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Posts Tagged ‘John Philip Sousa’

In the Catacomb of Dreams

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 @ 11:03 PM  posted by Mark

After beginning a series of reviews of books concerned with sickness and death, my own rather routine head cold overwhelmed me and I spent more than two weeks lying in bed, sweating, sneezing and puffing like a melancholy penguin trapped in the Memphis Zoo. By the fourth day, I could no longer even think of thinking—it’s amazing, isn’t it, how much energy it takes to string a line of simple ideas into a coherent thought? Now that I feel normal again, I wonder at the seemingly ridiculous fact that, as recently as a week ago, I could not remember how Chester A. Arthur wore his mustache, or calculate the per-pound value of molybdenum, or identify any personal ambitions whatsoever beyond dozing in warm sunshine, just because I had a virus. There’s nothing like a preview of the permanent infirmity of old age (if you should be lucky enough to live that long) to make you want to stop wasting your energy. As a result, I have decided to abandon the increasingly morbid series on illness I had planned and switch instead to something more life-affirming in upcoming posts. For the moment, though, I’d like to share a few fever dreams that I jotted down during my illness, since I can’t make heads or tails of them—if any of you knows anything about dream interpretation, I would appreciate your insights.

Dream # 1: I notice that, in my backyard, an orange-and-white striped circus tent has appeared, and I enter it to find an army of undead fleas marching across the sawdust floor. The zombie fleas are dressed like soldiers from the Mexican Revolution, with bandeleros of ammunition across their chests, serapes and sombreros. The tent is entirely silent, though somehow I know that the fleas are marching to John Philip Sousa’s Transit of Venus, which all of the fleas are hearing simultaneously in their heads. The fleas don’t notice me at all, but still I feel compelled to donate a dollar to their war effort, and I drop four quarters into an old, unmarked coffee can.

Dream # 2: I am on a 70-foot-long three-sailed schooner from the mid-nineteenth century, in the middle of the ocean. In fact, it is the mid-nineteenth century. I am being chased around and around a deckhouse by a donkey laden with sandbags, and the other crew members are wagering on whether or not the donkey will catch me. What the donkey might do if it does catch me is uncertain, though the prospect is worrisome.

Dream # 3: I am dining with film legend Merle Oberon when I receive a telegram informing me that an aunt I had never heard of before has died and left me $7,000 in silver dental fillings and that I must immediately fly to Pierre, South Dakota, to collect my inheritance. I am torn between continuing my date with Merle and cashing in on the fillings but find that my choice is made for me when I can’t leave the table because the fly of my pants has somehow caught on the tablecloth. Merle spends the rest of the evening looking deeply into my eyes, while I pine for the mountain of silver fillings. This dream seems to last forever.

Okay, enough of that. Next: back to the book reviews!

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