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Last night I had the strangest dream

8 May 2008

I woke up after 3:00 am after having had an interesting dream — that Val and I had been transported back 50 years or so to a town in the Free State, either Bethlehem or Bloemfontein, and the main way of knowing it was that the cars all were so old. We were on the pavement outside a building that people were waiting to open, and talked to some of them, wondering if they would sound different, and whether we might use words that would betray us as being from another era, and if we should find a museum and look at their exhibits. We were somewhat reluctant, by a kind of tacit consent, to say that we were from the future, and to use words and expressions that might not be understood, and wondered what words and expressions might give us away. There were lots of black cars, including a new and shiny Austin A55, and then a round-backed Volvo went by. And the cars not only had bumpers, but the bumpers were chromed, as were the surrounds of the lights and the front and rear windows.

It was only after I woke up that some other difficulties occurred to me — that if we had described everyday life in our time people might not have believed us. Cars and styles of clothes might have been the obvious differences, but if we had tried to buy anything or stay in a hotel our money would have been unrecgnisable. What, they might ask, is a Rand? Credit cards too. If we had said that many homes had personal computers, who would have believed us? And if we had said that Thabo Mbeki had followed Nelson Mandela as President we should undoubtedly have been locked up.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 May 2008 12:33 pm

    Steve
    I have just read your 2 most recent posts, “Strangest Dream” and “Message 40 years”, as one essential idea.

    Something is stirred within me but I find it really hard to engage with. “Remembering” is like “Religion” – both refer to a tying back, an integration, a salvific work.

    The culture I am part of is not good at this. Maybe your Orthodox disciplines assist you in such “postures of holding”.

    What could it mean that just after you had tried to curate a rememberance, you were cast back in time, and realised how perilous this was.

    Time, like eternity, is a sacred mystery. I’m not sidestepping the issue, but I’m just saying how hard it it to engage.

    Do we want to remember apartheid? Or has the new world order and its controlling spirits bathed is in an anesthetised dream of afluence and materialism?

    A ragged thought for the censor…

  2. 8 May 2008 2:34 pm

    Nick,

    Perhaps the dream was triggered by whay I’ve been doing a little of each day — transcribing my old journals on to computer so that I can find stuff. It was that that triggered the thought that the Message came out 40 years ago, and moved me to write about it.

    But the dream was about 10-12 years earlier, in the 1950s. But again, I lived through that time. I knew those cars. The clothes that people were wearing, which didn’t seem strange at the time, though when I see cars from that time now their tyres look so narrow they look as though they belong on a bicycle. But the dream was so vivid that when I woke up I really thought about things like where would we stay, and how pay for a hotel with no credit cards and the funny Mickey Mouse money we have today.

    So time is funny. I read about the past, I remember what it did, and it doesn’t seem strange. I was who I was. But if I were suddenly transported back in time now, it would be different. It was in the Free State, but if I went to Johannesburg I might run into my teenage self, and then what? And if I had said Nelson Mandela would be president the SB would have assassinated him for sure, and not botched it as they did with Frank Chikane (though that was much later).

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