My Green Nightmare
by Adam Robbert
The other night I had a dream that stuck with me. I was sitting in my family’s living room; a detailed facsimile of the real thing, everything in its right place. So undreamlike was this dream that it took me a moment to wise up to the reality of the situation at hand. This was a dream. I was asleep. And yet there I was, sitting in a perfect representation of my living room. We were playing cards, my father and I drinking scotch with a good friend. My mother pouring white wine and eating crackers. Everyone is laughing, everything is great.
We were debating something called “the interlink” which I gathered was something like the internet, but featured the possibility of uploading your consciousness to it directly. It was a lively conversation, with most of the participants agreeing that “we should go Luddite when the interlink is turned on.” But this dull and predictable trope of science fiction novels is not why I am retelling this dream here. As we all sat around the small wood table in the center of the room, I looked over at my mother; but it was not my mother, she was an impostor.
The impostor laughed as no one else seemed to noticed the con unfolding in plain sight, whilst at the same time telegraphing to me that she knew I’d caught on to the game. This lurking being wasn’t anything like the kind of uncanny villain one might find in a David Lynch film. This being was both darker and more pedestrian. I was perturbed by this chameleon who wanted to hitch a ride while the rest of my family and I played cards. But the pedestrian quality of this specter-hitchhiker is precisely what stopped me from acting to reveal the farce to everyone. Had she come off more terrifying or threatening I surely would have acted swiftly; determined to protect my friends and family from this dark intruder. But that never happened and the charade continued on, no one the wiser.
I awoke with a feeling that I had betrayed my post, that I should have acted to end the fake carnival of family pleasantry. Later I recalled a passage somewhere from William Burroughs. He commented something to the effect that the worst Bardo realms are the ones that are not quite horrific or troublesome enough to make you realize that they are facsimiles. The idea Burroughs expressed was that if things become too obvious — too cliche like a Hellraiser movie — then one would quickly detect the rouse being played and head immediately for the clear light. But if things are just normal enough the charade can go one indefinitely.
The imposter in my dream was just normal looking enough to go unnoticed (no bad guys here), but still had a quality that made my hair stand on end. I suspect this person in my dream — masquerading as my mother — is somehow symptomatic of the ecological crisis. Everywhere everything is wrong and yet everywhere we continue to sit contemplating: is this a crisis or is this just a living room full of familiar faces? The real horror then becomes the normalcy of a situation that looks just decent enough to promote indefinite indecision.
Neoindustrialism tries to sell us on things like ecocapitalism but these ideas are like that little specter who sneaks into your living room and pretends to be a caring family member; all the while hoping that you will continue to think everything is normal, even when all signs point to darkness. When global technoscience clashes with intimate living room spaces, the stories of familiar looking heroes and villains become symptomatic of an age out of sync with reality. They tell stories too probable to be true; all the while convincing us to do nothing, and thats the point isn’t it?