Thursday, August 21, 2008
Descent: Part One
Flights of grandeur. Flights of poetic inspiration.
I’ve depended on flights for so long.
The truth is I’ve never wanted to be where I was physically located. As a teenager, I recall spending vast lengths of time by myself. My parents were not around. My mother was busy painting or cleaning the house; my father worked in a hospital and didn’t get home until late.
The house I grew up in was all white and we were forbidden to touch the walls. The first floor hallway extended the width of a soccer field, and the floors were marble. The living room had a fireplace, a white baby grand piano, and silver curios filled with figurines and crystals in the shapes of animals.
The house had a vacant quality which lent itself to dreaming. I used to look up at the sky light in my parents’ bathroom and watch the clouds sail over the house. At the foot of the Jacuzzi was a copper planter with bright red azaleas. Each side of the bathroom had a wall-length mirror with a marble counter. I came in there to dream and to be alone in the cold sunlight.
Or I would plant myself in the living room, curled over an art notebook I stole from my mother’s studio. She kept dozens of notebooks and journals in the bottom drawer of an antique desk. I would sneak the fresh white pages up to the living room, where I would draw and daydream until she came home.
The living room was always the most pristine and secluded room in the house, despite being at the center of it. The room gave the impression of a museum-like display or a drawing-room held in suspension. Like the moment before a party begins and the guests funnel in with smiling faces.
The cushions on the couches were firm. It was not easy to fall asleep on them. With the light coming into the room, one couldn’t fall asleep anyways. I would open the notebook and pause before writing anything. It gave me such pleasure to begin a clean notebook. I usually began with some arcane idea for my creation, as if I were a medievalist or a magician. I sketched the grotesque faces of the creatures of my imagination. I wrote scribbles of poetry. I brooded over the markings.
By my side I would have The Three Musketeers, a book I didn’t read as much as I carried it along with me like a reference guide or a Torah. Occasionally I flipped through the pages and glanced at the stories I could hardly decipher and only imagine.
There was a bubble of alienation surrounding me—and I needed a place to go.
My flights were often when I felt most connected to the world.
Posted by Lethe at 11:29 AM
Labels: alienation, books, childhood, descent, dreaming, flights, philosophy
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Flight: Part Three
Our daily lives have crystallized into routines, patterns, and rituals. I want to hold onto these patterns because they reinforce the sense of a singular life—my life, which has to do with my goals, and my supreme sense of individuality.
But when I scan the content of my dreams, I see that these routines, patterns, and rituals are like man-made barriers built to stop the flow of contradictory desires.
Dreams will dismantle the notions you’ve carried along about yourself. Dreams will deconstruct that seemingly indestructible idea of “me”.
And here I’m not talking about the flying dream. My flying dream has done little to deconstruct me. Why? Because over the years I’ve integrated it into my personality. The flying dream serves a purpose now; it has become a symbol of my destiny. Before I told you that I wouldn't interpret my dream, but flight is also a universal signifier.
Flight connotes the essence of superhuman power. Flight connotes another realm, a realm nearer to the heavens. Flight connotes the privileged position of the sky, the wide-embracing “bird’s eye-view”, the highest point to look down upon the vegetable planet. Flight connotes elegance, quickness, and lightness.
It seems to me that this dream wants to inflate my ego. Could flight be my symbolic compensation? If I can fly over everyone and everything then maybe I'm not the anxious, worried person I feel I am.
Unlike my flying dream, which inflates my ego, I had a particularly disturbing dream this morning which seemed to create a reverse effect.
The dream involved a sexual experience—that I remember—the rest I recall only vaguely. If I told you some of these loose fragments, these vivid though rootless images, it would be like offering a meal with the food on various plates.
I was disturbed by the dream in the same way that I am shocked to overhear some of my darkest thoughts. I thought to myself, “How could I have ever dreamt that?”
The night embraces inconceivable elements, frightening aspects of our personalities, and lepers of the mind.
