Monday, October 8, 2007

Glass House Blue Goat Art Dinner

I'm standing in an apartment.

My friend Stuart is there.

The apartment belongs to Mark Chester, a San Francisco photographer.

For some reason unknown to Stuart and I, we are visiting Mark.

We walk through the apartment and it is rather odd. Around the place are Mark's personal belongings, photography equipment and the like. However, the place itself is a strange construction.

The apartment is a kind of "loft" that takes up the whole top floor of a building. The building is in the shape of a "u".

The walls of the building are made of glass and we can see outside. In the middle of the "u" of the building is another "u" shaped building that is similar constructed and, inside that one, another smaller "u" shaped building. All have glass walls and I can stand in Mark's apartment and see into and through all the others.

I comment on the apartments and think they're interesting - they seem so open and there's so much light. I see inside the other apartments on the same floor as Mark's place and see some covered furniture, but they mostly look empty. I ask Mark if anyone lives there.

"They're away now," Mark says.

Stuart and I continue to walk around Mark's apartment as he tells us about the place. I wonder what he's doing with his photography now, but he doesn't seem to be interested in talking about that.

I look outside and it's getting to be late afternoon. Stuart and I are both feeling hungry, so we decide to go eat.

We say goodbye to Mark, open a door at one end of Mark's apartment and start walking down stairs.

Down and down we walk, around and around the stairway.

We pass by different apartments, which all have glass walls. The building must have thirty floors, but the whole place seems empty.

Outside, I see rolling hills and meadows.

I comment to Stuart that moving from San Francisco to Maine must have been a culture shock for Mark and Stuart laughs.

Soon, we reach the ground floor and open a door to the outside.

It's a beautiful place - lush grass, flowers - and it feels like Spring. There are a few birds chirping here and there.

As we walk, we pass by a field where there are about a half-dozen goats grazing. A couple of them bleat at us as we pass by.

The goats are blue.

Bright, primary-colored blue with white patches.

"I've never seen blue goats before," I comment.

"It's a special breed," Stuart says.

"You mean they're not painted or something?"

"No," Stuart says, "that's their natural coloring."

Soon we come to a small wood building under some trees.

A wood carved sign outside the place reads "Blue Goat Cafe".

We step inside and it's a kind of rustic place; it looks something like a log home on the inside with wood walls and a stone fireplace.

It's still a little early and the place hasn't opened or is getting ready to open for dinner. So we look for a menu as we wait for someone to show us to our table.

On a little stand, there's a thick box that looks something like a book. It contains the menu for the place. The cover is hand-crafted leather, dyed blue, similar to the goats.

I open the cover and see that the menu is some type of mechanical thing. I push a button in the lower right corner and it shows different meal options on little rotating banners, similar to the changeable signs they have at drive-through restaurants.

By reading the menu, I discover that we're on the campus of Glaxo Smith Kline Arts University in Maine and that the campus was formerly called the "University of Maine" until the company bought the naming rights to the school.

The menu is quite strange. Each week's menu is different. The food and options are chosen by a committee of art students at the school each week and work on a theme.

This weeks theme is "I Ran So Far Away: Cultural Constructions of War" and each meal you can get is designed to be a statement about the Iraq War.

The meals don't actually contain food - the idea is that you are seated at a table and brought some drinks and some type of artwork (sculptures, paintings, etc) as your "meal". One, for example, consisted entirely of Lego constructions - an appetizer of little figures representing Congresspeople having a hearing, an entree of an Iraq battle scene, and a dessert of little Lego coffins covered in flags.

Next week's theme was to be "Race, Gender and Identity in Glass Houses".

"This doesn't sound very good, Stuart," I said. "Do you want to see if there's a burger joint around."

Stuart peered through his reading glasses at the menu, smiled and laughed.

"Yeah," he said, "let's get a burger."

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Red Rum Bicycle Space Planet

I'm at work.

I'm not in my cubicle in the library or anything resembling the university where I work in real life. This place looks something like a hotel complex.

But it's not like a traditional building.

The walls, windows and floor have the contours of nature, almost as if this were a natural space. There are trees, foliage and grass, but spots might be filled in with an odd-shaped window or there might be a light fixture protruding from a boulder.

