HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
You may have come to this essay first, as your choice for navigating through this project we call Dreaming Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or you may have come to it after explorations of some of the other interconnected and unusual elements that make up this website. In either case we feel obliged to describe briefly what you will find here and why, in a very real sense, you should not read this the way you probably want to read this. This essay, in four parts, describes and argues in more traditional academic terms than does the rest of this website the issues we think are relevant to an attempt to translate academic research into hypertext forms.
Part I is a description of the project, its history and form and it can be found HERE.
Parts II, III and IV follow in a linear fashion below. But like Jack Miles suggests of Mark Taylors work on postmodernism and the world of surfaces (Hiding 1997), this text should be read wrong. It should not be read as an argument that is trying to coerce or seduce you into seeing it our way. It is simply (or not) an effort to show you how to see things differently. This, of course, is the legacy of dreams. Like in a dream, you should find yourself suddenly jumping to a new place (internal and external links) or entering odd and disconnected realms that shake up the thought processes as well as help you put things back together in new ways. Dream/read well.
PART II: AM I DREAMING?
The dream is becoming a useful metaphor for the basic structure of our information, postindustrial, end-of-the-millennium culture. For example, in a New York Times article on the trends in visual design evident in the last few decades, Herbert Muschamp (1998: 61) calls these the dreamy times for design. He elaborates that the rapid shifts taking place in design trends and styles are like the rapid shifting, irrational play of dreams. With its disparate connections, indeterminable authors, rapid changes, fluidity, emphasis on metamorphosis, non-human protagonists, and innumerable border crossings (see Wilkerson 1997: 2 ), the dream provides a better metaphor than do highways (too linear), webs (too structured), or communities (simply inevitable when humans get together).
The dream reflects in already comprehensible terms what many have defined as the postmodern condition of our culture at the end of the century. Everyone has their favorite list of this condition that demonstrates a paradigm shift in which we can see a decisive rupture with previous ways of life (Best and Kellner 1997: viii). These changes mean that we view and interpret the world around us in different ways (ibid.) and consequently will act, think and believe in different ways. The postmodern turn involves engaging emerging forms of culture and everyday life (ibid. ix). For Best and Kellner, the term postmodern is often no more than a placeholder... for novel phenomena that deserve our attention (ibid.: 23).
As historians of the postmodern turn, Best and Kellner offer these characteristics (1997: 255-258): 1. the rejection of unifying, totalizing, and universal schemes in favor of a new emphasis on difference, plurality, fragmentation and complexity; 2. the renouncing of closed structure, fixed meaning and rigid order in favor of play, indeterminancy, incompleteness, uncertainty, ambiguity, contingency and chaos; 3. abandoning realism and the representational, unmediated objectivity and truth in favor of perspectivism, anti-foundationalism, hermeneutics, intertextuality, simulation and relativism; and 4. breaking down boundaries between disciplines, between the academic and the everyday.
For Janet Murray, who investigates the changes that are taking place in narrative forms in digital spaces, "To be alive in the twentieth century is to be aware of the alternative possible selves, of alternative possible worlds, and of the limitless intersecting stories of the actual world" (Murray 1997: 38). These possibilities are being expressed in new narrative forms including the hypertext and, we would suggest, old but newly revalued narrative forms like the dream. As Murray comments, "The existence of hypertext has given writers a new means of experimenting with segmentation, juxtaposition, and connectedness. Stories written in hypertext generally have more than one entry point, many internal branches, and no clear ending" (ibid.: 55).
She could, of course, be describing dreams. Bert States, in his extensive research on dreams as rhetorical forms, see dreams as the raw and unruly narratives that result from the brains nocturnal processing of everyday activities (research and otherwise). When we sleep we organize this glut of information into a preliminary narrative form that doesnt suffer the obsessive editing that characterizes our formal (especially academic) writing and speech. In the dream we (or whatever entity constructs the dream) are unafraid of outside constraints, enjoy trying and discarding ideas with abandon, make connections that are wild and promiscuous, and just generally let things happen. He, of course, could be describing a hypertext or its most visible manifestation, the Internet.
