Society Dreams: Tom Wolfe

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The cherry trees at their peak. Photo: JH.

Monday, April 8, 2024. A sunny weekend with temps in the low 50s, the weatherman is anticipating a week of temps in the 50s and 60s, and even 70. We’ll see, but good news in advance. But first, let’s get through today’s eclipse.

After three days of reportage about Tom Wolfe and the documentary, Radical Wolfe, now running on him, and the screening and after party celebrating it in Palm Beach, it’s only fitting that we say goodbye to Mr. Wolfe with a dream he recounted to Lauren Lawrence


by Lauren Lawrence

Tom Wolfe walking the city streets. Credit: Adam Scull / Alamy Stock Photo

Tom Wolfe and I were neighbors; we lived just a few blocks from each other. Always the Southern gentleman, one time, in May 2012, he insisted on walking me home. That’s when he told me his dream:

The Dream: At 81, I no longer have nightmares. I dream of New York City, and friends I recognize. In a dream that has recurred at least twice, I am in a room with many people around me, but then I leave them all behind and ride off on a high-powered rocket. What does it mean?

The Interpretation: He no longer has nightmares because, at 81, he has worked through past anxieties and found peace of mind. Dreaming of having many people around reveals a gregarious nature. Such was the man. Yet this social need is balanced with an introspective desire for some quality alone time.

In this view, Tom must rise to a higher level of interaction with himself. Whereas, although leaving generally symbolizes moving on or ending something in your life, departing on a rocket into outer space refers to dying. Although, in Tom’s dream, this is not a somber occasion. Quite the contrary, for the dreamer’s wish is to go out in radical style with flash, panache, and a lot of noise.

In a certain sense, Tom is the rocket which gives back what aging has taken from him — the youthful thrust of speed and power. Fortifying morale, the phallic, libido-charged rocket is symbolic of the dreamer’s joie de vivre.

In other words, he wished to go out with a bang — a hurrah. Nothing short of a Sis-Boom-Bah.

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