I am in a room that resembles the layout of a bar. I sit at the bar working on some paperwork.

My old friend from grade school, Scott, is sitting next to me.

We talk about old times. He's working for the university now.

Scott is now blind. He tells me a story about how he saw someone murdered at the university by a gunman on a bicycle. He describes the man - overweight, shaved head, acting somewhat retarded, riding a teenager's bicycle.

For some reason that isn't quite clear, Scott tells me that he felt a pain in his eyes and he hasn't been able to see since then. I feel sad for him.

Scott changes the subject, talking about a project we are working on.

The room was already crowded when I first found myself sitting at the bar. Now, it seems stifling - people keep coming into the room. They are everywhere.

There are more and more people trying to sit at the bar. Some people in the room sit in chairs with notepads in their lap; others stand, holding computers and talking on cell phones.

The cacophony and press of the people feels overwhelming.

I have to get out.

I push my way through the crowd, trying to move towards an exit.

Soon, I find myself in a corridor and another area that resembles a conference room, full of people. Then, I am in something like a large cafeteria, again, completely filled with people.

I look out a large window in the moss-covered rock walls. I long for the open space outside.

As I look, I notice that we were moving. The ocean surrounds us and there's a landmass in the distance.

As I listen to snatches of conversation, I begin to understand that my workplace is a kind of floating island - it must be five miles long. All of us have been placed on this "ship" to work for a period of a few months as the "ship" makes it's voyage.

I finally make my way towards a door and open it. The door closes behind me.

I am outside - it is steamy hot, the kind of humid tropical weather so typical of the South in late Summer. I smell the ocean. It is finally quiet; the only sound are the waves lapping against the side of the vessel.

I am on a path that leads to a tall building, just up the hill. I feel I need a walk and some time to think, so I start walking and follow the path.

Eventually, I come to the building and go inside.

It is the hospital side of the campus. There are large, roomy hallways and rooms. I walk and walk, not seeing any people in the building. It seems deserted. There are no windows in any of the rooms.

I think I should get back to work. I make a turn and find myself at two large double doors. Through windows in the door, I see the path that brought me to the building. But, outside, it is night - the sun was gone and there are two moons hanging high in the sky. It is snowing and some of the snow has drifted in the path.

I try opening the door, but it is locked.

"You shouldn't go out there, you know."

It hear a voice behind me.

I turn and see a woman, dressed in a nurse's uniform.

"This planet doesn't work like yours," she says.

There is a small compartment next to the door; the nurse opens it and takes out a space suit. She offers it to me.

"You'll need this," she says.

I take the space suit and look down at it, confused. I look up and the nurse is gone.

I put on the space suit, struggling to make it fit over my clothing and carefully placing the helmet on my head.

The helmet locks in place and some lights on the helmet and suit come on. I can hear the suit steadily pumping oxygen to me.

With the suit fully on, I try the door again and it opens.

I slowly and carefully walk outside.

It is difficult to walk - the gravity has changed and I have to struggle to take steps. If I move too quickly, I begin to float.

The wind blows hard and snow comes from somewhere. There are no clouds in the sky and I can clearly see the stars and the two moons.

Finally, I come to the building that I started from. I open two metal doors, step in and they close behind me.

I am in a tiny room, almost like a decompression chamber.

I take off the space suit and move forward through another set of doors.

I am back in the room that looks like a bar. It is still packed with people, but the room is dark and quiet - everyone is asleep on the floor, in chairs, or leaning over on the bar.

I quietly walk around the room, looking at the people and trying to understand.

Then, I see it - through the window.

There is a man with a shaved head, wearing a short sleeved t-shirt with large red and white stripes. He looks to be about forty. He acts as if he were retarded in some way. He is riding a teenager's "banana seat" bicycle on a path outside the window.

It is the murderer that Scott had seen.

I duck down, peeking out at him from the corner of the window.

He stops, looks in the window, and takes a rifle out of a pouch hanging from the handlebars of his bike.

He aims and shoots, breaking a hole in the thick glass of the window, the cold air rushs in. I turn and see a man that was sleeping at the bar; he has been shot and is dead. No one in the room moves or wakes up.

