Dream of: 09 September 1996 "The Human Drama"
I was on the run, fleeing through a dense jungle. I was wearing green army fatigues which I hoped would camouflage me. Hearing a plane overhead, and sensing it was an enemy plane looking for me, I lay down on the ground and curled up as tightly as I could. After the plane had passed, I rose and ran. I was trying to reach my own troops, still some distance from me. When I saw that the plane had turned around and was coming back, I thought I must have been spotted after all.
I was experiencing a novel, actually experiencing instead of just reading. In the novel, I was sitting in the front passenger seat of a car which my father was driving, and in which two other members of my family were also riding. We were in flight, trying to escape enemy forces and to reach our own people. We were riding along a rough rocky road, which I knew was in Vietnam, sometime during World War I. As I tried to think of what I knew about Vietnam during World War I, I employed a method I commonly used when I tried to set the scene for a novel I was reading: I thought about other literary works which I had already read which had had the same setting. However, I had difficulty recalling anything to do with Vietnam during World War I. It seemed as if I had read one novel with that setting, but I couldn't clearly remember it. It also seemed as if the movie The Last Emperor had been partially set in Vietnam during World War I, and I ransacked my memory for scenes from that movie.
I also thought about how it seemed the time and place in a novel were merely the background for the human events which took place in the novel. I thought about how in my own writing, when I gave descriptions of the time and place, that I shouldn't simply do so for the sake of the descriptions, and that I shouldn't become carried away with superfluous descriptions. I knew I always disliked (when I was reading a novel) when the author would start giving a long-winded description of the scenery when the scenery had nothing to do with the action of the novel. For instance, I thought if I were describing the ragged road down which I was now riding, I should keep in mind what was actually important: the human drama. I thought the description of the setting should always relate to the human action.
Continuing on, as my father drove past a house, I noticed a large boulder rolling down the inclining yard, and I thought we needed to be careful there. After we had passed the house, I looked back and saw some people pushing the boulder.
It was growing dark and we had the headlights turned on. The road ahead curved off to the left. Right ahead of us, past the curve, was a tall dead tree which shone under our headlights. I was astonished to see what appeared to be a white mountain lion or cougar climbing straight up the side of the tree. I was extremely impressed, having never actually seen such an animal out in the wild. The area around us was becoming ever more jungle-like. Just about then, I also noticed a giraffe under the tree where the cougar was climbing. We had obviously entered into the jungle wilds, and I wondered what other kinds of animals were lurking in the increasingly dense vegetation which was crowding in on the road.
I was becoming increasingly concerned about whether my father and I were going to reach our destination. I wanted to know just how much farther we had to go, but when I asked my father, he didn't seem inclined to tell me. I continued to implore, saying, "Just give me an idea."
He finally mumbled, "A hundred miles."
Just as my father spoke, we turned the curve to our left, and found that the road had simply run out, that we were now driving through an overgrown field. Up ahead it looked even worse, almost impassable. I groaned, "Oh my God. We can't go a hundred miles in this. We can't go a mile in this."
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