Tuesday, 19 May 2009

832 - Minsta!

The Gangster I dreamt of last night looked a little like Dr Evil, a little like Bob Hoskins. Throw in a touch of Harry Hill and the nightmare cheeks of a Mabel Lucie Attwell illustration and you have someone who looks alarmingly like me.

Which is salient to the dream.

What happened was that E and I, and assorted parents, and people I know and don't know, were held hostage by this Gangster in Newcastle upon Tyne's Central Arcade. Surrounded by police, someone passed around envelopes from used Christmas cards, on which we had been asked to write our names. I wrote nothing on mine.

But the Gangster's henchmen pulled me out of the crowd. I'd come to his attention: taller than him, and less raddled, I seemed to him to be his double. He wanted me to be groomed and then presented to the police. I saw the opportunity to engineer an escape for everyone, but was thrown by the certain thought that he was going to wire me up with explosives and a microphone, and were I not to tell the police exactly what he wanted me to say, we'd be blown sky high. He was (really he was) that evil!

So now I'm in the Gangster's house, being groomed by henchmen, in the company of sleazy women. I slip into a loo, and pee. Miss the bowl. Neurotically wipe the rim with tissue. Step back and out, and as I'm straightening up, think: 'No! I'm not nameless: I'm a Minister!' Suddenly I achieve an inner heroism. I confront the Gangster, who wilts under my new-found confidence. I hug my wife and parents as they are freed.

Inexplicably, no-one has thought to evacuate the primary school next door, and as a coda to the dream, I become aware that the now-fearful Gangster is waving his gun around. Manfully I reach for the gun, and, our hands in contact, we fire the bullets off into the trees. There's a sense, shared by us both, that each is letting the gun fire, and we've become friends.

I woke at this point. Actually the dream, which sounds camp in the telling of it above, was edgy and grotty and violent, and the reconciliation at the end touched with real emotion. I wondered whether it would stand as a symbolic encounter between two of my personalities (following the thesis of Rita Carter's book, Multiplicity, which holds that it makes as much sense for normal people to speak of possessing several personalities, as of them possessing a single personality with several aspects.)

I worked on the dream as I walked into town this morning. This is what I decided:

1. The 'Me' from whose perspective the dream was perceived has been the 'Me' driving my sense of vocation. I've not yet wanted to name this 'Me', or identify fully with it, so at the start of the dream the envelope I am to write my name on remains blank.

2. The Gangster, which placed us all in the hostage mess, is Gangster-Me - older than I imagine vocational-Me, raddled by the pursuit of selfish and sleazy desires, and very keen to bring vocational-Me under his control. As-yet-unnamed vocational-Me has been feeling captured by Gangster-Me in real as well as in dream life.

3. The dream narrates the dynamic between the two personalities. It is only when faced with the death of all vocational-Me holds dear that he hauls himself up and takes ownership of his name and true role. Revealing his identity to be Minister-Me he is able to confront Gangster-Me and take control of the situation. Gangster-Me is revealed to be hollow, and backs down.

4. But the control achieved by Minister-Me is not the end of the story. Because Minister-Me is more than a little uptight and hygeine-conscious (a significant marker of fundamentalism is, neuroscientists have observed, the emotion of disgust). And objectively, Gangster-Me, though forced into a villainous supporting role, only wants to express himself - for which he needs the support of heroic and selfless Minister-Me, not his unremitting approbrium.

5. Hence the final scene, as each personality, taking their proper place in relation to the other, discovers the opportunity to fulfil themselves.

6. (Is there some bad punning in this? Dr Evil's companion is, of course, Mini- rather than Minister- Me.)

7. There remains the envelope with no name on it: is this perhaps the Me that precipitated the dream in the first place? Storymaker-Me? Wake-Up-In-The-Morning-And-Analyse-The-Dream-Me? Everybody-Me?

8. It's nice to think that I have a Gangster-Me inside, as well as a Minister-Me, and that my fulfilment comes from accepting the presence of both. E isn't happy with the idea that, in public, I claim the Minister role for myself, and I can't say I blame her. But I've been looking for a character to develop as an exercise in storying, and I wonder whether, merging my Gangster and Minister personalities together, I could present myself as some combination of the two. That way I'd tread neither on the toes of the Church, nor of the local Mafia. In this capacity, I could call myself a Minsta!

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