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    The Fourth Factor

    Conserve Merriment; Diversionary Tactics

    by , 02-17-2018 at 10:42 PM (73 Views)
    I am in what seems to be a dorm room set up for three people, although there are only two of us living there. Above the doorways, I can see red text continually scrolling by, which is then replaced by new text—records of conversations, it seems. On the walls, there are a few posters, different pictures, but all with the words “conserve merriment” at the bottom. This is a reference to something familiar to the person I am in the dream. I walk from the room where I am to the one where my flatmate is sitting.

    He/she—this person seems rather androgynous, and the dream itself offers no clues—wants to know if I’m interested in going to do something with him/her. I reflect that I do seem to have been learning more from the things I spend my free time doing than from my actual classes. But I still feel reluctant. It has to do with things I experienced before getting here, I tell my flatmate. In a way, it’s like I’m telling about everything that’s happened to me up until now, but all compressed into a sentence or two—a lifetime spent as a fugitive, never being able to stay in any one place for long, just one bad thing after another.

    And then he/she replies: “Is that all?” And actually, when you put like that, it really doesn’t seem so bad. Sure, I guess I’ll go to your thing.

    We then talk for a bit about the place we’re at, which is called Campa Piri, and another place I can’t remember the name of now. Then I find myself reading a transcript of the conversation rather than experiencing it. I glance a bit further on, where we’re talking about yet another nearby place called Stone Sway and joking about how it totally sounds like a double entendre. And at that point, I wake up.

    In the next dream of the night, I also seem to be a different person—a young boy staying at a large house with a group of other people, all adults, apparently. There was a lot that happened in the early parts of this dream that I can no longer remember, but it seemed to involve finding some kind of special thing in this house—I want to say it was a book, but I’m not entirely sure, and so from here on out it will be known as the MacGuffin.

    We are all preparing to leave, and it seems that my uncle—my actual uncle, the only familiar person in this dream—is going to be taking the MacGuffin back with him. I don’t like this: I think that it would be better off in the hands of literally anyone else in the world, and it really ought to stay in the house here. But he’s intent on it and, as usual, impervious to arguments.

    He’ll also be taking all the paintings that were in the dining room. It’s a wood-paneled room with a long, wooden table in the middle of it, and pretty much all the space on the walls was taken up with paintings, which illustrated various stories. But now he has them stacked in a closet there, ready to be taken out to the car. I’m not happy about this either. I tell him that he wouldn’t have the space to hang them up, and they’d probably just sit in his house, not even properly stored. He claims he’ll hang them up, but I don’t believe him. What strikes me as particularly unfair about this is that it was only by means of the paintings that we had managed to understand the MacGuffin’s true nature and gain possession of it—possibly from some dark sorcerer type, but that’s also escaped my memory. If the paintings aren’t available, the MacGuffin may never be able to make its way into the hands of someone more suitable in the future.

    But then it occurs to me—I can make sure the paintings never make it to his house. There are many people here who also feel this isn’t right, and with their cooperation, we can have the paintings mysteriously back on their walls. Maybe we can spook him into returning the MacGuffin. I pull someone aside to tell them my idea, and pretty soon, the plan is ready to be put into action. But we need a diversion so we can get our hands on the paintings.

    It’s announced that I’m going to be talking about a painting in a nearby room, and so everybody—minus a few co-conspirators—files in and sits down in rows of chairs. I have the painting there at the front of the room: a fairly small one of a winter scene with trees. I begin talking. I am a kid and don’t know a thing about painting, but I confidently B.S. my way through it.

    Just as I’m explaining how the branches of the trees in the painting are reminiscent of the branches of knowledge, continually reaching out and producing new shoots, an older man with short, white hair stands up and approaches me. He is a professor of art history, and he thinks that the branches are nothing of the sort. I tell him that that’s what one of my philosophy professors had said about them. I definitely have the impression that he, too, is in on it, and that this, too, is part of the diversion.

    Once I’m done, we head out towards the door. This requires us to pass through the dining room, which I had forgotten about, but I see that the walls there are still bare. That’s good—right now, it’s still too early. But I’m sure the paintings will be back up once everyone’s gone through.

    16.2.18

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