Clinton, Obama, McCain star in Sheila Heti’s presidential dream team

Clinton, Obama, McCain star in Sheila Heti’s presidential dream team

I’m in New Jersey at the moment, preparing to gorge myself on a revealing slice of the American political pie. Before I get started, though, I thought I’d try a Canadian appetizer—a phenomenon affecting in a minor key the political scene down here. I speak of Sheila Heti, the whimsical Toronto novelist and all-around cultural entrepreneur whose blogs I Dream of Barack, I Dream of Hillary and I Dream of McCain have generated a mountain of press down here. Heti transcribes, more or less verbatim, the nocturnal imaginings of her readers and turns them into blog posts describing dreams of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. These dreams are not of the political variety—or at least not as “politics” is conventionally understood. To wit:

Male Graphic Designer and Hillary Supporter in Los Angeles

I am in an industrial city in eastern Europe. There is a war in the streets. To escape the violence I am jumping from rooftop to rooftop with fifteen other people. Some firefighters spot us and usher us into a warehouse, then shut the door.

We start finger-painting at little art stations, and I notice that Hillary is part of our group. I am awestruck by her presence but no one else seems to notice or care. There is a radiant quality to her and I feel a sense of peace. She announces to the group that she is holding a rally on Saturday and asks who she can count on to come. I raise my hand and shout, Go Hillary!

My enthusiasm is met with groans from the others in the group. I remember that a war is raging outside and suddenly feel ashamed.

The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Slate and the Los Angeles Times, among others, have all weighed in on the subject, interviewing Heti, quoting from the blogs and asking, in varying degrees, “What does it all mean?” I asked Heti the same question via e-mail this morning and await her response. In the interim, here is my interpretation, which is, by definition, as valid as anyone else’s:

Sheila Heti had a brilliant idea for garnering publicity in an election year—one that may have the unintended consequence of associating democratic candidates with a brand of flaky populism that will, in the end, render them shark bait for the GOP.

But like I say, that’s just my opinion.

Presidential Dreams [Slate] • Dream On [New Yorker]• Hillary and Barack invade the real dreams of millions [L.A. Times]• Dream on: Obama and Clinton in the subconscious [Baltimore Sun]