If dreams provide the basic metaphor of our present condition, and hypertext/the Internet is the current preferred way of seeing and experiencing that condition, where does Arnold Schwarzenegger come in? We think that more than any other figure in late twentieth century culture, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the one who embodies in a very direct, physical way all the qualities of information culture that make it so intriguing to so many scholars. He thus becomes useful as a vehicle for exploring these interests because many of these issues are so abstract or esoteric that it is difficult to see how they might be manifested in the lives and activities of real people. Arnold Schwarzenegger is our template for exploring the issues of living and thinking at the end of the 20th century. If our theory about the interconnectedness and hypertextuality of culture is true, one could start almost anywhere and eventually come to similar conclusions. We hope using Schwarzenegger as our vehicle makes some of our points clearer and also provides a more pleasurable and surprising exploration than a more traditional subject might.
Dreaming Arnold Schwarzenegger is a project about examining connection between different types of information in order to understand better how we come to know and define our world. It is our belief that crucial to this knowing and defining are narratives, the stories we tell ourselves and others in order to make some sense of who we are, why we act, and where we are going. If, as Hayden White suggests (1980:5), To raise the question of the nature of narrative is to invite reflection on the very nature of culture and, possibly, on the nature of humanity itself, then a study of the narratives stimulated by or evoking an iconic figure can tell us much about how we organize our reality (or postreality). White suggests that it is the most important code for transmitting and sharing the reality the defines our worlds. Both the dominant narratives conveyed to us through media forms (films, television, news, newspapers, magazines) and the personal, often counter-narratives we make and use ourselves are involved in the process.
During the heyday of Arnold Schwarzeneggers reign as a significant cultural icon of the late 20th century (the late 1980s to mid 1990s), we conducted research on Schwarzeneggers image and influence. We took it as our task to explain how and why Schwarzenegger had become one of the scales against which we measured our highest values and principles, and why at the end of the twentieth century could we not conceive of our culture without him. He had become in a very short period of time one of the major figures inhabiting both our private narratives (dreams, personal exchanges) and our public ones (films, politics, economics, cultural idioms). We wanted to know how this had come about and what effects were discernible in the culture that had nourished and embraced such a figure. Our analysis employed theoretical approaches from anthropology, film, cultural studies and literary criticism as we articulated in what ways we had come to rely upon him to lead us into the next centurycinematically, technologically, artistically, psychically, politically, physically, and morally.
But there is another more compelling reason, for us personally, for focusing on Arnold Schwarzenegger. We were studying Schwarzenegger and his films in the early 1990s when we began having a series of vivid dreams about him and our research. We had always learned that dreams, if one thought about them at all, were a peripheral form of information or experience that we should ignore as we went about our studied ways. But as the dreams persisted, so did our sense that something valuable could be gleaned from this not always welcome narrative intrusion.
On January 28, 1991, Michael Blitz had his first Arnold dream:
Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to my door and says "I hear you are doing a book about me." He then tells me that Maria Shriver thought that she could find out about him by peeling away his layers like an onion. But he says that the only way anyone will find out about him is by breaking him into little pieces.
Despite our awareness of Schwarzeneggers amazing reach into all aspects of the culture, we were nevertheless shocked when he began to appear in our dreams. Taking Arnold's curious advice in this dream seriously, we "broke" him into little pieces and collected every tidbit of information we could: from the most serious academic archives to the most grotesque tabloid sources. We have tried to expose ourselves to every imaginable type of Arnold data and experience. We watched him films, ate at his restaurant, attended his bodybuilding competition as backstage reporters and even tried bodybuilding ourselves.
