Special Libraries

apocalyptic dream

Dreams/Nightmares? by Giampaolo Macorig

I wasn’t going to share my dream from last night until I was checking out my blog feeds and came across this dream post from John Crowley. I haven’t remembered my dreams much the last five years which is, coincidentally how long Harry has been around. Unless I have earplugs in, I generally bolt awake at the slightest quiver of energy in the house.

The dream: a new criminal, a potential criminal, or perhaps more of a gumshoe detective type, is delivering a package. He arrives at rambling second floor of a warehouse. There are many people milling bout and lots of piles of paper. He is greeted by a woman who leads him through the warren to a room where people are sitting around a table eating. He joins them for the meal and after follows the woman back to her bedroom. It is clear they will make love but here my dream averted its eyes. As they talk she reveals that she is a librarian and is running a special library for a famous and brutal crime family.

At this point, I think woke up and tried to fill in in some rationale and details with my only slightly more conscious mind. A special library for a crime cartel, the patriarch wanting to archive their stolen goods, not wanting them to go off the grid of human cultural history? She is well paid, of course and devoted to her work. When the gumshoe and librarian part, it’s clear they feel an inevitability to their encounter. But I know they won’t come together again, at least not easily. He is going to meet with some kind of violence.

I know that Brian and I talked briefly about the Prelingers last night and their library of “cast-offs and printed ephemera” and their influence is surely felt in this dream. I felt career envy when I read that article in Harper’s, something I only seem to get for paths that promise limited financial reward. But I sense that my idea that blogging is integral to the teaching and learning of the “sustainable living arts”; folk skills reimagined and practiced in the city, in partnership with rural, susbsistence farmers is, in some way, related to the Prelingers ideas:

“They think the conflict between a so-called digital culture and a so-called print culture is fake; they think we should stop celebrating, or lamenting, the discontinuous story of how the circuits will displace the shelves and start telling a continuous story about how the two might fit together” (p. 47)

I told Jake and Anne about the dream as we were walking the kids to school this morning and Jake said “I’d like to take credit for that” and indeed we did meditate together last night, giving over some waking time to dreaming. As I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come I was thinking about the periodic apocalyptic dreams I’ve had over the years (particularly from about 16-22). My certainty that big changes, catastrophic changes to the way we lived were coming, soon, rest as much upon my dreams as the terrifying science that keeps confirming them.

Images from Doris Lessing’s climate change infused novels Mara and Dann floated through. Also bubbling up were memories of university when I eagerly signed up for the first year of a new inter-disciplinary program called “Humanities and Psychoanalytic Thought” and met the professor who encouraged me to explore themes of separation and loss, including their deeply personal resonances. (He’s got a new book out I see. ) So I feel asleep thinking about dreams and how much stock I’ve placed in them, though my own have been so quiet for years.

Some novels inhabit me like dreams with those by John Crowley being the most persistent (and welcome). My 39th birthday present from Brian is a copy (still to come) of the 25th anniversary edition of Little, Big. One of the dreams Crowley shared is a crime dream as well, though I particularly enjoyed his recounting of the dentist dream:

I was having elaborate dentistry done by a highly skilled progressive dentist — nothing he did hurt, indeed couldn’t even be felt. In the chair next to me (like barber chairs) another dentist was working on Jack Nicholson, His teeth were quite poor (you could see these discolored teeth ringed with gold, part of a partial plate) and he said it was the fault of New York doctors he’d seen. “All they know is drill, drill, drill!”


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