Sunday, September 1, 2013

Trapped Dreams

Because you've read nearly all his books, found so much to enjoy and learn from in each of them, the career of Graham Greene holds a high position in your interest and esteem.  You recall in particular a long passage in his autobiography where he went on with extreme regret over having used an -ly adverb in one of his novels.

You are no great fan of -ly adverbs; ask any of your writing students or editorial clients, but this acute sense of regret from Greene has remained with you for at least twenty-five years.

Another bit of information about him, you think from The New York Times, described the final years of his life, during which he apparently felt unable to write or possibly felt disinclined to write stories.  As a consequence of his years of disciplined writing, he was still driven to put words on paper, thus his preoccupation with starting each day by recording as many of his dreams as he could remember, straight off on awakening.  After writing in as much detail as possible, he'd stop for breakfast, read a bit, then return to his writing, at this stage sorting his dreams into categories.

When you first read about this, Greene was still among the living, causing you to think that should you ever reach such a point, where you no longer wished or felt able to write fiction, keeping track of dreams and attempting to classify them seemed ever so much more plausible an activity than golf or lawn bowls or some form of hobby.  

You even experimented for a few days, capturing some of the details of your dreams, once or twice even before breakfast.  The experience neither excited nor bored you; it did not leave you with any special insights nor was there some conversion-in-the-desert sort of revelation where you knew that you must do this henceforth as a way to infuse your writing with some greater sense of the essential you.

Dreams have always seemed to you a natural enough process, one you set no great store by nor on the other hand thought of in any disparaging taunt.  From about that time in your life, particularly when working on short stories, you were not so much dreaming about them during sleep hours as revising them or improvising them as you lay in some state between wakefulness and sleep.

Dreams for you are interesting at about the same ratio as waking thoughts and speculations; you gain insights from each and are happy with the exchange, on the theory that for you, an insight is a gift, a connection between two or more things that previously seemed unrelated infuses you with a sense of being inside the universe rather than a distant witness to a part of it.

In a way, dreams make the most sense when they are seen as illusions.  This is so because of the illusory nature of so many things about you, including some of your own actions and beliefs.  Thus dreams are links between the worlds of day alertness and night ruminations and vulnerabilities.  The common denominator is vulnerability.  Days, you're vulnerable to illusions about you and illusions of your own creation.  Nights, you're vulnerable to the tricks your senses and memories and daytime goals play on you.

Dreams and illusions prank you, and you are used to that playfulness of spirit your dreams bring you.  Once in a great while, they prank you with horses of the night on stampede, a herd of female horses at full gallop over your sensitivities.  These nightmares inject a sense of horror or fear or antipathy to images and events that in ordinary dreams go unnoticed, thus they are in a sense dreams with a scary sound and sensory track.

Most nights, you go to sleep in anticipation of prank dreams that have pleasing outcomes, or of what you think of as working dreams, where you are going over a story on a line-by-line basis.

So far, these paragraphs define the state of dreams in your life and the state of you in relation to them.  The same friend who caused you to consider trapped words has brought you yet another gift, beyond trapped words and six yellow tomatoes.  The same friend has brought you to consider trapped dreams, which can easily mean daytime dreams as well as the ones of the stampeding and pranking horses.

The concept of trapped dreams comes to you as a gift, not unlike trapped words or jewel-like yellow tomatoes.  You unwrap the trapped dreams, holding them up to darkness and light.

You have no doubt that the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, would extend his notion that we cannot bathe in the same river twice to include the fact that we cannot dream the same dream, even a recurring one, twice.  At the very least, the dreamer in a recurring dream has changed, throwing more prank into the notion of illusion.  In the same way witches have familiars, perhaps dreams have attendant pranks.

A prank in a dream will, for instance, have you going into a formal meeting wearing a three-piece suit, but no shoes.  You have not worn suits since you were running publishing companies, and often, not even then.  You do sometimes go about, shoeless, but this is as a result of some serious deliberation on your part.  A prank in a dream will inject fear into a situation that would ordinarily bring you pleasure.

What kind of prank is a trapped dream trying to play on you?  The joke, awake or asleep, is always on you, an important thing to realize, even as you try to slough the joke off on characters you have created.  This does not make you even remotely like Job, although you do come from the same culture, one which is about to celebrate yet another new year in a few days.

Awareness that the joke is always on you gives you a greater sense of understanding when dreams appear to be trapped, then come to you, offering you bribes to release them, or stealing your shoes before they leave you.

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