Tag Archives: dreams

In Dreams

Every night of this past week I have had dreams, all very different, but all occurring in the same location. Not the same house, exactly, or the same room, but in each dream, or string of dreams, I found myself in the same town – a locale I am familiar with, one I have come, in the past year and a half, to consider a home away from home and, perhaps, some day, simply home.

I can’t tell you what’s happened, precisely, in these dreams – not that I don’t want to but because I can’t quite recall them in enough solid detail so that recounting them to you won’t make me sound like an idiot, or someone who knows a joke but forgets the punchline. Like most dreams, they were like exploded diagrams, full of familiar pieces that, reconnected, don’t combine to build anything that is recognizable or makes sense – fragments floating downstream, forming a porous whole.

I can’t begin to explain why I’m having these dreams. It could be because of a longing to be there, or because I’m working something out in my mind that’s related to it; maybe it’s just a fantasy of a play on words that’s got me in a vortex; or maybe it’s something murkier. Or maybe it’s just nothing, just one of those things, signifying nothing, sans sound and fury.

But there they are, these dreams of mine, and there it is, that location. The what and the why of it all, frankly, doesn’t engage me as much as does thinking about what a dream is, and what I am in it.

When it comes to these dreams, and others, the operative word, I think, is not what and why, but “where.” And that is because all dreams occur somewhere, and we are there then. And when we are there, being there is as real to us as my being here now writing this, and you being where you are, reading this. In fact, our location-consciousness may be greater in dreams, because we always seem to be extremely conscious of and impacted by and linked to where we are in our dreams, and often more so than in waking life, when we are so task-focused or self-focused that our surroundings recede to somewhere outside our sphere of self-consciousness. Where we are in dreams is often the point of the dreams themselves, and rarely too far off the point.

I would suggest, then, that a dream is not a mental state, or a process, but a place – a place that we are removed to, and one that is so with us at every moment we are there, intense beyond waking life’s intensity, bound only by its own rules, its own laws, its own physics, grounded only by our need to be awake and alert and integrated even when we are asleep and susceptible to exterior threats and fragmentation. Dreams are the essence of placeness.

But more: When we dream, we create. Even those who, in their waking lives, will admit to being uncreative will create magnificent dreams. We create places, sometimes out of nothing, other times out of pieces of “reality”; in this, we are like set designers. We create characters, some based on people we know, others from who knows what, and we give them lines to say, and we create “scripts” for them to follow, and plot lines that put most movies to shame (except those movies that are based on the belief that the more dreamlike or nightmarelike, the more effective the experience; see Hitchcock, Alfred). In this way, we are writers. The way we see our dreams – the angles, the movement – are like the way a director envisions his play or frames his shots. Like improvisational geniuses, we take sounds or smells that exist just outside our dream world – that is, in the so-called “real world” – and work them seamlessly into our dream scenarios, turning the storyline in a new direction instantaneously. In our dreams, we write autobiography, and fiction, and Greek drama and, unlike so many in Hollywood, actually get them produced. And when we awake, the “real” world seems drabber than anything we experienced during the night, like the way we feel when leaving a great museum, or a theater.

I would suggest, then, that to dream is to be an artist. And that the dream itself is art, but art with the life of one of those newly discovered elements that exist for a millisecond, noted solely by tailings recorded on a sensitive receptor. Dreams, as dreams, cannot be exhibited in galleries, although some physical art is based on dreams, nor will we see them on pages, though dreams can inform a written work, or jumpstart a creative process. But, despite their ephemeral nature – or, maybe, because of it – dreams’ impact on our waking lives can be as profound as any art of any form we put ourselves in the way of. They are our own portable, hard-wired creative suite.

This blog will not become a place for dream analysis, or ruminations on the supernatural (although we here tend to believe that nothing is supernatural, just not yet apprehended). But, if the term arslocii is designed to represent the idea of placeness as art, then dreams can not be thought of as – excuse the pun – out of place here.

And though I still don’t quite get why I am having those dreams of mine, and may never understand why, exactly, I do know that they are, at the very least, a creative effort, a form of personal art that can do nothing more or less than express something in me completely, with no intermediate medium to dilute the essence. And, knowing that, I am somewhat awed, and oddly comforted. And can’t wait to dream, to create, to be in a place of art and be an artist again tonight.

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It is, after the womb, the first place we know; and, before death, likely the last. It is the single-most persistent place of our lives: we are in it, or on it, or with it for more hours a day, and for more years, than we are in or on or with any other piece of furniture. But it is more than furniture – that word describes a hassock, or a stool. A bed is … a thing and a metaphor, a friend and a foe, mother and lover, the giver of rest and the taker of consciousness, the serpent and the apple – a place where we are us, indeed the most and most often and most vulnerable us that we ever are.

Think of it, bed’s powerful placeness: When we are away from home for any extended period of time, it is not the kitchen table or the garden chaise that we crave to be reunited with but, rather, to “be back in my own bed”; when we are sad or stressed, it is not so much a walk in the woods that we naturally are drawn to as much as we need to “get into bed and pull the covers up over me”; it is the place where we most think of doing some cozy (or, as a child, clandestine) reading, and it is where some of what we read, by Mark Twain and Marcel Proust, James Joyce and Edith Wharton, and others, was written (although, presumably, not together); when we imagine having the most decadent and deserved of breakfasts, in bed is where we have it; when world peace was sought, John and Yoko pursued it in bed.

Bed, it goes without saying, is the place of intimacy – intimacy with everything, in varying ways: with partner(s) (the euphemism for sex is, after all, ‘to go to bed,” no matter if the act took place in a hammock or on the floor), with ideas, with companion animals, with light and dark, with the past and future, with dreams (not daydreams – those are reserved for offices, commutes and unwelcome family events – but those of the most laid-bare conscious self-imagining and unconscious primitive drive) and nightmares and states in between. Bed is the mirror that doesn’t require eyes for reflection. Even our relationship with TV is more intimate when done in bed. In our living rooms we watch shows; in bed we spend time with people – it’s not “The Tonight Show” we watch, it’s Leno; it’s not the “Late Late Show” we stay up for, it’s Craig Ferguson. And not only do intimate relations happen on the bed, but also ours is an intimate relationship with the bed itself; so much so that when one is away, spending the night in a hotel, even if alone, by slipping between the cool sheets of a “strange” bed we experience the exciting, guilty, titillating feeling of committing an act of infidelity.

Bed is evidential – a place that says that you exist and provides proof of it: there is your imprint on the bedding and the pillow, there the wadded linens that show the signs of struggle and submission; hair and stains and smells – and, if you check immediately upon rising, the residual warmth of your body left behind, a sensual spectral presence that will not tolerate lengthy analysis and which dissipates quickly into a wrinkled and sour past.

Bed is the place of siren song: it calls, we fight it, we succumb, we are dashed on the rocks of consciousness’ ebb, and we disappear.

And return the next night for more.


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