I never plan to write about books, but it turns out that reading and writing and are therapeutic. Reading is my way to leave the abuse behind and transport to safe and interesting places and writing helps to empty a few thoughts out of my busy, bustling mind.
I’ve been studying the Civil War and Reconstruction through a free online course. Parts of the lectures and reading on Reconstruction are illuminating, but they also tell about a part of American history that’s full of brutal violence and cold-blooded murder. The study of Reconstruction reveals the murder of former slaves by burning, hanging, stabbing and fatal guns wounds.
Some people of the South wanted former slaves to lose the freedom gained by the Thirteenth Amendment. The South’s economy was devastated by the loss of slave labor. Also, the killers believed that black people were born to be in servitude and forgetting their place by fighting for suffrage and demanding wages for work. American slavery was abusive human trafficking and the murderers/terrorists were sick and evil. After reading and hearing it, I was full of rage and sick to my stomach. So until I feel stronger and calm down, I’ve decided to read something else.
Instead I’m reading Writers Dreaming. Isabelle Allende, Charles Johnson, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, and Amy Tan are a few of the writers who share what they dream and the influence it has on their writing. On page 46 of the hardcover the writer John Barth says something interesting:
Deep down in the narrative imagination of every culture is that intimate association between storytelling and dreaming; … The ancients knew the worst mistake was to make these stories literally dreams, so the ancient narratives like Odysseus’s travels, his trying to get home, is very dreamlike. You remember he ends up being brought home asleep in “the dream dark boat” that moves like no other boat in the world, by the very wish of the navigators.
It seems Barth is saying stories that stand the test of time, that hold our attention, have a part of the human unconscious in them. I wonder about that. What if unconscious dreams are more true than what we think about awake? Maybe real truth is part dream and part consciousness. It’s something to think about.