When dreams are wrong

Just finished three stories of dreams.

Moby Dick was tough, 574 pages with the narrative anatomy of a giant whale: parts entertaining and fleshy, intersections bony, and gross squishy segments like spermaceti. I didn’t really need to envision a harpooner falling headfirst into a leviathan’s butchered head. The long tale is all just foreboding, a sequence of warnings and premonitions not to chase the wrong dream. Ahab encounters numerous other ships with their own states of loss: a plague; one captain without wit, another who just lost his son; and near the end even all of nature tries to wave him off. Ahab just won’t listen, each warning falling on his head like hammers on an anvil.

The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s early days as a reporter tells the true tale of a Colombian trying to survive alone in a naval raft 10 days lost at sea, bored and then blissed out drinking seawater and almost resigned to die but kept alive by the pain in his wounded knee. Luis Alejandro Velasco was washed overboard by a wave simply when he wasn’t looking. Upon surviving, he was decreed a national hero, made then-equivalent millions with product endorsements, and wondered in the end, why me?

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener was the best: A simple tale of a young woman who loses herself among the futuristic male arrogance of Silicon Valley. Twentysomethings make millions with software that reinvents commodities, take retreats in analog nature as defense against their simulacra, and bored with virtualizing taxis and typing eventually plot to create entire new cities, now “smart,” from scratch. In the end Anna cashes out, washes away into a sea of creativity, where pay is less but she can be happy not drinking the technofuture Kool-aid.

Don’t chase the wrong dream; if you fall into the wrong one, you can survive; and if the dream doesn’t fit, wake up. I like these lessons.

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