The man on the bicycle presses another button near the trigger of the rifle and a bright red light comes from the barrel of the gun - it is some kind of high-powered red laser.

On the moss covered rock wall, he slowly etches a message, letter by letter.

It reads "RED RUM".

He puts away the rifle and peddles away.

Then I woke up.


Update, 7/30/2007: I told this dream to a friend last night who noted that it mixes up themes and images from three different Stanley Kubrick movies - "2001", "Clockwork Orange" and "The Shining". I hadn't noticed that...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hermeneutic World's Fair Avatars

I am at a conference.

I'm in a large meeting room space. People mill about, waiting for the session to start. A series of PowerPoint slides are shown on two large screens at the front of the room.

According to one slide, this a conference on Race and Class Issues in the Hermeneutics of Genomic Virtual Spaces.

It is being organized by my employer. My boss is supposed to give the first presentation, but she isn't there.

She has given me a copy of her PowerPoint slides so that I can give the presentation. But I am also aware that she has given the slides to six other people and told each of them to give the presentation as well.

I stand at the back of the room, rather uninterested and uninvolved in the whole thing.

An administrator from the university stands up and brings the crowd to order. As people take their seats, she begins to speak, going through my boss's presentation.

The crowd becomes restless, shifting in their chairs, coughing and looking over the program.

A couple of people in the crowd float away.

Then a few more. And a few more.

Soon, only five or six people are left in the room; the rest have floated away through the ceiling and disappeared.

I notice that the people in the room are strange - some are real people, while others are Second Life avatars.

The administrator stops the presentation, a little unnerved, and announces that the conference is canceled.

I walk out of the conference room. It appears that I am in some kind of high-tech hotel. There are little Internet kiosks scattered here and there and a few people - both real and Second Life avatars - wandering around or chatting with each other. Some have devices resembling iPhones or laptops; others have devices that look like something out of the 1960s version of 'Star Trek'.

Both the "real" people and the avatars have little "bubbles" that appear over their heads as they chat, indicating what they were saying, sort of like instant messaging.

There are walls made out of glass or some other material, from floor to ceiling, that allow me to see outside. The hotel is part of some type of large complex with futuristic buildings. Outside one wall, I can see something that looks like the Biosphere; going down the hall further, I can see buildings that resemble the Trylon and Perisphere from the 1939 New York Word's Fair. Beyond that is a structure that looks like the Eiffel Tower.

I continue walking and come to a large door with a space on it to place my hand - I put my palm on the device on the door and it beeps and blurps, opening automatically with other assorted technology noises.

I walk into a large, multi-story hotel suite as the door closes behind me. The place looks run down and dilapidated, much like it hadn't been remodeled since the 1980's. There are people there, but they don't seem to pay any attention to me. They look like tourists and have eighties hairstyles and clothing.

I walk up a flight of steps to the second floor of the hotel suite. I go around a corner and suddenly find myself in a small, dimly lit room.

"This way," a man says.

The man is dressed in a kind of uniform. There are other men around me.

We are all dressed in older-style suits and ties. We wear fedoras with a small card in the headband of the hat that reads "PRESS".

The man in the uniform is conducting a tour.

He directs our attention to a window on the wall. But it isn't a window - it's a one-way mirror that allows us to look into a large auditorium filled with people.

There are dozens and dozens of people in the auditorium - men, women and children of all ages. Each is dressed in 1930's clothing. They sit in the audience, listening to a man on stage addressing them. He is dressed in modern clothing.

The tour guide explains that these people all went to sleep in a kind of suspended animation at the end of the 1939 New York World's Fair. They are being updated on what had happened in the world since they had been asleep.

The guide notes that this group of people first went into suspended animation at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in the 1890's and they wake up during each world's fair.

For some reason not understood by scientists, they slept through the New York 64 World's Fair, Expo 66 and the Knoxville World's Fair.

The speaker in the auditorium shows them objects and technology of 2007, explaining how the things worked.

The audience seems interested, but not very animated.

The speaker tells them about advances in television - that there are now over 500 channels available and that there are big tv's that look like movie screens that hang on the wall of the average American home.

The crowd seems surprised. They talk to each other excitedly and enthusiastically applaud.

And then I woke up.