Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

Contest! Sorta!

All wordsmiths out there in Reads My Journal Land, I’m instituting a contest to come up with a word that best fills in the following blank space:

________, (n), a dream containing all the elements of nightmare that is nonetheless completely unfrightening.

“What inspires this contest?” you might ask. “I’m presuming it’s a dream of the variety described above, but I wish to know more about it.” But I laugh at you, and offer no explanation. “Please!” you cry. “We must know!” “Suffer,” I reply.

And then I tell you. See how evil I am? [1]

PREFACE: On dream and nightmare:

Unless I’m mistaken, the general consensus on the usage of these words is that the former, dream, is an inclusive noun that describes all internalized subconscious imagery occurring during sleep or sleep’s many variations (see also daydream and inappropriate fantasy about hot girl at coffee shop [2]). In what would seem to be a point of convenience, dream is also considered shorthand for any and all dreams that cannot rightly be considered a nightmare (see below).

I.E., If Ted is talking to Joan, and says “I had a dream last night . . .” before he has even begun to describe the scenarios and details, Joan is able to take for granted that the dream will not necessarily contain the elements of what Ted would consider a nightmare [3]. He does not need to, although he may, modify the word, with the adjectives “good” or “interesting” or “fucked up,” if Joan does not object to such language as the latter. Regardless, the context of simply describing a dream would lead the listener to assume that the experience was not the typically negative one associated with the other variety…

Nightmare, a subset of dreaming so distinct that it merited its own category and was able to adopt an obsidian-coated, red-eyed demon horse as its official mascot and name brand. Nightmares are generally a sort of shock to the psyche, containing within them images or impressions designed to unsettle or outright terrify the person experiencing them. While there are common nightmares, as one would expect from a species that has common fears (flying, drowning, public speaking, to name a few), the variations on these themes are specific to the person riding the ebony stallion [4].

Which brings me to the ________ I had a few nights ago.

In the world, I am led to understand, there is a serial killer on the loose whose modus operandi involves sealing his victims inside plastic suit bags. I’m unclear as to whether or not he kills them beforehand and simply uses the bags as storage, or if the bag is what kills them, or if the bag is used as an abduction implement to transport the victim to the killing ground. It is mostly unimportant. All I know is that this killer is after me and my girlfriend.

And yet, I’m feeling shoulder-shruggy about the whole thing.

Finally, the killer is there, in the bedroom. He comes at me with the suit bag, I try to fight back, I think I may land a punch, I may even knock him down. And he might get back up again, murder in his eyes.

And again, I’m still not feeling anything. When I wake up, I’m not seized by the mortal fear that I will again fall back asleep and there he will be, waiting. And yet, in most other instances, I would assuredly feel genuine terror at this sort of dream, it would be considered a nightmare.

So perhaps the real question is: Is a nightmare made a nightmare for what it is, or for the reaction it inspires? Is a nightmare its own entity, or is it, like Mark Sandman [5] once described a mirror, “nothing until you look at [it]”? [6]

And if you feel, as I think I do, that the reaction is important, then what word [7] could I use to describe the above experience?

Whoever comes up with the best word gets nothing, frankly. But if you’re the sort of person who gets involved in contests because you want to win something, well, pfah, I just don’t know what to do with you.

[1] For some reason, lately, I’ve been wondering what my life would be like if I’d pursued a career in mad science. Here endeth the non sequitir.

[2] Note to my girlfriend: She doesn’t exist. At least, not specifically to me. I’m sure there are hot girls at coffee shops all over the world. Not that I’ve been looking at them. I certainly haven’t been having inappropriate fantasies about them. Heh. Heh. Please put down the frying pan.

[3] This is, of course, an important consideration. While Joan might be able to pleasantly dream about sailing to Cuba with only a baby harp seal as a companion, Ted might be deathly afraid of both Cuba and baby harp seals, as befits his childhood trauma of being raised by a cigar-chomping, full-bearded fur trader. Conversely, Ted might have wonderful nights of rest while he imagines chasing Joan with a meat cleaver. In which case, hypothetically speaking, one should fear for Joan.

[4] If you have a nightmare while on a heroin nod, are you essentially driving a chariot pulled by both a black horse and a white horse?

[5] Interesting. I’ve never actually brought up the late, great Mark Sandman while discussing the nature of dreams. Always thought his last name ruled, though.

[6] Morphine, The Night, “Like a Mirror”

[7] Six or seven years back, I looked up at the sky during that post-starlight, pre-sunrise phase, when the clouds were all a strange bronzish-purple color, and I wondered if there were a specific color to describe it. A friend of mine at the time, a girl here named Melina [8], suggested “cherburin.” I nodded, somehow just happy that somebody had answered the question at all, although I now think it’s a terrible word for the color. Later on, I would develop a long-distance crush on Melina, I would send her an email stating as much, and was mercifully–I was being an idiot–shot down for my trouble. Later still, I would run into her in the magazine section of the Downers Grove Library, where we blubbered awkwardly for a few minutes, unable to even summon the conversational acumen to ask the fallback questions for such situations; “What have you been up to?” and its ilk. She walked away with the equivalent of “I need to be over there now,” and for a moment, I was worried about her mental state. In hindsight, I imagine she wondered the same about me.

[8] I’ve been reconsidering using the Names Changed to Protect the Innocent style I’ve heretofore utilized. Some weeks back, Tony Marengo dropped me a quick email, based on, I presume, finding his name unchanged in my journal, from an entry I posted about the Columbia disaster. Also, BZ, the older brother of Nicholas Zvolanek, USMC, told me at . . . Jane and Herbie’s . . . wedding that his mother had come across the Journal entry in which I wished Nick a safe return from Iraq, while searching for his name. I find myself wondering if I wouldn’t prefer more people to find me. Will think more on it at a later date.

Current music: MP3 list, Tori Amos, “Baker Baker,” (live)

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2003 by in Dreams.
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