Dream of: 11 April 1995 "Converting A Church Into An Art Studio"


some artists are guided by spirit

I was thinking of moving back to Gallia County, Ohio (the hilly Appalachian county where I was born), and perhaps practicing a little law there. I didn't want to practice much law, however, and I would only practice on a part-time basis, perhaps only part of the year; the rest of the year I would travel.

I would need to have an office, but I didn't want to be right inside Gallipolis. Even though Gallipolis was small, I wanted to be out in the country where no one else was around. It was my experience that people would come to their lawyer even if the lawyer were out in the middle of nowhere; so why stay in town while so much forest beautified Gallia County?

Since I wasn't admitted to the bar in Ohio, I would have to take care of that, which would take some time. I would also probably have to buy a place for an office. I would like a large, old, two-story frame house which I could convert into an office. I could check with a local Realtor and see what was available out in the country.

Then I had another idea: I thought about Nebo Church, the pretty, one-room, white, frame church which sat alone in Gallia County's forested countryside. The church was still maintained in good condition, even though no services were held there any longer. Perhaps I could buy the church.

The idea intrigued me, even though I almost immediately realized it wouldn't be practical to put a law office in the church, because it only had one room. But now I was thinking of something different: I could turn the one room into a large art studio. I could buy large canvasses and paint whatever I wanted on them. I didn't know where to buy such canvases or how much they would cost, but the idea of a spacious art studio out in the middle of nowhere was extremely pleasing.

Of course I realized I would probably only be able to work there in the summer. Heating the church in winter would be too difficult. In the winter I would have to go somewhere else.

I was finally in a car with two or three other men when we pulled up to a church in the country which I was thinking of buying. On the door was a sign displaying the names of three men, and beside each name was a number. Two numbers were much larger than the third, and the three numbers appeared to add up to a hundred. I had seen this same type of sign at another church which I had visited, and I had concluded the numbers represented the percentages that each man owned in the church. I thought the men had probably been brothers and had inherited their respective percentages when their father had died.

One man in the car with me was George H. W. Bush, and he was one of the men whose name was on the sign – the one with the smallest number. I wanted to talk with him about the church and try to find out how much the church would cost, but he seemed quite somber and taciturn, and I decided not to bother him.

I was finally standing with a group of perhaps 20 men. It was cold, and snow was on the ground. At first I thought we were outside a church in Gallia County, but when I took better measure of my surroundings, I realized I wasn't in Gallia County at all: I was in Russia.

I knew I had been thinking of living part of the year in Russia. Although I might practice law part of the time in the United States, I felt I could still spend time in Russia. Now I was confirming my idea, for I felt at home in Russia. A few times in my life I had found a place where I immediately felt at home, where I felt I belonged – and I knew I had now found such a place: I belonged in Russia.

The men around me were dressed in dark clothing and seemed to be struggling to fight off the cold. I had the feeling that they were all rather poor, but I also had the feeling that they were unbowed by their poverty, and that they were engaged in some stimulating, intellectual pursuit. This suspicion was confirmed when one fellow walked up to me and said, "Kafka is to __________, as __________ is to __________."

The man was drawing an analogy between Franz Kafka and another author, comparing the two authors to still two other authors, but the only author's name whom I recognized was Kafka's. I knew I rarely heard anyone speak of Kafka. Since Kafka was one of my favorite authors, and I had read several of his books, I felt I was in good company with people with whom I would share a common interest.

I turned my attention to what was taking place. It seemed as if some kind of class was going on. One man standing in front of the others seemed to be trying to teach the class. The teacher was a tall thin man (about 40 years old). He had a black beard and was dressed in the same poor, dark clothes as everyone else.

He was having great difficulty maintaining order in the class, and to a large extent the other men seemed to be ignoring him. Finally three men in the back of the class stood next to each other and threw their arms over each other in a line. They then began singing and dancing a wild Russian dance, kicking their legs in the air. They were quickly joined by two other men.

Since I rather enjoyed the sight, I headed back toward the men, thinking I might join in their dance. When the teacher saw that I was going to join them, however, he lost his temper, for I, as a foreigner, was expected to show respect for the class. The teacher thought if he lost my attention, he would lose complete control of the class. Carrying a black cane with a silver handle, the teacher marched to the back where the five Russians were dancing and began striking the men with the cane.

I was appalled. I walked up to the teacher, wrested the cane from him and knocked him to the ground. He lay on his back looking up at me. Only then did I recognize the man: Fyodor Dostoievsky. I knew I had read several of Dostoievsky's books, including The Brothers Karamazov, the story of the four brothers. I reflected that the book was so long, even by reading 20 pages a day, 50 days would be needed to complete the book. I now wondered whether reading the book had been worth the effort. With sharp disdain in my voice, I looked at Dostoievsky, sprawled on his back where I had knocked him down, and I sneered, "Dostoievsky. The great Dostoievsky that everybody's read."

Commentary of October 18, 2015

The metaphor of the Dream Journal's being an isolated church converted into an art studio where dream-writers meet, dance together, and write seems appealing. 

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