

    • I have seen worse– on traditional covers. Not too bad actually– depends on taste (I guess I don’t have any *snort)

    • Robin Roberts

      I kinda liked “Elfthade” …

      • There were actually a couple that I thought were good covers, and some of the romance covers looked just like the ones on the books at the checkout line in the grocery store (I don’t know if that is a complement or an insult); but overall I’m glad I don’t get migraines. Looking at some of those covers is like what I imagine a bad acid trip would be like.

  13. There was a village that regularly produced profoundly gifted kids, so much so that the scientists agreed to create a child from the combined genetic material of all the kids in an age cohort, thus establishing an average, a standard by which to measure the progress of the village children’s education.

    All went well for a few years, up until the kids started school, where it developed that little “Norm” was a terrible prankster, always cutting up in class, asking the teachers awkward questions and generally being disruptive of the academic order.

    Really, though, it wasn’t Norm’s fault that he was the class clone.

    That is why I hate my dreams.

    • LOL. I refuse to change younger kid’s name to Norm — though he too is a terrible prankster and people have accused him of being my clone…

    • Norm could always get a job playing Clonan the Barbarian in Hollywood…

      (heads for the fallout shelter at a dead run)

      • or get him some implant. Then he can be a cy-clone hired by the weather channel…

      • He studied opera, hoping to get the title role in Pagliacci.( ) but only succeeded in landing roles in the chorus of videos of a Judy Collins song (from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music) and a Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’s cover by The English Beat.

      • I’m going to turn up my nose at Clone Puns and feel all superior about it the whole damn day.

        • I was going to ignore the whole clone pun thing, then you had to make your comment about avoiding it…

          But hey, you want to clone yourself? Now wouldn’t that be just like you…

          Anyway, did you hear about the high-ranking military father who cloned himself? The result was a Major Faux Pa.

          Bill Clinton had himself cloned. Only problem with the clone was that it kept getting into “trouble”. After Monica, the clone was a huge embarrassment. Since the Secret Service was protecting him, Clinton couldn’t get anyone else to kill off his clone for him, so he pushed him out a White House window to his death. Hilary was relieved.

          The clone wasn’t an actual human, so Bill figured he’d get off scott free. Ken Starr finally charged him with making an obscene clone fall.

        • Thank, you. I’m doing the same. Besides, the best joke on Connan The Barbarian is Pratchett’s Cohen The Barbarian, leader of the Silver Horde.

  14. Almost caught up! I also like the idea of that dream book. But definitely finish Noah’s Boy! I have money waiting for that book. *nods*