Thursday, December 9, 2004

Dreams, Why Not?

Philip Roth and I both grew up in Newark. We lived in adjacent neighborhoods, went to the same high school and share many childhood memories and sign posts. If you've read his latest Newark-based novel, The Plot Against America, you know that my father is one of the historic characters woven into his fictional fantasy. It's a provocative "it could happen here" story and, as usual, written in the compelling style. I recommend it. Roth is obviously a dreamer, in this case, subject to nightmares. Perhaps the dreaming part is in the air, because I find myself drifting into that real/unreal world myself. Unlike Roth, however, my dreams are not nightmares but happy fantasies.

My dream also concerns the outcome of a Presidential election. As his, which was built on the reality of the pro-Hitler America First movement in early 1940s, mine centers on the reality of an expected Ohio recount. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, in my dream when all the votes are reviewed Kerry is the winner of Ohio, reversing the results of the November election. Now had we not lived through the bizarre events of 2000, I would totally discount this dream, certainly I wouldn't write about it. But, hey, if fellow ex-Newarker Philip Roth can bring Lindbergh who never ran into the White House, why can't I bring in John Kerry, who did? Humor me.

Can you imagine Christmas in Crawford, in Wyoming or in any of the well healed locations in which our, until then, self satisfied leaders find themselves? Think about Condi suddenly planning a return to California rather than a daily drive to the State Department. Think about a new Secretary of Defense who might actually take some responsibility of mucking up rather than streamlining our military or who might get some blame for an Abu Ghraib on his watch. You can fill in your own fantasies. I must say, just contemplating what such a turn around might mean to these people who have so arrogantly taken us to the brink is more delicious than eating an exquisite piece of "Old Europe" dark chocolate. And don't say it couldn't happen, at least don't say it absolutely couldn't happen. Not that it will.

Philip Roth's book is obviously a nightmarish excursion into what could have happened in the 1940, and thankfully didn't. My dream is sweet excursion into what I wish had happened a few weeks ago. His nightmare is fantasy (even though most people see it as a contemporary metaphor); my waking reality is the nightmare -- not what could have happened but what is happening. Roth's novel comes to a happy ending. I hope our reality will as well. Like Martin Luther King Jr., "I have a dream that someday…" Let's resolve to make sure that is a day certain, one not too long delayed.

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