Paul has said, famously, that the song “Yesterday” came to him in a dream. It was so complete that he couldn’t believe it was original and went around humming the tune to see if people had heard it before.
People as creative as me and Paul have a hard time turning it off. I’ve always had a vivid dream life, but when my teaching duties begin to ease at the end of each semester, something channels all that energy into dreaming instead. (“All those faces I’ve never seen before and places I’ve never been…” I said wonderingly to Mrs. Churm one morning. “That sounds disturbed, not creative,” she said.)
It’s that time of the semester, and Wednesday night I dreamed into existence a new journal, called Flatness: The Quality, State, or Judgment of Being Unvertical. The first issue was on the flat topography of the Midwest and how it plays a role in the region’s marginalization. Subsequent issues took up other pejorative connotations of flatness, such as flat-lined, flat-chested, flat foot, flat broke, flatwork, and flat as a pancake. (What’s wrong with the form of pancakes? If they were spherical they’d roll off the plate.)
I also solicited other writers on positive notions of flatness in the culture: Great empty expanses of flat countertops in home kitchens, so unlike cluttered work surfaces in the professional kitchens they’re modeled on, are deemed beautiful because absence and lack of depth indicates leisure. The photo shoot I art-directed for this piece went great.
It was a long night, and the dream seemed to last hours. At some point I got print estimates: 4/1 cover, 2-color body, soy inks, perfect-bound, price breaks for quantities of 2,500, 5,000, and 10,000. (I was surprised at how little more 10,000 were compared with 5,000. Per-unit prices come down with greater quantity, you know.)
Anyway, for a flat fee, the whole thing can flat-out be yours: Corporate philosophy, financial plan, design concepts, invoices, mailing list, staff of people I never saw before, and my verbal description of the imaginary warehouse in Ontario, California, where the journals are now stored. With the end of classes, I’ll have a bunch of dreams, and this one is already so yesterday.