Friday, 2 March 2007

Connections 2

Had a peculiar dream. The only bit I recall clearly was lying on the pavement looking up at a blue telephone box.
Hmmm ... had an interesting moment. The instant I wrote that, I looked up and saw my son's TARDIS.
Y'see, I was going to explain the dream portion off in another way:
First, I'll have to explain that, according to my dream theories, dreams are composited from occurences within the past 24 hours or so (yes, a pretty vague figure) or, possibly, from occurences between periods of sleep.
Now, as you may know, I spent a while hanging on the maggot tree yesterday trying to solve the colour index code (maybe a plotline in there?), mainly through trial and error.
According to my theories, the dream elements refer not simply to the event of the previous waking domain, but to something fundamental within that event.
So, my dream takes the colour coding for a reason, and the difficulty usually comes from discerning that reason - the essence beneath the surface.
What was apparent in my dream was that (English) telephone boxes are traditionally red, but this one railed against tradition. But any such thoughts within a dream are illusions and we need to go back to the source.
Looking at the time I spent cracking the colour code, what was I thinking or feeling?
These things perhaps: problem solving, matching one thing to another/maintaining a standard or theme (consistency), time frittered on a frivolity. Perhaps other things.
I also believe that the dominant component assigned to the source is the one referenced by the dream imagery. I'd guess at the frivolity theme; I think that I was aware that I should be devoting my holiday to something more constructive, perhaps tidying the house or, better still, working on one of my novels.
Lying on the floor: I was helping my son with a jigsaw yesterday evening. Aha, I can see the theme arising (and I believe that dreams contain a single theme)! To me, jigsaws are the most depressing of all games. I couldn't say why exactly, but I do recall a time when I was unemployed and someone had bought me a mahoosive jigsaw and I was sat there looking at the pieces and thinking 'What the f*ck am I doing with my life?' Jigsaws to me have become representative of wasted time, and dreams deal with representations. Indeed, Salvador DalĂ­ was concerned with such dreamy representations where his soft watches were inspired by melted cheese on his bedside table and his crutches represented his fear of getting older, in particular the onslaught of impotence.

Yes, the 'wasting time/time running out' theme is prevalent here. Sure, there were other feelings knocking around as I lay on the floor with my son: I'm happy to spend time with him, to engage with him in mutual interests (or even interests that I don't really deep-down share). But these aren't the dominant themes; these aren't the representations utilised by my subconscious.

Telephone box: This is interesting. Today I am going to visit my Nan in hospital. I had to phone train-tracker first thing this morning for the train times. So, undoubtedly, as I fell into sleep, this 'do not forget!' was digging into some portion of my head. I hate to say it, but the dominant theme was probably 'that's gonna be several more hours that I should be spending working'. Me bad.
However, I can also see a sacrifice theme in amongst all that: the colour theme, the lying on the floor and the telephone refer to my giving time to others (whilst simultaneously feeling guilty about not working).
(NB. Let us not forget that we are not responsible for how we feel, but we are responsible for how we act upon those feelings.)

The purpose of dreams eludes me. My gut feeling is that they form some sort of resolution device such that concerns (and you can usually find a concern deep down in the motifs) are being dealt with in some form.
There is another theory that appeals which is that dreams are like garbage disposals: worries are chewed up and cast asunder. In this way, it is not a good thing to recall a dream because the concerns take root once again.

However, I find value in comparing dreams to writing.
A quick google search will reveal that the majority of philosophers have considered the notion of originality.
My bastardised take on it all is that originality is a unique combination of non-original ideas.
Indeed, Democritus suggested that everything in the universe would share the same foundations. He called these base units 'soul atoms' which were later poetically interpreted as star dust. Everything is made from star dust. But everything is a unique combination of star dust. (NB. In Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder likened the soul atoms to LEGO bricks.)
Personally, I like Irving Maltzman's thoughts on originality.

Where am I going with this?
Well, the clue is in the title! One of my pet hates is what is referred to as the stream of consciousness. Hey, like anything, there are exceptions and I wouldn't dare to criticize the likes of James Joyce or Virginia Woolf. Moreover, in the hands of an expert, anything can become a useful tool.
But I am compelled to see beneath the surface - to understand how something works, what it is doing, and why it does that. Dreams show us that the subconscious can come up with some pretty cool things! But I don't want to have to sleep each time I'm stuck for an original idea. I want this power at my fingertips. Furthermore, my son'll be all grown up soon and I won't be able to rely on him for cracking ideas (although I have considered the idea of having a steady stream of children :o)
It isn't enough to write. Indeed, through my deconstructions, I have been able to feed the reader's subconscious with motifs and themes that are able to elicit strong emotional responses. I am able to provide the reader's mind with the right combination of elements for it to make the desired connections. Rather than give them 42, I'd give them three drawn-out 10's, and then a dozen 1's in quick succession. For example.
(NB. 42 written in binary is 101010 and is, I believe, Douglas Adams' comment about both balance and Christianity [given that the number six has biblical implications]. However, I can still smile at the Dan Brown character who observes that cryptographers find patterns where there are none!).

As writers, we control - we regulate - we coerce and create expectations.
As writers, we should understand the choices available to us, and how one choice might be a better fit than another.

That leaves me with the TARDIS which is a blue telephone box.
Dreams, like me, seek the best possible solution. My dream made multiple connections.
As suggested above, my dream needed a colour and it needed a telephone.
It sifted through the stuff in my head (and I believe that it sorts from last to first, dealing with most recent thoughts in the first instance, which is why very often the last few events of the day, notably cleaning teeth and undressing [in a representational form, remember: to most, teeth-cleaning prevents teeth falling out and teeth falling out represents the remorseless progression of time], make common reappearances) and it found something that represented and united two key themes - something that I would've unconsciously recorded prior to turning off the living room lights.
Dreams are brilliant. They make the most amazing and complicated connections and create, through these seemingly disparate images, something fundamentally cohesive and compelling.
And I'll have some of that!

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