Lazy Luddite Log

25.9.10

Dreamscapes

I have posted the odd dream online but here I will discuss the recurring themes of many of my dreams over time. To start with I will say a few things of what my dreams feel like then go into some specific content.

I experience my movement within dreams as somewhat... murky or... viscous in nature. There is often some sense of detachment from my setting and circumstances even if I am still a direct participant. Other than this the subject matter itself tends to be relatively mundane - rare for me are the fantasy adventures of other friends. Sometimes I have a sense that I am dreaming but my direction over events is limited and I am frequently an observer of a fixed sequence of happenings. The mood is usually neutral to positive and somewhat interesting but rarely compelling.

Flying

I had my first flying dream in my teens. I was running away from a charging bull in a paddock. It was almost upon me - I could practically feel its horns on my backside - and just as I got to a wire fence I flew into the air and freedom. Since then I have had them many times but that was the only time I can remember using it to escape danger. I have done it for fun (to show friends how I can hover in the tree tops while they cannot) or to be useful (bouncing around the walls of a ballroom decorating it with balloons and streamers). Flying seems to have become less frequent into my 30s but has been replaced somewhat by climbing dreams. In these I tend to be scrambling around complex surfaces with lots of secure perches and refuges (like the rooftop of a rambling mansion). Incidentally, the sensation of flying is like a mix of treading water and dolphin-kick...

Water

Water is frequently in my dreams such as the one linked to. As well as swamps, I have also swum in ocean-side stone pools surrounded by ancient steps and columns with imposing cliffs behind me. I have been in complex arrays of interconnecting indoor and underground water slides. At other times I have been at an indoor swimming pool which is disturbingly open-plan in nature - the pools themselves are separated from the changing areas only by the fact that they are set lower than those areas and there may be some partitioning. I suppose this is a variation on the popular naked in public dream and is in a setting that can find the experience almost normal.

Walking

Walking walking always walking. The settings change but I am always walking and feeling like I can go as far as I need with time. Suburban streets that mirror ones I know in waking life... parklands that seem to go on forever... university campuses that feel more like shopping centres and have a ridiculous number of levels both above and below ground. Many setting are familiar and yet different from life. And another interesting thing is that some of those locations are visited more than once. Or is it just that in a dream there is a fabricated memory of having been there before rather than having dreamed it more than once?

Houses

So many houses drawing on others from life and fiction... suburban houses full of different levels and interconnecting halls and passages... rooms and alcoves partitioned only by curtains and serving as rooms for more housemates than I have ever had... mansions with wings for different groups of friends... whole abandoned levels that we forget exist... rooms with Transformers I have never owned... bedrooms I can crash in if I am too lazy to walk all the way to my own... and usually there is somebody to talk with in a room close by...

Humans

In many or all of my dreams there are friends or family. Things are similar yet different. Sometimes all my family are together (rather than having divorced parents) despite the fact I am my current age. Friends are mixed in a way that never happens - in one dream I walked from a seminar room full of debating Australian Democrats, across a hall, and into a dormitory full of choristers. Often there are groups in the background and a handful in the foreground of a dream. We are usually talking. Sometimes arguing. Sometimes the line of argument even makes sense once I have woken and its content is relevant to things friends have been discussing. Most interactions are verbal but only most. There is flirting and intimacy but also an element of censorship to the cinematography of my dreams - the "camera pans to fireplace" as it were in most instances.

* * * * *

I imagine those with the inclination may try to interpret these dreams and they are welcome to. I will however say that I am somewhat skeptical of saying one things "represents" another thing. In many cases I think that a thing is what it is even in dreams. And the muddled juxtaposition of elements is just the nature of dreams - my brain is preventing thinking from becoming too rigid like a screen saver does to a monitor. However I will admit that things in my dreams do reflect me and my life - particularly because they are frequently mundane things from my waking life. Some are things I experience and others things that I almost experience and can sense just over the cusp of possibility.

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15.9.10

Practical Anecdote

With this entry I will focus on events older than this blog and on a close long-term friend just like in this post. I have known Avril for half my life since we both hung in the Korner scene at Monash Uni. Avril makes all sorts of conversations and events that bit more interesting and... random... and one of the things she is known for is creative and playful pranks.

Avril has sent classic novels with passages underlined in the mail from rural locales to perplexed friends. She has delivered odd-looking kitch objects to the front door steps of other friends. And the ironic thing is that over time she cultivated a sort of culture of pranking among her friends such that she has been subjected to far more practical jokes than she has ever perpetrated. Thus this post will be a lot like others on this blog and is actually about me.

Nobody would ever think of me as a practical joker and yet that is what I have been on occasion... as far as Avril is concerned. I have drawn inspiration from a common bit of Internet slang and placed tins of Spam in her letterbox. I did this for a while till another friend even did a copy-cat Spamming of her letterbox!

