Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

Dream geography

Posted 14 Jan 2013 — by Jonathan
Category Observations

I’ve been warned before that there’s nothing very interesting in talking about one’s dreams. People who analyse them are deluded and people who describe them are dullards. That’s probably true – but one’s own dreams always seem interesting to oneself, particularly if you wake like I did this morning, thinking, “bloody hell, that was vivid”.

A couple of fragments that I remember, to amuse myself.

I was walking through an altered Brighton – I assume I’m not unusual and that everyone distorts geographical reality when they dream. The Brighton of my dreams is pretty close to the one I inhabit when awake, except that some roads are louder, quieter, nearer, further away, blended or bent out of shape. My home is often different, although weirdly it’s rarely an amalgam of real places I’ve lived and rather somewhere quite distinct, a figment of my imagination. But when I dream it up – or at least, on the occasions when I remember it – I find I’ve done a good job of designing something really complete. I could knock on the walls.

I was walking through an altered Brighton – and it was a bit hotter and swingier; something of Lisbon transplanted to St James Street. People drank on doorsteps or cross legged on the pavement, people drifted diagonally from bar to bar. I walked to a camera shop (Jessops, I suppose, which has just closed down in real life, although there isn’t one in Kemp Town), and got invited to a party while I stared in the window. I crossed the road, and watched two men run at each other outside the Thai restaurant. One man was bent low, like a bull. The other man pulled a gun from his pocket and shot him. Then he pointed the gun at me, and I grabbed at a bit of loose wooden boarding which was nearby – quite calmly – and held it like a shield. He shot me through the board. I was carried away.

I woke up in a garden just around the corner, here in Seven Dials. It was New Year’s Eve and I had decided to sleep outdoors. It was a warm and balmy night. When I think about it, it often is in my dreams. I tossed and turned – in my dream – unable to sleep. So eventually I got up and walked through another part of Brighton (which is down by the seafront) back to my flat in Kemp Town. I slept there. After a while I rose and went back out onto St James Street and to an L-shaped bar which has never existed, but of which I dream, oddly, often. Downstairs they do cocktails and there is a small, tropical garden where you can stand. I think I dream about this bar twice a year.

I know what my dreams mean – they mean nothing. But I am intrigued by the geography of them. I often wake wishing for a map.

the architecture of dreams

Posted 04 Jan 2010 — by Jonathan
Category Observations

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,

shame in being disliked

Posted 22 Dec 2007 — by Jonathan
Category Observations

However hard one might try – and I do – it really isn’t possible to be friends with everyone.

As anyone who has read their fair share of comic books will tell you, there’s no shame, no shame at all, in having a nemesis or nemeses. It’s best to keep the numbers down if possible, but occasionally even the most open minded and cheerful of folk develop – to their discomfort – a deadly enemy.

So it is with me. Just a friend of a friend, and it’s not someone to whom I hold any particular grudge, it’s just someone I worked out a while ago doesn’t much like me, and whom I, on principle, likewise decline to admire. So we rub along just fine, ignoring each other and casting the odd dismissive glance, and that is that.

Except last night I had a whole sequence of odd dreams. Seriously. One featured me driving a jeep over a valley of dead bodies. I know. Another had me as a university lecturer, except I kept skipping lectures. The third, most disturbingly, was one of the nicest dreams I’ve had in ages. And all the pleasure derived from the fact that the drift of the dream was that, oh, despite it all, I finally made friends with my nemesis.

It was wonderful. First off we sat reluctantly at either end of a table, casting disgusted glances at each other. After a while we started talking, grumpily acknowledging each other’s jokes. And it finished with us arm in arm, striding through the streets of Brighton as the best of friends. It was genuinely a lovely dream, and a tremendous relief to sort that difficulty out, because believe it or not I really hate the thought of being disliked or thought ill of.

And then I woke, basking in the glory of having turned things around. I felt really, really, flat to discover not just that I never sorted this awkward relationship out, but worse, I still think, despite it all, that we will never be friends. What was weirdest was that the warm feeling I had developed in the course of the dream was really hard to shake, so I had to keep reminding myself, all morning, that the person in question has repeatedly treated me in an unfriendly fashion, and has not – yet – earned anything more than an open mind and a bit of patience.

All the same I find my resolve thawing. Why are dreams so hard to dismiss?