Every Wednesday we’ll be running a piece on a volume of Sandman.
You can find Jason Sacks’s introduction to the series here.
You can find Mark Stack’s overview of “Preludes and Nocturnes” here.
You can find Kyle Garret’s overview of “The Doll’s House” here.
The Shaper of Forms — The Procreant Urge of the Dream Country
“The Poet’s pen turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.” — William Shakespeare
“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.” — Dream of the Endless
“Mythologies take longer to die than people believe. They linger on in a kind of dream country that affects all of you.” — Death of the Endless
“Urge and urge and urge, Always the procreant urge of the world. Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex, Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life. To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.” — Walt Whitman
Daniel Elkin: From whence the creative act? From whence the desire to give shape to those forms that gather in the mists? Why do we desire to devise and design and discover? What is more human than the aspiration to know?
The answer is that we need to tell others what we have found.
The answer is that it is only through stories that we can cheat death.
We live on in a dream country.
Dream Country is the third of the collected Sandman series and is the first to feature four seemingly stand-alone stories: issues #17 – 20. “Calliope” and “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” were both illustrated by Kelley Jones and Malcolm Jones III. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was illustrated by Charles Vess and Malcolm Jones III. “Facade” was illustrated by Colleen Doran and Malcolm Jones III.
While all four of these stories fulfill their individual narrative arcs (each essentially having their own beginning, middle, and end), Gaiman is playing a larger game here, taking a breather from the grander sequential story to work through some of the themes he wrestles with throughout its unfolding.
To whit, I give you the following four quotes from this collection:
“Writers are liars.”
“Revelation is the province of Dream.”
“Dreams shape the world.”
“All that matters is the stories.”
These words encompass the fundamental resonating ideas that vibrate throughout the entirety of Gaiman’s Sandman series. With Dream Country, he gives himself the leeway of sorting that shit out in order to weave it into the thread of his purpose.
It’s all about storytelling.
Because it is the stories that matter after all, isn’t it? It’s not the deed itself that resonates throughout time, but someone’s telling of it. Why do we still speak of Odysseus and Ceasar, Joan of Arc and Babe Ruth? It’s not so much for what they did, but because their story still speaks to us. Through the re-iteration of the story, these individuals live on well past his or her own demise. The art of the story, the shaping of forms, is the purview of Dream and the pathway to that which lives beyond us.
Which is what we all seem to want — as if it is a basic human drive — as if it was a fundamental need.
And yet always, regardless, everything eventually fades. It is no accident that Dream Country ends with “Facade” — a story in which Dream doesn’t even appear, a story that ends with Death, who at one point admonishes us that, “You people ALWAYs hold onto old identities, old faces and masks, long after they’ve served their purpose. But you’ve got to learn to throw things away eventually.”
Taylor Lilley: It’s a very Death thing to say, isn’t it: “You’ve got to learn to throw things away eventually.”
Dream works a little differently, he’s more about finding what should be kept, held onto, and the story that can be told. Dream and Death work in tandem, Dream sorting psychic baggage and the spiritual whorl into a “Keep” pile and then a much larger “Let Go” pile, which latter pile Death dispassionately incinerates. The fate of a human largely depends on what morsel in which pile they cling to.
Gaiman pulled off something similar for the comics audience of the 90’s, especially the new readers. Keep your love of story, he said, your passion for the invented and the truths it contains. But let go, he said, of your judgments about comics. They’re just like books, only easier.
But I digress.
Yes, Elkin, it’s all about storytelling. And maybe I’m just a dour 21st century atheist with chronic deficiencies of the humours, but I find myself coming again and again to the question of who tells the story. Within Gaiman’s cosmology, stories seem to reside elsewhere, perhaps in the Faerie realms where they originally occurred, or in some deeper wellspring which we rarely plumb. There are kept the originals from which all tales are descended, reformed, retold.
Richard Madoc told one story once, but to make a career he must rape and pillage the Muse Calliope herself, imprisoning her and defiling her. The Cat of Dreams tells A Dream of A Thousand Cats’ feline prophetess the story of the 1000 dreamers and their world-making potential, that she may spread it. Dream says of Shekespear “Will is a willing vehicle for the great stories. Through him they will live for an age of man…” Urania Blackwell’s existence is a sidebar in the Sun-God Ra’s “never-ending battle against Apep, the serpent that never dies (though Death is pretty clear that that worm is dust).”
