Crime and Almost Punishment

In my dream last night I was a high school student, somehow wearing the uniforms like a Thai student: oversized white shirts, knee-length blue shorts, white socks and black sneakers. (Indonesian senior high schoolers wear long grey pants.) I belonged to a gang of brighties in the school – much like in my real life during the second and third junior years, and that was almost thirty years ago.

In my last night dream, though, my gang did something much more exciting. We were in the middle of a heist as the dream started. I guess there were about ten of us. There was a leader, and I couldn’t recognize that leader; I guess he did not relate to any real friends that I have in real life. But I remember he was handsome, charming, and brave. I think he was a Julian. I am referring to Enid Blyton’s Julian from Famous Five series.

This Leader and I were close. He favored me because I did not talk much, but I did my tasks right. Another particular member in the gang was someone the Leader did not like so much because he was a kinda fool who messed up things so he always ended up doing only trivial stuff. I was glad I was not that person. The Leader always counted him last.

The object of our heist was a stack of government bonds worth some millions (I guess, because I did not understand much about government bonds). We have succeeded in our heist and got back to our school building where we distributed our shares. After I got mine I quickly walked out of school casually. It was around five in the evening and the sun was preparing its way down west. As I walked out of school I had already got a feeling that some government agents were actually tailing us, and we would be caught eventually. I did not dismiss that intuition, I accepted it, but I did nothing. My conscience was well adjusted with such eventuality, much like Raskolnikov’s.

I went home where I lived with a sister – but not my real life sister. I could not recall the face of this sister and her husband. But they were a nice and loving couple. They were not there when I went home, but I knew that they would be in an hour or two. So I spent time flirting with some boys near my house. There were one boy that I always had my eyes on but he always hung around with his two other friends so it was quite hard for me to advance my moves. That evening I actually had a good chance of scoring him as he also gave a positive signal. Too bad it was the time when I heard some movements in the house. My sister and brother-in-law had come and they were going through closets in my bedroom. They must have been informed by the police that I was in some kind of trouble.

I entered my room, and the sister and brother-in-law looked at me, troubled and full of disbelief. Apparently in that dream universe I was known as a good boy with no slight chance of ever committing a crime. I replied with quiet yes-I-did-that look. I took out my share of the government bonds from the pocket of my white high school shirt and let them saw them.

The next thing I knew I was already sent to a prison. I was then put in line with my fellow gang members. We were queuing to have our hair cut and shaved. When it was my turn, I smiled to the officer who would by prison barber. My hair style was always semi-bald, so I casually told him, “Well, mine wouldn’t be much work for ya’.” He welcomed that joke with a friendly smile.

Lucids in the Sky with Diamonds

That was the time in my dream where my mind made a conscious decision. “Ah, no I don’t want to experience this dream any further. Prison life would be nasty. OK, time to leave this dream and get back to reality.” Thus, I forced myself to wake up.

Was it count as a lucid dream? I cannot be sure. I have not had a chance to read Freud thus I have no confidence to talk about dreams. But I have just finished Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and Homo Deus – two awesome books that I devoured in a week. Harari said that we are now losing our ability to dream;

In addition to smelling and paying attention, we have also been losing our ability to dream. Many cultures believed that what people see and do in their dreams is no less important than what they see and do while awake. Hence people actively developed their ability to dream, to remember dreams and even to control their actions in the dream world, which is known as ‘lucid dreaming’. Experts in lucid dreaming could move about the dream world at will, and claimed they could even travel to higher planes of existence and meet visitors in other worlds. The modern world, in contrast, dismissed dreams as subconscious messages at best, and mental garbage at worst.

Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus

I guess I have experienced lucid dreams more than a couple of times where at the very least I could call “Cut!” when the scene were going to an unpleasing direction. At least three times I have also intentionally woke up from a nasty dream, then quickly submerged my consciousness back to the dream world, placed myself in the previous scenes, and made better choices to have a better ending of the dream. Sadly, I took those expriences for granted and never recorded them.

Last night dream was quite beautiful. I guess it reflected a lot about my complex morality; my crime, my sexual desire, and my acceptance of eventuality. I also loved the prominent characters in the heist dream; the Leader, the Fool, the Sister, and the I.

