S.D. Chrostowska on dreaming and positive social change

A book is fanned open
A book is fanned open

On Feb. 2, the 2020-21 Canadian Writers in Person Lecture Series presented York professor S.D. Chrostowska, reading from her book, The Eyelid. York University Teaching Assistant Dana Patrascu-Kingsley sent the following report to YFile.

Writer and York Professor S.D. Chrostowska visited the Canadian Writers in Person series to talk about her latest novel, The Eyelid.

The Eyelid is speculative fiction set in near-future Paris, the capital of the world state of Greater America. It tells the story of two travellers, through other people’s dreams, on a quest to save humanity from total insomnia.

Canadian Writers in Person continues with a reading of "The Eyelid" by S.D. Chrostowska
Canadian Writers in Person continues with a reading of The Eyelid by S.D. Chrostowska

The writer talked about this book as a warning against the direction that society is pursuing. “We’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has exposed previously unseen oppression, domination, injustice,” said Chrostowska. “Sleep researchers tell us that this situation also affects profoundly the quality of our dreams, making them more vivid and nightmarish.”

In her remarks, Chrostowska warned us not to think that once we have mastered the virus, the world would be fine. She noted that if we don’t keep dreaming about positive social change, the world can devolve into a dystopia in which dreams become impossible.

“We dream when we feel something is missing or lacking in our life. So, implicitly, we’re critical of reality. It’s insufficient. It’s not good enough. Just as there is this dose of criticism in dreaming, there is social criticism in social dreaming,” said Chrostowska.

“There is a critique of oppression, domination, injustice,” said the author, adding that we need to maintain our ability to critique oppression, domination and injustice.

Chrostowska told the audience that “if dreaming were to become impossible or outlawed, we would all be finished, there would be no more hope left for positive social change… I wrote The Eyelid in the shadow of and in response to that sense of foreboding.”

The Canadian Writers in Person series will continue Feb. 23 with a reading and Q-and-A session with Kaie Kellough author of Dominoes at the Crossroads.

Readings are free and open to any member of the public. For more information, contact Professor Leslie Sanders at leslie@yorku.ca or Professor Gail Vanstone at gailv@yorku.ca. All readings are held Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Zoom.