Return to the Salvador Dimension

By David Michael Newstead.

A short story based on paintings by Salvador Dali. Read Part One.

Sometimes in my dreams, I still saw that strange place. But all that was left were the fragments of a memory, dark and ghoulish, of a world that was not this one. In quick succession, those pictures flashed through the corridors of my mind as absurd as they were horrifying. Then in a panic, I woke up and I breathed heavy, having had the same nightmare again.

Years had passed and my time in that other dimension often seemed so distant to me. Had I imagined it all, I often wondered. Had I hallucinated the whole thing and that old fool who took me there?

No! No, I told myself again and again. That place was real. I knew it had happened, because my mind would never, could never concoct the things I saw there. My fear then wasn’t for my own sanity. Even now, sitting up in bed, I was lucid and aware. Instead, I was afraid just how far this went – how deeply these abnormal truths burrowed into every corner of reality and if the monsters I found in that place would ever pull me back again.

I couldn’t sleep. In the day-to-day world, I felt numb and out of touch. Increasingly detached, I walked around like an automaton, not a person. I felt as if my life was slipping away according to the tyranny of some mundane clock. Or perhaps part of me realized I was always destined to return to that dimension I had left so long ago.

Time passed. Then one day, it happened. I was standing on a train platform checking my watch when suddenly it began to melt from my wrist. In an instant, stainless steel seemed to turn into liquid mercury that rolled off my skin like drops of rain. When I looked up, the rest of the world was falling away too, dissolving right in front of me. Then, something else came into view.

I stumbled forward at first. It was difficult to see, but once I could I wished I was blind to the horror. My eyes watered as smoke filled my nostrils. Then, I heard shots ring out in every direction. Just ahead, there were lines of riflemen and nameless legions, stretching into the distance leveling chaotic volleys of gunfire at each other. Dying men whaled in agony and I tried to run back, but our normal world had disappeared behind me. In its place, soldiers’ bodies littered the ground. Overhead, something shrieked and flew by me. Then, an explosion followed and knocked me down face first. Deafening and bright, flames erupted over the battlefield and, in shock, I covered my ears.

When I raised my head again, creatures not-quite-human were wandering by, wounded and disoriented from the blast. They made noises I can’t begin to describe. Then, the earth underneath my feet started to rumble with the sound of approaching cavalry. The victors had arrived it seemed, already finishing off the last of their opponents in a war without rhyme or reason. On my left flank, the first wave of them descended onto anything in their path, while another group encircled the few of us who survived. Desperate to escape the slaughter, I ran and crawled across the ground looking for cover, but there was nothing. Nothing, but pathetic twigs and pebbles that jutted out from the dirt and wouldn’t protect a man from so much as a sunburn. And when that galloping monstrosity appeared in front of me, I cringed and thought this must be the end!

A moment passed without death and I looked up, awestruck. After all, if the old man hadn’t intervened when he did I surely would have been trampled into oblivion. I was cowering in the middle of a field, dusty and helpless, when he strode out to protect me. Confident and possibly insane, he was disheveled and nude, driven mad by this dimension of oddities. The only thing more crazed and unruly than his eyes, I thought, was his facial hair. But it didn’t seem to matter. He projected all the authority of a thousand generals, screaming at the top of his lungs.

“Stay back!” The old man yelled to the horses and pack animals. “Back I say!”

And for reasons I won’t ever understand, they listened to him, rearing up with fright only inches away from crushing the both of us. Around me, the orgy of violence was fast subsiding. And this crazy old fool had stalled them for just long enough.

I was still trembling on the ground when the real world started to come back into view. While those beasts hesitated to charge forward, their dimension had gradually dissipated into a fog and then the fantasy as I laid there on that same train platform like a lunatic.

“No… No.” I muttered, now waving my hands at nothing. Back in our own dimension, other commuters ignored me the way you disregard anyone talking to themselves on public transit. But if they could only see! Stretched out there on the concrete, I watched the last shadows of that other place recede away forever, stranding me here and leaving that old man where he rightly belonged.

