Epic Dreams With the Dos Equis Guy

I had a “big themed” dream the other night. Something about these four layers of reality (thank you “Inception”) wherein the bottommost layer things were stuck together in a kind of futuristic consumerist nightmare. I could barely move because my feet were sticking to the ground and everything I touched became like a spiderweb. There was a huge, mountainous pile of “stuff”–music, television images, electronic do-dads, movie scenes, etc.–that I had to climb to make it through a mail slot in the sky that led to the next level.

By the way “I” wasn’t me per se, he was the protagonist in some kind of artistic endeavor directed by an older guy (think Dos Equis commercial) who was trying to make a statement about how we were not really living to our potential because we were being reduced to stasis by the overwhelming urge to have, collect or experience things we had no part in creating. I actually looked like a grown-up Christopher Robin and had the distinct impression I was an English university student. I has some help climbing the mountain—I believe there was a band of us trying to fight back the forces opposing us by keeping each other from getting sucked into losing concentration.

Somehow I/Christopher made it through the mail slot and when we did we were at an after-party for the movie we were just shooting. Everybody was in tuxedos and we all crowded around a long balcony that looked down into the room below where there was a space for a band to set up. I was sure Springsteen was coming to play this 20×20 room. People were hugging each other with self-congratulation, looking completely different from what they looked like in their roles in the movie. Somewhere on the balcony was the Dos Equis guy, basking in his brilliance. There was a circular staircase to the floor below. I felt myself/the character being passed down the steps as if from an unfurling rug, the camera swirling around and around from face to face. In the midst of it I remember thinking how cool the camera angle was. All the faces were saying, “You are you, you are you, you are you, you are you,” over and over. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I could see myself, as Christopher Robin, wake up in a bed a hallway in an English boarding school. I had on red-striped pajamas and propped myself up on my arms. I wasn’t me.

I woke up for real then, convinced that my subconscious mind had hatched full-born the most brilliant, meaningful, epic story of our times ever told. All I had to do was remember the details. It was 5am. I lay in that bed, close to sleep but not quite there, straining my mind for specifics. Did someone throw something at some point? What was the whole Christopher Robin thing? I had a girlfriend once who liked to read the Pooh stories out loud, but that had nothing to do with consumerism, does it? Was I projecting my rational mind onto the dream, therefore ruining the pure brilliance of the images? Over the course of an hour I racked my brain. All I came up with was the drivel you see above.

So of course this got me to thinking about where our great ideas and thoughts, whether artistic or otherwise, originally come from. I’m sure we’ve all had an experience where the answer to a particular question we have been struggling with suddenly appeared as if from nowhere when we awoke in the morning. Where did the answer come from? Was our subconscious working on it while we slept? Do we have a muse? Are we just lucky, our minds lurching forward and back between ignorance and knowledge without a road map?

I’m a playwright, so I ponder this idea regularly. I often know where my big ideas come from, for my play about German boxer Max Schmeling (reading his obit in Time), or a send-up of Titanic-like musicals I wrote about the Hindenburg disaster (seeing a clip of a dance number from Titanic that took place on the sinking boat, along with a suggestion by Mary El). But when my characters begin speaking to each other, often I am secondary to the process. They are saying what they would say. I may have a rough goal for where I want a scene to end up, but I don’t bring my characters from point A to B, their own dialogue does. And sometimes (if fact often) they add the details of their past and their reasons for acting as they do on their own.

Sounds mystical, and I guess it is in a way. I don’t know from whence the dialogue springs. I understand the characters, I think, but they do tend to surprise me from time to time. It’s easy to see where writers would ascribe their ideas to some force other than themselves, a muse or inspirational spirit. Maybe, I guess. I don’t know. I think our brains keep working even when we’re not aware of it, making connections and creating symbolic depth we can only dream about. So we do. The surface life we live every day needs to be absorbed and dealt with some way, and our subconscious doesn’t need to take time off to do silly stuff like sleep. I came to these conclusions through rigorous scientific research, including multiple double-blind tests with written protocol and peer review. Nah, I made it up, or stole it. But it sounds kind of true, at least to me.

So maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a trailer one day for an epic movie featuring Christopher Robin, the Dos Equis guy and a mountain of sticky consumer products. I think it’s going to take a LOT of sleep to make sense of this.

    • John
    • July 12th, 2011

    You must be some kind of an artist or something. I used to have dreams that should have been made into theatre or dance or opera, but I was too, what, too cowardly, too poor, too dumb, too shy, too lazy, too forgetful to make it happen. I want those dreams again. Actually my house came out of a long series of dreams I had in, when?, probably high school, so there was some sort of pale but satisfying result to those.

  1. “Artist” is such a loaded word… I’ve actually only had one idea for a play that came to fruition from a dream–I dreamed the first scene of “Ten Seconds”. Other than that, when it comes time to unravel a dream and make sense of it I fall far short of the mark. My dreams outreach my grasp.

    Your house is a work of art in itself–I shudder to think what the model looked like if it was better in the dream!

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