Saturday, 14 January 2012

Geography of dreams

Of late I have been thinking a lot about dreams and their significance to the point where I've come to see them as something more than a by product of sleep.

My thoughts of late have turned to a set of "recurring locations" or themes that I seem to process on a regular basis. I know, there is nothing more boring than listening to other people's dreams but recently I have to believe and understand the significance of these thoughts.

I think Alan Moore and various Chaos Magicians have summed this up more eloquently than me but I have arrived at the conclusion that if you can "think" or "visualise" a scenario, it could potentially come to pass. Having consumed a great deal of Eastern philosophy that places a focus on the subject, I can appreciate the importance of the imagery and how my mind works.

Essentially, we live in two worlds. The material (every day "reality") and our dream states where we truly cast off our physical form to explore, create and make sense of what has happened during our "daylight hours". For many years believed that our "dreamscapes" were a way of filtering or making sense of our "reality" (or the material world) but I now believe that this is a misnomer on a number of levels. Now, I'm still a novice when it comes to exploring my own dreamscape but as I progress and open my mind more, I have discovered that the humble dream is no longer metaphor. It is another existence. I won't use the term "alternate reality" as dreamscapes are not reality, they represent an alternate consciousness and in turn this offers a different glimpse into myself. One which I would not experience during my waking hours or the "timeline" in which I would interact with my peers or the people who happen to be around me.

Now, if these alternate periods of consciousness are as "important" as the waking times, should I not learn from them? It is arguable if they are as "rigid" as the time lines set by our waking or "material hours". Each time I sleep the "playing field" is reset, I do not know what I will experience during my sleeping hours. My personality and moral values expand and contract with each experience I have. Sometimes I will be moral, other times less so but does this mean that I am morally questionable? I think the answer is no because given that I am creating a different timeline that is constantly rewritten, erased and reformed it is acceptable to state that time, intellect and personality take on different meanings in the dreamscape where as in the material world, actions have consequences and we are judged by behaviour, not by intention.

Now, applying the rules of the above, the dreamscapes I experience have no boundaries and I have applied "lucid" dreaming techniques to guide my actions to explore said experiences, to take my thoughts and intentions to the edges or outskirts of what I believe I would not commit to in the material world.

In order to fully explain this, I appear to return to several "places" that are familiar to me. These are not geographical or "material" as such and appear to be made up of an amalgam of cities I have been to.

The first and most familiar of these is a location possibly in Arizona. The tarmac on the road is cracked through years of being subjected to intense heat, as if god took a hammer to a tray of peanut brittle and scattered across the parched soil. It glistened like black glass in the late evening sun. As it stretched to the horizon a small gas station was located east of a power station. For some reason I work in the gas station, there are never any customers, only the white noise of a fluorescent light and strains of country music coming from a radio that is slightly out of tune. It's always an hour before dusk when my shift ends. I look out at the road and see that no tyres have marked the cracked road. There's no one announcing the next record; one track segues into another as I can hear the pop of vinyl and the slight jarring cadence of a needle being placed on a record. I walk past the refrigerators, always thirsty but never taking a drink. I look at the condensation dripping down the glass, kill the lights and sit on a bench over looking the power station.

Every night (or what feels like it) I watch as the sun descends behind the towers. The power is still on for some reason, the plant is automated and unmanned. I wonder if there are any people left.

From the above dreamscape, I feel safe. The warmth of the sun and the familiarity of the radio lends me comfort. It's a place where I feel like I belong. I try to return there as often as I can (an escape from the material world to somewhere more sedate). The lack of people present could be construed as my "detached" self wanting some space and would possibly disturb or bore some people but it is a place where I can seek solace.

Other dreamscapes are less familiar and are often disjointed, unlike the example above. I often dream of locations where I used to work but I always wake up feeling drained or anxious. For example, I used to work in a record store that was located in a mall. I could recall circa 1995-2001 I would have dreams that would involve "faceless masses" or groups of people with no discerning features or faces. Or often they would be either "zombified" or devoid of social skills, meaning that they were often chasing me, besieging the location within my dream or displaying symptoms of a disease or sickness. I rarely dream about this place or the people nowadays.

I gather that the locations above were form of a long term anxiety that bled into my subconscious mind. I'd often dream of failure or trying to get to work and forgetting where I was meant to be. Missing exams (I was studying for a degree as a mature student at the time) or not turning up to job interviews.

At present, if I had experienced this type of dream I would be able to counter it through reminding myself I am in a better place. The antidepressants I take give me a sense of calm that does pervade my dreamscapes and the counselling has paid off. Demons are no longer demons, per se. I treat them more like an obstacle or a minor irritation and is a constant surprise to see how mechanisms that I employ in the material world are utilised to counter or defuse potentially traumatic situations (quarrels with Linda, the death of loved ones or the lingering reminder that people I once knew are either long gone or have passed away). The sense of loss is still there, I am able to recognise that I am dreaming but once in every while I have found myself so immersed that the people who are no longer here appear to be once again part of the material world and I have to tell them (again) that they have passed on. I have found this to be both empowering (a way of saying goodbye, a passage to closure) or emotionally traumatic (I still miss them and part of my life hasn't reconciled it, the dreamscape is so realistic that I forget they have died). I do not enjoy these but they are a vital part of my dreamscape, it is a sign that my mind can let go and move on and my material self can adjust and survive.

This utilisation of dreams and casting off of the material world is fascinating but I am beginning to understand that I have more control over my thoughts but I do apply Plato's theory that "there is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry". Are dreams a form of narrative that we have limited control over? They transcend time in a linear form, we learn quite little from them but they are a form of "catharsis" that we have limited access to in the material world. I am unsure at this point but it holds a valid set of arguments that I think merit further investigation.

No comments: