During my list meeting last spring, when Eric (out-of-department committee member) and Scott (history) debated which volumes of Sandman I should read, I wasn't against the idea of having Neil Gaiman on my contemporary reading list but I wasn't thrilled about it either. As I understood them, my reading lists were meant to fill in holes in my reading history (e.g., thou shalt not embarrass thyself on the job market by admitting to not ever having read Moby-Dick, Anna Karenina, Swann's Way, etc. despite holding how many English degrees?). Our lists are our future syllabi in the making, countless combinations of teaching texts to have at our immediate disposal, should we be asked to teach any class on any subject in under a moment's notice. By the time my committee gathered for my official list meeting, Lance (chair) had probably overseen a few dozen revisions. I don't remember which text was given the boot in order to make space for Sandman, but I felt its absence as a loss. At some point along the way, getting it on the list had been a win -- a text I'd justified or defended for its own special reasons. And just like that, it was gone. On the other hand, I'm realizing now, if I had in fact really cared so much about the change, (1) I could have said so at the time and (2) I would probably still remember today which text it was and lament its banishment with specificity, no?
So, for the past several hours, I've been wandering through "the Dreaming." Dream (who defines, because he is not, reality), or Morpheus, is a character in a universe I'm glad to have met. In fact, I kind of even wish I was one of the Endless (his family). I haven't even read the entire series, but this universe is vast and filled with people and places I think I recognize. My inability to talk about Dream and Delirium and Destruction, etc., only proves how transportive these texts are. I will have something more coherent to say about them, and soon, but here's what I can offer now. . . .
I've also been reading Moby-Dick. Random? I know! But yeah, I had hoped to finish it entirely this weekend, but the more pages I flipped into my left hand the thicker the stack in my right seemed to grow. The only way to feel as if I was making any progress at all toward reading/studying was to move on to another text. I opted immediately for Sandman because I've borrowed the volumes from someone in the program and I'm nervous about glopping Amy's mac & cheese all over them. Of course, I'm not eating or drinking anywhere near them but because, as glossy-paged illustrated book objects are far easier to destroy than the "good" or "very good" used copies of most of my other books, my paranoia deepens by the day. I want to give these back this week.
Anyway, here is my observation: I know I am about to re-enter the strange whaling world of Moby-Dick. I only left it a few hours ago, but when I did Ahab, the Pequod, Queepeg, Starbuck, and Ishmael felt so hyper-real and at the same time so historical. Lost people. Lost objects. Lost time. Lost world. Jumping back into that whale-hunt, though, after hanging out in "the Dreaming," I can't shake the sense that I'm still in "the Dreaming" and that the Pequod is a ship not from the written past but sailing now, still, outside of time, and that I've stepped onto its deck via some weird intertextual, extradiegetic dream I'm having.