I’ll bet you’ve never attended a Canadian dissertation defense at which dooce was chair of the committee and Keanu Reeves served as a special guest outside examiner! Well, in a dream from which I just woke up, I did — so there!
I got to the defense a little early. It was held at Heather’s house, and she was showing me around. The house was set on pronounced hill, so it had a view of the neighborhood, which was flooded at the time (surprisingly so; Heather hadn’t noticed how the water level had risen in the recent rains, but two-story houses at the base of the hill were under water). Heather, of course, praise Jon’s judgment for selecting so marvelous a house.
The defense started, and it was actually more like a critics’ get-together. The dissertator had evidently prepared an art project as her thesis, and everyone (a very well-attended defense, perhaps because of the guest star, but I saw some of my former colleagues from the biblical faculty of Princeton Seminary there, too) was milling around, waiting for someone to speak first.
At first, people asked some tentative questions, but Keanu was evidently worked up about something, and I nudged him to speak his piece. He asked the dissertator, with a tone of desperation, “Did you really mean just to say, ‘A – O; A – O; A, A, A, A, O, O, O, O’? Wasn’t there something more you could have done?” That caused a flurry of tut-tutting and disavowal of any involvement with the project. As people embarrassedly drifted out, Reeves went on to praise the dissertator’s earlier work — there was a painting that I had myself seen, a sort of Andy Warhol paint-over-photo with some crayon outlining, that everyone had thought sensational. Reeves was beseeching her to say why she had gone from a marvelous, subtle painting (you’ll have to take my word on that) to a videotape of two people saying “A – A – A” and “O – O – O.”
When the hors d’oeuvres ran out, I headed back to my office, a rather more spacious habitation than my present phone booth, and was settling down to ignore some work when a clump of attendees, knocked at my door. I invited them in, and a stream of black-turtlenecked hip critics flowed in, occupying every available seat and a bunk above a file cabinet (that is a very cool idea, by the way, and I may look into having a bunk bed over my files cabinets if I move — I could use a place to nap). I didn’t know all these people very well, so there were lengthy futile introductions, and just as we were getting around to discussing the dissertation defense we’d just seen, along with a project for indexing the works of Bob Newhart, somebody began deliberately scooping out the grounds from my coffee maker and spilling them on the floor. It turns out that this guest (who was the one lying on my bunk) was not one of the dissertation critics, but was just a wanderer who had stumbled in, drunk. I dragged him off the bunk, so that he landed in the midst of the grounds.
At that, I woke up, and felt the imperative urgency to record the weirdest dream I’ve had in ages.