All but players on a stage, fed lines written by others.
I used to find that idea of unseen powers speaking through the precious few amazing and inspiring. Now, I find it useless, inviting questions that cannot be resolved, theories unprovable. The scale of this mortal world is overwhelming and unfathomable enough. Crafting agency from within it takes work and will, and perhaps this is where the appeal of Gaiman’s Sandman comes in. Within his universe, if we work hard enough we’ll reach that wellspring, or at least someone like Dream who carries its water. We’ll be anointed, glimpse beyond, and have purpose bestowed.
The dark side of that coin is that if, like Richard Madoc in Calliope, we approach Story in shadows and through nefarious bargains, Dream will give us all we want. “But the price of getting what you want, is getting what once you wanted.” We can’t handle more than a sip of this brew.
It’s a beguiling system, I’ll grant you.
Perhaps what frustrates me about this reading of the Sandman worldview is the relentless rescuer dynamic, and the misery of humanity in the face of it. The elevation of Story to some otherworldly salve seems wrongheaded to me, for my experience of humanity is that Story shows up at the afterparty.
Story is the eager celebrant, glass in hand, delineating our now-obvious path from whence we came to wherever we are as if it could be no other way. Story enables us to feel special, part of something bigger, after we’ve actually done the work. Story tells us the lie of divinity in our cause, whispers predestination in our ears.
But what really bugs me is the implicit conflation of Dream and Story. Elkin, Silva, maybe you’ll tell me you dream in Five Acts, you well-made sophisticates, but dreams as I experience them are incoherent, surreal, disturbing, and only reluctantly revelatory. Gaiman’s Dream Country is held together by a magical physics, permitting of limitless cohabitation and interpenetration of mythologies and lores. My Dream Country is a nonsensical, ever-morphing jumble that requires excavation and investigation, unchartable and never twice the same.
I suppose what I’m saying, fellas, is that Dream Country gives it all up too easy. There’s magic if you just look for it, and justice in every breeze. But where’s the sweat? Where’s the aching back and the blunted pencils? Where, dare I ask, is the beef?
“I want to know what she has to say. So do we all, child. So do we all”
-Two cats in conversation
“And in the pictures I saw the truth.” – a prophetess cat
“… I’ve got a blank space, baby // And I’ll write your name”
– T. Swift
Want. “Want” is the word we are … err … in need of here, gentlemen. “Want” is your “Urge,” Elkin. “Want” is the password, the ‘Fidelio,’ to the afterparty you so well describe, Lilley. “Want” is the currency of Dream Country. And yet … who’s wanting?
Scrape down far enough on the palimpsest that is Story and what remains is “want,” the purpose, the motivation of plot, of character, the “why” of the “why are we here?” Perchance nothing less than a diversion, entertainment for a fair audience and faerie folk alike. Perchance, one more story, one more damned (decent) idea (and then another and then another and then …). Perchance a dream to dream. Perchance, an ending. Each protagonist wants so hard in these tales, these stories. But which? The teller or the tale? To which Gaiman says yes.
Dream — or as Robin Goodfellow calls him here, “shaper” — wants his (very, very old) friends, Auberon of Dom-Daniel and Lady Titania, to be remembered in both words and deeds. And by both teller, “Will Shekespear,” and tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That is his gift, Dream’s dream, to his friends. And that forgotten novelist and wily rapist, Erasmus Fry, his desire is not for more stories like his fellow author (and rapist protégé) Madoc, but that his book, his tale and favorite idea, the curiously titled ‘Here Comes a Candle’ should see circulation again. Those two stories are about writers so it makes sense their dream is for their work to continue in perpetuity once their mortal coils have unwound. As for the other two, the females, they simply want out — ‘Oh, Jamesy, let me out of this pooh’ — out of this life, a possible return to another reality or some before, a prelude perchance. Their stories are their own, they are their own shapers.
