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The Publisher's Desk

The Publisher's desk

On dreams.


Not long after we completed the Trinity 2023 issue of THE LAMP, it became necessary to pull open the windows and slide screens into the sills. The air hung heavy, and the passing of time ceased to matter. (Nic Rowan records the similarly dreamlike pace of Pope Francis’s general audiences on page 7.) It is always this way during this season: “All those Sundays after Trinity!” sighes one of Barbara Pym’s characters in Excellent Women, and, as the weeks trip down that long, scantily marked path to the liturgical year’s end, it is hard not to sigh along with her. (On page 20, Sam Kriss treads the primrose path to a much more final end.) Before long, the heat—but more especially the humidity—makes it difficult even to move.

It is at times like these when we are most tempted to daydream. Children gaze up at the clouds and build castles in the air. (Jaspreet Singh Boparai offers staring lessons on page 48.) “I used to wish the Arabian Tales were true,” Cardinal Newman wrote of his childhood. “My imagination ran on unknown influences, on magical powers, and talismans.” (For more Newman, see Edward Short on page 53.) Adults daydream, too, of course, though their fantasies are often less beautiful (Edmund Waldstein examines Martin Luther’s own air castle on page 44). In the worst times, adult daydreams are not dreams at all; they are blank thoughts, the fancies of those “who believe in nothing, not even in atheism, who devote themselves, who sacrifice themselves to nothing.” (For the source of this quote, see Michael Hanby on page 32.) In best times, they can do as Vikram Doraiswami writes of P.G. Wodehouse on page 61: “he created endless, magical music that always leaves me thinking that the world is a better place than I thought.”

In any case, this little dream is at its conclusion—and I hope it was not an unpleasant one. (If you prefer unpleasant dreams, try page 58 for Lars Erik Schönander on Latin America’s troubles.) It did not come from the publisher’s desk, nor from the editor’s office, but from a kitchen table in Northwest Washington, D.C. Now it is time to go. There is a park behind my house, a church at the top of the street, and the river at the bottom. The sun swallows everything else.

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