I had upsetting dreams last night. One was so bad when I woke up in the early hours I had to write it down so I didn’t forget it later, because I wanted to mention it here. My notes don’t seem to really capture what I felt, though and in the light of day (literally) it doesn’t seem worth mentioning the dreams in full. Suffice to say that one was about being useless as a university undergraduate (which is probably really about feeling useless at work, unless I’m genuinely still upset about not getting a first from Oxford nearly fifteen years on) and the second one was that no one would ever love me romantically (which is not entirely true as E. cares about me a lot even if it’s not clear how things could work out practically between us right now). The third dream was about not fitting in with Doctor Who fandom and fan culture generally (doubtless after my comments yesterday), although this dream was arguably more optimistic as I did sort of fit in, albeit bending some of my religious beliefs/practices and hoping neither frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) people nor fans would question me too carefully; it also had some arguably more positive bits about learning how to cope with my autistic traits as well as being able to help others, particularly children.
I suppose I do wonder how many people in the frum community are hiding parts of themselves, either minor misfitting beliefs or practices or much bigger ones (I know from the Jewish blogosphere that there are people who don’t believe in Judaism at all living very Orthodox lifestyles for family or social reasons). I also wonder how many people with somewhat conservative political or cultural views are hiding in “woke” Doctor Who fandom, just talking about Doctor Who and keeping quiet about wider views. I guess it would be easier to fit in if I went to conventions, as I imagine that Twitter conversations are much more political and contentious than in-person conversations. But the thought of going to a convention does scare me somewhat. I’d like to have more fan friends, but the thought of being with so many people is scary and I don’t have a particularly burning desire to meet people who worked on the programme or to buy rare merchandise, the other reason people go to conventions. I think the focus of fandom has also moved now from specific Doctor Who conventions to general film/TV science fiction conventions, which interest me even less.
I mentioned my feeling over Yom Kippur that God loves me and that I can just do the best I can. I forgot to mention that I realised that I probably do have a deeper connection to God and Judaism than just duty and obligation. I don’t think I would do so much, at such cost to myself (financially, plus also in terms of time, precious concentration and mental energy, and the dramatic narrowing of my dating pool) unless it was deeper than that. I’m not good at understanding my emotions, though. It is hard to express what God, Torah and Yiddishkeit (“Jewish-ness”) mean to me.
I have more to say, but I just cut a chunk I wrote because I don’t want to get into it now as it’s too long and complicated. I need to get ready for Shabbat (the Sabbath). Just one thing I will note for now: this review makes the book look really interesting, both in itself and as a sign that maybe there are other people out there who want to read literature that deals with religious Jews in neither a critical or apologetic way, but just shows the complexity of the religious culture and the contemporary religious life for its own sake. The book is apparently written under a pseudonym by a rosh yeshiva (head of a rabbinical seminary) who is clearly learned in Western literature and philosophy as well as Jewish Talmud. I can’t find the publisher, A. B. Ruth, online, so it may be a self-published books (sometimes people disguise the fact a book is self-published like that). So that’s somewhat more hopeful for my writing ambitions.