Monday, January 04, 2010

the architecture of dreams

I've never been inclined to analyse dreams, or read too much into them. There are people, I know, who think they have great significance, that they are the key to unlocking great mysteries of the mind, or that they have a strange, totemic significance for the future. I don't think any of those things, nor do I spend much energy thinking of them. Most of my dreams are vivid, realistic, meandering, and easily forgotten; often within moments of waking.

A dream, for me, has no significance but as an insight into the odd physicality of the mind - I like to think of dreams as surges of leftover creativity and power. A light-bulb doesn't go cold the moment one turns it off, and nor does the mind. Once we drift into sleep I like to think of our brains throbbing on, unharnessed, no longer dictated by logic, until the detritus of the day is worked through.

What I do find amazingly interesting about dreams, above all else, is the incredibly lucid architecture they summon up. Take the dream I remember from last night:

It was set on the grounds of a University campus. It started in the canteen, where I was eating. From there, I moved through to a foyer and entered a newsagent, where I flicked through magazines and through a box of second-hand books which were on sale. I picked up a bundle of four books, which were banded together, because they were all academic studies of the band Bloc Party (of whom, incidentally, I'm not a fan, so I don't know where I dredged that up from). I then walked out to the open air and boarded a bus, heading off campus. I sat upstairs. A girl noticed my books and asked what they were.

Nothing there is interesting or insightful, but when I awoke, I awoke with an incredibly keen memory of the landscape I created. As an editor of academic books, I spend a lot of time on university campuses, so their layouts are familiar to me. I could have picked any one of thirty or forty campuses I know well in which to set my scenario. But all day I've been remembering, visualising the architecture of my dream-memory and I am sure of two things. Firstly, it was incredibly real (although it is a memory shot from a single angle, as if cinema), and secondly, it was a landscape of my own design. Bits of pieces of it no doubt constructed from real memories, but the overall picture was original. A place I've never been to, and to which I can never return.

I'm just flabbergasted, when I think of it, at the fact that when we dream we are able to imagine with such incredible, complex detail. I could draw a map of the dream and it would - and this is the depressing bit - probably represent the most concerted bit of creative imagining I've performed, awake or asleep, in 2010 so far.

How weird, and how exciting,

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