Avuncular Dead Frenchmen

Jules Renard appeared to me in a dream, if you can believe it.  But he was very kind.  He wanted to encourage me about the novel I’m writing.  ‘You’ll see,’ he said, ‘it’s going to be all right.’  We spoke in French, which of course I don’t speak in waking life but it was perfectly natural in the dream-state.  Renard was wearing a white buttoned-down shirt.  He smiled and put his hand on my shoulder.  ‘There are good writers and great ones,’ he said, repeating a line from his journals: ‘Let us be the good ones.’

I can settle for that.

Another ghost of a Frenchmen, Joseph Joubert, is often quoted here.  He has yet to make an appearance in my dreams.  Were he to do so, he might remind me that he himself never managed to finish a book.  There’s comfort in the failures of others.  Joubert’s notebooks were only published after his death.  Like Pascal’s Pensees, they hint at some compendious philosophical project that might someday have been completed if the author had been given enough mortal duration to polish and put it all in order. 

It would be very easy for me to die at any moment.  One never knows.  If I were to die, the only people who might read what I’ve written so far are my wife and children.  I can settle for that too.  I don’t kid myself that it is a revolutionary or “great” book.  I only hope that it’s a good one.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Avuncular Dead Frenchmen

  1. A “good” post, & thanks for it. FWIW, as they spell it now, I once had a dream in which Robert Frost appeared. He was riding in the Pope-mobile. No joke. That was back when i working on my diss. about him.

    Glad to hear you’re at work on that novel. Is there anything of ‘Con Valley in it, by chance? There’s an “occupational psychosis,” as my man Kenneth Burke would call it, that could use some good narrative exposition.

  2. Ian Wolcott

    No ‘Con Valley, but you’re right – the fields are white for harvest.

    I can see the diptych now: Frost as Holy Father on the left bowing the head to Dickinson as Immaculata.

  3. That dream is a whopper

  4. And Walt Whitman, turbulent, fleshy, a Kosmos, would be in the on-looking crowd, cruising for a catalog:

    The poet glides by in the Pope-mobile, bowing his head.
    The wrennish young lady nods in demurring recognition.
    Something horrible drops in a pail.
    Leaves eddy away like a rose, on vermilion wheels.
    The lamp-lights sputter, the lamp-lights mutter their ‘blog of the pave.
    A woman in a torn dress stands in a doorway, leering her invitations.
    I lean and surf at my ease, listening to the blab of her ‘blog….”the world’s evil,” she posts….
    The drover, lithe and gnomic and straight in the uprights, tweets in thunder, “Evil will bless, ice will burn…..”
    The hoarse soprano posts her aria, huffs her ariana.
    The poet slides by, glassed in, walled out, rumpling my brains, not my hair.
    Senator Ensign enters on a pogo stick, heading for C Street.
    Standing aside, I loaf and surf and take them all alike–Congressmen, pundits, and hand-cuffs–neither in nor out of the game…..

  5. elberry

    i once had a dream of Wittgenstein but all he did was look cheerful and swing his cane about as he walked down a path in rural Austria. It wasn´t exactly inspirational.

  6. Ian Wolcott

    “…huffs her ariana” – Very good!

    And Elberry, I’m sure that swinging a cane has some kind of symbolic significance, right? Hmm… Then again, maybe it’s better not to go there.

    The other night I dreamt I was wrestling my son from the jaws of a giant squid.

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