I have long been haunted by the memory of a dream that I had forty years ago, circa 1970-71. In 1991, my first year in Ohio after leaving New York, I kept a journal in which I examined my life up to that point. Included in this journal were sketches of any dream that I had dreamed in my lifetime, the power of which had been such that it was never forgotten. This morning, prodded into action by reading of some dreams related by Pentimento on her blog, I dug that journal out of its box. I was gratified to find that I had, indeed, written down what I remembered of the dream in question there. On September 10, 1991, I wrote:
The dream that I wish I could remember more clearly I had in Brooklyn, now twenty years ago. I was in the presence of, I think, three robed and hooded old men. I am certain that there were more than one. I usually dream in color, but there is no color associated with this dream, perhaps because the light is so dim. I am receiving instruction in some mystery. I have been asked a question that presumably I have been taught enough to answer. I feel anxiety that I will fail to answer correctly and that I will fail my instructors, who are plainly wise men, wizards. But suddenly, led on I think by some kind of prompting recapitulation on the part of the wise men, the answer comes to me and I blurt it out proudly and joyfully – “Oil!” If only I could remember the preceding instruction so that I could know the mystery to which “oil” is the correct answer.
I did not write in 1991 that I am quite certain that I was being instructed from a text. I am also quite certain that the three wise men were not of earthly provenance. In addition to being prompted by Pentimento, I was again set to musing about this dream by this illustration of the three “men” who visited Abraham, from Chapter 18 of Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated:
I call this dream “haunting” because of my tentative but persistent belief that the mysterious question to which “oil” was the correct answer –and the key to knowledge – was: What will bring about the End of the World?