Instead of trying to make sweeping statements about his significance as a megastar or a cultural icon, we explored the little ways that he permeates all our livespersistently, invisibly, quietly, insidiously. It is this amazing and often frightening reach into our actions, experiences and thoughts that we have been investigating. The dreams we had are the most obvious proof that this reach had made it all the way into our lives (see 1995 emails). In the long run, we hope this illuminates not just Schwarzeneggers reach but that of other aspects of mass-mediated culture.
On a more conventional level, we were curious as to how Schwarzenegger could be accommodated by an American culture that was traditionally suspicious of non-assimilating foreigners, of excess, and of ambitious self-promotion. Amazingly he has come to been seen as the prototypical American, the best example of his category as Lakoff would say (see below), the embodiment of the American dream. The popular notion of the American Dream has always been that of a carefully linear, progressive striving toward the goal of personal success and prosperity. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been seen as the quintessential example of the American Dream precisely because he represents so many of the myths of successof perfectionthat have obsessed popular American culture.
Our own interests in Schwarzenegger, sparked originally by his 1984 film, The Terminator, seemed to follow not a simple linear narrative like Arnolds life but rather a number of unrelated pathwaysprosthetics, cyborgs, time-technology, millennial culture, violent women and male reproductionsimultaneously. By the time Terminator 2: Judgment Day hit the theaters, these strains of ideas as they related to Schwarzeneggers career, life, persona and influence were being fully articulated in his expansion into other aspects of culture.
This meant, for us, that to explore the constellation of ideas emerging from our examination of Schwarzenegger, we would need an approach that was non-linear, somewhat impulsive, and somehow true to our dawning realization that Schwarzenegger had fully entered our dreams. We would need a medium in which to grow this strain of culture we were abbreviating with the name, Schwarzenegger, and at the same time, we would have to address the role that the dreams, themselves, were playing in the research. We abandoned efforts at conventional biography or textual analysis or film criticism in favor of a constructivist approach that is served well by both dreams and hypertext.
If we follow a constructivist approach, warns Coyne (1997: 186) we have to be prepared to give practice priority over theory. We would argue, further, that we had to be prepared to understand the seeming chaos of dream life in a new way, as part of what Janet H. Murray calls the creative and distractible consciousness (1997: 91). In discussing Ted Nelson , the inventor of the term, hypertext, Murray writes that associational organizationthat is ones own pathways through the unsolvable labyrinth of ones own interests (ibid.: 91)is a form of indexing that may well rely on the very kind of metaphorical connections that States sees in dreams. Our own dreams, as they began not only to be preoccupied by Schwarzenegger, but also to reciprocate between us, were the running index of our paths of interest through the material we were researching.
The dreamsover 154 of themprovided the opportunity to demonstrate both the condition of hypertexts and the condition of research on an aspect of American culture (and perhaps any kind of research in the age of the Internet). But there is something even more important that we hope to demonstrate with the dream analogy. We approach dreams not as signs of repressed emotions with hidden symbolic meanings, but rather as an activity during which the human brain continues to process the tremendous amount of information it receives during the day. In much of contemporary dream research, dreaming is necessary for patterning and structuring that information. Bert States (1997: 3) writes, "My hunch is that dreams may be our clearest window into this whole process of ongoing conversion of experience into patterns that help maintain order in the system." The dream does this by creating connections between old and new information, between bits of information whose links may be more intuitive than explicit. The dream creates metaphors that forge connections we might normally resist. These metaphors are expressed in dream images and they affect the ways we organize, categorize, and interpret the world..
What would happen, we wondered, if we could somehow harness the more and more frequently occurring dreams we were having about Schwarzenegger and our research? In what ways could we make use of the new metaphorical configurations to understand the wider and deeper connections among the numerous angles our research was takingArnold as film superstar (a cog in the Hollywood dream machine), as political figure, as generator of culture idioms (Ill be back! and Hasta la vista, baby!), as purveyor of male-reproduction, as Nazi sympathizer, champion body-builder, famous in-law, fitness czar, commercial entrepreneur, and as the embodiment of the American Dream? In what ways might we draw upon the idea of dreams as components in the making and remaking of cultural knowledge?
