The Dachshund Dream and American Insularity

I’m not typically a disclaimer sort of gal, but if you have an active imagination and especially if you love dogs, this one will be a bit disturbing. I know it was for me.

Last night and this morning, I dreamt that I was with a group of people whose Dachshund had a compulsion to cut himself open. In a routine that was artificially clean in the dream, he flipped himself over on his back and made a vertical cut starting in the middle of his chest and ending low in his abdomen, after which he would pull the two sides apart and poke at his clean, pink insides.

I was bewildered and disgusted, then deeply troubled, as his owners dismissed this as just “something he does.” “He’s fine!” they said, in that unconcerned voice one hears from an overly permissive parent when her child appears to be about to wander into traffic. Moreover, not only were they uninterested in doing something to stop the self-destructive behavior — take his knife, dull his claws, put something on him, stop him from flipping over to do it — but they also actively dissuaded me from stopping him when I instinctively tried to. “He’s fine!”

This happened a few times before I woke up, and each time I could see more bruising and lingering damage from the dog’s prodding on his insides. I appealed to his people again, to no avail, and that’s when I managed to wake up.

*          *          *

I immediately thought about what the heck my subconscious meant by that one and was a little surprised that immediately I seemed to know, since the dream was pretty metaphorical, more so than what’s usual for me. There was something that felt very American in their lack of caring, in their dismissal of and ignorance about what they were allowing to happen. Things happen around the world, around the country, in front of our very eyes if we have eyes to see, and we’d rather prattle on about silly things than take notice, let alone try to do something. I’ve been a little saddened of late to see how insular some of my friends are (and, let’s be fair, how insular I have been in the past and sometimes still can be when I get busy). What gets me is how much we shore up the dam of ignorance and pretend we bother staying informed, with our morning-show pseudo-news and fluff we read on the Web. We scan news-type links our friends and pseudo-friends post on Facebook while the real problems happen, the real shit happens — while the real world self-mutilates right in front of us.

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