Da Black Whole

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Force of Dreams Betrayed

this excerpt is from a 1986 interview by Michael Ventura with "science fiction" author Steve Erickson, and is extremely relevant to the problems plaguing modern America:

From The L.A. Weekly, August 29 - September 4, 1986

Erickson’s style echoes the approach of a character in Norman Mailer’s story The Man Who Studied Yoga: “He does not want to write a realistic novel because reality is no longer realistic.” A literary descendant of Faulkner, Henry Miller and Philip K. Dick, rather than of Hemingway and the literalists who followed him, Erickson tells a story by re-creating the essence of the world rather than describing its surfaces. Rubicon Beach, in its first part, gives us a Los Angeles in which a wide river passes through downtown, a Los Angeles of deserted buildings and noisy waterfront bars where a few remaining citizens travel by boat on canals, and where Hancock Park is an island populated by whores. This Los Angeles is an annex of America Two, where people who remember America One are arrested as subversives.

But this isn’t the future. In Part Two we see that the Los Angeles of Part One exists just under the surface of the present, in our nightmares and in our mistakes. It is an L.A. and an America that are already quite alive, in inner life rather than daily life.

Then, in Part Three, this is all taken frighteningly further. In elegant, intricate plot twists the characters realize that they have come together under the auspices of “a dream that destroys what is not fulfilled.

What an idea. What a force loose in the world. I have never seen it expressed with such precision. To have a dream -- as individuals, as lovers, or as a country -- is to subject yourself to the law that your very dream will reach out to destroy you if you fail its demands. Erickson is saying that this is a plight not only of America today, but of the 20th century itself. Our society is being demolished from within by the force of the dreams it has betrayed.

like individuals, nations and cultures make certain agreements when they come into being, and as Erickson understands, America is unconditionally bound by its stated principles and values, which have the force of "natural law"

when the nation contradicts its own deepest aspirations and dreams, it begins to implode like Manhatten at Ground Zero

in the Old Testament, for example, we see the same collective, self-fulfilling drama played out between God and Israel (or, if one wishes, between the natural law of projected collective consciousness, and a tribal proto-nation)

put alternately, ancient Israel -- exactly like modern America -- "mapped" its own destiny, and then was obliged, in very real and often traumatic ways, to live their collective dreams out, with "Yahweh" acting as a kind of National Judge

but unlike individual "mortal" judges, Yahweh could not be bribed or intimidated or unduly influenced, because he was the accurate, unexpurgated reflection of the Hebrew people, rising up through the unconsciousness of their shared Dream into incarnation, going like a desert storm "before and behind them" (meaning, simultaneously and atemporally "dreaming up" Israel's collective future, while "sweeping up behind": holding them accountable for their actions)

America's stated ideals and Living Dream are demanding, and so America's "Yahweh" will likewise be


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