Dreams of war

Had a very detailed, involved dream last night. It was like watching a particularly good HBO production. In fact as I was dreaming it I felt as if this was the latest of several episodes I had viewed previously. It was compelling, like Mad Men. It was my dream, but I felt drawn to it like an audience member. What will come next?

While there was a narrative, it’s also a dream, so there were quirky and illogical interludes. For example there was me the viewer. My step-father happened to be the ex-football coach, Mick Malthouse, who actually shares some traits with my actual father. In the dream I sense he disapproves of me. At one point I actually wonder if he referenced me in his speeches to the players as an an example of someone you don’t want to be.

This was interesting. In that odd way of dreams there were moments in it where I stopped to analyse this. It was hurtful, but revealing to. In the cold light of day I suspect it’s a fair representation of how my real father thinks of me today. In it also is a sense of shame which I’ve sublimated in my daily life. I’m not living the life I could be, or perhaps should be. I take some responsibility for that, and feel some embarrassment, but don’t see it as an indictment on my character as the character of Mick Malthouse seemed to do. I can understand it though, which is what the dream exposes.

The rest of the dream is pretty much narrative. It’s set in WW2. I’m in the forces, but not a front line soldier. I’m an investigator of some type in the middle of investigating an undisclosed mystery.

I’m operating not far behind the front line. Not long before the area I’m in was the centre of conflict, which is what the mystery pertains to. I’m close enough to the front to hear explosions and the rattle of gunfire. Once I could see some of it in the distance, our men seemingly falling mysteriously to the ground shot dead. There’s a sense of disconnected reality.

The whole dream feels very real though. The day after day not knowing where things will end, or how. The grimy, gritty reality, the authentic sense of duty and banality and peril. Ultimately though it feels like a story about art and expression, romance and death. There’s a veneer of intellectuality, like a quality production.

Then there’s a counter-attack, and I watch as suddenly German troops enter the scene. I see men fall, watch as the Germans quickly take us by surprise. I have no time to escape, and without a weapon I can’t fight back. I rush to hide, finding a ditch where I pull a fallen bush over the top of me. Others get the same idea though, and with every extra man my chances of eluding discovery diminish.

Sure enough, I am discovered. Laying there I hear the footsteps approach. There is a very authentic fear in me, not just of being discovered, but of being shot dead. It’s so present and real. I know that I should be taken prisoner, but I also know that sometimes prisoners are disposed of, especially in the heat of battle.

A German voice speaks in English, jocular and smug. The war is over for you, he says, and with that the bush hiding me is flung aside.

The scene changes. I am free. Whether I have escaped I cannot say. Freedom bubbles in me. I’m exuberant with it. It’s night, and I run to the edge of the spur we’re on, and pause. In the ravine below there is a fine house, with a little fire burning in an outdoor area. On impulse I continue down to the house.

The house belongs to a woman. She’s an artist, a sculptress I think, tall with dark hair, attractively tomboyish. I know this because seemingly in an earlier episode I had a liaison with her. It was passionate and desperate in the time of war, and our minds met as our bodies did too. It felt true, yet by this time we have parted and I have not seen her for months. I suspect she has taken up with another man.

I continue regardless, finding myself in the small outdoor courtyard where the embers of an evening fire glow red. Memories come back to me, and a kind of regret. Everything feels very close about me, and very real. On impulse I try the door leading into the house and it opens. I go into the dark house. No lights are on. Everyone is asleep. I stand there absorbing it.

Finally I turn to leave. I don’t belong there, in fact I’m trespassing. I exit through the door, but it bangs loudly as it closes. Lights go on. I hear voices. I pause, and then turn back and open the door to go in. I can’t run out like that, and the dream ends.

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