Monday, 30 July 2012



My first undergraduate essay was on Alice in Wonderland through a filter of Freud's interpretation of dreams. Not a particularly original piece, but enthusiastic.

And still now I love sleep. When allowed by circumstance, I'll make ten hours a night, every night. Sometimes I think how much more productive I'd be if I could shave off a few hours, a la Maggie T. Sitting on the 0635 train to London last week I was with people on the phone, computers, reading papers, talking, only a few actually sleeping. These hours of life usually lost to my conscious self. But then would I produce anything worth producing with the extra three hours? Something worth more than a dream? Does my creative energy, my imeptus, come from that time spent in the unconscious?

I may not remember all my dreams, but like all those lost (to memory) experiences, I still hold them somewhere in my body to be accessed when I'm not necessarily searching them. Muscle memory. Reflexes. A submerged landscape that forms a context for my writing.

Then there are the dreams I do remember, that filter my waking, or those that startle me at some point during the day. My mother calls this 'breaking a dream'. To me it feels the other way round: a dream breaking my daytime life, with the strength of deja-vu, of past life, a childhood memory. All of them wrapped up into a fragmented image punching the force of whatever emotion gave rise to them in the first place. That then hangs over me like the aftereffect of a sneeze. What's the supposedly velocity of those?

The breaking dream may not be as violent, but as pervasive, my mind rolling around it, grasping at the pieces of visual and tactile imagery, to reenter that disconnected space, recall those experiences I've either stashed away or never previously had. Some stay with me for years after, as though they were 'true' experiences. Do they have the same influence on me?

I heard Jacob Sam-La Rose read a great poem on elements of dreams, in which he asked us, the audience, to acknowledge when we'd dreamt something similar: a litany of school corridors, sex, losing glasses, darkness, family... these are my regulars. Everyone was clicking away in recognition. Our secret sharing made public. A testament to the poem.

It's not only those dreams of our most beloved that interest us. It's an odd declaration that sleep is part of my creative practice when I can only remember a fraction (a small fraction at that) of it. And, logically, one I am not fully convinced by. But the first setting down of words on a page isn't logic. My intuition is covinced it's essential.

My bed is my desk.

1 comment:

jane eagland said...

Hear, hear! And not just because I love sleeping! I honestly think we don't have much control of what we write - it comes welling up from somewhere to surprise us - and since so much of our time is spent asleep, it stands to reason that something must be brewing in that dream-time.
Great post!