You wrote, “I’ll roll with the idea that story telling and dreams may serve
some of the same ends but your example seems to work against the idea that only
pleasant dreams and stories succeed.”
I really didn’t intend to say that only pleasant dreams and stories succeed,”
just that we hope for “pleasant dreams,” for our spouse if we happen to have
one, and we hope the same thing for ourselves. But as we know we don’t always
receive them. Sometimes we receive nightmares.
Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles wrote tragedies and Aristotle claimed they
provided a cleansing benefit, but after these playwrights came Aristophanes who
We hope for the pleasant dream, but it is well within the order of things that
we sometimes receive a nightmare.
I had written, “A good story will make us feel as good as a pleasant (or at
least not unpleasant) dream.” I didn’t intend to say that bad stories and
unpleasant dreams don’t “work.” We have dreams whether they are good or bad,
so no doubt it is in our DNA to have them and they must work to some purpose.
But what I am suggesting is that hearing, reading or seeing a “pleasant story”
is like the “pleasant dream” we hope for. Having a story during the day to go
with our dream during the night may be something we need. Whether it is better
to have a good story is my conjecture. It may be better for us to watch Anne
of Green Gables than Friday the 13th. . . not that I’ve followed my own advice
and chosen to watch Anne of Green Gables – although Susan coaxed me into
watching it with her.
I had also written, “I frankly don’t think the novels that win awards, novels
about college professors and their angst (not that I’ve read many of them) fit
that mold. Think of the stories that people buy by the billions: detective
stories, westerns, science fiction, and romance. The good guys win (normally)
and there is a happy ending (mostly) – just like a pleasant dream.”
And maybe what I’ve said in the above paragraph is wrong. Maybe the
professors’ angst is in the category of an unpleasant dream or a nightmare.
Maybe we wish for something pleasant but are forced (because we are taking a
class that requires it or are doing some graduate reviewing) to read a
professor’s dreary tragedy. But since it is a “story,” perhaps there is a
benefit along the lines of what a Greek Tragedy itself might entail.
You wrote, “A large blue wall in California? ‘strawdinry idea. And a siren
arriving after the incident too. Lash yourself to some handy mast is my best
Yes, now that you mention it a “blue wall” does sound like what the police have
been called. And also the wall to keep aliens south of the border could be
called a blue wall since the Border Patrol is Law Enforcement, but that seems
to excessively overburden the image when all I’m doing is looking for my
Telling the woman behind the blue wall that I am married is interesting because
maybe subconsciously in some sense I still am.