Wednesday, July 9, 2008

But where do you dream?


I had scarcely clicked the publish post button when the torrent of compliments and questions rushed in. Where, you ask, gentle readers, does the dandyland dreaming take place? And it is one of life's great questions - where do I sleep?

I call my bed the nest. It is so exactly suited to my particulars that when I lay down on it I fall right through into the abyss, with only that tiny jerk that can sometimes be noticed when the body must give up being for non-being ~ which isn't right, exactly, as there are no terms either. Anyway, a tiny bit of resistance saves one from falling too easy.

But then, down down down in to the velvety nothingness at the bottomless bottom of sleep. It's so relaxing. At times during the night, of course, the magnetic nucleus of the lingering who-had-been causes one to congeal on the second floor, so to speak, where all sorts of flotsam & jetsam of experience glom together to form what we call (later, when we can call) dreams.
We watch them goggle-eyed, because we are not quite ourselves, being, at best, embryonic doppelgangers immersed in the dark stumpwater of our own private theater. A theater that we forgot we were directing. Perhaps that's because our little jellyfish paws need a break from being so manipulative?

When my dear friend Gabriela came to visit, she was so exhausted from flitting hither and thither through the jet-lag making art, and so far from her own nest in Iceland, that I let her sleep in my nest. The next morning I came down through the woods to wake her up, but an internal intuitive warning told me to give the studio a wide berth and let her sleep. When she finally came up the hill for breakfast, she was smiling and said, "I had a dream."

I had told her the day before how Mrs. Ejiri had given me a white snake at the lovely old Buddhist temple in Japan. How that I had not known, at first, and still, whether it is a mythical snake, but that I had gathered that it protected the spaces that it inhabited. Mrs. Ejiri said that it came to the temple because it was so beautiful there. She said, "I can send anywhere in the world."

"I saw the white snake." said Gabriela. If I can recount the dream accurately - apparently after falling through the bed, Gabriela discovered that beneath the space she had experienced as my studio there was a virtual honeycomb of rooms, a house that contained everything she had ever seen or known, and she found herself in a yellow room, the yellowest room imaginable. The white snake was on the floor by her foot, and struck her, not to hurt her, but to make her aware of presence. She said it felt like a heavy weight pressing on her foot. Then the white snake crawled behind the door (so there was a door) and coiled up. Then bump bump bump, I imagine, Gabriela quickly or slowly ascended back up through the sorghum of dreams to awaken in wonder at it all, looking up through the skylight at a sky she'd never awakened under before. Gaston Bachelard pointed out that there is no proof, phenomenologically speaking, that the being who awakens is the same one that went to sleep.

The miracle is that it doesn't matter. What matters is getting a good night's sleep.

12 comments:

selena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Oh, I always love little nuggets of Bachelard to roll around in my head! This is particularly interesting to me at present because of my current jumbled state of "being" and my inability to get a good night's sleep! I don't want to go to bed/sleep at night, nor leave that state in the morning. I wonder about the connection between one's (well-) being and ability to sleep well. If one is well, traversing the sleep divide each night may be an easier, more pleasant journey. It seems to me as though one who is not "well" in their being may not able to cross the divide with ease, and consequently is awakened confused, dismayed and exhausted from the crossing. Maybe I just need more coffee!

Dan Dutton said...

Bachelard also wrote that "The center of being is well being" - and that the scar tissue of ill-spent life was essentially just the outermost layer of the round being this idea implies - it's a shell. This is the time to dream the dreams of the mollusk. (ha ha - how's that for Ween?) The opalescent nacre would be poetry - for G.B. poetry was the most "valorized" of acts, and the imagination was the best (and only) site for absolute freedom. He wasn't a fan of night dreams - poetry requires an act of will to assemble it & will tends to go missing in night dreams, along with reason. The French term "reverie" that he used is a bit nicer than "daydream" - to describe the loosening up of being that situates the dreamer right on the pivot point between becoming being & unbecoming. (unbecoming - ha ha.) My approach to oneironautics ~ (he loved neologisms) - is to consider sleep as a dive without a knowable conclusion. I don't expect to come back. Belief, at least expectation, concerning a hypothetical tomorrow, just takes up too much energy that could be used to assemble a more interesting now. That's my ideal anyway - in practice, I fall short.

Kim said...

Ah, yes. poetry. As much as I try to dismiss my poetry as an obtuse, trite self-indulgent cliche with no real beginning, end or purpose... I suppose it may be useful. Maybe instead of glowering over breaking the shell, I just need to figure out how to make the nacre stick to the inside of that shell...

Kim said...

Thanks, now I've got the title track stuck in my head... I've GOT to buy that disc.

Dan Dutton said...

Concerning poetry, and by that I think G. B. meant the finest exudate of the mind, he wrote, "Love first, then understand." So much that is beautiful in the world is demeaned and trivialized by powers of ingratitude in the service of insecurity. Our petals are fleeting enough as it is - I say cherish the making, and when you're done, subject it to nothing more severe than bemusement.

Even beyond enjoying the poetry, I enjoy the fact that my friends make it.

Cathy said...

Our petals are fleeting enough as it is - I say cherish the making, and when you're done, subject it to nothing more severe than bemusement.

I am going to recite this line back to you next time you indulge in creative self-flagellation.

Dan Dutton said...

Oh you!

Cathy said...

Hey, sometimes Jewish mothers help alleviate guilt rather than inflict it! Keeps the muscles limber.

Dan Dutton said...

You're my Jewish sister tho! : ) ! Thanks!

shepherdgirl said...

OK, first, you are are much smarter than me...I have to just get that out in the open. But I worked with this energy healer for about a year back in Mpls who was helping my body stay connected to the earth versus floating off all the time - did I tell you this, I can't remember- but she once said 'let your dreams help you and lead you and teach you what you need to know at that moment." And the nest, well, it's a haven of dreams for sure. I want bat pictures.

Dan Dutton said...

No no no, my dear, not a tad! I hope this wasn't brought on by my using the word "phenomenologically" & not even in scrabble. Dreaming has taught me a lot ~ I always say, what isn't entertaining is educational - well dreams can be both.

Those bats must be a little like the willow gypsies I was telling you about who lived in my studio for awhile. When I read your comment, I got my camera and went down to the studio to get a pic & they were gone. There are just a few gaunos in the box lid I laid on the floor under their usual hangout. Maybe it is time for them to move to other quarters. They don't stay here all year, but I haven't kept close track of just when they leave.
I'll check again in the morning. Maybe they just flew out to get a jump on the evening insects.