My my, what a remiss blogger I’ve been these past few days. Apologies to the reader, as I’ve just been in a bit of a state of flux and transit here for a few days and my access to/time to use a computer has been somewhat limited. Actually, as I write this I’m flying somewhere over the Midwest on my way back to New York, home, and all other things gray and good in this world. I should return to a normal posting schedule as of this posting. Or normal enough, for what it’s worth. Now, onwards into the dream world!
Actually, I ought to note, just for the amusement of the reader, that as I am writing this, I am watching bolts of lightning flash closer and closer to my plane, yo-yoing up and down as we are. It’s 4 AM EST and it’s inky black outside, perhaps tinged with a little blue here and there by the flashing lights on the planes wings just behind me. The flashes of lightning light up everything, yellow, blue, white, and green. And it’s starting to freak me out.
This won’t be the first time I’ve been hit in a plane by lightning. But I recall the last time as being somewhat unpleasant and so I am not eager for nature’s tired encore to hit me once more. The point being, my stomaching is churning up acids, some I am prone to and something I can usually control. So apologies if this post is so late and so unsatisfactory. It’s more therapeutic for me right now than anything else.
Ever since I saw an episode of The Jetsons as a child in which Elroy used a dream machine to select his nighttime entertainment, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the idea of eternally influencing my dreams – either by lucid dreaming or some electrical or situational stimulation from the waking world projected into my sleeping psyche. I mention this because last night I dreamed of work, of just doing my work. I was not lucid dreaming, there was no intense or burning desire to work. But I did my work, visualized it, and woke up this morning feeling especially productive and less lethargic and useless than I’ve been feeling for the past few days.
Very few people read this blog, but the few who do tend to ask questions about it. Cult following of friends, yay? Anyway, one of the main questions I’ve gotten (quite frequently actually) is: “Do you remember all of your dreams?”
No. But I probably could if I tried hard enough/devoted enough time to this little project.
We dream usually several times a night. And at any given time, if we are just vaguely aware of the dream, we can grab hold of it and recall it. Of course, coming out of a deep sleep there’s the danger of a flashbulb memory effect on your dream recall. But I find that waking and jotting down all of the notes I can still hold onto helps to solidify the dream in my mind, well past the time when the slippery devils slither off us (typically in the shower) for most people.
Take that bit of info, though – our ability to and the profound challenge of holding onto a dream – and consider this:
Apologies for my lapse in posting yesterday – I have had a few other things on my mind as of late. I also wanted to lay off the long, flowery posts for a couple of days, especially as I set affairs in order to leave Spokane once more and return home to New York.
I’ve been thinking, though, about the truly strange dreams I’ve been having these past few nights. The strangeness of it all has put me in a mind to think about two of my favorite artistic movements – Dada and Surrealism – and they are my favorites precisely, I think, because they derive from capturing the chaos of a dream state (explicitly so in Surrealism especially). And though we cannot know, really, what meaning the artists have personally imputed to these words and images, we get to stand and puzzle at them.
“Dada passes everything through a new net.
Dada is the bitterness which opens its laugh on all that which has been made consecrated forgotten in our language in our brain in our habits.
It says to you: There is Humanity and the lovely idiocies which have made it happy to this advanced age
… Imitators of DADA want to present DADA in an artistic form which it has never had
… You are presented today in a pornographic form, a vulgar and baroque spirit which is not the PURE IDIOCY claimed by DADA”
It’s a little like how I feel about my dreams of late and the dream state in general.
All right, I’m not afraid to admit that I had no earthly idea about what was going on in my dreams last night.
I could say a thing or two about the notion of omens, of shifting faces taken as commonplace, of the anonymous masses with whom you feel a surprising intimacy, and of the bleeding of waking stress into sleeping adventures. I could say something about memory consolidation or this notion I’m developing of dreams – of shapeless impulses and fleeting, amorphous notions being flung through a mass of random shapes and figures firing wildly in search of a resting state in the mind. Or of the consequences of this organic randomness on the order we try to impose on life. But rather (now that I’ve just raised all of those notions anyway) I will just tell you about this strange dream that I had and can’t seem to make heads or tails of.