I have taken advantage of the grassy public laneway behind her property to throw balls over her back fence. I started with the most common of balls such as tennis and golf balls. Then they got rarer and strangers till I was hurling bouncy ghoul eyes into her yard. What did Avril do? Her neighbours have grandkids and she assumed the balls came from them so she just threw them over her side fence. I wonder what response that got!

Moving into the present day I am proud to have minimized resource usage by initiating an online prank for Avril. I noticed that a few friends happened to have Facebook profile pictures of themselves with Avril and that got me thinking. It suggested a connectedness and a presence in the lives of others. It also suggested an amusing game to play. So I started an 'event' on which a whole lot of our friends would change their profile pic to one of themselves with Avril all on the same day.

It worked very well. There were dozens involved on the day and lots of awesome pics. She was rather perplexed to start with and writing things like "its a conspiracy" but apparently needed some amusing that day and the prank did the trick. I am chuffed that it worked. I just wonder whether I now should be wary of any kind of revenge coming my way...

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1.9.10

Hung Parliament

The last time I experienced a hung parliament was following the 1999 Victorian State Election. There were several weeks of negotiation with rural independents to form a minority Labor government. All the while the wheels of public service continued to turn and life went on. So the current circumstances following the 2010 Federal Election are vaguely familiar. Still I have to admit that the result was a surprise to me. I had become complacent and placed a bet that Labor would win simply because of my assertion that “one-term governments are a thing of the past” (I may still win that bet however as its wording is “Party of next Prime Minister – Labor”).

Following the drawn election result there was much shock and consternation among friends online. And I was left to wonder what everyone thinks electoral democracy is for anyway. Do we want order and predictability from the model? Screw that! We need it to surprise and shock us every now-and-then and that is exactly what it has done. A particularly boring campaign was followed by a fascinating result which invites us all to contemplate exactly how the process works and to scrutinize what all sorts of interests in this diverse society want.

My response has confused some friends I suspect. To help them understand I should declare that for the purposes of this election there are two of me! There is Daniel the post-hippy era progressive who is naturally hoping that negotiations will result in a Labor minority government and Greens holding Senate balance-of-power. But there is also Daniel the politics nerd. This is the person who as an undergraduate would stare in wonder at the beauty of charts depicting the political composition of the European Parliament and then draw imaginary ones of his own. The necessity of debate… the creativity of compromise… the expression of perspectives alternately fantastic and repugnant all in the one space… such things made this politics nerd go squee.

For the rest of this entry I will address a few isolated concepts that have arisen from discussion of the hung parliament. Both aspects of me described will vie for attention in these statements...

* The two-party preferred vote is an interesting statistic but nothing more. What matters is the House Of Representatives majority. Put it another way – the government must have the majority of votes across the majority of electorates. Whatever arises from current negotiations will be the right result according to our political process.

* A handful of independents or minor party parliamentarians in whichever chamber only have the power they have because major party parliamentarians voluntarily relinquish power to party discipline. If the cross-benches possess disproportionate power then we also must say that those major party members exhibit disproportionate neglect of responsibility.

* In an older entry (see second last paragraph) I made the bold prediction that my former party the Australian Democrats would hold the record of Senate representation for a minor party indefinitely. Once more politics is full of surprises and the Greens performance has been phenomenal. The election of one Member of the House of Representatives in a contest with both major parties has somewhat obscured the likely result of nine Greens senators (six elected at this half Senate election and three elected in the last half Senate election). Luckily my prediction was never sweetened by any statements of “or I will consume my hat with Nutella”. I will however take my hat off to the Greens who distinguished themselves by both concerted professional campaigning and a bold and distinctive message across all issues.

* Many of my friends seem to need monsters to exist in their lives. So they will say things like “we may have got rid of the Family First senator but may get a Democratic Labor Party (DLP) senator replace him” and “they are as or more scary”. Now is the time to understand that there is such a thing as shades of grey… and different stances on different issues… and that sometimes the particular senator is more important than the party they represent. Most importantly it is worth understanding how other perspectives work. To assist in that here is an old post of mine on the DLP.

* One of the rural independents – Rob Oakeshott – likes to inject all sorts of novel concepts into public debate. Like saying we may be moving to a more multi-party polity like we see overseas. Naturally I find that fascinating but if it comes it will come slowly. Also if it does come it will be more via the growth from minor-to-major player of parties like the Greens than from the election of independents. Another of his statements was of us returning to the original practice of a parliament of independents. Of that I am very sceptical. In a modern mass society the political party is a very useful tool in organizing and representing public opinion and I think abandoning it altogether would produce as many problems as it solves. Having more democratic party structures… more allowance of conscience voting across all issues… and more need to negotiate to get bills passed would all be things I want to see more of.

So that is just a handful of the things I could say on this election result. It is fascinating but – yes – also somewhat tense. But I cannot object to living in interesting times. Bring it on I say!

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