Silence is the virtue of fools. -Sir Francis Bacon
Question #92165 posted on 04/11/2019 10:48 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Cakesniffers,

Just binged the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Fun stuff, like rediscovering the books again. Anyway, I was wondering what your thoughts are on the obvious symbolism in the last two chapters ("The Penultimate Peril" and "The End"), particularly regarding a final judgement, a certain tree, and bitter apples.

Given Daniel Handler's Jewish upbringing, what do you think the meaning of "The End" is?

What other symbolism is there in the series, especially as it relates to Judaism or religion in general?

In general, what do you think A Series of Unfortunate Events has to say about the human condition?

-Very Fine Dramatist

A:

Dear VFD,

If you are interested in answers with satisfying endings, you would be better off reading some other answer. In this answer, not only is there no satisfying ending, there is outright misinformation from the beginning and misleading conjecture (a word which here means "guesswork about a story Babalugats has never read and has no place analyzing") in the middle. Though I am glad it is over with, I am sorry you have read so much of the Baudelaire story and remind you that "it is not too late to stop peeling away the layers, and to put [the] book back on the shelf to whither away while you read something less complicated and overwhelming."

Though I never finished the series, I really enjoyed reading this analysis and I think 3tych is on the right track. He at least helps assign some entities to the symbols that help think about it more clearly. You might want to have this discussion on a similar forum where everyone has read it and appreciates them as you do. Without having actually read them, I don't think I can fairly make too many claims but I'll try. Reading the summaries, I'm gleaning a few possible interpretations. The following will not have any explicit spoilers, but there's some strong hints: 

Good and evil people are in many ways the same (Frank and Ernest Denouement). We're all acting on what matters to us, and that's where we are most liable to be wicked--or incompetent (Olaf and his goons vs. Mr. Poe). I think there's a theme that says incompetence and wickedness have similar effect on the world around us. Incompetence, self-preservation, complacency and ignorance/secret keeping (the Baudelaire's parents, Ishmael), can all be blamed for the Baudelaires' and others' misfortunes just as much as any evil intent. The entire series is an indictment of authority, both secular and religious, for having those qualities.

There is a lot of neat symbolism going on with fire/elevator scenes in Penultimate Peril. Seems like an interesting way to frame Pascal's wager. If the Baudelaires here represent God, and Olaf represents Satan, the Baudelaire's role in the fire is an interesting element. 

To offer some religious context for The End: Unlike Latter-Day Saints, Judaism mostly views the original sin as an unfortunate product of human-kind's evil nature. The story of Adam and Eve is about how even the best humans have evil inclinations that need to be overcome. 

The End may be reminiscent of Moses and the serpent staff. Israelites get bit by a bunch of snakes and are dying, Moses is commanded to erect a bronze serpent on a staff. If the Israelites will just look upon it they will be healed. But many find it too simple, or are unrepentant, and refuse to look. I like the use of the forbidden turnip apple things though, because it ties Moses' story to the garden of Eden. What if we had to eat the forbidden fruit to be saved? But that reading is definitely influenced by my activity in the Church of Jesus Christ.  

your Venerable Friendly Damsel,

Babalugats

Question #92132 posted on 04/11/2019 10:48 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I very rarely remember my dreams. It doesn't bother me, but when my roommates and friends talk about their crazy and cool dreams, it does make me a little jealous. Do you remember your dreams? What's the most memorable from this week?

-meow

A:

Dear mrow,

Same though! I actually remembered two this week, but then I forgot them before I could write them on the Board... Ooops. While I don't have a dream to contribute, I can tell you that writing down your dreams or telling them to someone right after you wake up will help you remember them better! I did this with a mission companion and I got to the point where I remembered my dreams pretty much every day! All hope is not lost.

