Monday, February 9, 2015

Dream Log: Surrounded By People Volunteering To Help Me Find Livy's Lost Books

I dreamed that some friends had invited me to their house. From outside the house looked like one of a row of not-particularly-remarkable single-family houses rowed close together in an urban residential district, with a sidewalk and small lawns in front, but inside it was filled with a surprising number of rather spacious rooms. It was also full of a large number of lively, intelligent people of all ages. This was not a party or some other special occasion; I gathered, on the contrary, that the house was usually full of the resident family's friends.

On a shelf in the living room I found a book which looked like a much-read volume from the 60's, a little worn but still intact. No dust jacket remaining. It was entitled Finding the Lost Books of Livy. I had never seen a book with a title like this, which referred to one of my favorite obsessions. More than merely referring to the search for Livy's lost texts, the title did so in a remarkably optimistic way: not just "looking for" the lost books, but "finding" them. I wondered how the book had been received by the author's colleagues, if he had been a Classicist. Whether they had laughed at him about it, to his face or behind his back.

I soon was quite absorbed in the book, which definitely had not been written for laypeople, with many long citations from Latin and Greek books, with no translations offered, the author obviously having assumed that his audience could read both Latin and Greek.

What with the lively flow of people in and out of the living room, my interest in the book had soon been noticed, and people talked to me and learned that I was especially interested in this book's topic, and soon both children and adults had volunteered to assist me in my search for Livy's lost books. I felt rather on the spot here, and I thought that I was too much of an amateur to lead an entire team on this Quixotic quest, but, as I knew of no pros actively participating in the search, I accepted the role of leader, and did my best to assign sensible tasks to my volunteers.

My leadership of the Livy team led people in the house to seek my leadership in other things as well. For example, although the weather had been conventionally pleasant when I'd arrived at the house, later that day a rainstorm with heavy winds was underway, and people were looking to me for instructions on how best to deal with things like a large, recently-transplanted tree being uprooted and moved away by the wind, its roots still contained in the transplant sack. I stood at the window in the comfort of the interior of the fine house and did my best to rise to the occasion, giving orders which were immediately carried out by all around me. It seemed that I was in charge, for better or worse.

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