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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ozma of Oz / Jailhouse Talk

In the first dream, I was on the phone with my publishers. They said that the owners of the copyright for The Wizard of Oz wanted a fifty-eight hundred dollar fee for my referring to the movie or somehow using it in my book. I said that I would simply return the copy of the movie I had and not use it at all but apparently it was too late. I took the movie out and began to watch it and it turned out to be a black-and-white film from the 1930s called Ozma of Oz instead. I assumed that they had the rights to that too so this did not resolve our problem. (There really is a Baum book called Ozma of Oz, but I doubt there's a movie version from that period.)

***

A little later in the night, we were going to a talk in the jail. I was walking very fast and got ahead of the group, arriving there 15 minutes early. (There was a woman also walking fast but I accelerated and left her behind.) I walked into the jail, which was unlocked and deserted. I peed in the bathroom, wondering for a moment about my safety. I went down the corridor and saw nothing; the jail resembled a locker-room, or more accurately the showers of a locker room. {After I woke up I realized there were no cells.) It occurred to me that this is not the right place, since the women would not be able to attend a talk in a men's jail, so I walked out the corridor, passing a slightly-built inmate smoking a cigarette. We made no eye contact. When I emerged there was a staircase to go to the main floor. There was a sign at the bottom that said "guns, library, school." I climbed the stairs and saw the heavily locked gun room on my right, with shotguns or rifles. To the left a little ways down was the auditorium where the talk would take place. The seats sloped downward from the stage, in reverse of the usual arrangement. I was exactly on time, but I thought I had been really stupid to think the talk would take place in the jail part of the jail.

***

Emotionally, the two dreams are about feeling stupid and out-of-it. Maybe that's not it exactly: in dreams there is often a "Kafkaesque" element of accepting things as correct or legitimate that are actually not. What is strange is not the strangeness itself, in other words, but our acquiescence to it. My mind was hard at work all night sorting through legitimate and illegitimate conditions.

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