Other Deaths

by Henry Farrell on December 20, 2011

A couple of commenters have requested less post-mortem commentary on Christopher Hitchens and more on Vaclav Havel. Don’t know what to say about Vaclav Havel beyond that he was mostly pretty great (ill-considered support for the Iraq war: obviously not so great), but if people want to talk about him, here’s your thread. But also – “Russell Hoban”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8957087/Russell-Hoban-dedicated-to-strangeness.html. His death won’t nearly get as much attention as Hitchens’. Still, I’d bet good money that _Riddley Walker_ and _The Mouse and His Child_ will still be read when Hitchens is a Cyril Connolly-esque footnote in cultural histories of the late twentieth century.

Very Worth Reading

by Belle Waring on December 20, 2011

Katha Pollit on Hitchens (yes, yes, I’ll stop now). She doesn’t hold her fire. Via Lindsay Beyerstein
Update of sorts: there are lots of high-functioning alcoholics in the world. They manage to keep it together for a long time. When do they come to AA? When they’re 65. What was it like for his family to have to deal with him dying as an active alcoholic? I’ve seen it and it isn’t pretty.

Lucid Dreaming

by Belle Waring on December 20, 2011

Ever since I was very young I have been able to recognize that I was dreaming (not always). The first time was awful and thus memorable: I dreamed that robbers had driven down our driveway and shot my mother and father and brother and me with shotguns. And our dog. I was in terrible pain, full of buckshot and slick with blood, but I realized that I couldn’t die, in my own dream. So I thought I would go scare the robbers, that they would think I was a ghost and maybe I could call 911, maybe my family hadn’t bled out in the yard under the big oak tree. But when I came in they laughed and said some of the worst words I have ever heard, then or since: “this is your dream. We can kill you as many times as we like.

Since then I have developed the ability to wake myself up if the dream is so awful that I can’t bear it. But since I never had anything but nightmares for years and years, with the odd exception, shit has to get pretty rough before I can pull the ripcord and sit up in bed, panting. Oddly for a person my age, I have done Freudian analysis, 3x a week on the couch just like a New Yorker cartoon, for a whole year. The goal was that I stop having nightmares. The therapy was very successful. For a time I had no nightmares at all. Even now they are scattered and few compared to my earlier life. My sister’s experience is the same, and our evening kiss good-night was always followed my the ultimate benediction: “don’t dream!”

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