American Dreams

Published 2007-03-20

Long, languid, atmospheric dreams of American landscapes occupied my sleep last night. Shopping malls, brick houses on tree-lined streets, farmland under an autumn prairie sky, an abbey set among pine trees. The dream action was the usual David Lynch stuff — vampire priest drug dealers, water-breathing dogs that are actually weasels, and so on — but it all happened in those landscapes. We saw Cars on pirate DVD a couple of weeks ago and the landscapes made us cry. I find it faintly amazing that I had lived my entire life previous to six months ago in a land with unused spaces.

Also: sparse as these dream landscapes were, the actors moving around in them were all American. Wobbly, big-stomached, smiling Americans, only a few of whom were Asian. Probably the most racist thing I find myself thinking is “I am so tired of looking at Asian faces.” This thought is disturbingly racist because it’s completely non-rational. It’s not because I don’t like my Chinese friends (because I do) or find Chinese people unattractive (because I don’t); it’s because I’ve always lived (and, more importantly, grew up with) American faces. The primitive lizard part of my brain (actually, probably the monkey part) is naturally drawn to faces like mine. Upon reflection, I’m not just drawn to faces like mine; I’m used to seeing many different kinds of faces during a day.