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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Saturday, February 10, 2007

a dream, a mystery

It's a day of pale sunshine and cool air. I was awake at 4:40 after a vivid dream of traveling by bus with Kimmie and Robin to get to a luxury restaurant in West Vancouver. The bus takes us to a small ferry terminal, like the SeaBus only bigger, with at least three docks under a huge roof. Kimmie and Robin, having great fun with Kim's friend Katie, decide to go their own separate way to the restaurant, leaving me to take a more direct ferry--the one from the leftmost dock. It seems unlikely that we'll ever make our reservation time at the restaurant, and I don't even know whether the ferry goes straight there, or whether we'll have to connect to another bus. I'm determined to catch the ferry, and am among the first there, along with a dark-haired woman whom I was sitting with on the bus. But suddenly a crowd of other passengers arrives to wait on the rickety wooden float. I'm at the front, so it should be OK, but I remember my bag, which I've left behind me, and go back to get it. To show that I still belong at the front I hold up my ticket or reservation that I made days ago--it has my signature on it--but it seems this kind of ticket is old-fashioned and may not be honored anymore. I feel anxiety and frustration at the unfairness of it.

After keying notes this morning from An Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament, I typed this dream into my journal. Buses and other forms of public transportation are a recurring image in my dreams. I've also dreamed before of transferring from one mode of transport to another, as in this dream. I relate the dream to my work, my career. I feel in danger of "missing the boat", even though I was here from the start. Others who are less prepared than I am will jump on ahead of me and beat me to my destination.

Currently at the top of my reading stack is Harold Bloom's Omens of Millennium, a book published in 1996 about Bloom's observations of certain symptoms in society around him of premillennial angst. Along with an American pop-culture obsession with angels and near-death experiences, he finds a surge of interest also in dreams. I'm currently reading his chapter on dreams, and so I feel sensitized to the topic.

Whenever I read books or articles about dreams or dreaming, I feel that people are somehow missing something terribly important, that they are missing the point of dreams. Not that I know what that point is. But I sense that the phenomenon of dreaming is profoundly strange and mysterious, and that all its investigators at some level take it for granted. Because everyone dreams and always has, there is a blindness to the weirdness of the phenomenon. Why would something so apparently disconnected from everyday life, so inexplicable, be so widespread and so basic to life--not just ours, but, it appears, the life of other animals?

Well, anyway, I had some of my own this morning.


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