The other side of literature is dreams

  For human life, “dream” is a word that has to be talked about. There must be countless sayings and stories about dreams in everyone’s minds. Among them, the most familiar one is the speech “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, the leader of civil rights in the United States. This “dream” of freedom influenced the subsequent generation, including their way of thinking and language. In the 1960s and 1970s, American writer Studs Turkle wrote a book “The American Dream”. When I first read this book in the early 1980s, I saw how Americans “dream” in a collective sense. Of course, the connotations of these two “dreams” have their own emphasis. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was a dream of race, dignity, fairness, and liberty; and the “American Dream,” as I read, portrayed all kinds of characters—from college professors to prostitutes—and their ” American dream”.
   As a writer, when I connect literature with dreams, I instinctively think of “Dream of Red Mansions”. When I was very young, I first came into contact with the vertical version of “Dream of Red Mansions”. At that time, I still couldn’t understand the content, and the fact that the book was written in traditional characters added to my doubts: Isn’t it just a dream? Why is it so thick, and how can it be so long? Later, when I became a reader myself, I knew that “Dream of Red Mansions” was a dream, but it was not all a dream, it was mostly life.
   It is the dream of Toni Morrison, an African-American female writer, that really has an impact on my literary thinking, creation and even the way of language. I like to tell my friends about her motivation to engage in literary creation, that is, the beginning of her literary path. Morrison’s grandmother was also black and not highly educated. Grandma has a hobby, she especially likes to “interpret” her own dreams: after dreaming, she will disassemble and analyze her dreams for others. This can be regarded as a great spiritual enjoyment for her. However, one person’s power is limited after all, and after exhausting her own materials, she often “asks for dreams” from the children. Morrison is one of them. The little girl was annoyed at first, but the temptation to buy a dream for a dollar was too great. Driven by this interest, she began to tell her grandmother about her dreams. In fact, children don’t have so many dreams, and even if they do, they can’t remember them all. But she wanted the dollar badly, so Morrison began to make up her dreams. Morrison believes that this is her original creation: not from writing, but from telling. “Make up a dream”, I think this is a very subtle hint and metaphor for a certain type of people and a certain kind of writing life. When I think of myself, my childhood experience is very different from Morrison’s – two nationalities, two regions, two eras, different ideologies – but in a sense, childhood itself is fair. Yes, because it is full of stories, full of dreams.
   My own literary career stems from a very unlikely story. At that time, I was not in elementary school. For the Suzhou people of that era, the summer heat was very difficult. But everyone is so poor that they can’t even afford an electric fan, and they rely on a fan to survive at a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. So people look forward to the night, because they can come out to enjoy the shade. On summer nights, everyone came to a quiet place, sat down, lit mosquito coils, took a fan, chatted and drank tea.
   For a while, I often went to the elder brother’s house opposite my house to listen to his stories. Besides a bunch of idle boys like me, there were a few teenage girls in the audience. The eldest brother is a worker. What is he talking about? I will now say that what interests us in the stories he tells is that they are so different from other stories of the time. He told ghost stories! Includes horror stories and manuscript novels that were secretly circulated at the time. One day, he told a story – “Footsteps of Horror”. It is about an abandoned building on a remote street in an ancient city. Usually, the door of this building is sealed, no one cares about it, and the surrounding area is also full of wild grass. However, every midnight, a strange thing will happen: at 12 o’clock in the middle of the night, the lights in the building are all on, and at this time, the neighbors can faintly hear the sound of footsteps going up and down the stairs in the building, so it is called “” Scary footsteps.” When the eldest brother described the sound of footsteps, he stared at us startled children, “Tap, tap, tap”, he was talking, when suddenly, the tweeter in the chemical factory behind the house rang, and the sound was extremely loud. It turned out that the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Paris Commune was broadcast, and then the “Internationale” also rang. As a result, this horror story was “spoiled” by the noisy singing and the sound of the broadcast. Regrettably, after the interruption of the story this time, we no longer had the good fortune to listen to the story told by the elder brother of the neighbor. Later, I found out that the elder brother of the neighbor fell in love with a girl who was present at the time, but he knew that the girl didn’t like him, so he was not interested in telling stories.
   Strange to say, this “horrible footsteps” stayed in my mind. Because of my interest in ghosts, when I was in the third and fourth grades of elementary school, that is, when I could only “create” a few hundred words at most, I wrote “Scary Footsteps” by the neighbor’s brother in my composition text. “Written it down with childish syntax. However, when I wrote “ta, da, da”, I stopped because I didn’t have enough imagination. My sister was jumping in the queue in the countryside at the time, and she even showed my little article to the educated youths at the educated youth point. She was very proud, because her brother seemed to be able to write horror stories, although he had to stop abruptly when he only got to “da, da, da”. Although I don’t know whether it was sincere or not. At that time, perhaps the educated youths had to praise me because of my sister’s face, but these compliments more or less ignited my interest in literature and “fabricated” stories. enthusiasm.
   In fact, from elementary school to high school, my literary nutrition was not enough. At that time, there were not many classic works to read, and I hadn’t even read “Andersen’s Fairy Tales”, but I had read “History of Battle in Hongnan”. This is a “strange” book. It is said to be strange because if modern people read this work, perhaps few of them will be able to understand the revolutionary themes and ideals it expresses. In other words, literary nourishment is such a mess for a writer.
   Fortunately, when I was in high school, reform and opening up. By the end of the 1970s, a large number of foreign literary works had poured into the Chinese market; at the same time, enthusiasm for literary creation was surging in all strata and corners of Chinese society. I vividly remember trying to write poetry in 1979, in my most hated politics class. At that time, I really had nothing to express. A fifteen or sixteen-year-old child wanted to sing praises to a river, but he had never seen the Yangtze River or the Yellow River. Fortunately, there is a dark river behind my house, but I will not write it as it is. On the contrary, I want to write this river full of poetic and picturesque flavors – there must be a boat, and it is best to have a girl. But in fact, every day when I sit by the river, I see a mother and daughter. Both of them are not very good-looking. The mother is thin and thin, and the daughter is dark and strong. They do very unromantic jobs, usually rocking a boat and sticking a hook to the bottom of the river. What are you going to do? They salvage bricks from the bottom of the river, or salvage other things, and sell them for money. Of course I can’t write about this in my poetry, I wrote, “beautiful maiden in a boat”. This is also the first time for me to fabricate my own personal experience, that is, to turn the ugly into the beautiful, and rewrite the secular life into romantic lyric prose in a fictional way.

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