I am in an enormous ornate white gorgeous hotel which is on fire, doomed, but the fire is burning so slowly that people are still allowed to come and go freely. I can't see the fire but smoke hangs thinly everywhere especially around the lights. It is terribly pretty. I am in a hurry and I want to photograph most awfully. I go to our rooms to get what I must save and I cannot find it whatever it is. My grandmother is around, perhaps in the next room. I do not know what I am looking for, what I must save, how soon the building will collapse, what I must do, how long I may photograph. Maybe I don't even have film or can't find my camera. I am constantly interrupted. Everyone is busy and wandering around but it's quiet and a little slowed. The elevators are golden. It's like the sinking Titanic . . . I am filled with delight but anxious and confused and cannot get to the photographing. My whole life is there. It is a sort of calm but painfully blocked ecstasy like when a baby is coming and the attendants ask you to hold back because they aren't ready. I am almost overcome with delight but plagued by the interruptions of it. There are cupids carved in the ceilings. Perhaps I will be unable to photograph if I save anything including the camera and myself. I am strangely alone although people are all around. They keep disappearing. No one tells me what to do but I worry lest I am neglecting them or not doing something I am supposed to do. It is like an emergency in slow motion. I am in the eye of the storm.
--Diane Arbus, A Dream from a 1959 Notebook