If real-life is assigned to day-time hours, then real-life is a cover up. During the day, I struggle to maintain so much damn control. Every hour is anticipated. As if a future moment, which is really just another present moment, will differ vastly from this present moment I am having now.
At night, I’m not thinking about what will come next. After whatever I'm doing, I'm going to bed. The clock drops out of my mind. I'm not governed by time and its mathematical tables. I'm not goaded by self-consciousness.
There are no passing moments, only eternal ones preparing me for flight.
Posted by Lethe at 9:10 AM
Labels: book, dreams, life, philosophy, spirituality
Monday, August 4, 2008
Flight: Part Two
I have had this dream ever since I was a child. The dream has become a sort of refrain in my life, endlessly repeating and replenishing my interest in it.
I am trying to pry into my subconscious; I am trying to decipher one of the many mysteries I hold inside me.
Waking from my flying dream is one of the most pleasant sensations I know. Upon waking I am reminded of my secret powers, and I go about the rest of my day with a foolish grin on my face.
The interpretation of dreams may be a provocative and stimulating pursuit, but one never arrives at a final solution—or the key—to his or her dream.
I suppose I can look up the symbol of “flying” in a dream-encyclopedia and find a generic, albeit satisfactory, explanation to my night-visions. It might even shed some light on the variegated herds of animals that haunt my African savannah . . .
But, on second thought, I don’t care to know the true meaning of this dream. I simply want to carry the sensation of flying. I want to carry it until I die, never knowing what the dream means or why I had it so often . . .
There is no doubt that our dreams are trying to tell us something. If you believe in the subconscious, then you’ll admit to the importance of this crystal bridge between worlds--
The vaguest memory of our dreams suggests we have access to them; a doorway, a brief crack of light. In rare occasions, a person might awake within her dream, which is called lucid dreaming.
Once I had a lucid dream. The world (of the dream) was totally fantastical, and yet I had some control within it, to move around and uncover things. I moved inside the dream as if I were playing a game, like a video game, but there were also some aspects I couldn’t control.
Don’t tell me the meaning of my flying dream. You’ll reduce it to psychological mumbo jumbo. For life is greater than psychology and its theories. And interpretations, like judgments, reduce individuals to abstract concepts. If I were to accept any interpretation of this flying dream, the mystery would be gone instantly, and the dream would lose its power of enchantment.
Sages continually remind us to “enlighten” ourselves. But the language of dreams is darkness and half-light.
What if I prefer my dreams to so-called real-life? What if I’m enjoying this ongoing hallucination, this overflowing stew of desires, dreams, and drives?
Besides, I prefer flying to walking long distances.
I will always vote in favor of dreams and darkness. I feel comfortable in the shade. I’m more likely to wander at night than during the daytime, and to follow my true desires in the wildwood. There are no pretenses at night. In your dreams you are never pretending to be someone; you just are.
During the daytime I feel the burden to be someone. I’m playing a highly-skilled part with expectations to fulfill, and there is always something that must get done. At night, in contrast, time loses its grip on me and my sense of inferiority melts away.
What is commonly called “real-life” is usually a mere trifle. I get worked up about the smallest things. Items I label with greatest importance and greatest consequence turn out to have minor importance and minor consequence.
All of my fears can be summed up: my real-life will fall apart.
What’s beautiful about dreams is that there’s nothing to fall apart because nothing has ever been static or fixed together (as we pretend to make life during the day). In a dream, the pieces are scattered to begin with. Dreams are wild, fitful, mutable, and delirious. Time does not exist, at least not in any ordinary conception of the word. And because of the emptiness and formlessness of this world, we tend to have more freedom.
But really there is no difference between real-life and dreams. Real-life is also wild, fitful, mutable, and delirious. One can even argue that time doesn’t exist here . . .
Posted by Lethe at 12:22 PM
Labels: book, dreams, innocence, life, real-life, writing