I dreamt of terrorism last night. In my dream, I was in the elevator where I work, but there was no light in the elevator. This has happened to me once before, when an after-hours conductor beckoned me to get on before I realized there was no illumination. The sensation of being in pitch blackness as you're descending is completely disorienting; it was like my breathless descent on the similarly lightless stairs from the same building the day of a big black-out a few years back—it felt like being a sentient creature with no body, no sense of where I began or ended.
The rest of the dream was more literal, about a giant building across the street from where I work being demolished by a car bomb. I could see police in cars screaming for everyone to evacuate the sidewalks. I walked home and yet another bomb went off in the Hudson, leading to surprisingly speedy "tourrorism," masses of people taking souvenir pictures of the destruction.
What caused this paranoid dream was a sliver of the film A Single Man, directed, co-written and co-produced by designing man Tom Ford, which I saw at a screening last night. In it, gay college professor George Falconer (Colin Firth), who is nearly enveloped in grief after the unexpected death of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode) in a car crash far from their Los Angeles home, lectures his class on the ways in which fear is used by corporations and governments to control our lives. This shockingly modern theme was not out of place in the film despite its early '60s setting, and it had caused me to dream up a fear that most Americans have been encouraged to have, and that most New Yorkers have based on the likelihood that something like this will happen again.
My brain had taken the opposite message of the character's speech and of the film itself; maybe the fear that's harder to overcome than the propaganda fed to us by potential oppressors is the fear we dream up ourselves. We can be our own worst enemies. Certainly George Falconer must overcome himself more so than any other dreadful barrier as he sets out to determine where a sentient being like he begins and ends in a world recently clouded by darkness.
George lives in a cozy L.A. suburb, sticking out like a sore thumb among paired-off heterosexuals and their inquisitive children. His sexuality is an open secret, yet still a secret. Curiously, he lives in a modern glass house designed by his late partner, an architect, making his external life more transparent than his internal one.