Perhaps harness is not the best term. Maybe we should consider turning the dreams loose. If the dreams, themselves, take place out of our conscious control, we should try to make use of them in a manner that best befits that loss of control. In a 1991 interview Arnold said about dreams, Some people train themselves to wake up and write them down. Then what? What do you do with that information? (Zehme 1991: 42). It should come as no surprise that Arnold Schwarzenegger has no interest in dreams. Dreams, after all, are outside the control of someone who has been called the Master Planner of perfection. Zehme reports that when Schwarzenegger wants to pay a man a compliment, he says of the man, Hes in control (ibid.: 41). Schwarzenegger told Studs Terkel in 1980 that, When I was ten years old, I had a dream of being the best in the world in something. When I was fifteen, I had a dream that I wanted to be the best bodybuilder in the world, and the most muscular man. It was not only a dream I dreamed at night. It was also a daydream. It was so much in my mind that I felt it had to become a reality. It took me five years of hard work. Five years later, I turned this dream into reality and became Mr. Universe, the best-built man in the world (Terkel 1980: 140).
The only recurring dream that Arnold remembers having has to do with the shame and confusion that comes from lack of control. Schwarzenegger reports this dream: Before I start shooting a film, I sometimes have dreams where youre out there lying totally naked in a forest, and you have no clothes, and you hear somewhere, In two minutes we roll. All of a sudden the lights come on, and you say, Wait a minute, what scene are we doing? Why am I lying out here and wheres the clothes? What are the lines? Im caught totally off guard, like I wasnt prepared. Lack of control is precisely why we embrace the dreams as a model for our hypertext project and for our theoretical approach. It is not that everything is dreamlike, but rather that the dream, in all its crazy manifestations and shifting tides, is the mode of structuring found in hypertextas well as being the illustration of our current cultural condition.
Why should a species like our need to create fictions in the first place or to dream dreams, both of which persistently return to familiar structures and require such functional elements as helpers, hinderers, dispatchers, princesses, and heroes? How might this be explained by an alien observer? These people, our observer might say, lead oxygen-dependent lives, they reproduce sexually, they live in families and communities, they work toward individual and collective goals. But our observer might go beyond this and theorize that these fictions and dreamsremarkably similar in their contentare not simply ways these people amuse or instruct themselves; rather, they need fictions and dreams as complementary means by which they constantly monitor and index the diversity of their experiences. Through narrative they might, in a sense, remember experiencenot in that trite way we say a novel is an accurate account of life in a certain historical period but, rather, the kind of remembering that has to be done over and over. If something is to be remembered at all, it must be remembered not as what happened but as what has happened again in a different way and will surely happen again in the future in still another way. And by this means, as Roger Shank suggests in his essay on memory models, a commonality can be built up among various versions of the same experience that might serve as the basis for forming a new knowledge structure or for modifying or confirming an old one...So we keep writing the same old stories and having the same old dreams because we keep having the same old experience in different ways.
If narratives define and guide us and if story telling is the builder of identity and action, then paying attention to the possible range of narratives opened up by dreams is crucial, not only for understanding the effects of an icon like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but for understanding the larger picture of how meaning is made and unmade at this moment in our culture. We would give a little more weight to the potential of dreams to effect changes in thought processes and categories than States seems to, but definitely agree that dreams are another form of narrative as significant as those consciously produced.
There is at least one other curious approach to dream-analysis that comes to us by way of a controversial hoax. In 1935, Kilton Stewart claimed to made the discovery of a sub-culture in Malaysia whose social relations were grounded in shared dreams (Domhoff 1985). This discovery became an important element of the human potential movements beginning in the sixties and seventies and thriving today . As Stewart evidently imagined it, the language of dreams shared by members of a small community constitutes a dynamic dialect whose referents are, for Westerners, entirely intangible, metaphysical, utterly private and, therefore, illegitimate as a basis for a social order.
