This essay by Zadie Smith is a delight to read. It’s about Pygmalion and Obama and Smith herself, about how people trim their speech and their actions to finesse multiple group identities, and how that is not always a bad thing. She pulls together some more examples — do we need more? — of how supremely articulate the President is, and how he is able to capture the speech of different groups. From his memoir, she picks up on this phrase:
“Even as that spell was broken,” he writes, “and the worlds that they thought they’d left behind reclaimed each of them, I occupied the place where their dreams had been.”
To occupy a dream, to exist in a dreamed space (conjured by both father and mother), is surely a quite different thing from simply inheriting a dream. It’s more interesting.
I love this idea of ‘occupied’ dreams. It suggests re-purposing, the ability to take advantage of soemthing. It’s a novel way of looking at how we inhabit and twist our parents’ and our societies’ expectations, find a way of being ourselves within the ideological framework of our upbringing. I’d go beyond occupation: what we’re doing is squatting dreams.