Friday, December 23, 2011

First UBC stress dream

In the dream, classes have begun at UBC. For my first class - which I believe I was late for; the first half of the dream, now forgotten, dealt with the stress of just getting there on time - I've been assigned a paper on the Marx Brothers. It can be anything I want, germaine to the Marx Brothers, but it's due the next day, and I haven't seen a Marx Brothers movie in years. I'm trying to find a particular film I remember (one that my dream is making up) - a controversial, critically rejected late period film starring Groucho where he plays some rather dark, unsavory character (I believe that my dream is taking liberties with cinema history and here referencing Charlie Chaplin's serial killer movie, Monsieur Verdoux). I have an idea for a very unique paper, using this misunderstood and somewhat obscure movie - talking about how Groucho's role in it ironically references and exploits his reputation as a comic figure; no one has taken this angle before or tried to defend this film, so it's a shoe-in for a good paper, because success in academia is all about taking unique and controversial positions, writing things that no one else has and thereby distinguishing yourself. The trouble is, I can't recall the title of this (non-existent!) film, or find it anywhere online, and am searching various websites and databases and such trying to tease it out. Finally I give up and decide that I'll opt for the tried and true and write about the tattoo scene in Duck Soup - about the surrealism of the dog barking - but in order to do this, I need to see Duck Soup again. I decide I'll go to HMV - in my dream as in reality, they're having a closeout sale - and buy a discounted Marx Brothers box set I've heard about (that's just in the dream, I know of no such box); only I discover, as I set out from the computer lab that I've been working in, that I'm actually much, much further away from HMV than I realized; in fact, it's possible my dream has me somehow up on the SFU campus of Burnaby mountain, somehow conflating schools. Wherever I am, there's a long commute ahead, and I experience a moment of deep despair: how will I get to HMV, get the DVD, see it, do the necessary critical reading for background, write a half-decent paper, and get a good night's sleep? It seems impossible.

Somewhere in the dream - not sure when - I find myself back home, probably at my childhood home, where my father, alive again, is encouraging me not to give up, or such, and I'm arguing with him, as I often would, telling him he didn't understand that none of this is easy...

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