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.