Tag Archives: dreaming

So there’s this woman…

“A hair perhaps divides the False from True;”
Or False of True thy Verses, we thus due
Of meed bestow on One so bitter-sweet;
We read and dream then dream and read anew.

– Charles P. Nettleton, from the forward of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam


“We read and dream then dream and read anew,” the line jumped out at me as I perused a beautiful ruin of a copy of The Rubaiyat printed by the Roycrofters. Reading is something of a dream. Even the way the tone and rhythm of a given story clings to one’s day, disturbing the line between real and oneiric. There is that easy way in which we begin to think of characters as if we know them and miss them when we have had to put the book down in order to, say, make dinner, fold laundry, do homework, or show up for work- all the tasks that we like to think don’t actually make up the bulk of our lives.

“This is what happens when you live in dreams, he thought: you dream this and you dream that and you sleep right through your life” – Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins (218).

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter is a lovely story in which many lives overlap and influence each other in this blizzard we call life – the cannibals eat each other while the emotionally starved find meaning in seemingly sacrificial acts that turn out to be the only thing that can’t really be bought or sold. It’s the hard-sell, the prostituting of our collective souls, that is the nightmare we can’t seem to wake up from.

To pitch is to live. People pitch their kids into good schools, pitch offers on houses they can’t afford, and when they’re caught in the arms of the wrong person, pitch unlikely explanations. […]…It’s endless, the pitching – endless, exhilarating, soul-sucking, and as unrelenting as death (28-29).

But what is a dream if not something we always wake up from? Every morning our eyes open to our lives again. Our story can begin anew. And, of course,  it’s all a love story – that’s what life is.  In Beautiful Ruins Walter’s most craven character, the chemically petrified Michael Deane, self-appointed pimp of the pitch, insists it is. And – he’s not wrong. It is all a love story. It can either be pitched as one, or lived as one.

O threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain- This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest – is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

– The Rubaiyat

image from – roycroftbooks.org

I am run away

IMG_0808Awakened this morning by the Wind of My Soul,
leaped out of bed,
away from the sleep that you stole.
The words in my head
left over from the dreams in my bed,

What is this
What is this

Cold air laps against my skin,
(it’s important not to think as the walk begins)
my movement a hymn, harmonizing the pieces of the day
as always, defined and trimmed
not by what is,
but by what’s been.

What is this
What is this

An ecstasy of anxiety
my breath: piano forte.
The staccato steps say, I am run away
to find a melody esprit
And this,
this is where I let my music take me.

Last Night I Had a Dream My Nightmare Was Over

Last Night I Had a Dream My Nightmare Was Over

Farthest dream- beneath my sleeping weight,
over my oppressed pillow, between my folded limbs.
Respite from my smothered hours.
Gentle Night: you are my one,
embrace me! exalt me!
take me! erase me.

Make room for me
erstwhile friend, sweet Night.

As I lay sleeping…

On the back of this stirring painting, The Nightmare,  by John Henry Fuselli (1781) is a sketch of a portrait of a woman that the artist had loved and lost. She often visited him in his dreams (of an erotic nature). I find this very moving. I too have an active dream life. Sometimes they are so obviously tracable to my day to day activities I find it annoying: once I had a long involved dream about getting ready for work. I was furious when I woke up and had to – get ready for work.

Writer and philosopher Steven Pinker believes that human beings only imagine the soul as separate from the body, making the afterlife a possibility in some people’s minds, because we dream. He argues that if we didn’t have the out of body experience of dreams we would be unable to conceive of ever existing outside of our bodies (we can not imagine what we can not imagine). That idea: that our imaginations are the ultimate in limitation, is something I find interesting. I think Plato touches on both these ideas with his Allegory of the Cave: of course- what we perceive as reality, but also what we are or are not capable of imagining.

I have always had vivid dreams, I still remember many nightmares of my youth and many wonderful dreams when I was devastated to wake- mind and body unwillingly reunited. Some people I know have seemingly prophetic dreams, but mine don’t seem prophetic.  I have never dreamt the winning lotto numbers or any answers to my most burning questions. They seem entirely limited to my own imaginings.

My youngest son and I often discuss dreams because he doesn’t remember having them and I do and we wonder why that is so. Maybe he has it all worked out and has no need of nightly sessions of intense processing. Maybe it requires a measure of self-cruelty to experience a demon on ones chest, tormenting the soul with desires or anxieties, trapped in your limits.

“It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before… to test your limits… to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Anais Nin