Many people will tell you, when the subject comes up, that one’s dreams are uninteresting to others. I do not find that to be the case, but what I do find is that most people will assume that their dreams couldn’t possibly be interesting to anyone else or possibly that their dreams might be too revealing. In any case, I don’t hear people recounting what happens during REM sleep, at least not to me. Asking seems odd and invasive and is often met with the stock responses, either “I don’t dream” or “I don’t remember my dreams.” It is bad form to ask, somehow.
Last night I dreamt I was writing this column. It was near dawn in waking reality, but in this dream it was daylight, maybe high noon. Everything was much too bright. Still, blue water, a kind of canal was to either side of me, and I was in a canoe or gondola of some kind with a laptop, much like my real one though it would morph into a typewriter, much like my old one. The feeling was pleasant, as if I were being protected somehow by clement weather and a system of locks along the canals that were operated by unseen hands, so I did not have to do anything in terms of guiding the progress of the vessel. No one else was in evidence in this tableau.
I typed the letters TGIF, which I always do, and as always when I am attempting to construct sentences on a page or screen in my sleep, the left-brain functions dissolve. Reason, linear thinking, grammar, punctuation, spelling all become far more unpredictable, and the result in these kinds of dreams is often gibberish. These are “work dreams” for me, and for years I had them about bartending. Less so now, though I still dream of performing music on a disintegrating, melting — transforming into unplayable — instrument.
The exception here, the extraordinary aspect of this commonplace dream, was that the text was legible and remained so long enough to remember a good bit of it. It began, “To suffer that gravest of sanities, or endure abduction within abduction in the Kashmir of the mind.” The rhythm of the syntax would indicate that the next words might be, “that is the question,” but not so. The following sentence appeared, “To Marslwordt he sped and thought Kashmir to be most preferable for the weekend. He turned...”
More complete sentences followed, but I don’t remember them except for fragments. No meaning was clear, but the fact that syntax survived at all in a dream seemed remarkable. The word Marslwordt is easy enough to explain; I had been reading the SF author Silverberg, his Majipoor Chronicles (I once imitated his type of wording in a novel with a place name, Nijwohl), and Marslwordt or Marswoldt was simply dreamland or what H.P. Lovecraft called Kadath. The opening line, I figure, was some pretentious Shakespearean phrasing equivalent to the famous “To be or not to be.” In general, I assumed the dream was a kind of wish-fulfillment thing indicating a state of controlled, maybe even inspired writing.
In complete contrast to it would be a dream I had repeatedly in my 20s after rereading The Count of Monte Cristo in which I was imprisoned in a dungeon and was digging my way out with fingers and nails. Keys, as on a typewriter, appeared at my fingertips and would sink into the mud and clay in which the body of the typewriter was mostly embedded. The meaning of this one seemed so clear that I remember waking myself with a laugh that my unconscious or subconscious should be so transparent and blunt. This dream gave rise to my theory (echoed by many others from Carl Jung to Norman Spinrad) as to the similarities in the state of mind one is in while either dreaming or creatively writing — fiction in particular.
Along these lines, I once had a dream that I was a small boy, holding hands with a woman who seemed to be my mother though she did not look at all like her. We were approaching a building in Vienna at 17 Bergenstrasse, which I believe was the address (or close enough) to that of Sigmund Freud. Obviously I was engineering this scene on some level much as I would if I were writing it. The only difference being, I was not aware I was doing it. When you are bludgeoned with awareness of Freud even while you are dreaming, I remember thinking, the whole business is suspect. It did not seem to count Jungian symbols out, however, but I’m not a shrink and I’m already far into the pretentious, anyway. Still, I find this fun.
As far as pretension goes, this next one takes the Moody Blues Award. Far and away the single most stunning, gorgeous, and emotional dream I ever had was really more of a ten-second tape loop. The ice is stark white and so is the horse, its mane streaming poetically in the wind. The horse leaps off the cliff and lands on the ice, shattering the stuff into foam, freezing droplets and huge chunks. That’s it. The accompanying emotion was intense relief. I cannot for the life of me recall what the circumstances in my life might have been at the time, and that may be the most puzzling aspect.
Sit down. Where are you going? Wait a minute. Let me tell you this one about my mother and the balloon animals. You’re gonna love th... All right, forget about it. Just repress it.
My recommendations for this Friday night are dinner at T.G.I. Friday’s, Saturday go to the zoo, and Sunday go to SeaWorld. Sweet dreams.