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Dear Mew, 

I remember a lot of mine, mostly because they always end up being hyper-realistic, and then I wake up and have to convince myself it's not real life. Sometimes I remember life events that actually turn out to never have happened. Some examples of recurring themes: 

  • Finding lost items from many years ago like favored lip glosses, pairs of socks, sweaters, etc., only to awake to be disappointed. 
  • Working on movie sets or as an editor for a famous author (Jerry Spinelli, J.K. Rowling).
  • Being late for school, forgetting to turn in an assignment, or missing the end of a test deadline by minutes (I wake up from stress a lot).
  • Major life makeovers - redoing my wardrobe and deep-cleaning/painting my room. It sucks to wake up and realize I'm in a college apartment.  
  • Tragic life events, either directly or indirectly involving me. Including, but not limited to:
    • Car accidents where I watch my friends or family die. Most recently, it was my boyfriend. I didn't want to sleep for a few days after that. I hate being traumatized by my subconscious. 
    • Plane Crashes (typically right before I go on vacation) 
    • Lava Flows (these started after I went to Hawaii.... even though I wasn't on the Big Island) 
    • Consoling my friends after one of their close family members dies
    • LOTS of Utah Valley Earthquake dreams.
    • My dad getting stuck in canyons during his camping/canyoneering trips. 
  • Politically predictive dreams. I dreamt that Obama was elected like 2 months before it happened, which was pretty weird since I was 8 and knew nothing about politics. 

Now, while I normally have realistic dreams, every once in a while I get a really bizarre one. Here are some of my favorites: 

  • I walked into gym class one day and my teacher was Voldemort. If you couldn't run fast enough for the pacer test, you'd get hit with a random spell. My friends turned into talking rats. 
  • I had to ride a roller coaster made of donuts with Homer Simpson. He ate our seat. It was scary. 
  • I got chased around all of Utah Valley by a giant Popcorn Push Toy
  • I befriended a band of talking crustaceans who helped me apply for college. 
  • My twin brothers were born with blue hair. We thought they were aliens. 

Most memorable from this week? I dreamt that my laptop had gotten stolen, so I decided to try to track the dude down. I literally chased him down around my neighborhood and eventually, with the help of my friend, cornered him into her garage so he couldn't run away anymore. He gave me back my computer and we called the cops. I took my computer home and he had changed the login stuff... which confused me because that meant he had to know my original password, and what was MORE freaky was that it said "Hello, Guesthouse" instead of my name... which meant he also knew my Board identity. I woke up out of stress, got out of bed at 2 am to go to find my computer and try to log into it, only to realize that 1) my laptop had never been stolen and 2) The guy in my dream that stole it was the person that I had originally bought it from, who is my best friend's brother. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

A:

Dear person,

I remember quite a few of my dreams when I wake up. Also, two of my best friends and I often text each other about our dreams, so I have a decent record. Here are most of the dream texts I have sent to them since October, edited for clarity and anonymity:

Dreamt that it was a really cool thing for people to eat honeycomb with tons of bees on it. 

I dreamt I was on vacation with [my family] and some other random people in Antarctica. The dogs and cats present kept on snuggling with me, wouldn’t leave me alone. Someone got injured and I had to get Neosporin for them. While doing that task I uncover a potential conspiracy. 

Dreamt that [a seminar we had to attend] featured a Russian opera singing lady who sold health food and headscarves.

Dreamt I had two tiny nostrils beside by mouth.

I dreamt [a mutual friend] and my brother accidentally broke my mother’s kiddie-pool sized Tupperware and she was being mean to them. I told my mom off.

Dreamt that I hid behind a bush during [a really important] presentation. They [the faculty] found me.

Dreamt I got expelled for starting a riot at BYU in a grocery store. Kept trying to wake up but couldn’t. I assumed it meant it wasn’t a dream and I thought I was actually hallucinating and delusional. I kept getting lost on campus and I was late to [a class we were taking]... Then [someone all of us agree is a scary person] was trying to talk to me while I was freaking out.

Dreamt that we went to Chik-Fil-A at the Cougareat and I forgot to get sauce [after we got back to our workplace]. So I walked back to the Cougareat and went back to [our workspace] and forgot sauce a second time.

