Dear friends: Over the past few months, @Geoffreyjen_Edwards and I have been talking with @Ariadne (Maia) about organizing a group dedicated to reading her 2020-released novel, See You In Our Dreams. Both Gj and I have read her book, and not only felt it would be worth a lot more readerly attention, but also that it beautifully weaves together a variety of the themes, values, and concerns that have preoccupied many of the discussions here on Infinite Conversations and in Metapsychosis journal.
The story, set in the 2050s, focuses on an underground community of poets, artists, scientists, and theater geeks (Bard-lovers) who share the weird experience of receiving cryptic messages in dreams from a figure they know as Ariadne. This more-than-human intelligence seems to be transmitting to them from the planet Jupiter—or so the dream goes. In the 2050s, water is a scarce commodity, while a techno-optimized corporatocracy rules over the carcass of humanity in the throes of Earth’s 6th great mass extinction. This group of misfits keeps a humanistic flame and emancipatory hope alive amid a bleak landscape.
Trapped inside a highly secure medical complex is a genetically and spiritually unique child who may hold the key to the survival of humanity—except she is also dying of a novel virulent disease, or so the authorities say. Dream bleeds into reality when Ariadne’s dream-transmissions suggests an action which the group must undertake to free the girl. They will challenge official version of events, face death, and reclaim the mystery of water. Lovers are torn apart and the community is stressed to the breaking point—is this band of wise rebels merely caught in a web of illusion?
I’ll let Geoffreyjen’s Goodreads review take it from here:
A long, complex, slow exploration of the final paroxysms of a dystopic future before something starts to change. In a sense, this is all parable, since our own time could be described in similar terms. Water has become the ultimate monetary unit, because of its scarcety, although is it really still as scarce as it once was? Water defies being harnessed and caged in such a way, and so do the characters in this book defy the mechanics of the world closing in upon them. And then there are the Dreams. Shared Dreamings, not across one or two people but whole communities. We are in the presence here of finely drawn characters with rich interactions and relationships, none of them easily described or pinned down, fluid like everything else within these pages. And a language which is almost more poetic than narrative, although narrative there is. Terms are hard to pin down, but finish by coalescing.
And the Dreams pass through the story, leaving their trails as much in ourselves as in the characters, in a way that reminds me of the journey Samuel R. Delany delivers to us in his Dhalgren. Like Delany’s book, this one requires perseverence, but the language draws you on, the beauty of the landscapes also, and the ending, although satisfactorily also unresolved, brings about a sense of something ending and something else beginning. Not for everyone, perhaps, but those who love words lovingly handled, who love narratives which play, who want to re-imagine our futures, will find a powerful experience here, and one that will linger long after sounding out the last word.
We are proposing a group reading experience that goes beyond merely discussing the text. As you’ll discover if you decide to participate, Maia’s language throughout the novel is poetic, playful, and provocative—and would be a joy to read aloud. Moreover, as we’ve discovered through our previous performances of Milton, Aurobindo, Whitman, Blake, and others—all it takes is a little practice in a safe-to-fail setting to create the context for ontological immersion and aesthetic magic.
For the purposes of this group, literature and life—just as waking and dreaming—will not be treated as totally separate states of being, but brought together in playful resonance. These conversations may also sometimes be quite serious—if we recognize how thin the border between fiction and reality may sometimes be. We might see ourselves reflected in the characters and their circumstances, and vice versa. We can share our own dreams. And we’ll read the text aloud to each other, as around a campfire, taking turns playing different parts, potentially even producing the raw material for a community theater style audiobook version of the text, if we are able to sustain our attention and gather the resources for such a project.
Our first meeting will coincide (more or less) with the upcoming Solstice, which occurs on June 20th or 21st of this year depending on where you are on the globe. We propose to hold our first meeting Saturday, June 19th at either 9, 10, or 11 a.m. Pacific time (see discussion below). All @readers are welcome, but please introduce yourself below first.
You’ll also need a copy of the book. When you sign up, we’ll make sure you get a PDF version and you can also request a print copy directly from the author. If you require financial assistance, we will send you a free copy and invite those who can to chip in toward the costs.
As you’ll read, one of the main characters in the book is visually blind. Yet that doesn’t mean he cannot see. One of the ways we will attune to the fictional world that Maia has dreamed awake is to conduct our meetings by audio only. We will use Zoom’s audio only feature for these meetings. There will be time for meditation, listening, speaking, song, silence, attuning… we will allow each other to deepen into a shared liminal zone of lucid presence. It will be weird, maybe awkward at times… different than anything we’ve yet attempted here, but hopefully a rewarding experience for all involved.
During our first meeting, we intend to focus on the theme of Water. What does water mean to you? Bring a water story to share. As well, bring a musical instrument! Guitar, cymbal, triangle, bells, mouth harp… any music-making implement you can share over the phone will do.
Subsequent meeting times and the exact plan of action all remain to be determined by the literary psychonauts who show up and the guidance we receive. Each of us can help shape a collective meta-dream—there will be plays within plays and dreams with dreams! And then how shall we bring our dreaming into dialogue with the world? The great MLK said, “I have a dream.” Could we say, “We have a dream?” See you there!