Saturday, August 11, 2007

fragments of a long dream

An elaborate dinner party with family and friends in an exclusive restaurant's private room. I notice that a tentacle of the tiny squid I just cut up is still twitching and take this as a sign of the restaurant's quality and freshness of fish. The table is covered with whole fish of various exotic sizes and shapes. Although these appear to be just decoration, my attention is suddenly drawn to the fact that there is still some life in them. In fact, they appear to be eating each other. And, not in any modest manner; this consumption proceeds by twos and threes. One large fish manages to suck down two of its neighbors and a passing horsefly simultaneously through its stretched open mouth. Folded writhing, thick and eel-like bodies disappear smoothly into its maw. All of us at the table seem to be observing this sight with wonder, even glee. Another sign perhaps of the lavish excess of our restaurant. Suddenly, however, the mood changes. A severed boar's head leaps from below the table onto its surface and begins to devour fish, frothing at its jaws. We are under no delusions that the boar's head could possibly still be alive, and its spastic jaws offer a more threatening sight than the fish's stretched mouths ever could.

Soon we're all huddled in a corner. An entire cornucopia of severed animal heads beneath the table has begun to bounce and writhe, but the boar's head is by far the most dramatic. It's enthusiastic bouncing thrusts it again and again in our direction; we're juggling it in fear and screams from one to another, trying to avoid its spasmodic, random chomping.

Suddenly, the vision fades, and one of our number recalls that raw Red Snapper can be hallucinogenic. We all sigh in relief as we realize the entire event (beginning even with the still-writhing squid) has been a mass hallucination. Looking again at the table we see the elaborate live fish decoration was a mere painted tablecloth, and the frothing boar is a mere design in the carpet.

Driving all night, an elaborate university with archaic stone spires and large vaulted halls. A friend of mine administers an essential exam, hundreds must take it every hour thus, even in the middle of the night, they must distribute and grade tests. He comes into a room with the stack of exams, while casually flipping through them he notices one has an unusually low number grade and the letter grade of E. The graders are in a flurry over this exam; whether out of fear of what the student will do or deep concern for same's future wellfare they desperately regrade the exam in the hope the error has been theirs.

In the morning, walking the enormous campus grounds with my parents. Some festival is going on and we see a number of bizarre costumes and clusters of people watching street performers of various sorts. A young man walks up who I know is senior to me, but for some reason I cannot bring his name to memory. He is dressed in lederhosen and is clearly participating in the planned festivities. I introduce him to my parents in the awkwardly slow manner of one who hopes the other party will interject his forgotten name at the appropriate moment. He recognizes my Dad's enthusiasm for singing and, walking towards the corner of an enormous medieval gate upon which there is mounted a large plasma screen, begins singing. The brief refrain repeats and others seem to know the words. First my Dad sings along, but soon a crowd has gathered, most joining their voices to some degree. Clearly, we have become one of the festival's events. These are the words to the short refrain:

who can deny
that every grove of trees
should die

My senior has been toying with the monitor a bit and it comes to life broadcasting an odd scene as the crowd sings the above. On the screen, apes with intelligent eyes have been netted and bound into tree tops. Not thick trees, but actually bundles of sapplings bound together to form cages around the struggling apes. We see only these flimsy prisons waving precariously in the breeze, but the scene implies impending execution.

During the singing, I am puzzled by the word "should" in the refrain. Yet the passion with which all are singing it, a kind of sad resignation combined with righteous enthusiasm, somehow makes the word "should" bear the meaning of "will."

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