It’s 5 in the morning New York, and I thought I’d share this dream I just woke up from with you. Maybe the context of the day before had something to do with it. I’d taken a train up to Yale where I’d been an undergraduate, and where I’d been asked to speak to a seminar in a series sponsored by the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.
The title I’d given my talk was “Thinking About the Unthinkable: Rhetorical Strategies of the Holocaust Deniers and the Prospect of A Second Holocaust”. Cheerful stuff, I know. I met the seminar’s organizer, Prof. Charles Small, at one of my favorite places in New Haven, the Atticus Bookstore and he told me he’d asked me to speak after reading the anthology I edited %%AMAZON=0812972031 Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism%%. We proceeded to an old lecture hall I knew well, Linsley-Chittenden. Nobody showed up.
It was like a bad dream. Finally we realized we’d both deceived ourselves into thinking the seminar was being held at the site of the previous week’s seminar, and then raced up to Prospect Street to the actual site, where everyone had been awaiting us at a new building devoted to a new Yale Institute for Social Policy studies.
The attendees at the seminar were well informed. I said a lot of controversial things, some of which I’d written about here before, about the relationship between Holocaust denial’s new strategy for delegitimizing the State of Israel and the attempt by those in Iran trying to lay the groundwork for a second Holocaust. Very pessimistic. The discussion after my talk was thought-provoking, but if anything even more pessimistic, focussing on nuclear deterrent strategy. On the train back I’d was re-reading Saul Bellow’s %%AMAZON=0141001763 Ravelstein%%, my favorite one of his, and one I was reading trying to get into the mood for doing some upcoming teaching on a fellowship at the University of Chicago in the upcoming quarter. I was reading it when I got back as I was falling asleep and this is the dream or the part of it I remembered:
I was doing a public reading of something from Bellow (not sure if it was Ravelstein) and people were into it until someone in the back of the room relayed something he’d heard from outside the lecture hall about the Red Sox going ahead in an important game. Suddenly everyone stopped listening to me and began paying attention to the game. I think it was an optimistic dream, though. I’ve never been a Red Sox fan, but I can see that with their long struggle to get to the promised land they might represent the Jews of baseball. (Red Sox=Red Sea?)
Good news for the Jews? No need for further Bellovian pessimism from me? I’d be happy to trade the latter for the former. Unrealistic wish fulfillment? Well that’s what dreams are for.