Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Banality of the Subconscious

I've had lots of really vivid dreams lately. Vivid and stupid. The type that only have one message for me: "you're an idiot."

One from the other night: I had a bunch of dollar coins, and was feeding them into a vending machine -- then noticed a sign informing me that using dollar coins would make the machine blow up.

Nonetheless, I kept on feeding them in. And nothing blew up.

Another dream: I was Superman, attempting to conceal something (not sure what) from Batman.


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#50 -- "Cities of the Imagination: Prague" by Richard Burton

I picked this up in a used bookstore some time back, kind of expecting it to be a glorified cultural travel guide. Having finally read it, I can say that if you use this as a travel guide, you're a lot smarter than me. It's subtitled "A cultural and literary history," and that seems as good a description as any. It's not just (as I expected) pointing out "here's how Prague played into the work of Kafka" -- rather, a fairly ambitious discussion of how the arts have affected Prague, how Prague affected the arts, the role of the arts in the identity of the city (and sometimes country) under the Habsburgs, the Nazis, the Communists, and the Czechs themselves.

My interest wavers depending on my interest in the field -- very interested in the literature, not so much in the theater, middling on the music and architecture. It gave me several names to track down (notably, a reminder to finally read something by Ludvik Vaculik, who seems to have been a fairly prominent figure -- moreso than I thought, at least). Next time I go to Prague, I'll take this along -- its analysis of the statues on the Charles Bridge makes that worthwhile on its own.

Observation: last year I laid out the goal of reading 50 books in a year, and barely made it -- this year I set no such goal, and made the deadline easier (and will have read a few more by December 31st). The moral of this story is: don't have goals.

1 comment:

Nanuk of the North said...

My problem with the Czech Republic is that if you look at a map of it, it doesn't look like a guy saying "Hey, what's up?"

In your dream, you are Superman, but hiding something. Paging Dr. Freud, paging Dr. Freud.