It is the night before a particularly brutal and fearsome final and I am huddled in a library with my classmates. Right off the bat, this is strange – I tend to be very anti-social, not to make friends with my classmates, to study alone, and to never study in libraries, especially when other people are stinking up the air with the confusing haze of their musky and dense stress and bodily odors. But add to this the velociraptor apparently stalking through the stacks – now that is strange.
I’ve gotten a few questions over the past few days about why I think dreams have meaning. I’ve mentioned once or twice that I think there’s more to Freud than even Freud could haven known, although not directly, and made references to some of the work being done in modern neurology that points towards a rhyme and a reason to dreams. So I want to give a rest on rhapsodizing over my own dreams for a day and re-post this article I wrote, originally for Bwog.net, which presents a summary of some new data on dreams and dreaming that has been very convincing to me and influential to my thought process over the past several years.
What happens to a dream deferred? Mark Hay, Bwog’s Oneirologist-in-Residence, will attempt to use his meager talents to convey the jaw-dropping revelations and gut-busting humor of the evening’s lecture, “Brain Neuromechanisms of Dreams.”
We begin, as all dreams must, with Sigmund Freud, the first man to create a “science” of dreams, although as Solms notes, “his method was shit.” Those few who followed Freud’s theory of dreams – i.e., that dreams represent some suppressed vision of our deepest (usually incestuous or sexual) urges creeping out while our sense of reason sleeps – became psychoanalysts. Unfortunately, as Solms notes, “Most of them were Central Europeans, and many of them were Jewish, and there was this chap named Hitler who didn’t like them.” So the psychoanalysts left and came here to America, contributing to the 1950s rise in prominence of psychoanalysis within the field of psychology and dream study. (This, ironically, resulted in a longstanding Freudian penis inferiority complex for the mental sciences.)
What does it mean to say that something is “of our dreams?” That this day was the day of my dreams, or this wedding was the wedding of my dreams? Usually we read this turn of phrase (or at least I do) in a positive and romantic sense – what is of our dreams could never be in reality. It is, of necessity, an event of utter beauty and of utter romance, something so saccharine that life could not support it, and something towards which we wish and aspire in our lives.
Is the phrase just dead and set in a collective and sappy reading, is there no room for an alternative meaning of “of my dreams?” This is a strange and stupid question to ask, but I am asking it for a good and self-conscious reason. If one dreams pragmatically, with his astral self walking through a mere replication of the waking world, does this preclude him from ever saying that something is “of his dreams” because everything is “of his dreams?” Does the reality of a dream, the lack of romance within it, the narrowing of the border between this world and the next, the slackening of unrealistic expectations, say something about us as a people and the language we can use to describe our lives and expectations?
I ask all of this, and construct such convoluted, silly and worthless sentences, because I am afraid of what my dreams last night could mean. I have always considered myself a bit of a romantic person – I daydream of sweeping people off their feet, of being swept off of my own. No matter that I often fail at this, I wish it to be so. But if the marriage I underwent last night in my dreams is the marriage “of my dreams,” then perhaps the romance and passion and lust of my soul is all a lie. If this is what “of my dreams” means to me, well, I must be one pragmatic, dull and sexless man.
I’ve mentioned a few times in the past my habit of calling out in my sleep. But it’s not always just jibberish and yapping. Sometimes I say very coherent and sometimes quite absurd things in my sleep. And thankfully a few times people have been around to tell me what I have said.
Now, once, I am told, I quoted Act II Scene ii of Hamlet in my sleep, lifting up my right fist and yelling, “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly, I can tell a hawk from a handsaw!” I really wish the whole list were like this. But it … just isn’t. No, the list, I fear, doesn’t reflect so kindly upon me.
1) Sleeping Mark: “Sarah Palin!”
SM: “Yeah … she’s not as impressive as the couch.”
F: “… What couch?”
SM: “You know … the one … that prepares you to face Lord Voldamort.”