Dream confesses to Titania that Shekespear like all mortals, “only see the prize, their hearts desire, their dream … But the price of getting what you want, is getting what you once wanted.” Zuh? What kind of pretzel logic is this shite? Queen Titania don’t deign. She’s not even paying attention! She’s being entertained (distracted). Instead of countering Dream’s ‘price quote’ this Queen of faeries does what we mortals, we mechanicals, do and say in such instances, she bullshits. “Hm? Oh, it is a wonderful play, Lord Shaper. Most enchanting and fine.” How does one go from one’s “heart’s desire” to “what you once wanted?” What changes? Is this some trite aphorism like “be careful what you wish (dream) for?” or “don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash?” Little help? Is work i.e. writing, experience, the will to act on the Urge, the Want, the Dream the X in this equation? Is the answer Jesus? In all these metaphors and these capital(ized) concepts — capital ‘S’ Story and capital ‘W’ want — where, as you ask, Lilley, is the work, the logic. Show your work Mr. Gaiman! How can dreams be both the glorious stuff of story AND morality tales (koans) to not shortcut the process … or else. Perchance this is the (dream) logic of Sandman, everything means something and something else too.
Story matters, yes, but it’s the medium and not the message. To wit: the blank page or since this is a comic, panel. Gaiman uses blank panels, two black and one white, in three of these four stories, only “A Dream of A Thousand Cats” draws no blanks, make of that what you will, perhaps the cats can’t be bothered to organize on this as well. Blank panels in a comic are such a tyrannical, such a writerly thing to do. What a willful boy you are Mr. Gaiman, such a naughty boy. Perchance Mssrs. Jones, Jones III, Vess and Doran welcomed the break. Perchance.
The two black panels occur on the penultimate page of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and on the last page of ‘Facade.’ Each represents the void, in the former, sleep, in the latter, death, passages between one world and the next, arteries in Dream Country. The one white panel occurs on the last page of ‘Calliope’ and it is as Prospero puts it in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, “… such stuff // As dreams are made on.”
See, in the end ol’ Richard Madoc ‘bites the bag and steps out the door.’ He has to. A morally bankrupt man to begin with he ends his tale, thanks to an assist from Dream, the way he begins as a husk, idea-ed out, blank and bereft of ideas. Once Madoc frees Calliope, his muse, he is left a sadder (and no longer wiser) man. As he tells the toadie-esque Felix Garrison, “It’s gone. I’ve got no idea anymore. No idea at all.” A fitting end for such a scoundrel and a perfect ending for such an E.C. Comics-like story — look at how Jones draws Fry’s chin, he’s the damn crypt keeper! Seen one way that white panel represents a fade out as Dream disappears. Emptiness. Seen another way it’s a return to form, the blank page. “… And in the pictures I saw the truth.”
There’s a big difference, a wide country — a dream country, perchance — between how a reader interprets a blank space and how a writer approaches the same vacant territory. In the context of the comic the white panel is literal, the emptied out mind of Madoc. Pause. How does Madoc’s ‘heart’s desire’ change, the ‘price’ point is clear, so where’s the change? Unpause.
Nothing in dreams is ever one thing. The Blank Page creates the faultless metaphor for the Ideal, perfection, Elysium. But where’s the blood? The work? What happens next?
Elkin: Ah, Silva — the pause that binds — the blank page or panel or moment is, yes, an ending, but, perchance, is it not too also a beginning? The absence, to us poor humans, demands to be filled with our spew. Not to get Aristotelian on you, but horror vacui, or plenism, is the name of the game. Nature abhors a vacuum? So too do our little minds with their constant need for meaning and distraction and fear. Always the procreant urge of the world. We must cram the void with noise in order for us to feel purposeful. Pack the silence to make meaning. Lade the vacuity to live.
Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly flow the days.
But first, Lilley, to attend to you — the dream is not the story, the dream is the spark. From the spark comes the fire and from the fire (here you go, Silva) comes the work, the tale, that which we fill the space.
Gaiman understands this. He’s done the lifting and flexed firmly those muscles that push against the lever of our endeavor, supported by the fulcrum of Want. Through this he hoists “the originals from which all tales are descended” to eye level, the line drive that we, the shortstop in this metaphor, are able to snag in our fielding gloves. Then it is up to us to find the play at the plate or rocket it to first base to ensure the end of the inning and boost our stats in tomorrow’s box scores.
