February 28, 2007

Dream Journal: Dead Woody

Turning on the TV, I catch the end of a news story that recaps the career of Woody Allen in glowing, valedictory terms. I jump to the conclusion that Woody Allen has died. I rush to tell my wife and my brother, and we keep the news on to see whether Woody is really dead. But, flipping channels back and forth, we don’t find any more mention of him.

In this dream, I had just awakened from dreaming of the death of a different famous comedian. So although the idea of Woody’s death made me choke up with tears, I very much wanted it to be true, because then my dream would turn out to be prophetic: I would be proven right.

The atmosphere of this dream was intense with nostalgia, anxiety for the future, and love of art and beauty. The news footage of Woody’s career glowed reddish gold. I woke up breathing hard, not with fear but with excitement over the dream’s richness, and took a long time to settle down. As I write this I’m still in the afterglow of dreaming.

Both in the dream and in reality, I surprised myself by being so moved by the death of Woody Allen. He’s someone whose early work, which came out in my early adulthood, I loved, but I haven’t liked any of his movies since the late 1970s. My weeping tells me to recognize the things I really love, not to reject them.

The half-remembered dream within the dream: the ungraspable nature of reality; the endless levels of interpretation. The different famous comedian I dreamed of, whose name was forgotten: me.

“Woody” is of course slang for an erection. I don’t think I’ve ever used that term in waking life, but, well, it’s there…

“The dream’s richness”: the dream’s me-ness. In real life I identify with Woody Allen (Jewish, witty, smart, small, brown-haired, sexual without machismo), but envy his success. His death: the death of my old self. The uncertainty of his death: a resurrection into a new self, as yet unknown.

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