The Dreamer and the Dream
One thing I love about good Science Fiction is the way it plays with ideas. When Deep Space Nine was airing Ann and I tried not to miss it. But I must have missed this one. The writing for that show is so Consistently Good it Still amazes me!
I cannot tell you the name of the episode, as that is flashed across the screen or written in print, (not my language) on the box.
But I will tell you About it. Guessing from the music, it was set in the 1940's or possibly the 1950's in a large city, possibly Harlem, though it might have been any large city with a segregated African American community. I don't know where that era's Sci. Fi. Pulp fiction was published in magazine serial form, but it was a city which had such a publisher.
Captain Benjamin Sisco of Deep Space Nine is in the middle of what feels like a Hopeless war with a superior enemy force which seeks Total Control of All of our quadrant of known space. He has just lost Another good friend, a ship's captain and his crew to this foe who would make all subservient to them or dead. When his father comes to visit from Earth it is because he is seriously worried about his son.
Captain Sisco collapses and his brain shows an incredibly High level of synaptic (nerve interaction) activity. Is he dreaming, having interactions with those known as "the prophets?"
A young, talented African American writer begins to write of a time 400 years in the future. He dreams of a station in space, whirling among the stars. And the Captain, like himself, is African American. But there are all Kinds of humanoids there, some tall, some short with big earlobes, and shape shifters, too. He writes so brilliantly that it all becomes believable, but . . .
The other Sci. Fi. Writers, (including a woman who must write as a man in order to get published) love his work! His girl friend owns a restaurant and wants him to get into another line of work, one that Pays!
But he Knows his work is good and either it can't leave Him alone or He cannot leave it. There are arguments with the magazine editor where All he has to do is Make his Captain White! But he can't do it, it isn't the truth living inside him.
Periodically he meets an African American man on the street who keeps giving him cryptic advise which always boils down to "write your truth from inside of you". I can't tell you if this man is a preacher or a homeless man, as I couldn't see him.
The magazine's editor keeps arguing that this young African American man can't have his picture on the periodical's cover along with the white Men, because the public "isn't ready to accept Negro and women writers." When our young writer mentions W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, and others, the editor dismisses him by saying such authors are Only read by educated, liberal people, Not the general public. But Finally a story is written which is So good that even the editor can't resist. He agrees to get it published!
The young writer joyfully Celebrates with his girl friend and his friends who Want to read more of his work and See his name in print, even If the pay is crumbs.
When this writer happily enters the editor's office next he is told that his story is not going to be published and that the magazine owner has ordered the editor to fire him. As his stories about white people Have been published, the other writers for the magazine argue on his behalf. Everyone Knows it's the color of his skin and his insistence on African American characters in "white roles". Which have seen his work trashed and our writer unemployed, on the street, and possibly in danger of losing the girl he loves. At the end of this scene the young writer is broken, sobbing, insisting that all he has written Is Real.
On the street once again, he meets the man who guides him. This time he is Told that He, the young gifted black writer Is both the dreamer and the Dream.
Captain Sisco wakes as his brain returns to a normal level of activity. After experiencing what everyone refers to as his "dream" of struggle in the past, he decides he is where he is meant to be and that he will continue to struggle in his time, 400 years After the time of his "dream." But he, like us, must wonder if his Current reality is the dream.
This episode, like "Sanctuary" (written about earlier) was so convincingly acted that I was in deep pain, starting to cry along with that young man when his dream was broken and his gifts thrown aside.
Once I came back to my reality, I'm afraid my first thought was, "Hell, who dreamed up This mess of a life?"
Then I thought about the belief of Buddhists and Some Native Americans that we are all children of a common dream. Our dreams weave together to make our common shared reality. I wondered how far back, how long ago a totally blind, hearing impaired person had to dream big in order for me to be using a machine that could talk loudly enough and send my words to people I don't know, across spaces I cannot physically travel.
Sorry if this copied from "Word"" in a chopped up fashion.