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Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944)

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The Face of War (1950)

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Girl at the Window (1925)

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Melting Watch (1954)

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Galacidalacidesoxyribonucleicacid (1963)

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The Burning Giraffe (1937)

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The Invention of the Monsters (1937)

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The Temptation of St. Anthony (1946)

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The Anthropomorphic Cabinet (1936)

Interview with a Male Nurse

By David Michael Newstead.

Nursing has been frequently mentioned as a career alternative for men as blue-collar industries like manufacturing and coal mining disappear across the United States. However, gender differences between these jobs and our views about them complicate the need for a steady paycheck. This was recently articulated in a not-so-subtle New York Times piece entitled Men Don’t Want to be Nurses. Their Wives Agree. To get more perspective on this, I decided to reach out to a male nurse I know to discuss the apparently contentious issue of men in nursing.

David Newstead: So, what’s it like being a male nurse?

Male Nurse: I don’t mind, though occasionally you’ll find a passage in a textbook about the role of nurses and it’s clearly written toward a female audience.

David Newstead: How do female nurses react to you?

Male Nurse: They’re happy about it. The whole gender issue has never come up. Pretty much every nurse you talk to will say they need more male nurses.

David Newstead: Why’s that?

Male Nurse: Combative patients and heavy patients are probably the two biggest reasons why male nurses are valued. Otherwise, it just comes down to some people feel more comfortable if the nurse performing a particular procedure is a particular gender.

David Newstead: What are some of the negative impressions you’ve encountered?

Male Nurse: Well, it’s definitely been seen as beneath men who are supposed to be the doctors and decision-makers, but it’s also because the profession of nursing perpetuates that their value is in being caring individuals rather than highly skilled and knowledgeable healthcare personnel. Nurses over-humanize themselves because for reasons unknown to me they don’t want to be seen as technicians. No matter how skilled.

David Newstead: Do you think people would react differently if male nurses had a different job title? Like maybe that would fix everything.

Male Nurse: My wife says yes. Nurse has an inherently female connotation. I’m not so sure myself. I think having a different job title for male nurses would be more of a hassle than just having folks deal with the fact that some nurses are men.

David Newstead: I guess you’re right. I can’t think of any good replacement titles. Orderly? Health Technician? I don’t know…

David Newstead: In your view, is nursing a good replacement for blue-collar manufacturing jobs? This gets talked about a lot.

Male Nurse: Not really. For one, we need manufacturing jobs. America shouldn’t stop making stuff. For another, nursing requires minimum two years of college education, which many guys who can make a good wage manufacturing out of high school wouldn’t be able to hack or even care about like high level anatomy and physiology courses.

David Newstead: Are they going to have many other choices as technology continues to impact the job market?

Male Nurse: Probably not, but that’s why we need to fight automation and artificial intelligence in such jobs.

The Future of Men: Extras

The Future of Men: Pure Speculation

By David Michael Newstead. 

What is the future of men? Lately, I’ve been trying to answer that question and here’s some speculation. As traditional standards of masculinity increasingly confront the realities of the modern world, they will seem more and more out-of-date in our culture, in economics, and in our politics. And while some people might want to return to the mythical golden age of 1950s America, that vision will be unacceptable to many others and impossible in a practical sense even if it were appealing to everyone. Instead, on-going social change will lead to numerous opportunities to question and redefine gender norms for the better, but will people actually do that? In part, that depends on our willingness to change and the difference of opinion between one generation and another. But there are other factors at play as well. Ultimately, gender inequalities are inseparable from economic and racial forms of inequality. And if those increase, then so will gender inequalities in various forms. For instance, the decline of male-dominated professions and industries might at first appear to be an opportunity for female advancement. However, these developments are likely just harbingers of things to come in the economy in general as automation and other technologies separate profitability from human labor, which has far reaching implications. But even if that does not take place, the decline of men is rarely a progressive step forward. In countries where large numbers of men have declined socially and economically, it’s given rise to a kind of hyper-masculine reactionary political climate instead of some gender equitable utopia. Examples of this include Russia, the Philippines, and the United States. Whether this represents the last gasp of traditional gender norms or actually foreshadows our future remains to be seen. It’s possible then that the future of men can be a very good thing, but not without a lot of work and, above all, the willingness to change.