Dreamt we were in a class with a professor we didn’t like and we made his life terrible. [One of my friends in the text] especially did everything to push this guy's buttons. And then we ended up on a weird battle with the administration as we fell from the sky. Then we died and I was really curious about whether there truly was an afterlife.

Dreamt I jumped into a pool with my laptop. 

I dreamt something happened where Canadians had to leave BYU. It was really hard for me to figure out what happened because I first read it in a green book. Then I kept on finding the wrong green books all over the place as I wandered the streets of Provo. Then I found out I really did have to leave. So I went to [our department coordinator] and asked her if she could help me transfer to a Canadian program. Then she said, “Well, do you want me to say something positive or do you want me to say what I really think?” 

I dreamt I was being chased by bad guys. We ended up getting chased to this shop with a friendly shopkeeper. He takes me and whoever I’m with to the apartment in the back where he is secretly hiding my friend with typhoid. The bad guys come in and I must pretend to have typhoid. So I just lie there and try to look miserable.

Dreamt I was going to Disneyland Africa. Then realized there is no Disneyland in Africa. 

Dreams from this week:

Dreamt bad guys were chasing me. My dad and aunt were there. At some point I had a new dad (random guy I don't know) and he was fighting back against the bad guys. I think at some point I was on a plane. I had a device on me that I was trying to hide from them.

Dreamt somebody got an acoustic guitar waterlogged, were drinking alcohol, and blew it up.

Dreamt Russell M. Nelson's wife was forcing me to give her a hug and I refused it and she was judging me hard.

Dreamt one of my professors lived in a theme-park house. I asked him how he got the house and he said that he sold the land beside him with the theme park next to it. I hung out at his house for a bit.

-Sheebs

A:

Dear Aziraphale,

My dreams tend to be very... odd, and it's kind of a shot in the dark for whether I'll remember them or not. This past week, I've been having quite vivid and surreal nightmares. But the dream I shall describe for you is the dream I had just last night. Jk, too much time has passed, so I'll describe another vivid dream I had. Just sit tight.

First off, sometimes my dreams come in installments. It's kind of like the dream is a TV show, and I only get an episode at a time. The weird thing is, I don't necessarily get the "next episode" in consecutive nights. Sometimes months, or even years can pass before the dream will pick up right where it left off. Last night was one of those kinds of dreams. However, much time has passed since I started this answer, and now that 'last night' is quite some time ago. Suffice it to say it involved a lot of court intrigue and politics in an atmosphere of assassination. 

The following dream I shall describe for you happened in January. It started out pretty banal: I was late for catching a flight. Each time I was late, I reset the dream, and attempted to avoid whatever had made me late in the previous iterations of this dream. Here is the final iteration:

For some reason, I was in my parents' house and was searching there for some miscellaneous item I needed for the trip (I knew what I was searching for whilst dreaming, but have since forgotten). As I was searching, the rest of my family was entranced by a large doll house that my dad was almost done assembling. It was wooden, with wooden puppet figures lurking in its labyrinthine rooms. When I came closer to the house to examine it further, my family and I were suddenly sucked into the world of that doll house: an otherworldly version of Rome.

We were a cross between spectators and actual actors in the dream from this moment forward.

Finding ourselves in Rome, we quickly were informed of a series of heists that had been recently carried out. Worse, people had started to go missing. My family and I were invisible witnesses to seeing one of these heists go down. A rather nondescript man walked into a lavish room and began stowing away various items in his bag. As he turned to leave with his stolen goods, the door slammed shut, and a troupe of acrobats gracefully lowered down from the ceiling. These acrobats were garbed in bright silk scarves and wore bejeweled masquerade masks, obscuring their expressions, and lending them an inhuman air. They quickly tied the man up, and vanished through a secret door, new prisoner in tow. 

Somehow I knew that the man carrying out the robbery had been lured there by the acrobats; it had all been an elaborate trap.