Briefly, Stewart "described" the culture of the Senoiwhich means 'human being' or 'person' in the language of the Temiar and the Semaithe two groups that Stewart conflates as "the" Senoi (Domhoff 1985: 13)in terms of the ways in which a small part of Malaysian culture shared their dreams with one another. By so doing, the Senoi supposedly learned how to control not only their own dreams, but also to influence the dreams of others and to normalize the culture's energies. Stewart's "findings" were that
The Senoi make their dreams the major focus of their intellectual and social organization. In so doing, Stewart claimed, they have solved the problem of violent crime and destructive economic conflict, and largely eliminated insanity, neurosis, and pyschogenic illness. . .The freest type of psychic play occurs in sleep, and the social acceptance of the dream would therefore constitute the deepest possible acceptance of the individual. (ibid.: 7)
What we find most striking about Stewart's Senoi Dream Theory, hoax or not, was its insistence that dreams were a practical means by which to understand, and to affect, the culture. For example, if a person dreamed of hostilities between him or herself and another, the goal would then be to seek the other out (while awake!) to reveal the dream, to discuss its possible meanings, and to figure out ways by which to alter the dream-relation between the two individuals. If such a meeting were impossible, the dreamer would bring the dream to the Village Council for discussion. In other words, in the Senoi Dream Theory, communities share responsibility not only for behaviors in the daylight, but for ideas and anxieties and interactions in dreams as well. The effect, according to Stewart (and to those who picked up and elaborated on his theory), is to foster social harmony and cooperation.
Echoes of this sometimes frightening possibility of the social control of and by dreams (and thus all parts of life) was expressed in a project on the dreams of common citizens during Hitlers Third Reich. Journalist Charlotte Beradt (1987) describes hundreds of dreams she collected from Germans in the 1930s. The dreams helped people describe the pervasiveness of the totalitarian regime they were just entering in terms that we inexpressible otherwise. Beradts work shows the confluence of everyday events, larger trends, social controls, and individual memories that are evident in dream narratives and that affect our daily decisions and actions. One doctor dreamt that the walls of everyones apartments disappeared because of a governmental decree on the Abolition of Walls. He wrote the dream down and then later dreamt that he was accused of writing the dream down (ibid.: 21). When even the home and dreams are not private, there is no escape.
PART IV: HYPERDREAMS
Until hypertext and the Internet, it was difficult to imagine how to relate unruly dream narratives to the polished narratives of academic research. Before they served merely as footnotes or embarrassing supplements. Now in hypertext we have a mechanism for connecting disparate information in the same way that a dream does, making all forms of narrative information equally viable. Despite all the serious and exciting new research on dreams, the actual dreams of the writer and researcher still have almost no place in the world of serious academic research. Rarely does a researcher recount a dream (although Hobson and States do it extensively), even if it is about the research subject. The only exception in the case of scientists who have found inspirations for their breakthroughs in dreams or artists who have found creative inspiration in their dreams. Salvador Dali, for example, was said to have painted The Persistence of Memory as the result of a dream (Hobson 1994: 25).
Dreams introduce the element of the irrational and the uncontrollable into research that, by tradition, favors order and rationality as its natural condition. The accepted model of scientific research requires replicability, the ability to repeat an experiment with the same conditions and come up with the same results. They are literally and metaphorically footnoted, referring to the works of those who have attempted similar proofs. These rational discourses require agreements about lexicons and shared idioms, and their language is supposed to be transparent, not embellished with the flowery or exotic descriptions that characterize dream narratives.
It may seem surprising, then, that we will be claiming, in essence, to be going back to the original meaning of the scholarly paper which was to enable the reader to replicate the experimental process of research. The academic paper is said to derive from Robert Boyles treatise called New Experiments (see Shapin and Schaffer 1985). In this 1660 work, Boyle argued that physical knowledge was to be founded on facts and that those facts had to be agreed upon by the scientific communitythey were not, as previous philosophers claimed, absolute and certain principles already given. These scientific facts would not just be based on faith in unchanging yet unprovable physical principles or, alternately, on individual beliefs.
