Dream of: 15 January 1996 "Perfection"

I had moved back to Portsmouth into a second-floor, four-room apartment, over top a garage. All the rooms were arranged in a row from front to back so it was necessary to traverse the first three rooms in order to reach the last one.

I would have to share the apartment with one or two other fellows who were also living there. When I entered the first room, I saw a bed and other furnishing which clearly belonged to someone. After walking through the apartment, I concluded someone must be living in the last room. About halfway back in the middle of the apartment I found the bathroom, which contained several shower stalls, another indication the apartment was designed for more than one person. I was concerned about the showers because several centimeters of water were standing in each. Some small devices which I at first thought were hair dryers, but finally concluded were small sump pumps, were sitting next to each shower. Apparently the pumps were used to pump out the standing water. I was unsure where the water would go.

I walked back to the front of the apartment, stepped outside onto the small front verandah, and sat down. Many people were walking along the sidewalk in front; it almost appeared as if I were looking on a scene in a crowded mall. As the people bustled past, I thought I saw someone I knew in the crowd. Focusing my eyes, I finally could clearly see that it was my old friend, Anderson.

Anderson and I had gone to high school together in Portsmouth. After high school Anderson had attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and he had told me many times that he wanted to be a writer. But Anderson had finally settled down in Portsmouth and had never written the novel he had contemplated for so long. Nevertheless I was happy to see him and I hollered out his name.

He turned his head toward me and saw me sitting at the top of the stairs. Without hesitation he walked to the stairs and ascended toward me. I happily invited him inside and we walked to the last room of the apartment, sat down and began talking.

Anderson was dressed in a long black dress-coat and appeared to be wearing a suit underneath. He looked as if he were probably in his early 30s and appeared to be in good physical shape. He seemed in good spirits and he told me he was on his way to apply for a job. Through the course of the conversation I learned the job was for a company investigating the reasons why so many paperback books were published and whether anyone was reading them. Anderson mentioned the paperback book companies "Dell" and "Ballantine." Although the job wasn't with those companies, the person who would hold the job would be investigating those companies.

I interjected that I had seen a television news show about a similar topic. The show had explored the popular romantic novels, and had reported how successful some authors were who wrote in that genre. From the show it had been clear that indeed many people did read that kind of novel and that some romance-novel authors became extremely successful.

I was somewhat disappointed to hear that Anderson would be trying to work in that kind of job, and that he himself wasn't writing something. As we talked it became clear that he also was disappointed in himself for not having succeeded in a writing career; but he also assured me that he was still writing. In fact, he told me, he had a sample of his writing with him which he was taking to his job interview to present to whomever would be interviewing him.

Sensing I would like to read what he had, he handed me three typewritten papers, which I immediately began reading. The reading was slow, because it was difficult for me to conceptualize what I was seeing. Although the writing on the paper was only typewritten words, the images registering in my mind were pictures set in frames, like in a comic book.

As I proceeded, I was quite impressed with the quality of the writing, and I was especially excited by the pictures which formed in my mind. The writing reminded me of something, but I couldn't exactly place what it was. Finally I knew: the writing reminded me of the way I wrote my dreams. In fact, it seemed as if this three page story might even be one of Anderson's dreams. I was buoyed by the realization that Anderson might be writing his dreams in much the same way that I wrote mine, and that he might also be considering compiling a book from some of his dreams.

As I read, a scene began flashing through my mind. I envisioned a small office with a slender, black-haired man perhaps in his mid 30s sitting at a desk. In front of the man were stacks of letters and papers which the man had been reading. I quickly knew what kind of office this was: it was an office in a publishing house, and the man was reviewing manuscripts which had been sent to him for review.

It appeared that the man had read one manuscript after the other, rejecting everything he had found. Finally he came to Anderson's three page manuscript – the very three pages which I myself had been reading. The man was having the same difficulty with reading the writing that I had had. Yet he had also had the same experience as I: he had been impressed by the caliber of the writing.

When another older man walked into the room, it was immediately clear that the older man was the superior of the man at the desk. It was the job of the man at the desk to review all the incoming manuscripts and to choose the few which might have some merit, and then submit them to the older man.

So now was a critical moment. The man at the desk was still holding Anderson's manuscript in his hand, still not quite certain whether to toss it into the stack of rejects, or to bring it to the attention of his superior. Still vacillating, the man at the desk turned to the older man and handed the paper to him. The man at the desk indicated the manuscript might have some potential, quickly summarizing his impression of the writing, explaining how different scenes would appear in frames as in a comic book. The younger man at the desk explained that the scenes at first appeared to be unrelated vignettes, but that somehow they seemed to fit together and leave a potent impression in the mind.

Anderson's manuscript had passed a critical moment. The manuscript was now in the hands of the superior, who was listening attentively to what the man at the desk was saying. The superior asked the man at the desk if the person who had sent the manuscript had written more than just the three pages. The superior looked over a cover letter which accompanied the manuscript. I could see the cover letter, which seemed to indicate the three pages were simply a sample of the writer's work. I also noted that the last sentence of the letter began with the word "Incidental." The word was clearly misspelled – it should have been written "Incidentally." I thought to myself that if I had sent the letter, I wouldn't have made such a mistake.

As the scene began to fade from my mind, I also had another thought about myself. Something was suddenly becoming clear to me. I had planned to put some of my dreams together in book form, but I had had many doubts about the reception of such a book. The scene I had just envisioned gave me new hope of the viability of such a project.

Something even clearer was in my mind. I had long contemplated the way my dream-book would be assembled so it would make sense. I had thought I might assemble the dreams which dealt with a single person, such as my father. But now I clearly saw the subject matter I should choose: the book would be based upon my own search for perfection. I could choose the dreams which showed how I had striven to become perfect. I knew I was far away from obtaining the goal of perfection, yet I thought I could show that by small degrees, over a long period of time, I had come closer to the goal. I had a lot of work to do both in pursuing the goal, and assembling the book, but at least now I thought I could see the direction to take.

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