Yes, I know, this site has (shall we say?) been rather quiet in recent years. The explanation, in part, is that I have been chasing down other rabbit holes and have been reluctant to burden it with the fruits of those explorations, which involve topics foreign to its official concerns. But, after turning in my grades for this semester and making a note of that accomplishment in my journal, I glanced at the other entries that I’d entered for this date and found that this is the seventeenth anniversary of one of the loveliest dreams I have ever had:
I am at home and the various members of the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer) have appeared in my dining room, like spirits, or like the baseball players in Field of Dreams. They are pleasant enough people, Adorno is somewhat befuddled, Marcuse is rather cheerful and ironic. They talk with each other, and I try to insinuate myself into their conversation. I am the only one who can see them and I am aware that I must be very gentle with them, to prevent them from realizing that they no longer exist. Their appearing in my house strikes me as a wonderful miracle and makes me very happy.
Not least among its charms is that the dream I had seventeen years ago more or less describes how I’ve been spending my time during the last several decades — listening into the conversations of those who are no longer with us. The past is a foreign country — and it’s full of dead people.