So many of us have become like children again. It’s not that we make an effort, you understand, or that anyone is really conscious of it. But when hope disappears, when you find that you have given up hoping for the possibility of hope, you tend to fill the empty spaces with dreams, little childlike thoughts and stories to keep yourself going. Even the most hardened people have trouble stooping themselves. Without fuss or prelude they break off from what they are doing, sit down, and talk about the desires that have been welling up inside them. Food, of course, is one of the favourite subjects.(…) If the words can consume you, you will be able to forget your present hunger and enter what people call the “arena of sustaining nimbus.” There are even those who say there is nutritional value in these food talks-given the proper concentration and an equal desire to believe in the words among those taking part.
All this belongs to the language of ghosts. There are many other possible kinds of talks in this language. Most of them begin when one person says to another: I wish. What they wish for might be anything at all, as long as it is something that cannot happen. I wish the sun would never set. I wish money would grow in my pockets. I wish the city would be like it was in the old days. You get the idea. Absurd and infantile things, with no meaning and no reality. In general, people hold to the belief that however bad things were yesterday, they were better than things are today. What they were like two days ago was even better than yesterday. The farther you go back, the more beautiful and desirable the world becomes. You drag yourself from sleep each morning to face something that is always worse than what you faced the day before, but by talking of the world that existed before you went to sleep, you can delude yourself into thinking that the present day is simply an apparition, no more or less real than the memories of all the other days you carry around inside you.
Paul Auster, “In the Country of Last Things.”