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Friday, April 27th, 2012

Time Event
Fun With Anxiety Dreams, Again
The Hunger Games surprised me--the book and film both. The film was a distant second choice when Dan and I arranged our date night too late to see John Carter [of Mars] in the theater, but our distant second choice really blew us away. I burned through the first novel as soon as I could get my hands on it, and am halfway through the second. My brain is working on a blog post about how Suzanne Collins twists and sometimes inverts the current conventions for the blockbuster novel. Shh, don't tell anybody, but there's a lot of subtle brilliance hidden in that rollicking adventure story. In the meantime, my brain has amused itself by playing me a Hunger Games/academia mash-up anxiety dream:

The social sciences departments at Rutgers held a secret gladiatorial competition among grad students. Apparently the founding faculty members in those departments spent too much of the 1920's reading The Golden Bough, and so instituted a formal system for scapegoating and sacrificing one student a year from each of their graduate programs, to ensure their funding and prestige within the university.

In this nightmare, I was a dissertation-stage student in the Anthropology Department. Actually, that would be a nightmare in itself, even without the human sacrifice part, but my unconscious mind likes to go for broke. As the lone anthropologist among the chosen gladiators, I was the first to recognize our situation for what it was. There we all were, pale and bespectacled scholars baffled by the bladed weapons on offer in the arena. The faculty and administrators loomed above us, barely visible past the glare of the stage lights, as I shouted at the tribute from Sociology and the tribute from Economics, "Don't you get it? Don't you people read James Frazer?!" The guy from Linguistics cut his own finger off trying to pick up a punch-dagger, to uproarious cheers from the stands. I surveyed my fellow departmental tributes and was heartsick to discover one was a younger cousin of mine. "Why are you here?" I demanded. "I told you what grad school was like!"

That was when the comedy overpowered the anxiety enough to wake me up laughing. Thank goodness.

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