My family and I decided to go after the acrobats, and try to save the robber if we could. We each passed through the secret door, and started descending stone stairs leading into darkness. At the foot of the stairs was a series of long twisting tunnels, each shrouded by a deep gloom. After traveling along the network of tunnels for some time, we came across one particular opening leading to a pit even darker than our current surroundings. A chill air issued forth from it. We knew that this pit was the black heart of the underground tunnels. And with that bleak realization hanging heavy on our souls, we prepared to venture forth. But that turned out to be unnecessary. Because something emerged from the pit to come after us.

It was the man we had come to save. But he was nearly unrecognizable. Dressed as a clown, the greasepaint on his face was streaked, giving it a mangled appearance. His eyes were crazed and a manic grin was plastered over his features. Worst of all was the wicked glint on the tip of the very long knife he was clutching.

I knew at that moment that the acrobats were doing something absolutely terrible to transform people into these murderous clowns.

Then the clown rushed us, knife outstretched. 

And that's when I woke up.

~Anathema

A:

Dear Cat,

I don't remember my dreams often, but I did have one last week that was mildly unsettling, and that stuck with me.

I dreamed I was with a group of people that were refugees, hiding out from some sinister threat that was hunting us down. It was night, and we were trying to get some rest while snuggled all together in the darkness. However, I don't like to be touched while I'm sleeping, so I was a foot or so away and holding a one year old boy, the son of one of my compatriots. I'll call that compatriot Appleby, who is one of my real-life coworkers, who does in fact have a one year old son whom I've held before.

While trying to sleep, the boy started to have a seizure. Panicking, because I had no idea what to do, I silently woke Appleby and he rushed over, but there was really nothing we could do. Because we were being hunted, we couldn't seek medical attention, and as heartbreaking as it was, we also had to try to keep the baby quiet so as to not attract attention.

So we quietly laid there, with the baby's ongoing seizure, me cradling him to my chest, Appleby with his arms around both of us, and all three of us silently weeping.

Evidently my subconscious is pretty morbid.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear glass monkey,

I awoke from a dream this last week convinced of:

A) a method to use rose petals in fancy-pants desserts, which seems foolproof and involves a marzipan glue and sugar paste
B) my subconscious ability to retain and speak Lithuanian from my three days of experience with the language two years ago, evidenced by the phrase "Merry Christmas." I rushed to Google Translate to enter my murkily remembered phrase, only to discover it was not "blage kalikikama,"  as I had supposed, but linksmų Kalėdų.

So much for that.

Suerte,

-Ardilla Feroz

P.S. Mele kalikimaka, you filthy animal.

A:

meow,

Hold on. Let me go sleep for awhile and I'll get back to you.

Babalugats

A:

Dear Cat,

I tend to have pretty vivid dreams, but often when I wake up all I remember is a general impression rather than the actual dream. But I actually remember the dream I had last night, probably because it was weird.

Basically, in my dream I was a Steve Irwin-type person, and for some reason decided I would go swim with stingrays because I learned nothing from the real Steve Irwin. I knew that if I was stung twice by the same stingray I would instantly die, so almost my entire dream was me getting stung once by a stingray, then continuing to hang out with it while explaining, "This isn't the stingray's fault, this is just who it is. It can't help it." Eventually, though, there was a really big stingray that stung me once, and then continued to angrily follow me around trying to sting me again, all while I continued to make apologies for it as it dramatically swooped toward me with an evil facial expression. I finally managed to escape by falling into a grotto where there was a little air pocket. Safe from the stingray, I let down my guard and then got attacked by a pack of feral cats that apparently lived in a grotto under the sea.

-Alta

posted on 04/12/2019 10:53 p.m.
This was not your exact question, but you might find it helpful. For a very long time I was frustrated that I couldn't remember my dreams either. Two things helped me with that: 1) First thing in the morning, writing down any little bit of my dreams that I can remember at all. Sometimes just immediately thinking through it can help you start remembering other parts too, and even if you forget it later on, you can look back at what you wrote about it (which, let me tell you, is a very bizarre experience). 2) Taking naps. Not long naps, but just setting an alarm for maybe 30 minutes and turning off the lights. I've found that I often remember very vivid dreams when I've only been asleep a little bit. Happy dreaming!

Sandman