By Dolores J. Nurss

Volume IV: Braided Paths

Chapter 48




I invented the barn scene, Lufti's thoughts, and the school stuff.  The Vanikke events I based pretty closely on a dream in the early 21st century.  In fact, that's where I first learned of Dalmar, not to mention Apollo.  In the dream Dalmar (nameless in my recollection later) played drum at the start of the meeting, but I put that into an earlier scene and let the reader just assume that this meeting started the same way.

Hmmm...why would a skinny, teenage, black thief bear the name of a god of knowledge?  In my own dreams, while pale people represent my personal Shadow, black people tend to represent the Shadow of the dominant society—whatever the overall culture suppresses or overlooks.

I can't really escape America's anti-intellectualism, the country's immature, half-starved relationship with knowledge, the idea that learning and expanding knowledge is just a thief of time and resources (some tabloids even have regular columns where they ridicule various forms of research which they claim waste taxpayer's money.)  But I can nourish knowledge in myself.

And look at who captures Apollo!  Another black person, this one a mature man—who's a scientist!  A scientist on the run, in fact, who also happens to be strong, and who follows the beat of his own drum.  Someone outcast for denouncing toxic cookies, but who doesn't accept his fate without resistance.  He can take vilified knowledge in hand and enable it to grow, in resistance to the Dominant Culture that has people like him on the run.

I dreamed this in a time when climate-change denial had ramped up to a paranoid extreme, from merely saying, "It's not true" to "It's a plot to destroy America!".  And at the same time the ecological crisis had never been so urgent.  A few years after this dream we elected a president who, in the first week of office, cleared all mention of climate change out of government records, intimidated all government staff involved in climate change research with threats of salary cuts or firing, and slashed the EPA budget down to rags.

In the dream, I remember laughing with the others when Maury asked, "What was he thinking?"  I felt secure in our numbers, that nobody could burglarize our home because, in this communal set-up, it never went empty.  Nobody can rob knowledge and reason shared among many; only when we try to go it alone can others gaslight us out of knowing what we know, and bookburners waste their time when copies abound beyond their reach.

When I contemplate this dream, when I dig in and really understand it, it gives me hope!  It wouldn't come to me if I didn't play some part, at least on the grass-roots level, of protecting knowledge, keeping it alive in a time and place hostile to it, upholding it in myself and others.

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