At the very least, the dream reflected the books I have just recently read; Harari’s and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

I wish to collect more stories and reflection by noting down my dreams, lucid or not. I suspect recollecting dreams will train myself to atune to dream world. I believe there will be more government bonds and even diamonds to harvest.

Note to Self: Do further research and read Freud. (Oh, and should there be fateful readers who come across this entry and have a say about dreams and lucid dreams, please flood the comment section – much thanks!)

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Among my favorite tenants in Pasar Santa is POST – a quirky and friendly corner tagged as “books, gatherings & all things creative”. POST is the creative mind of Pasar Santa. The clean cut space makes it versatile for new ideas. It is magical how the boxy POST can generate out of the box thinking.

POST displays neatly curated books by independent publishers. POST has been a space to launch new ideas; from a new discourse on feminism, to a showcase of musical talents, and from sketches of Jakarta’s transportation system, to visual documentation of the city’s awkward personalities. And, last night, POST transformed itself to become a writing corner.

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I decided to join a gang of writers sitting together. There were eight of us, working on different things. We were given a challenge to finish our projects – whatever they were – in four hours. Project proposal, novel, short story, feature article, and – for me – treatment for a movie script.

The idea of this writing challenge might sound simple. Yet, when it was happening, and I became a part of it, there was this huge magical sense that I never thought I would experience.

From the inside, the communal writing activity with a clear goal boosted our focus and courage to achieve our objective. We wrote almost with no break. We were not even bothered by the noise coming from the people and other activities happening around us. And, yes, there were no walls to protect us from those noise.

From the outside, the view of a small, independent book shop transformed into a display of how “books” were done – the process of writing. It was a sight that you wouldn’t normally see every day.

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Every writer that was involved in this writing challenge were occupied and busy with their own world. There were worlds gathering inside POST that night, making the place felt like a borderless universe.

When one of us declared the task was completed we cheered and clapped together, making a genuine celebration of success. There were many small, genuince celebrations that night, creating a joyful spark inside the traditional market. And, yes, I also accomplished my goal, and finished drafting the treatment of my new movie script.

Thank you very much, Maesy, Teddy and Steve from POST for arranging and initiating this writing challenge! It was an experience I will never forget!

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Set in early 2000, Matt Beaumont’s e: A Novel takes us to the inboxes of Miller Shanks London, a fictional advertising agency that is facing the most important pitch at the turning of a new millenia: the Coca Cola pitch. Told entirely through emails, the book serves our natural instinct as curious cats. Meet Head of Creative Department Simon Horne whose creative juice has been expired for far too long, his Personal Assistant Susi Judge-Davis who is always ready to worship him, cold-blooded CEO David Crutton whose emails always get misdirected to Helsinki, self-worshipping Head of Client Services Daniel Westbrooke, and more to make you go ROTFLMAO as the page turns. Backstabbing, stealing ideas, ladyboy shagging, tits explosion, and other routines in a typical ad agency – all checked.

I’ve lost my first copy of e: A Novel, and as I went to Kinokuniya in Takashimaya, Singapore to buy another copy last year I was surprised to find its sequel – e2, or e Squared.

Just like the movie Before Sunset to Before Sunrise, e Squared is set nine years later with David Crutton leading the story as ‘The Man’ in Meerkat360 – “an advertising agency so cutting-edge it employs a hairdresser.” Susi Judge-Davis is now Susi Judge-Davis-Gaultier and believes that she is a fashion goddess. My favorite character is Harvey Harvey who is “so polite he replies to spam”. Forget Coke, now Meerkat360 is assigned to sell cigarettes for toddlers, and celebrity perfumes under the names of Margaret Thatcher, Osama Bin Laden, and Kim Jong-Il among many. With more weird characters and extreme situations told not only through emails but also blogs, MSN chats, and other text messaging platforms, e Squared might be less believable, but definitely more hilarious. Check out!

If you’re into dry and sarcastic British humor, these two books are your double bill. And if you happen to work in an advertising agency or related area, these are your bibles. (WARNING: Giving these as a gift for your Creative Director might be considered as an insult. Please do.)

e: A Novel
Beaumont, Matt. ISBN 978-0-452-28188-2
First published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, 2000

e Squared
Beaumont, Matt. ISBN 978-0-552-77565-6
First published by Bantam Press
First Printing, 2009