In order for the scientific community to establish these facts with moral certainty, they had to witness the experiments on which they were based. They could do this by actually being in the room when an experiment was conducted in a public laboratory, or they could replicate the experiment themselves. But Boyle established a third way of witnessing, virtual witnessing, through the development of the scientific paper. If the paper were written correctly, it was as if the reader were there witnessing the experiment and thus the reader could trust the facts presented.
Today the literary technology that Boyle introduced has become the academic paper. While todays academic paper is controlled and precise, Boyles writing was, in fact, quite obsessive and flowery. Through the centuries, the definitions of science and knowledge have forced a type of academic writing that is severely constricted and narrow. Despite challenges by literary studies, history and anthropology that have introduced personal narratives, reflexivity, autobiography, raw interview data, and other experimental writing forms, the standard academic text still reigns and those who want to be legitimate members of the community must produce it, despite its inherent limitations.
Our experiment here is an example of virtual witnessing, being faithful in many ways to the intentions and style of Robert Boyle. By exploiting what Murray calls the encyclopedic nature of digital environments through the barrage of multi-media data forms that helped us develop this argument over many years, the reader/viewer/explorer can judge our presentation with a fuller sense of the history and range of the material. Our interest in the potential of hypertexts to recover and retain all the supposedly peripheral data that scholars accumulate but never get to share is consistent with this traditional definition of academic research.
Bert O. States writes, The dream... is thought as it occurs, not as it has been perfected in another part of the brain (1988:50); dreams are the essence of imperfection (States 1997: 10). One of the early fascinations with hypertext was that a visitor to the project could forge textual links on impulse, without having to follow specified or rigid paths. The perfection of the linear text was ruptured; the potential imperfections, as entailed by the readers impulsive tracking, were newly foregrounded and revalued. Dreams are rhetorical acts full of the impulsive attentions that, we contend, also characterize our experiences within hypertext, with our subject, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and with our contemporary culture.
In a very early Michael Joyce hypertext narrative, Afternoon (1989), the reader, rather than pursuing a linear narrative progression, could wander, leap, dart, even backtrack suddenly within the geography of the hypertext story. In a sense, the geography of hypertext allows for a kind of mapping of a dream terrainnot literally representing the dream-scape so much as an revealing an open set of pathways along which the imagination, no longer repressed, can travel. The space of hypertext places us in a kind of dream terrain where we have a sense of hereness and thereness yet it is not the same as empirical space (States 1997: 96) where these are locations where things exist or are stored with some substance.
Thought space, whether in dreams or hypertext, is different from real space in that the movement through it is not stored anywhere, either in the past, present or future. It is a dynamic process (States 1997: 97) that can be retraced through dream accounts or through hypertext bookmarks, but the record of it is hardly equivalent to the process. And since movement is the key to learning (Hobson 1994: 143) perhaps we move so much and so irregularly in dreams for the same reason.
Dreams are the stuff of enchantment, and [t]he computer, itself, without any fantasy content, is an enchanted object (Murray 1997: 99). Hypertext is, we would argue, a particular type of portal into this enchanted environment. It is a threshold experience (ibid.: 91) that allows us to occupy chaotic space in an orderly way while, at the same time, occupying a highly ordered space in chaotic ways. Jerome McGann writes, a HyperText is not organized to focus attention on one particular text or set of texts. It is ordered to disperse attention as broadly as possible...One is encouraged not so much to find as to make orderand then to make it again and again, as established orderings expose their limits.
