I had a dream that I was in some sort of writing master’s class headed by a grouchy Philip Roth figure—except he was played by some character actor I couldn’t place; possibly David Straitharn in make-up. The class was held downtown in the writer’s gigantic, gloriously sterile loft, and was attended by me, an unidentified man and woman, and Benedict Cumberbatch. I arrived late, and was immediately berated by the writer when I explained I had the sniffles (they were a disgusting, high-intensity, dream version). He told me that I didn’t get a chair for the entire class. As I sat on the floor, everyone presented the rough drafts of their novels in final, perfect-bound editions, with cover art, no less. I had a typewritten manuscript—it looked exactly like the kind of MS I’d generate with my word processor back in the 90s. Everyone sneered
Predictably, the writer was a martinet, tearing up everyone’s work. The interesting part of the dream was when he said, “You know…I recently viewed a little-known, independent film from the 80s about a ballet dancer.” Benedict Cumberbatch at once look frightened and sweaty. The writer shrieked, calling him a plagiarist and ordering him out. Cumberbatch stood up and literally flew away, ashamed.
At that moment I became incredibly sad and began crying. The two other students disappeared, and I was left alone with the writer. He looked sympathetic, and asked, “What’s the problem?”
I delivered one of those disjointed dream rambles that makes no sense in waking life. Something about never realizing anything I set out to achieve, my inability to actually craft what I want to create; and a general disgust with myself. The usual.
The writer looked at me, placed a hand on my shoulder, and said, with an expression of utter paternal sympathy: “Not to worry, Dan. Not to worry. Someday you’ll be dead.”
I left, amazed, and soon found myself in the concourse of the building, which was entirely occupied by a massive Panda Express. I couldn’t find the way out and eventually came to a hallway webbed with yellow “CAUTION” tape. I lifted it and walked through, trying to find the way out. I soon came across two stoner dudes in orange jumpsuits.
“Hey, how the hell do I get out of here?” I asked them, my voice echoing.
They cackled and said, “Good luck, man!”, and turned a corner, still laughing. When I followed them they’d disappeared, and I was facing a massive white wall. Then I heard loud machine sounds, gears grinding and panels lifting, and I realized I was inside a dam tunnel (that’s what I called it in the dream), and I could hear thousands of gallons of water rushing toward me.
And yes, at that moment I woke up, slightly depressed that I couldn’t write a non-obvious metaphorical death for myself, even in a dream.