Here is Dreamland, coming at you with this week’s Letters of Questioning!
Dear mad maven Ravyn,
Writing IS the pits! The dissertation comes slowly. It’s like watching an iceberg move, it’s glacial – and what’s more, the climate has been hostile to its very existence. It melts while it moves! Two jobs did not for a good time make. But the worst is over now, I hope. Today I got a few scant words on the page. Not bad. Either like seeds, they’ll grow, or at least for now take root.
Your musings over meandering mumblers reminds me of two things. First, the classic greek oral epics and their blind poet. I refer to the Iliad and the Odyssey, of course! Can you imagine having to board blind Homer for a few evenings? Those are ~~long~~ stories, and almost as bad as the bible in some spots, what with the genealogy and other boring details. Well at least they don’t ~translate~ in a pleasing way, either in language or time. And yet, at ~the same~ time, there are some good scenes. It adapts well to our other modern modes. We may not let Homer in through our front door, but we let him in through TV, movies, new books. He costs less to feed and clothe that way, too, I imagine, and we don’t have to listen to him snore by the fireside when he’s done improvising his recitation for the night.
But I think too of a very old story, older than Homer even. The story of the invention of writing. It’s from Egypt, which was already old when Greece was young. One of their animal-headed gods got annoyed with the invention of writing. “How will people remember anything,” lamented the hoary old bird, “if they grow weak by referring to what is written!” Poor bastard. His complaint endures but I seem to have forgotten his name.
We seem to think we know why the seasons change now because of science, but I might argue (who am I kidding, “might”? all i ~do~ is argue) I might argue that in a bigger, metaphorical sense, the season changes and no one knows why. The empire crumbles, the culture is stale, the platitudes about truth and freedom feel weary. You’re right; we need the oral tradition again. I’m afraid when the books have screens that even my routes of escape and education are really just spying on me. I’d rather have someone to talk to.
A hearty congratulations on the publications. It’s so pleasing to see hard work pay off! I know the cookbook will bear fruit ~ha~ before too long as well. Does the madness reign or does a productive rain quench its thirst? Whatever the case may be, I hope you manage to take the work by reigns and lead us further into the unknown, uncovering the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything.
Speaking of mysteries, one more old story – from Babylon, which was old when Egypt was young. In the fertile crescent, god-king Gilgamesh was promised the secret of everlasting life. All he had to do? Not fall asleep. No sooner were the instructions given than Gilgamesh fell instantly asleep. I’ve always enjoyed our penchant for doing the exact opposite of what we want. On second thought, the mysteries look pretty fetching with a sheet on top. Underneath might be horror, hell – I think while you’ve got the wheel, I’ll just have a nap.
By the fireside,
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