Eduardo Galeano, Latin America’s Leftist Literary Giant and Poet Laureate
He Was a Friend of Mine: Jack Slater

“I think, therefore I am.”


I’m a rational man. Logical, knowledgeable, and down to earth. Science fiction? Forget it. I prefer Dostoyevsky, Durrell, & Philip Roth. Cartoons? Super heroes? Fantasy? No thanks. I’ll take the psychological, conflicted realism of our three great American playwrights: Williams, O’Neill, and Arthur Miller. Religion? Bah! Humbug! “The opiate of the masses.” I’m a confirmed atheist. We were not made in God’s image; he was made in ours…. out of our unknowingness, out of our fear. Messiahs? Immaculate conceptions? A dude dying on a cross for our sins? Malarkey! I prefer old time animism and anthropomorphism: Zeus, Helena, sun, earth, sky, moon. Popes? Mullahs? Crusades? Jihads? Damn them all. Wars are fought for economic gain and political power. I don’t believe in “fate”; rather in coincidence, synchronicity, and dumb luck. That’s the only “magic” I know. Intuition, instinct, art…. okay. That’s as far as I’ll go.

You get the point….

So… why is it that I am eternally haunted by… dreams?

Usually, nightmares. Just about every night of my life. Annihilation dreams…. where I’m attacked, impaled, crushed, caught, pulverized, or destroyed. Every night. Existential annihilation. I’m fleeing from Hitler in an army convoy, but he’s gaining on me. I’m stuck at the bottom of the sea and I can’t breathe. I’m being pierced by arrows, and if I don’t violently wake myself up, I will, in fact, be really dead. My goodness! I hate these dreams! They torture me. By comparison, waking life is easy. Sure, it’s unpredictable… but it’s logical. You win some, you lose some. You make choices and commitments. You choose courage. Risk. You roll the dice. Play the game.

But dreams…

Where does the imagery come from? It’s so… un-recognizable. So… far out… of anything I could ever think of. Or imagine. It can’t be coming from… my brain…. my conflicts…. my fears…. where, of course, I know dreams come from. Like if I fear something, I will often discover the earliest version of that fear in my dream. Like… am I homosexual? Well, then Peter Katz, the effeminate boy from the 3rd grade, will appear in my dream, because he’s the first “gay” reference my brain can provide. I grew up as a second generation American Jew, fresh from Ashkenazy memories of the German death camps. Of course, I’m haunted by Hitler. My tribe always knows that… the sky is going to fall. We  always fear… I always fear….that I’m going to be exterminated.

bali cremation

But the images? Where are they from? Whose world if not mine? Like last night: I’m late for another appointment. I’m up north…. in a suburb… someplace like Evanston, Chicago. The congested downtown Loop is between me and where I need to go… the Southside. I’m at a family, Christmas-like show… snow angels… cookies…. a kids performance. I have to get out of there. The Dean is waiting for me. I call her assistant … but she picks up herself… the Boss. I apologize, “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” But I don’t leave. For some reason, I can’t.

There are marbles in the kids show. Then suddenly, there is a cosmic explosion…. the tiny marbles swell and swirl into a gigantic, fractured, kaleidoscopic Milky Way. How? I never saw anything like these image in my life. Where are they from? How did they end up in my dream? I didn’t think them up. I didn’t create them. They just came.

Then, I’m leaving, or trying to. I’ve already missed the beginning of class, or wherever I’m supposed to be. I’m in a lovely, ornate exit lobby, like a fancy museum gift shop, and they’re selling food… delicious-looking desserts, coffees, exotic Whole Foody salads and quiches. I never saw food like this. So beautiful. Or the salesladies. Who are they? I can see their faces. And their hats. How did they enter my dream so specifically? Where are they from? Whose world if not mine?

I can’t resist. I want to buy the food. But I don’t. I just keep looking… from one buffet dish to another.


I never leave. I just can’t. Until I know it’s too late. Until I know… I’ll never get through the Loop to the Southside to my appointment. In fact, it’s already past the end of the meeting time. I’ve fucked up. I’ve failed. The Dean will have my head. My job. Another dream has defeated me. Annihilated me. I wake up.

And again… I ask? Where does this shit come from? I never saw or read anything like it? It’s not familiar. It’s not recognizable. It not “mine”. It’s like science fiction… or fantasy… and I don’t believe in that stuff. It’s not logical. It’s not right. It’s not… right.

But… it is…..

Eduardo Galeano, Latin America’s Leftist Literary Giant and Poet Laureate
He Was a Friend of Mine: Jack Slater