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Headless Man at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Five days after I wrote South Node: Doing the Predictable, in which I declare that I’m through with a career in art, I have the dream, I encounter a headless man at the Met:


I’m with people who seem like my classmates from high school. We are on a field trip, and we are visiting a museum that seems like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It’s taken us a long time to get here; we traveled for a long time. When we arrive, we enter a great hall. A dining table has been set up for us. We are being fed lunch or dinner because our trip was so long. We might not get to eat again for quite a while – until we’re done touring the museum. The meal being served is fish. The meal is actually self-serve, like a buffet. I see all the fish, breaded, in bin-like containers.

I take a piece of fish that has white flesh. I look at some of the other fish and at first I think they are rotting in the center, but then I think they just have darker meat, because the centers are nearly black. I turn and walk to the table. I choose a seat, but it is being reserved for someone else. The person sitting to the left of the seat has his arm draped over the back of the chair preventing me from moving it. There is a plate on the table in front of the seat as well. I suddenly realize that someone is already sitting in the chair. It is a man, but his head has been cut off. He seems to be wearing a red plaid shirt.

I am appalled because I think he’s dead, but I look up toward the ceiling and see his head floating above us – his head is sleeping. I walk around the table, counter-clockwise, and sit in a chair on the opposite side of the table facing the headless man’s chair.


One way to look at this dream is that I’ve “lost my head” or that I’m “out of my mind,” and the conscious part of myself is sleeping, and my head is “in the clouds.” Maybe my dream is stating I need to wake up, and get my head on straight, and I should eat my fill, and continue to tour what the art world has to offer. Perhaps it’s not the right time to give up.

Or, is it that I’m finally letting go of burdensome thoughts? After all, the headless man is not dead in this dream. His place is being held by his supporters/friends. The rest of the fish have seemingly rotten interiors – the food is about to spoil, and I get one of the last good pieces. I feel unwelcome at the table. Everything I see is counter-clockwise, and to the left – showing the sinister side of things. I eventually find my place, and it’s opposite the headless man, not in his seat. This points out I’m finally getting a good view of the situation I was in, and I no longer want to occupy that position in life. The chairs represent positions and statuses I hold. I am no longer out of my mind trying to fit into a particular position in the art world – I have an objective view of that aspect of myself. I don’t feel jealous of this man’s position, and when I realize the chair is taken, I move to a different seat. Maybe, before, I was asleep in that position, but now I am awake and moving away from it, and into a new perspective. It’s almost as if I am moving out of the South Node position into the North Node position, glancing back at my past self.

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