Most teachers and professors I know have had the same dream, or a close variation on it: you are late to teach your first class of the new semester, and you’re very anxious because for some reason it’s a calculus class and you’re a historian and you’re not good at all with calculus, so you don’t know why someone thought that was an appropriate assignment for you and you don’t have a syllabus yet, or notes, or any idea what you’re going to teach in a calculus class, and you’re naked, besides, but you’re late and you know it’s very, very bad to be late even if it’s to a class you’re totally unprepared to teach! And you’re naked! And you can’t find the room, and you keep walking into the wrong classes! Naked, and very, very late. (We discussed dreams similar to this one last fall–remember?)
It occurred to me the other day, as I was re-reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, that its author Charles Dodgson (pseudonym Lewis Carroll), a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church College, Oxford, must have suffered terribly from these sorts of professional anxiety dreams. The whole story is literally a dream, and one characterized by a high degree of anxiety on the part of its heroine, Alice, who knows that she must find the white rabbit (although she doesn’t know why). The white rabbit himself is terribly anxious too, because he’s late! He’s late!
What is your anxiety dream? Has it changed over the years? Have you caught the white rabbit yet? (Oh, and stay away from the caterpillar–he’s just blowing smoke.) Director Tim Burton is completing his version of Alice, but I have no interest whatsoever in seeing that movie when it comes out this winter. He’s using his usual company of players: Johnny Depp is the Mad Hatter, and Helena Bonham Carter is the Queen. I saw a trailer and it looks terrifying, and I think very “steam punk,” although I don’t know exactly what that is. The book is anxiety-provoking enough as it is!