In case they run out of ideas
June 15, 2015 by Thomas Wictor
Former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairwoman Amy Pascal started her own production company Pascal Pictures after she left her former position. Someone told me that Pascal is looking for ideas. Well, my book Hallucinabulia: The Dream diary of an Unintended Solitarian has enough material for a hundred films. I’m just trying to be helpful. You know, if they come up blank.
It got some good reviews.
In the hands of a less talented writer, the very notion of publishing a dream journal could evoke mild curiosity at best, and at worst, could come across as an act of pure narcissistic indulgence. Wictor, however, succeeds at maintaining relevance. The dreams are symptoms of the psychiatric, physiological, and neurological hardships he faced…
Wictor is an honest and effective writer who has essentially offered himself up for complete dissection. His dreams range from comically nonsensical to utterly terrifying, with plenty of strangeness and, occasionally, joy, in between.
In spite of the dreamer’s clear distress at the time, some of the dreams are horrific, a few are poignant, others, laugh-out-loud hilarious. Themes of failure and humiliation, self-loathing and frustrated helplessness strike universal chords, though showbiz celebrity cameos (Bill Cosby, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Thompson, a miniaturized Sean Connery, Charlie Sheen in hell) are a bit further afield. Readers intrigued by bizarre, Inception-style voyeurism of a well-traveled writer/musician’s innermost recesses should dare venture into this Nightmare on Wictor Street.
Remembered, surreal dreams become the prose equivalent of Salvador Dali paintings and films.
One time bassist and music journalist Thomas Wictor continues the journey he began in Ghosts and Ballyhoo, chronicling the dreams and nightmares that populated his sleep. Transparent and unrelentingly honest, the dreams and the people in Wictor’s life emerge in visceral detail. There are times when the conscious and unconscious moments in the journey are impossible to distinguish…
Wictor’s book does not chronicle a method for analyzing those dreams, nor does it offer a therapeutic or spiritual analysis of those dreams. Hallucinabulia is, instead, a living archive, a journey shared with brutal honesty and without pat answers, but one that ends in hope.
—Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr.
Director of Spiritual Formation and Anglican Studies
Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality
Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology
I attended the American School of the Hague (ASH) in the Netherlands with Amy Pascal’s former Sony co-chair Michael Lynton.
He got upset at me during the annual Model United Nations (MUN) session because I represented Zaire, and I rearranged the letters on the desk sign to read “ZI EAR.” The MUN was no laughing matter.
“Put that back the way it’s supposed to be,” he hissed.
Anyway, here’s one of my dreams.
August 17, 1994
The hospital was a Soviet-style behemoth of dirty concrete and green-tinted glass. Though I was there as a visitor, I was also a patient. The visitor-me was with a group of older men, none of whom I knew. We all sat in the hospital room, visiting the patient-me while a film crew scurried around recording it.
In my group were two obese, middle-aged men dressed like Andy Devine, in flannel shirts and coveralls.
One was in a wheelchair, and when the film crew trained their camera on them, the two men giggled and blushed like Japanese schoolgirls. I was alternately in a cot on the floor and standing by the window, sometimes both at once. Outside there was a flying exhibition or air show taking place, with lots of T-6 Texans modified to pass for Mitsubishi Zeros.
One pilot caught our attention by making his plane shimmy and shake like a dancing bee telling the rest of the hive where the flowers are located. He flew closer and closer to the hospital until the T-6 filled the entire window.
“He’s gonna hit!” someone screamed. “All that av-gas!”
The aircraft exploded through the window and froze in midair. Although everything now looked like a still photo, I felt a slow sensation of heat engulf my body. I knew it was the flaming aviation fuel, but I was also aware that I’d been killed before I could feel any pain. My body had been flash-fried in an instant. After a moment of blurriness in my vision, Patrick Swayze leaned over me with a grim expression as he shoveled something into a cart.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“You’re dead,” he answered.
“No I’m not!”
He lifted a gray, ashy section of human torso from the floor and crumbled it in his hands, staring at me pointedly. Then he picked me up and set me on my feet.
“Do you get it now?” he asked as he dusted off my shoulders. “You’re dead.”
He was right, and though at first I felt a rush of exhilaration at being free, I soon saw that nothing had changed. I tried walking around and sneaking up on people, but everyone could still see me. Disappointed, I went into the room next to the one hit by the aircraft, where my mother was on the telephone.
“I’m dead, you know,” I told her.
“Yes, yes,” she said impatiently and went back to her conversation.
When I ambled out into the hallway again, I ran into some people I knew from the music industry.
“What’s it like to be dead?” one asked.
“It’s a rip-off,” I said “My back still hurts. My shins still hurt. I’m hungry. I’m big and fat and clumsy. Nothing’s changed. Can you tell me where I can find some food?”
They were shocked. “You shouldn’t eat food for the living!” somebody said.
That was so stupid I just sneered. Eventually, I found a big platter of white cake slices and ate several pieces while everyone around me expressed their disapproval. Full, I went outside and walked down concrete steps toward the beach behind the hospital. Here I discovered the only change that came from being dead: I could fly.
Flying involved the same tensing of chest muscles that allowed you to hold your breath. The sensation was very similar and was accompanied by the knowledge that unless I devoted all my attention to it, I’d fall out of the sky. It was a combination of muscle power in the chest and sheer determination.
I amused myself by flying around the hospital grounds for a while, and then I landed on the beach. When I looked up at the window where the plane had crashed, I was gratified that the side of the building was scorched, and the glass was blown out.
An old man stood next to me.
“See?” I said. “There’s the evidence that it really happened. There’s the proof that I’m really dead.”
“There’s your vindication, all right,” he said. We gazed at it in silence for a few minutes.
I went down to the beach. The surf was violent, with slow-moving waves that turned the surface of the ocean into a series of hills and valleys several hundred feet deep. Since I was dead, one of the things I could do now was to tie myself to an old army tank and be dumped into the ocean.
I could ride the tank all the way to the black depths and find out what things were really like down there. The thought of being among sharks and other sea creatures hundreds of feet long—miles and miles from the nearest human—paralyzed me with horror, and I quickly turned away from the ocean.
Suddenly, I hated being dead. A stab of panic and loneliness made me gather my energies and fly into the sky to try and cheer myself up.
The next thing I knew, I was on a tree-lined street at night, walking beside my friend Steiv from Japan.
The warm, orange glow from the streetlights comforted me as I explained what it was like to be dead. Steiv was now younger than I was. He cocked his head like an intelligent squirrel, very interested in what I said. To put on a demonstration of my flying ability, I gave myself a running start and just barely got off the ground. It worried me greatly that I seemed to be losing the only nice thing about being dead.
Then I was in a room sitting on the top mattress of a bunk bed. I worked on a plastic model tank; when I needed a sharper hobby knife, I saw I’d have to fly from the bunk bed over to the desk to get it. Reluctant to squander my diminishing resources, I held my breath and just managed to make it to the desk. While I hovered I heard a crash and saw that the model tank had fallen off the mattress and lay on the floor. It wasn’t damaged, but I was disgusted with myself. I ruined everything I touched. My entire life was an unbroken string of failures.
With that thought I was outside again, alone in the night, standing at the foot of a towering, dark mountain that reared up into the sky and plunged down into the ground. It was both a mountain and a chasm, dotted with thousands of lights carried by people traveling over and through it. I wanted badly to join them. They were my brothers and sisters. It would be a great adventure, and I’d finally be free.
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