But it’s no game. Silhouettes and shadows indeed. Story is serious business. The Monomyth persists throughout human culture because it expresses basic human moxie. The journey makes the narrative, but what is discovered at the destination separates us from the chittering beasts circling the campfire at midnight as we sleep swaddled in our flimsy synthetic tents. What new lands are unearthed there? What new vista upon which to plant our flag?
We live on in a dream country.
We are responsible for the stories that we embrace. We take ownership of those which tell us what we need to know. It is the artist who is best able to, through his or her art, convey that which makes it all make sense. With great power comes great responsibility.
Much like the responsibilities of the artist to his or her art, the storyteller to his or her story, so too the parent to the child, and, in an even more convoluted manner, the child to the parent. Gaiman’s Sandman is saturated with this dynamic. Here in Dream Country it reverberates. From poor Hamnet seeking to understand his father, to that sack of kittens in the river serving as impetus to journey, to Ra giving birth to the misshapen horror that poor Urania Blackwell has become, much is made of lineage. Much is made of the failure to protect. Much is made of the dream that the child will carry on that which the parent has begun.
Interestingly enough, the one childless story — “Calliope” — still revolves around the procreant urge, although here the ill-gotten offspring of the horror of violation are stories themselves.
While I seemingly draw comparisons between childbirth and storytelling, and therein to dreams, I draw no conclusions. Rather, I dangle this concept before you, my friends, to see what you make of it.
Which, in some small way, makes me the spark for some new story for you to tell. People say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
Lilley: You are a dreamer, Elkin. You definitely are if you think Calliope is a childless story, because Calliope’s Mothers turn up when she summons them to plead for help, and can only say “There is nothing we can do for you, and nothing you can do but hope.” Another abandoned child. Dangling.
So no, you’re not the only dreamer, Elkin. But I have a revelation (they’re the province of dreams, don’t you know?).
Dream Country makes no fucking sense.
Silva, you decry my favourite line of all four comics (not that I’m taking it personally, mind you) as pretzel logic. While there’s sourdough thinking aplenty here, the line you refer to (“But the price of getting what you want, is getting what you once wanted”) is actually key. The real price of a wish is the delay between making it and having it fulfilled. The gutter, or even page turn, between those two moments in a life is packed with potential, for growth, for revelations that supplant old desires with new. For dreaming. It is frustration that keeps us dreaming, keeps us alive.
Consider then the prophetess’s trifecta of objectives in venturing to the heart of the Dreaming (A Dream of A Thousand Cats), “I have come here for Justice; I have come for Revelation, I have come here for Wisdom.” And the death bird’s reply; first dismissing justice as “a delusion”, and then Wisdom as… well, salt that shit and dunk it in your coffee because that is the Grand Poobah of logic pretzels right there (“Wisdom is no part of dreams, lithe walker, though dreams are a part of the sum of each life’s experiences, which is the only wisdom that matters”).
A koan is resolved through deep focus and the dissolving power of a resonant “Om”. Gaiman gets one letter right, but sticks at “Um…” Which is why he charges on with “But REVELATION? That is the province of dream.” Oh, okay, so let’s forget that baffling shit that just went down, and go with Dream as revelation. Cool.
What is revealed by these stories?
“I had seen the under-side of what he had given to me,” says the prophetess. That’s what Gaiman reveals with these stories, under-sides. That behind every blockbuster is a violated muse and a soulless man. For every purebred housecat a lake full of kittens. Each masterwork that endures through the ages but a refraction of a much older tale, rewritten with the blood of the author’s rivals. And after every superhero has saved the day, they face a procession of subsequent days with nothing to fill them but their own reflected freakishness.
There’s subversion here, of the literary celebrity stereotype, of the yuppie lifestyle (Thousand Cats is full of brands, briefcases, and pedigree breeding), of “Shekespear’s” canonical stature, and of the invulnerable hero archetype. Gaiman delights in showing us an unfamiliar face for that we take for granted. He also delights in the breadth of literary traditions from which he can draw, since Morpheus seems conversant with each and every one, Greek Muses, Faerie creatures, Egyptian Gods (if only indirectly, through his infinitely more interesting sister), it’s all fair game.
That’s the thing with Dream Country. Anything goes. There are no rules. And as Monica said, “Rules help control the fun.”
