What Is All Of That?
This is a photo of part of James Joyce's bedroom. It's at the James Joyce Center in Dublin. It makes me wonder about Joyce's dreams. How does this bedroom affect him while he is sleeping? No, I have no answers to the question. It's just a wondering. A curiosity. The question itself doesn't strike me as unusual.
And, of course, wondering brings it it back to me. In my bedroom there is a bookcase and on top of the bookcase is this stack of books:
How does having this affect my dreams? Specifically, what is this pile of books doing while I'm asleep? Nothing, you say? I find that extremely hard to accept. Yes, I could do an experiment. I could move the books out and see what happened. But I won't do that. I'm not that kind of scientific person. And doing that would interrupt something important that's already happening. No, I don't want confirmation. I'd prefer just to recognize that something good is happening.
And what's that? Well. The books are slowly and gently implanting in my imagination and my dream world what will eventually become my new stories. Right now, some of the stories are infinitesimally small, fragmentary, discrete, embryonic. These are just tiny seeds that will eventually grow into bigger stories. But others are already more developed, larger, structured, nuanced, self contained. Some have internal logic. Some have surprises. Right now, all of the stories, big and small, may seem to be unrelated to each other. But eventually many of them will grow larger and more complex and more detailed, and they will reach out to each other and be linked to each other in surprising ways I can't currently anticipate. In other words, these stories will grow magically and densely, much as a small village grows into a large city surrounded by a galaxy of suburbs, all being connected by wires and pipes and roads and highways and various, more subtle, more ethereal connections. By media, thoughts and beliefs. And, of course, by their stories.
I am happy to be the incubator for these invisible seeds. I have chosen the books, I have read many of them, and I am anticipating their alchemy. If they weren't there, piled up on the bookcase, if they stopped sending out their spores, my nights would become dreamless. And I might be in danger of running out of stories. With them there, constantly changing them for other books, constantly replacing ones that I want to move, I'm assured of having all the stories I could ever want. And some time in the future, when they are ripe, I will sit at my laptop and download them.