pynchon

Sometimes, the spirit can be too willing

For someone who has read, and re-read, every issue of Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman," I don't know very much about dreams. I know that I have them, and that I seldom remember them, and with one notable exception, they don't seem to have any literal relationship to anything going on in m life. I guess I know about as much as anyone who dreams.

I did have one awful dream when I was going through my divorce, and by "awful" I obviously mean "wonderful." I dreamed that my soon-to-be-ex-wife had gathered all of my friends and family together and, in front of them all, begged me to take her back. It was an unsually vivid dream and as I was waking, I remember mentally trying to take hold of it and make the dream real. It's the only dream I've ever had that made me cry when I woke up.

I've been dreaming more vividly lately than any other time I can remember in my life. The dreams haven't been so obviously tied to any event in my life as the one during my divorce. They tend to involve friends or family in odd contexts doing even odder things. For example, last night, I dreamed that my best friend was taking his dog to visit all seven continents. He took the dog to the continental (and fictitious) "four corners" where four continents met at a single point. It never felt real, and I can't imagine why I had this dream specifically, but this sort of thing is happening almost every night these days.

My wife mentioned that she understood dreams to be how your mind "unpacks" the days events, like running a defrag on a hard drive. I haven't done enough research on my own (which is kind of embarrassing, really) to know the state of current study on the subject of dreams, but her suggestion made sense to me.

I know I've written more than once about reading "Against The Day," but it's long, it's a slow read, and it's engrossing as anything I've ever picked up, so of course I'm going to be writing about it for a while. It's a strange and challenging book, as one might expect of Pynchon, and I think it's what's causing me to dream so much. The dreams certainly picked up in frequency when I started reading it, and while they're not related to any of the characters, the tone of the dreams, as well as the geography, is in keeping with the novel. 

Now I'm curious: Have any of you ever experienced anything like this? Has a novel ever caused you to dream more often, or more vividly? It seems like the sort of thing that would happen, but like I said, I haven't done my home work so I'm dealing strictly with the anecdotal at this point. While we're at it, are there any particularly good books about dreams that any of you would recommend?

-RK

Of course, the only question was "Which Sandman image would I choose?" I'm partial to this version, but off the top of my head, I can't think of a single subpar artist who ever worked on the book.

Of course, the only question was "Which Sandman image would I choose?" I'm partial to this version, but off the top of my head, I can't think of a single subpar artist who ever worked on the book.



Another rainy Sunday

It seems appropriate, in an area prone to brief spasms of wild, destructive weather,  that the broader, decades-long patterns would mimic the day-to-day weather like some sort of meteorological fractal. The skies have decided to erase this drought we've been experiencing for the entire Obama administration over the course of a single Spring. We've had plagues of frogs, which I suspect are a normal result of abnormal rain as opposed to any sort of mystical harbinger, but I'll leave my dreamcatchers out just in case.

(Speaking of magic, I've discovered that my thin mustache not only does not give me John Steinbeck powers when it comes to writing, it also draws disapproving looks from the one person whose opinion of my appearance matters to me. Back to the drawing board.) 

For some reason, when there's rain falling and the windows fog up just a little, a warm beverage tastes better than anything, regardless of the temperature. I've gone through more coffee today than I do on most weekdays, and that is an absurdly large amount best measured in pots rather than cups. I can just sit here, watch the rains, sip my coffee, and the world seems about as perfect as a world can be. Pro-tip: Do not open any browsers to any social media or news sites when you're attempting to replicate this.

The novel I'm currently reading during my commutes is Thomas Pynchon's Against The Day. Going forward, I may abstain from largish hardcover volumes for reading on the train as my arms are neither as strong nor as supple as they once were. Anyway, even though this is Pynchon at his most accessible, this is Literature-with-a-capital-"L." I know from many, many failures how difficult it is to make writing appear this effortless and to teach so well, to embed the lesson so seamlessly into the story, that you could miss the meanings entirely and still enjoy the book. 

Finally, speaking of books, dropped by my favorite bookstore yesterday and picked up a copy of John Scalzi's Redshirts, which will be my next commuter book. I understand there was an attempt to boycott Mr. Scalzi's publisher, Tor, yesterday. I've looked into the reasons behind the boycott and the imperatives issued by the parties who called the boycott and I am not impressed with either the causes nor the methods of those involved, so I made a small, symbolic purchase to counter their actions. It appears as though the boycott went beyond failure and landed well into "backfired" territory, so it seems I wasn't the only person who chose to defy it. If you're looking for something new to read, please consider taking a look at Tor's lineup. They publish many excellent books by some terrific authors and, while the boycott seems to have failed to have its desired effect, they can always use the business.

-RK