Friday, December 11, 2009

Not Electric Sheep

I woke from a dream at 4am. I'd dreamed about running; I was running, and was trying to cross a big bridge to get back to my starting point, but there was bridge construction that wasn't otherwise marked, so I was near the end of the bridge heading when I realized there was a huge gap and no way to get across. So I asked a worker, and he said I had to go back. And only then did I realize I'd basically been running on a freeway and hadn't noticed there were no cars on the bridge.

Also, I was running way better than I do in real life. My stride was smoother, and easier, and I was running way further. That was quite satisfying. It would be great if dreaming about running actually counted as running. I don't remember ever dreaming about biking, though.

And then suddenly I became deeply concerned with literacy in classical Rome. That concern turned to curiosity about their writing technologies. Did they use vellum? Papyrus? It seems weird to think of using stone, but then didn't the ancient cuniform writers use clay tablets? I asked The Wayward Classicist on his blog, so hopefully he'll be able to allay my concerns.

How did I get from not being able to cross a bridge (and what sort of weird Freudian interpretation does that get? And does it matter that I'm pretty sure I know which bridge it was, having grown up in a place of bridges and bridge dependency? Except somehow that bridge got translocated here, where it would basically take up the whole city.) to worrying about Roman literacy rates? I'm not quite sure. It's one of those weird 4am things.

There was also something else I was deeply worried about, but then I fell asleep and so I can't remember.


  1. For everyday messages, they used little book-like wax tablets with a stylus. The stylus had an end that could smooth out the writing, so if you took a message to someone, the person could erase the message and write in her own. I think that there may have been similar tablets out of ivory. Also, paper was used; there are some fragments that archaeologists found in a Roman fort that are on display at the British Museum. They say things like "I made a pair of socks for your birthday," so apparently a message didn't have to be important to be on paper.

    Either I'm remembering that from Latin class, or I totally made it up.

  2. I get those running dreams, too, especially when I can't run for some reason. I'm always a much better runner in my head than I am in real life.