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October 17th, 2010

Dream Language

The free association in dreams can be a really fascinating thing to examine when you get a hook on it.   This morning I woke up from a dream where I was trying with no success to photograph a gay pride parade.   In the typical way of dreams that want to frustrate you, the digital SLR I was carrying absolutely refused to take the shots I was trying to take.   But what stuck in my mind after I woke up, was the enchanting use of two commonplace words.

I was standing at one end of the main street of some small city: a mashup as these dream locals usually are of several city neighborhoods I’ve lived in over the course of my life.   The parade was coming toward me in the distance and I was facing down a street with a grade that casually dipped down and then rose back up again in the distance to a point slightly higher then where I was standing.   Both sides of the street were packed with old brick buildings, like oversized row houses.   Most were shops with large glass display windows.   Narrow sidewalks lined both sides of the street, which was empty of cars for the parade.   People lined the street, watching the parade in the distance as it came toward us.

I had a good digital SLR around my neck and a camera bag with various items hanging from one shoulder.   As I tried to snap off a few shots of the people watching, and also of the parade in the distance, the camera kept failing to take the shot.   Interestingly, the camera gave me tactile feedback that the shot had failed, by way of the shutter release.   Instead of a short sharp throw and clean release, the button became heavy and mushy and then would not move.   As soon as I felt it I knew something had gone wrong.   I glanced at the digital display on the back of the camera, only to see a shot I’d taken some weeks before, still on the memory card.

Ah…thinks I…the memory card is full.   I tried erasing what was on it, not caring at that point if I’d saved the images off somewhere because I had a job to do, which was cover the pride parade.   But the card would not erase.   It was that kind of dream.   I tried reformatting it and that didn’t work.   So I ejected that one and rummaged around in my camera bag for another. But all I could find were old, low capacity cards.   I knew I couldn’t get many shots on those, but now I was getting desperate, the parade was coming closer, so I popped one in.   When I tried to take a shot with it, the camera ejected it.

I was on a main street, full of little shops.   I wondered if one of those sold memory cards.   Here’s where it got interesting.   I walked over to one of the bystanders and asked them if there was a place nearby that sold glass.   “Glass” in this dream world, apparently being the word people used for memory cards.   The guy I asked knew right away what I meant, and pointed me to a shop just a couple doors down.   I thanked my good fortune and ran over to it and ducked inside.

Inside was like an old candy store, except instead of chocolate bars there were dozens and dozens of different kinds of memory cards, all laid out in rows of trays.   There was no packaging, just the cards, by type and brand.   Most were of types I’d never seen before.   It was almost like looking a trays of loose nuts and bolts except the cards were all laid out neatly in rows.   As I looked over a particular row of cards, the proprietor of the shop, a friendly looking older guy who was standing behind the counter, told me that the glass in that particular section were all product fancy.   It was a term I immediately understood to mean second hand.

It’s interesting how the mind works.   “Product fancy” in that dream world, was when someone buys something and they take it home and it turns out it wasn’t the right size or something after all, so they bring it back and exchange it for something else that is right.   So it was merchandise returned almost immediately either without having been used or only used once.   A higher grade of second hand merchandise in other words.   “Like new”.   The term “product fancy” probably came from some dream state free conflation in my mind of two senses of the word “fancy”: something you desire, and something illusory.     I thought that was the right size but it wasn’t…

The use of “glass” for “memory card” probably came from that dream state free association of memory chips and silicon, which is what chips are made from, and silica which is the oxide of silicon glass is made from.

The dream ended as I was looking through the trays for a memory card so I don’t know if I ever found one and got the parade shots I wanted, but when it ended I was confidant they were there, that shop seemed to sell nothing but memory cards and they had hundreds of different types all laid out like candy bars in a candy store, so I probably did eventually get my shots.   That was a kinda neat world though.   Some mornings I wake up wishing I lived in the world I was just dreaming about.

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