Remaking the text is a hallmark of contemporary literary analysis and applies as well to more mundane and more technological writings. Anyone familiar with email knows that the changes that have taken place in written language communication are quite astonishing. This cousin of hypertext commonly jumps non-linearly from topic to topic and with an ever changing style, punctuation and grammar. For example, an early (1990) email from Michael Blitz to Louise Krasniewicz:
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 90 16:38:08 EDT
From: bewildablitz <MSBJJ%CUNYVM.BITNET@oac.ucla.edu>
Subject: Re: new address
In-Reply-To: Your message of Thu, 27 Sep 90 11:55:00
yr message was a bunch of gobblydeegook in bitnet-ese (no easy thing to decipher). I take it you merely wanted to advance your new spaceless electrono-place which is now official. I will try to get stuff to firstname.lastname@example.org, but it's quite a computer's mouthful! Arnie is in the news again, seems he rescued a cop on a motorcycle who crashed into the Schwarzen-egg-nog's vehicle on a film set. Arnie gave a hand which the cop marveled at and all was well again. My MAN! Karen balked, but then looked strangely intrigued, when I told her our "plan" to bulk me up into a bonafide turdwhacking buildybodder. I fear she is not properly repulsed by the ideais this double-edgedness (i.e. disgust/fascination) something we need to study/consider/inclueede/ponderosa?) Looking forward to looking at a message I can decipher, but still sending a bicep-ful of howdy-doo's yr way, love and the fiber-optics in which to share it,
We have discussed elsewhere (Arnold Schwarzenegger: Write Us) that this form of communicationwhether in dreams, in email or through hypertextcreates new entities that have no hereness and thereness but have just as many and just as powerful effects as if they did. This entity, like many dream entities, is a morph of all the players and exists not in space but in time, like the time of dream which States explains results not in single images (or entities) but merely provided, the demonstration of an evolving process of association (States 1997: 99). Our metamorphosed entity sounds something like this (Krasniewicz and Blitz 1996: 106):
I am the effects of Louise and Michael seeing their energies extended in and by one another, showing up on each others screen, returning to themselves on their own. In a light-world of accelerated digital pulses, I am the echoes of, and the triggers for, the typists continuous effort to harness their own narrative creation. A kind of geno-fusion, a recombining of electronic DNA. The life form is the life-study, the life under the glass (screen). I am the morph made from Louise and Michael and Arnold Schwarzenegger who is more than Arnold Schwarzenegger ever was. Not only their subject matter, but also the figure under the glass of the projector, the lens of the camera and the TV screen. I am the filters of popular culture that registers Arnold Schwarzenegger as a human man but sees a figure larger than life, more powerful than an army and more desirable than real life humans, whose limitations would not permit such easy entrance and exit from film-frame and the White House and body building and agendas for childhood fitness and to the cyber-neurons of two typists shared textual body.
It should not surprise anyone, at this point, if we argue that Arnold Schwarzenegger is, for us, the ultimate dream-character. He has the ability to morph himself through a variety of cultural identities and to iconicize himself as a living symbol. His many films provide a metaphorical patchwork of cultural referents. His numerous incarnations as fitness guru, politician, international investor and enterpreneur, actor, famous father and husband, restaurateur, and his own survival of several physical maladies all make Schwarzenegger seem larger, and different, than lifean image from a chaotic dream. If our dreams are the site of an essential energy conversion where 'ignorant' cells turn into smart (or creative) cell groups" (States 1993: 5), then we need to face the fact that it is Arnold Schwarzenegger who has become our teacher, the Kindergarten Cop of our narrative lives.
In Jorge Luis Borges well-known story, The Circular Ruins, a man sets out to dream a manperhaps a saviorinto existence. The effort requires nothing less than everything. At last, the new man is born. The new man survives a terrible fire, proving to his creator that his son is immortal. The creator/dreamer then, miraculously, survives a similar catastrophic fire. He, then, realizes, that he, too is a dream. As we have suggested, Arnold quite deliberately set out to dream up himself and has continued to revise his creation regularly. We, too, have spent many nights dreaming Arnold Schwarzenegger and the dreams are still further versions of the dreamed-man. Borges story is one of infinite recursion; ours is, we would argue, one of potentially infinite hyper-activity. The dreams beget a man whose life and works beget the dreams.
© 1996–2009, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. (Copyright Notice)