Wednesday, August 10, 2022

My dream on the eve of September 11, 2001

This is really weird, and I'm still not exactly sure how it happened, but last night I was trying to type a web address into my browser, and some combination of typing errors and an autocomplete function with a really long memory caused the browser to bring up a Wayback Machine archive of something I had published on a long-defunct GeoCities website on September 12, 2001. I still have no idea how that happened. I have no memory of ever visiting the archive of that site, or if I have it can't have been at all recently, and my browsing history backs me up on that: no record of ever having visited it before last night, and yet somehow the autocomplete function on that same browser served it up.

This obviously indicates the hand of the sync fairies, or of other unseen agencies, so I'm posting it here.

This, unmodified, is what I wrote in my personal journal the day after the attack. As you can tell by reading it, I wasn't planning on posting it on the Internet -- but, for some reason, I now feel like I ought to.

9:30 a.m. Wednesday 12 September 2001

I've been working on my alife insects -- I can't call them ants now, since they're all able to reproduce -- and yesterday morning I was putting some finishing touches on the program when Dad came in the door in a great hurry and told me the news: Hijacked airliners had been crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It took a second to register. At first it was just another news item, just another terrorist attack. Dad's breathlessness over it all helped me realize (academically, anyway) just what a monumental event had just occurred. "It's not going to be the same America after this," he kept saying. He may be right. I don't know. Who can say at this point just what the fallout will be?

Everything was canceled. João came home early because LCC was closed for the day. Institute was canceled. Mom and Dad's meetings were canceled. Everything stood still. The ambient attitude was that to go about one's daily activities after what had just happened would be in very poor taste. Everyone should stop everything, watch the news, and spend the day thinking about the disaster. I didn't. I went about my day. I didn't feel a need to dwell on the incident -- but that evening, when I went on the Internet, my attitude began to change. Every site I went to had some acknowledgment of the disaster. Every blog had an entry -- or several entries -- about it. Arts and Letters Daily had "Jesus Wept" written in place of their usual "Veritas odit moras" motto. Even Google had an attack-related addition to its bare-bones page. Jorn Barger (of Robot Wisdom), pro-Palestinian in his opinions, had a link to pictures of the attack, with the linktext "If you want peace, work for justice." After reading all that, I felt that my blog, too, should acknowledge the disaster -- unless I wanted to look completely heartless. But I had nothing to say about it. I linked to the BBC story, using the date as the linktext and making no commentary. Then I deleted the post, thinking it artificial. That was the idea behind my new blogging style, right? I'm not linking or writing out of a sense of duty -- I'm linking when there's something to link, writing when there's something to write. A link to news about the attack would be pointless: who hasn't read it already? So now my blog doesn't acknowledge the attack at all, and probably won't -- unless I end up writing an article with some substance, which I most likely won't. Why should I let a terrorist leave footprints in my blog?

I feel no sadness, no anger, no hatred -- only a sense of unreality and occasionally a black, empty feeling. It still doesn't feel real. The pictures don't look real; they look like something from a movie. The stories seem to be straight out of a novel. The feeling of emptiness was with me on and off all day yesterday. It was with me from the time I woke up -- before I knew anything about the disaster. It was a new kind of feeling, and as I tried to clothe it in words all my ridiculous brain could come up with was a cheesy line from Star Wars: "I feel a great disturbance in the force...."

Part of me wants to call it precognition or some such, but I think it more likely that the dark feeling was a leftover from the disturbing dreams I had had that night. I dreamed I was shot. An unshaven, black-haired man was putting a new magazine in his machine gun, and we were laughing at him -- laughing because he was a bad shot, and could never get us. The people who were with me -- my friends -- told me to lay down on the ground and demand to be shot, and I did. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I threw myself on the ground and said, "Just shoot me! Now!" And he did -- that's not what was supposed to happen. There was a sharp report, and I felt the bullet bite into my back, just to the left of my spine. My thoughts were running at a frantic pace: "He just shot me! Am I going to die? Am I ready? Of course I am going to die... and of course I am ready... it's over... it's finally over...." The bullet entered my heart, and a dark, warm, paralyzing feeling swept over me. I felt myself lose consciousness, lose identity, and everything was black and silent and timeless. The last thing I heard before I disappeared was my friends' laughter.

This syncs to some extent with the recent dream I recounted in "Many sparrows, again, and various other sync links." In that dream, an FBI agent I had known as a child came to my house, and I thought, "That's Mr. Graff from the FBI. I'd better go with him," and got in the backseat of his car -- effectively "arresting myself" instead of being arrested by force. Reacting to an FBI visit that way is somewhat akin to reacting to a gunman by lying on the ground and demanding to be shot.

The link that really got my attention, though, was that in the 2001 dream "we were laughing at him -- laughing because he was a bad shot, and could never get us." The reason I posted my recent FBI dream was that a sync related to clay sparrows had made me think of clay pigeons, which made me think of skeet shooting -- the one form of shooting at which the otherwise omnicompetent, Chuck Norris-like Mr. Graff was a spectacularly bad shot.

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