Silva, these stories are bloodless because they are but atoms of infinity. In Dream Country there is always another blank page, and always another dream sparking another desire to fill it. Gaiman isn’t interested in the people, he’s interested in the stories. As the eminent scholar of humanity, Ron Swanson, says of Justin Theroux’s character in Parks and Rec, “He’s a tourist.”
That’s why Calliope is so bleak, because the character he’s most invested in is the rapist dungeon-keeper writer-figure (hence the Michael Crichton-esque research about bezoars, the smug authorial titty-pinching about “Writers are liars,” and all the weak sauce literary celebrity stereotype skewering). It’s why A Dream of a Thousand Cats is ultimately little more than a cat-lover’s whimsy, a back-of-the-napkin fleshing out of the question “What do cats dream about?” wrapped up in some “Dreams can free you” feline existentialism. The cat has no personality of her own because she speaks with Gaiman’s overblown and flowery prose, she has no identity because she’s a photo-realistic cat with a realistic cat’s limited range of facial expression (though I’ll fight any man who doesn’t agree this is a near-perfect piece of graphic storytelling, if you can just ignore Gaiman’s script). A Midsummer Night’s Dream is full of stabs at human emotion, but as you pointed out, Silva, Gaiman doesn’t even seem to care about Morpheus’s troubles! While he agonises over the deal he’s struck with Shekespear and the price he’s wrung from Will, Titania gives no shits, and we laugh because that’s not why we’re reading Sandman. We’re reading Sandman for that atheistic cultural methadone he’s doling out, literariness without the literature, and as many pretty pictures as we can fit around the words.
And all of this becomes even more transparently awful with Facade. Morpheus rescued Calliope. He shared the secrets of reality with the Prophetess. Shakespeare got a multi-century literary legacy and channeling of the primal story-font. But Urania Blackwell, who was only following orders and got morph-raped by a delusional Egyptian God for her troubles, what does Morpheus do for her? She dreams again and again of her violation, and every time she’s powerless, just like in real life. Every time she loses everything, and wakes up to her solitary, killingly lonely life besieged by her former faces.
How does this square with Dream being the spark, Elkin? Where is Urania’s blank panel, Silva? The answer is that Gaiman hasn’t thought it through. The answer is that while we’re here trying to find a unified theory of Dream, back in 1989/90 Gaiman was just trying to get as many issues in the bag as he could before he got canned and had to pitch for Justice Society back-up features, and rapey God stuff has just got that little bit of extra juice, y’know?
So Elkin, regarding childbirth and storytelling, these Dream Country babies are delivered “astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” Creation means nothing when it costs nothing, and in Dream Country creation is gratis.
And Silva, you said it yourself, “Nothing in dreams is ever one thing.” What wonderful licence. Purely by virtue, then, of Morpheus as a framing device, of the contextual parameters within which they appear, we attribute a multiplicity of meaning and interpretation to each of these tales, which their execution, the depth and empathy afforded to their characters, doesn’t warrant.
What we’re really dealing with here, guys, is a creator who’s more in love with literature than with life, the living experience of his characters, and where they might go. Someone who delights in rounding out hypotheticals, fleshing out the spaces inbetween, but who, like Morpheus, can’t truly connect to any character’s suffering for longer than its exposition requires.Gaiman’s empathy lasts precisely as long as it needs to set up the conversation he wants to have. He’s a tourist of the gutters, a voyeur of the bits between. And where Stoppard worked gutter magic with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern… Gaiman succeeds primarily in trampling all over his artists and the women he creates, lifting the latter from liminal spaces only to lynch them for Morpheus’s aggrandizement.
Silva: One of the smartest critics I know — and like our Mr. Gaiman here, a subject to the crown — once told me, “the job of criticism, our job, is to interrogate the medium, full stop.” He’s English, so he uses culturally-specific and antique-y phrases like ‘Full Stop’ which he expects we uncultured Americans will have to look up … on our own, because, well, we are two nations divided by a common language, ecetera, ecetera. As we pore through and pick over this ‘Dream Country,’ I keep seeing Gaiman as a Generation X George Lucas sans the plaid and the yen to merchandise. There’s a bit of the ragpicker to both of them, they are sifters of subgenres and collectors of cultural ephemera. Gaiman’s bailiwick is stories. Like Lucas he knows there is only enough grist with which to grind out a finite number of plots. Stories are legion, but their infinitism runs counter to the scaffolding from which they are built. Gaiman says as much when Titania says, “It seems to me that I heard this tale sung once, in old Greece, by a boy with a lyre.” Storytellers are liars and, apparently, thieves. Lucas monetized a story hack, a way to pour new wine from old jars. Gaiman does the same except with a vintage distilled from half-forgotten only little remembered tales instead of Flash Gordon serials.
