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.