Monday, November 17, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/08: Grateful Dead Dream, Worship, Writing Grows

1. The Grateful Dead is in my head. Last night I dreamed that Jeff Harrison and I team taught a course on the Grateful Dead at LCC. I wrote Jeff as full of an account of the dream as I could. I've posted my description of the dream below.

2. I have attended services at St. Mary's Episcopal Church three out of the lasts five weeks. I think I'm getting back into the swing of worshipping. I was a bit reclusive at church today, but the worship felt right, necessary, and fulfilling. I felt at home.

3. Some of my writing students are really starting to get it and as their writing grows in power, my sense of enjoyment, stimulation, and happiness grows.


The Dream:

So, as is my habit now, I tuned the XM radio to channel 57 so the Grateful Dead would serenade me through the night and possibly get into my dreams.

There we were, Jeff: team teachers, giving a Grateful Dead course at Lane Community College. We built the course around the idea that the Grateful Dead were ancient and modern at the same time. We taught our students that the lightning bolt in the skull


is a yin yang symbol and that the Grateful Dead constitutes an infinite number of co-existing opposite principles in an eternal flux of assertion and recession. Sometimes the dark asserts and the light recedes, but they are of each other, and we taught that the Grateful Dead's music and musicianship give us a constant experience of moving fluidly within oppositions.

So, it was the last day of class and I raised the question we had started the course with: how can we understand the Grateful Dead in terms of the yin and yang of the ancient and modern.

A student shot up her hand and wondered how we could understand the elements of psychedelic drug use in terms of the ancient and the modern and you quoted, without a book or notes, a series of wisdom teachings from ancient Jewish mysticism and pointed out how lyrics in several Robert Hunter songs grew out of and paralleled this ancient mysticism and that tripping on LSD was a way of asserting modern mystic experiences in relation to our receding knowledge, in modern times, of ancient Jewish mysticism, but that the modern and the ancient were present in both the Grateful Dead's music and in the hallucinogenic rituals that developed in the scene surrounding the band.

You held up a large print of the lightning bolt in the skull and reminded the students that the lightning bolt is the ever fluid threshold between opposite forces and by thinking of the ancient as blue and the modern as red, we could see ways in which there are moments when the ancient blue is dominant in certain Grateful Dead moments and other times when the modern red dominates, but that the Grateful Dead, you reminded the students, should always be understood as portraying the endless interplay between the ancient and modern.

That's pretty much the dream. I don't know what tunes were playing on the radio during this dream....Dark Star maybe? or maybe Cosmic Charlie?

All I can say is thank God for Channel 57.


3 comments:

Inland Empire Girl said...

I started playing music when I slept last night. Unfortunately I think I mostly listened to one tune wonders from the '70s. I am surprised I didn't dream about the jukebox at The Happy Landing playing " I Shot the Sherrif".

myrtle beached whale said...

Do you know what the deadhead said when he ran out of drugs?
God, this music sucks.

Rob said...

Before I even read the description of your dream, I thought if the two of you ever taught that class, I'd return to Lane just to take it. After reading the description of your dream, I think you'd be doing the world a disservice if you didn't teach it.