The son of stationary stores owners (a friend to writers for sure), Lucas plays the 20th century’s best version of what if?. He wasn’t the first, but damn it’s hard to argue with his success. In broad brush strokes, Lucas’s idea is simple: appropriate everything from everywhere (movies, music, comic books, novels, television, etc.), not its essence, only the thing itself. For example: the samurai sword, but without its cultural meaning, space travel, but without the pesky science to bog it down. In other words, fiction. Stick these bits and bobs together with horde of others and violà. Lucas’s goal may not have been to align himself with Homer, Shakespeare et al., but he knew enough, he’d read enough Joseph Campbell to know his idea would find purchase (all the puns intended). Lucas is a flea market storyteller,the odds and ends he picks up present as something new, something novel. James Joyce calls it bricolage. So do the French. Gaiman does something similar with Sandman except with folklore, myths and history. Perhaps Lucas and Gaiman are as good storytellers as they are researchers. What nerds these mortals be.
I keep returning to “the price of getting what you want, is getting what you once wanted.” I wonder if Lucas understood the ‘true cost’ of Star Wars. Did he stop to think how few women there are or his penchant for racial stereotypes and how those Lucas-isms would play with a more-sophisticated-more-self-indulgent-more-cynical-and-less-tolerant audience many of whom were born decades after “… a long time ago?” How about how it will play for those who haven’t yet been born? Did Homer? Did Shakespeare? What say you, Iago? Et tu Shylock? Should Lucas suffer such similar “slings and arrows?” What’s the shelf life on the price of indiscretion and wrong-headed decisions?
As we ‘interrogate the medium’ we are bound to find how little still holds up. Time allows for more information, more distance. Stories change. Isn’t that the point? What we find in “Dream Country” is a “Star Wars” effect, a piece of art — a distraction and an entertainment — that retains enough of its original purity to float, but barely. “… I heard this tale sung once …” And yet, the stories are the stories, they’ve worked before and they will again and again and …
Sandman always reads to me like a ‘writer’s comic’ wherein the art is a process of execution, in service to the story, any elevation thereof is circumstantial. Which reads like I’m short-changing Kelley, Malcolm, Charles and Colleen’s contribution, I am not. Richard Burbage may have been the greatest actor of the Elizabethan age, but it’s the plays he acted in we remember and not his performances, sadly. The art of Sandman is less ephemeral than a live performance and yet the artists of Sandman suffer a similar outrageous fortune i.e. fate. The stories in ‘Dream Country’ and the whole of Sandman hold up because they have for eons — new wine from old jars. Perhaps Gaiman is as good a storykeeper as a storyteller. The art in Dream Country retains its potency because it’s done by professionals and skilled artisans. Not much different from those mad men (and women) who illustrated ads for electric refrigerators or DDT in the 1950’s or those 19th century engravers who helped hawk tonics and tinctures. Work well done endures. Hamnet dies, yes, we mourn his loss, but at least his eternal flame still burns in ‘the work.’ Whither Susanna and Judith? Where are their stories, their gibes and gambols, who sings their songs? And, yeah, I had to look up the names of Shakespeare’s “other” children. Did you know Judith was Hamnet’s twin? Me neither.
To interrogate Sandman scrapes away all the Gaiman-ness — all the fiddle dee dee of filigree, enough to fill a Death Star — and gets to what’s left (what’s important?) a Greek boy with a lyre. Interrogate Gaiman all you want because “Story” stands removed and laughs. Take Puck’s advice and learn to be entertained by the ‘distractions’ of ‘Dream Country’ for the sake of the entertainment and always be suspicious of dreams and, I suppose, make amends with what you want from those dreams … those entertainments.
Elkin: Yes, though, and yet, still, dreams and sleep and stories and us….
The cycle of it all.
As Walt Whitman wrote:
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;
And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.