Several months ago I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details.
I am standing beside an old newspaper stand on an abandoned city street. Everywhere I look there is wreckage: overturned vehicles, shattered storefronts, the graying remnants of burnt office buildings. The glass cover for the newspaper stand is shattered, and there is one newspaper left. It is flapping in the wind. I take the newspaper and turn to the last page. On the top fold are the obituaries. On the bottom fold are the personal ads. Each of the personals is accompanied by the silhouette of a sexy stripper seductively removing a glove. One of the personals catches my eye. It reads in bold black script: Muckery Mutt’s Mouth as a Muskery Bowl. I understand at once that the woman who placed this ad here is looking for a man who will orally service her.
I am inside of a trailer far off the beaten track. I have converted this trailer into a studio for teaching choreographed movie acting movement and dance. Beside me inside of this trailer are two, twenty-something, female students. They are pretty ladies in leotards. I pull down an old fashioned movie screen, and switch on a projector mostly hidden in the opposite wall. Together, we watch scenes from old movies and TV shows meant to make more clear a point that I have been making. The ladies are not paying enough attention to what is on the screen, and I can see that my point is being lost on them. Frustrated, I use a remote control to reverse the movie progression. Watching the film footage now in reverse does not seem to catch their attention any better than before. I put in a new film reel. Now, we are watching an old lady who has just jumped out of a skyscraper. The old lady looks like the librarian in “Ghostbusters.” She waves her arms and legs erratically as she is falling for a long time down the side of the building. Eventually, though she is still moving downward, her fall looks more like a bird gracefully swaying through the air. She stops waving her arms and legs. Then, after awhile, she looks like she is seated midair. It is as if the old lady had been filmed while gently rocking on a rocking chair and that lazy, pleasant image has been superimposed over her former frightened self with the rocking chair digitally removed. Her seated rocking motion looks fake especially in the context of a woman who is falling to her death. I keep looking at my young students to see if finally they are starting to pay attention to the lesson. I replace the falling woman footage with another film reel, because it is clear to me that my students are still oblivious. This time, we watch rats scavenging minced body parts on an old, varnished, cherry red floor. More rats are squeezing beneath the door in order to get into this room. They are squealing at one another in an apparent struggle over which rabid rat gets to munch on which bloody body part. Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that some of the rats are robots, and some are real. It is also clear that some of the body parts look more plastic than human. I reverse the film so that we see that there were a few real rats feasting upon the bloody body parts before the robot rats squeezed beneath the door and joined the party. I look back at my students. Finally, the light bulb has gone on inside their minds. They realize now that when something looks fake, like the woman falling down the side of a building while still seated, or the robot rats joining with the real rats, our capacity for disbelief is broken. With the apparent realism so undercut, we cannot really invest in the film. I see the impression made on my students. I smile, walk to the projector, and switch it off. As I turn on the lights in the trailer, I see that my students are a bit unhappy. The epiphany seems to have kicked them a bit too hard. We stand together in awkward silence a while.
I nod my head. My students know what this means: They are to go at once to their marks on the trailer floor. They do so without hesitation, but without enthusiasm either. Looking down, I see that I am wearing purple clown shoes. I snap my fingers, and we hear a soft, idyllic, orchestral piece appropriate for a ballet to be performed in a Spring floral garden. I dance on the tips of my oversized shoes. I make the sound of tap dancing, while I stay perfectly poised and upright in the manner of a ballerina. The taps from my shoes sound discordant in relation to the orchestral piece, and yet there is a strange beauty in that. As I continue being the tap dancing ballerina, my students are all the more impressed; and they try to emulate what I am doing. I stop dancing and instead walk about the trailer in my purple clown shoes. I am correcting my students’ form, as a good teacher should do. They seem intent to master the new dance, and so we are all contented.