Put Some Gay In Your Day, Dallas!

What Dreams May Come

Dreams may be sweet or sour, like pork or chicken.  What part of the psyche they come from and what they can reveal about the unconscious mind are questions well above my pay grade.  

An actor’s nightmare may be about being on stage, perhaps naked, with no idea what the play might be.  A surgeon operating on an unknown patient with no knowledge of what procedure is being performed may be a variation on that theme.  Earlier this week, I had the English major’s version.

As is so often the case in dreams, the decades that have passed since I was in high school melted away, and I found myself back in the house in which I grew up desperate to produce a term paper due in just a few hours.  I didn’t know what the assignment was, but I did know it was to be turned in to Mrs. Troutman, my junior English teacher and one of my most important mentors.  The thought of disappointing her filled me with a horror that was bringing on a panic attack.

In the dream and in my head, I had the idea that the paper was supposed to be about Sense and Sensibility, but I wasn’t sure.  I calmed down enough to try to figure out what the assignment might be, and it didn’t make sense that Mrs. Troutman was expecting something on Jane Austen.  Much more likely that I was supposed to be writing on Thoreau or Emerson.  And with that revelation, I woke up.  

Usually when we have strange dreams, we wonder what happened over the course of the day that took us down that particular path when we went to sleep.  But in this case, I knew exactly what occurred.

The eminent Laurence Tribe, University Professor Emeritus at Harvard and arguably the most important constitutional and legal scholar of our time, was interviewed on cable news that evening before my dream.  Professor Tribe has taught a range of folks, from Barack Obama to Ted Cruz and from John Roberts to Elena Kagan.  But his remarks that night seemed to be addressed to another student—the almost Supreme Court justice who is the current Attorney General of the United States.

Addressing the issue of the criminal contempt referral of Steve Bannon for defying a congressional subpoena languishing at the Department of Justice for weeks, Professor Tribe gave Attorney General Merrick Garland the benefit of the doubt on the issue of legal fastidiousness—dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s—before stating that the time had come for action.    

Calling him out on national television, Professor Tribe had set in motion my thinking how that must feel to his student and how horrifying it would have been to be publicly admonished by Mrs. Troutman.  Hence, my nightmare.

There are a good many folks who are ready for something to happen, and not just on the issue of Steve Bannon.  There’s that Build Back Better bill, which we’ve heard so much and so little about.  Plus there’s the House Select Committee on the January 6th attack, to which the Bannon referral to DOJ is attached.  For good measure, we have Trump related investigations all over the place that to catalog here would waste time and space while adding to the general frustration of some, me included.

We’ve been tickled and teased, but it’s completely unclear whether or not we’re headed for satisfaction or gratification.  Without that, teasing leads to annoyance, followed by exasperation.  I know where I am on that spectrum.

I love the nuance inherent to our language, the subtle shadings of meaning that different words provide.  Think fast versus rapid, or swift compared to quick.  So I was a bit surprised when none other than Rachel Maddow this week used disinterested when uninterested would have been better, at least in the current version of the shifting meanings of these words over time.

The context is unimportant, and Ms. Maddow’s usage wasn’t incorrect.  It’s just that my preference is to use disinterested to mean without bias or selfish motive with uninterested employed for lack of interest.  That distinction is important to note when talking about the spectrum just described.

After annoyance and exasperation, the next stop is unengaged uninterest.  Or disinterest, if one prefers.  But leaving the field to those who are interested, with their biases and selfish motivations, isn’t acceptable.  Professor Tribe wouldn’t put it so colloquially, nor would Mrs. Troutman, but it’s past time for some folks to either do what needs to be done or get off the pot.