Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What I dreamed near the moon

I was floating near the moon in a rose-colored nightgown, and dreamed that I could see the lovely ball of earth in great detail--could see my own house, the streets, the intricacies of cities. In my dream, the fine, fine silt of political correctness dusted over the towers and libraries of our academies. It covered over the great books of the past, it covered the lips of all Christendom, it blotted out the faces of our literal and spiritual ancestors who lifted the West into the light.

"Now," I wondered, "what will they speak about, in the high towers? Who can tell? Who can penetrate their arcane words, wrapped with many threads like a multitude of fine, dust-covered serpents, around the ephemerals of our day?"

The academic faculty members were stuffing into tiny, tiny boxes the words that they would not need any more—they would not need the word “patriot,” or the word “God,” or “honor,” or “tyranny,” or “freedom.” Thousands of already packed containers littered the floor. English professors were tying pack thread around ring boxes, and inside were phrases no longer needed: “immortal longing,” “the pantheon of poets,” “the canon,” “poetry, the Queen of the arts,” and so on.

In a tall ivory shaft pierced by tiny windows, the academic feminists sat on ancient laurels, each wreath encased in Plexiglas to keep it new and fresh. Burbling fell from their lips and was encoded in a pre-dusted convolution called an "article.”

Through a telescope at the highest window, one of them could have seen the blackened corpses left after dowry burnings, the mutilated girls, the trafficked children, those crying out for help in forced marriages. But the feminist did not place her eye against the eye-piece; the telescope was, after all, a shaft, symbol of male domination.

Out in the courtyard, a figure in a robe and a staff was shouting. His voice beat like the ocean surf against the walls. He ranted on and on about what the human soul needs to live. Boxes lay flung around his feet—they were ripped, their strings broken. He quoted Socrates. He quoted Charlotte Brontë and Isaac Bashevis Singer and Homer. Unfashionably, he quoted Jesus Christ three times, and he quoted a story by Flannery O’Connor and something that I thought might have been from the final pages of Middlemarch. It came to me, in the mysterious way things come to one in dreams, that I knew the man.

Euripides.

There was no doubt in my dreaming mind that the man was the very last of Athens' three great tragic dramatists--symbol and close of an age. And when I heard him say that “Love is all we have, the only way that each one can help the other,” I was quite sure of the identity of the tragic artist, because the words were all, all Greek to me, and no one was listening.

***
Illustration: royalty free photograph, "Castle Ruins" by Mateusz w, www.sxc.hu

7 comments:

  1. Wow!!!!

    My dreams were less lofty last night, a bit more earthy. I won't even deam to unearth them here. Too many girlie movies here lately I think.

    I feel often that we are entering into another artistic dark age, and your missive reminds me of this. I know with the current testing craze, that arts of all sorts are being shoved onto the back burner.

    I wonder what will become of a society where the poets, the dreamers, the artists, and the musicians are all silenced. I wonder what happens when all the procedural puppets that we are producing graduate from the high schools and colleges, but no one is left to dream the future.

    ReplyDelete
  2. so beautiful, and so chilling, Marly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gosh, Marly. My dreams are only about missing trains, planes and having the phone go dead when I try to reach a loved one or am in trouble. Scary as it is, I fear political/academic correctness pales beside the larger,current dangers wrought by ignorant, greedy and arrogant politicians, our so-called leaders.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, good, it's you.

    I've just removed 13 posts from possibly fictional people, all about zoroastrianism. You fictional people, please come back if and when I write about zoroastriansim, okay?

    Based on your pictures (Laura) and comments (all), I don't think that you are one whit fictional. You seem firmly flesh and blood and spirit.

    As for what's scary, there's such a smorgasbord right now, it would be hard to dream about all possibilities at once. Although maybe one scary thing stands for all...

    Now that I have no more fictional people running amuck through the Palace, I am so glad to see three real women--one of whom I've met in the flesh. Hello!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds like a lost chapter from the Book of Revelations. Do your feel like a prophet, your dreams divine missives? I'd suggest no chocolate after 7PM!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Even your subconscious is poetic, Ms. Youmans! Occasionally I can glimpse the beginnings of a fanstasmic and whimsical description in my sleep, but nothing more. You, however, are writing vivid novels while dreaming! Is there a special writer's school where you learn to be constantly author-y? :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Megan, I'm afraid that most of my dreams while sleeping are rather mundane! Mostly I don't remember any, because I'm bolting out of bed to wake up children for school...

    However, I used to have marvelous flying dreams. I remember once flying over suburban swimming pools and deciding to dive in one--some ducks came along and grabbed my shirt in their beaks and kept on flying.

    Connie, I can't handle any cut-backs on chocolate, and that's a fact! I'm afraid I'm not prophetic. Except in that I roll my eyes and complain--the prophets were good at that sort of thing, only on a more threatening-fire-and-brimstone level.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.