Make of This What You Will, Dr. Freud

by wjw on March 28, 2011

So I had this dream the other night in which I joined a Live Action Roleplaying Game.  (I’ve never joined a LARP in real life.)  The game was rather action oriented, in that I carried a weapon and had to infiltrate a heavily defended area, evading bad guys and fighting the ones I couldn’t avoid.  I remember battling my way up a canal or river, and that a medium-sized motor yacht was blown up and sunk by a rocket-propelled grenade as I watched.

And then I got “killed,” and the game stopped and I trudged back to the beginning, and then had to do the infiltration thing all over again.  The yacht, which had been raised from the canal bottom, got blown up and sunk all over again.  I was deeply impressed by the level of skill and commitment of the game designers.  Sinking a whole yacht?  Wow.

Anyway, I kept getting killed, and the game kept rewinding, and the yacht kept going up and down.  It was like a first-person shooter video game, where if your character is killed you respawn at the beginning of the scenario and start over.

I believe I finally achieved my objective, and then the game ended and so did the dream.

So what does this mean, Dr. Freud?  Was it a metaphor for life, in which I keep having to perform the same acts over and over again until I somehow get them right?  Was it a metaphor for birth, in which I had to fight my way down the birth canal; or a metaphor for conception, in which my spermatazoic self traveled in the other direction?  Was it a metaphor for battling the forces that stand in the way of my fully-realized personhood?  Or was it just my idea of the coolest game evar? (I’m inclined to doubt this last— in real life I prefer games I can play from armchairs.)

Occasionally I have a dream that inspires a novel.  (Hardwired, Knight Moves, Implied Spaces.)  I don’t think that this is one of them.  Maybe I’d get some imagery out of it, I don’t know.  (Maybe I could have sinking yachts in all my books, in the same way that Ballard had empty swimming pools.)

But dude, if this dream inspires you to write something, go right ahead.  You can have it for nuthin’.

Michael Mock March 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

The Myth of Sisyphus, retold for the modern world? I’m pretty sure kids these days would relate better to grinding through a tough spot on a video game.

Of course, in my day, we had real rocks – big ones – and we rolled ’em up real hills. All by ourselves. In the snow.

Bruce Arthurs March 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Perhaps the dream is about class/economic disparity?

Here’s a link to a long but interesting analysis of the poem“Yachts” by William Carlos William, which is about, yep, class disparity.

The photo of the burning yacht included in the post cries out for a Demotivational captioning: “I SANK YOUR YACHT. Your argument is invalid.”

Bruce Arthurs March 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Acck. William Carlos Williams.

Considering how annoyed I get when people leave the “s” off my own name, this is a grievous sin on my part.

Joel March 31, 2011 at 11:58 pm

hey WJW – could you elaborate on the dream that inspired Hardwired – one of the best books of all time???

Thanks, Joel

wjw April 4, 2011 at 4:49 am

Joel, let me just say that I dreamed a scene that was central to the book, and that the whole dream took less than ten seconds. It was just a flash. Within less than 24 hours I’d plotted the whole novel.

Jerry E. April 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Dear Mr. Williams,
“Hardwired” came to you in a dream!? Fabulous and amazing! “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Your prose was so gritty and tactile in that astonishing book that I never thought about the imagery: an enhanced but disoriented clone roaring down a metal highway across the New Mexico desert. I’ll have to take out my old copy and reread it with fresh eyes. I’ve been a big big fan a couple of decades now, sir. You rock!

wjw April 6, 2011 at 4:52 am

Having a riveting dream is the easy part. You then still have to make sense out of the dream imagery, plot the work, develop your characters, and write.

Usually the dream is just a flash, and it starts a whole series of creative explosions that either work, or fizzle. Most of my dreams are squibs.

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