and if he left off dreaming about you…

The other day, for perhaps the first time, Oldest handed me a book.  He told me I had to read a story in it, Borges’  The Circular Ruins.  Here is a less than elegantly translated version. 

There is a quote at the beginning of the Borges story:  "And if he left off dreaming about you…"  It is from Through the Looking Glass and is taken from the part where Tweedledum and Tweedledee show Alice the sleeping Red King who, they say, is dreaming about her:

’And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you’d be?’

’Where I am now, of course,’ said Alice.

’Not you!’ Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. ’You’d be nowhere. Why, you’re only a sort of thing in his dream!’

’If that there King was to wake,’ added Tweedledum, ’you’d go out–bang!–just like a candle!’

’I shouldn’t!’ Alice exclaimed indignantly. ’Besides, if I’M only a sort of thing in his dream, what are YOU, I should like to know?’

’Ditto’ said Tweedledum.

’Ditto, ditto’ cried Tweedledee.

He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn’t help saying, ’Hush! You’ll be waking him, I’m afraid, if you make so much noise.’

’Well, it no use YOUR talking about waking him,’ said Tweedledum, ’when you’re only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you’re not real.’

’I AM real!’ said Alice and began to cry."

RIght now, Oldest is my Alice.  Recall that Oldest’s recent existential crisis was precipitated by a dream in which he realized that all his friends were just projections.  In The Circular Ruins, Borges writes about a magician who dreams himself a child, "limb by limb and feature by feature, in a thousand and one secret nights".  After his child has left, the father fears his son will find out he is "a mere image.  Not to be a man, to be the projection of another man’s dream, what a feeling of humiliation, of vertigo!"  Yes, vertigo, that is exactly what Oldest is experiencing as his ideas about reality, ideas he didn’t even know he had, are challenged.  I, who have spent many years toiling in the existential abyss, know just how he feels.

At the end of the Borges story, the father realizes he is no different than the son.  "With relief, with humiliation, with terror he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another." 

Borges seems to see this line of creation running, like a river, in one direction.  The parent dreams the child, the child becomes a parent and dreams another child.  Maybe because I am a mother, I see it differently. Yes, I dream my children.  But in return, they dream me.

2 thoughts on “and if he left off dreaming about you…

  1. Thank you. That was a beautiful post. There is actually a tear in my eye. The Circular Ruins was a fascination of me for years, and Alice in Wonderland too. But your last sentence gives me chills that no other such reference ever has. Thanks again.

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