The Visual Dream
It was late October when I first visited Oxford some years ago. I went to see a friend who had recently enrolled in the University, and as my first time in town everything looked marvelous: The architecture, the parks and quads of every college, the market, the pubs, the vibrant student atmosphere. Everything looked extraordinary, yet it also seemed strangely familiar. In fact, I had already seen it all, several times, in many of the Harry Potter movies which used the university as part of the movie location. Evidently, some formal occasion was taking place in one of the colleges, because suddenly flocks of chattering students in black cloaks and gowns were streaming all around us as my friend and I walked down one of the main streets. At that point, the odd sensation of the merger of two supposedly separated worlds unexpectedly coming together pervaded me, so I asked my friend, ‘doesn’t this all feel so much like you’re in a Harry Potter movie all the time?’ ‘Yes’, she said in a tone of what sounded to me almost like false modesty, ‘very often’. My friend, then, was okay with her life experience resembling a movie. But not any movie: It was her childhood aspiration. What I did not understand that night as I walked in a crowd of Oxford students was that my friend’s decision to study at Oxford was to a certain extent the result of her desire to see in reality the dream she had always visualized in her mind as an adolescent. The unreality of the magic of Harry Potter was made a little more real in her college experience, which conversely, was made less real. She was now seeing her dream – she was living her visual dream.