3 September 2010

American Dream

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 10:06 am

“The small is, and the big ain’t.”

– aphorism attributed to Abe Lincoln by someone in my dream last night



  1. Hilarious. I’ve had two of my most pleasant dreams interrupted this week, in such a way that I forgot them immediately–I hate when that happens, because the nice ones are so nice to savour while you caffeinate your person…

    Dreamtalk is funny. I knew an older lady who could ‘channel’ it into daily talk, once she said ‘I’m going into the chink ‘n’ saw now’, meaning ‘I’m going into the kitchen now’. It was hilarious, and she knew it was dementia talk (once even said to me, ‘do you think that because I’m senile?’ which cracked me up.) In the 90s, I used to get dreamtalk on cassette player by holding it on my chest, going in and out of the dream, and speaking the dreamtalk while I was half asleep and listening later. I got musical phrases from dreaming them (one phrase of music in the clips I mentioned yesterday was directly taken out of a dream), and once came up with a whole list of dreamtalk things that amused one friend: ‘dogful whore’, ‘Odd dogs, dear, I’m certain there’s no such thing as odd dogs”, new words like ‘blandishment’ (don’t remember what that’s supposed to be).

    Just found the ones from 1985. Here’s one: “It was the yandle-yard at the school paper that it was a squeaky cancer that someone had.’ and: “he’s leaving havubb though. We were speaking of James Joyce; he said this wistfully: his parents cut off all his pig money, when they found out about all of this”. and: “Joan Blondell has been vouchsafed and secured. She marches down the planks to her native.”

    Your Abe Lincoln line made me think of John O’Hara’s novel ‘The Big Laugh’, which is very good.


    Comment by quantity of butchness — 3 September 2010 @ 10:49 am

  2. Excellent dreamtalk excerpts. No doubt Dominic could hook us up with an automatic Joyce-writing program, but even if it generated these very same phrases they’re better knowing that you actually dreamed them. The “his parents cut off all his pig money” offers particular promise. The last three nights I’ve awakened with dreams still fairly fresh in mind, but the only other bit of talk I remember came from the night before last: “Tell her we have MSG and spinach.” I’ve never done much with dream journaling and such. The other day I mentioned the novel Left-Handed Dreams by Francesca Duranti: the narrator, an Italian literature professor at NYU and an excellent cook, has rigged up The Machine, which she uses to record her dreams. The Machine, the dreams, and the novel were all disappointments, except for an intriguing recipe for a Gateau des Adieux included in the appendix.

    I think the Abe Lincoln dreamquote spun off from a discussion we had with Kenzie last night. Having been nominated for National Honor Society membership, she was required to write short-essay answers to four probing scholarly questions, due today. The last one was something like this: Please tell us how this saying from Frank Outlaw affects your life:

    “Watch your thoughts; they become words.
    Watch your words; they become actions.
    Watch your actions; they become habits.
    Watch your habits; they become character.
    Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

    Upon googling I found out that, although this saying is widely attributed to M Outlaw, there is no primary source to be found. Further, there isn’t even a Frank Outlaw of note who would have said it. The only known guy with this name founded some small American grocery chain; he also played a grocer in the film Raising Arizona.


    Comment by ktismatics — 3 September 2010 @ 11:45 am

    • Yes, there’s something quite authoritative about a dream-phrase; you know they’re not contrived, and were spontaneously generated.

      And, as I delved more deeply, I knew that ‘The Big Laugh’ wasn’t the only one, and underneath that was ‘The Big Easy’.

      Another Joyceanism came from a late amusing, if often horrible alcoholic. She had had an affair with an attractive younger man, and hadn’t been at all pleased when he married a girl his own age named Amy. So, when he called to complain about her, she got her revenge by saying ‘It sounds to me, dear Tom, like you’re caught in the horns of a dull-Amy’. That was pure heaven, because it gave some bimbo a kind of immortality, separated her from the other bimboes. And he didn’t get it at all, she just loved contriving the phrase, and then telling me about it.

      Here are a couple of others from my amusing old list: “Do you have what you want”, her Highness asked him. “Yes, some bland ice cream”.

      Dominic would like this one: “Some rhymes are called on account of their unsurpassed grievance”.

      and “Paul’s victims are intended to be sorted and sold and then walked into bed?”


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 3 September 2010 @ 1:44 pm

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