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Dog Dreams

Lately, and by lately I mean tonight, but maybe more than that, maybe all the time, both consciously and subconsciously, I have been thinking about imagination.  Nothing as grandiose as to what makes us humans possess imagination and other animals that may not.  I say this because if you have ever watched a dog dream then you know we are not alone with processing conscious or imaginative excess.
Imagination.  Yes.  A few months back I began work on a book.  It is the story of an eleven year old boy who survives a lightning strike only to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole.  My intention, when the tale finishes telling itself (I’ve lost control of this story after the first three chapters), is to create a psychedelic trip for tweens, if ever there was such a thing.  And this is no mean feat, given that I’ve never dropped acid or have partaken of any earthly hallucinogen.  Hell, I don’t even drink anymore…
What I do have, however, is a wealth of memories from my meddling in shamanic trance sessions a few years back.  I don’t want to get all Jungian on the subject, but I am a firm believer that certain archetypes are indelibly etched on our collective consciousness.  As a writer, it is my job to dip into that realm, and in doing so pull forth something recognizable to every reader.  If you have not tried lying down, listening to the beat of shamanic drum (either live or recorded…there are some good mp3 downloads out there as well as the quintessential CD by Michael Harner that goes along with his book The Way Of The Shaman), and leaving this reality for the lower, middle or upper worlds I invite you to do so. One bit of advice if you do decide to investigate this practice, it takes time.  Don’t be surprised if you nod off and wake up later.  It happens to everyone, first…
So, yes.  Imagination.  That’s where I was.  Tonight there’s a question that keeps running through my head: where is the place where we lose contact with the imaginative musings we took for granted as children?  A good friend wrote to me about not wanting to be practical anymore, to follow no one’s advice.  As children, we did that until a parent or some other adult intervened under the guise of looking out for our safety.  How many of us, as adults, have reached to cover the corner of a table while a toddler takes his or her first steps?  When we were children trees at night looked like giants.  Bedroom closets, while small by daylight, grew cavernous in the dark if the door was left open.  Ordinary shapes, by day or by night, took on a whole new meaning; but it is only as adults do we second-guess ourselves.  A shadow passing in our childhood periphery, in an otherwise empty room, may be a ghost or any other such non-tangible thing; but in adulthood we chalk it up to blood pressure, fatigue, sleeplessness, etc.
What I want to do is get back to having no filter where imagination is concerned.  That doesn’t mean I am about to revert to childhood.  But I would prefer to knock down the blocks that keep me from the free association of imagination that came naturally as a child.
The book I began some months back may not get finished if I am unsuccessful in the breakthrough I am looking for.  It would be a pity, really.  Because in this tale there is a boy who gets to live in a real-time that, until the events that took him from this present reality, he was only able to dream about; but at eleven years old he lives on the cusp of the time when even his peers might chastise him for being too imaginative.  When he eventually returns to the present time, that is to say when he escapes the fractured, dream world where he lands, he is still eleven years old; despite a solid seven years having passed since he disappeared.  And while my book is far from finished, that is to say that the tale hasn’t finished telling itself through me, I am leaning more toward the main character’s parents being unable to believe that the boy who returns to them is their actual son.  Time will tell, but I don’t want this tale to take too long to tell itself to me.
There was an old story by Harlan Ellison, a quite famous one in the sci-fi fantasy circle, entitled “Jefty Is Five”.  If you can find it give it a read.  It is worth it.  Ellison, like his influence Ray Bradbury, never lost touch with that imaginative quality of childhood, that ability to make leaps and associations without fear of being chastised or the dream being crushed under adulthood’s heavy weight.
Someone once asked me: If you had to part with one of the five senses which would it be?  I am just thankful that my imagination wasn’t among the choices…

A Working Definition of LUCIDITY

Definition of LUCIDITY
1: clearness of thought or style
2: a presumed capacity to perceive the truth directly and instantaneously: clairvoyance.
A lucid dream is a dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.
Being aware of the dream.  Do we live, sleep and dream?  Or are we dreaming this life and the dream state is actually our existence? 
“Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration – that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves.”
~Bill Hicks
Somewhere in his career comedian Bill Hicks described Rick Astley as a “banal incubus”.  I think Hicks was a much more advanced human than most of us.
William Burroughs had his own take on dreams.  And thumping around the internet I found this:
“What a horrible loutish planet this is. The dominant species consists of sadistic morons, faces bearing the hideous lineaments of spiritual famine swollen with stupid hate. Hopeless rubbish.”
~from My Education: A Book Of Dreams (Burroughs)
If we can control a lucid dream then it stands to reason that if this life is a dream, or ‘the imagination of ourselves’, as Hicks said, can we not rise above those ‘faces bearing the hideous lineaments of spiritual famine swollen with stupid fate?’  One might argue yes, but if we cannot, then life must not be dream.  Or maybe it was, and now, because this imagining has gone out of control, we no longer dream this life clearly…we are observing this imagination through a glass, darkly…the perspective skewed…all gone horribly wrong? 
And now, to hoist a phrase from Monty Python, for something completely different:
“There is no route out of the maze. The maze shifts as you move through it, because it is alive. ” 
~Philip K. Dick, from Valis
Or this one from PKD:
“If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication … and there is the real illness.”
My man Thomas Pynchon once wrote:
“It’s been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.” 
~from Gravity’s Rainbow
Our history is an aggregate of last moments…The inverse from this macro view is our own individual life: we are only lucid at those last moments, on the cusp of each event, straddling from an argument to reconciliation, from ignorance to knowledge, from uncertainty to confidence, from hate to love, from self-loathing to self-love.  The old adage: our lives pass before us as we die is not true.  It is only last moments that blur the penultimate ones.
Lucid:
Pronunciation:  /ˈl(j)uːsɪd/
Etymology:  < Latin lūcid-us, < lūcēre to shine. Compare French lucide.
  1. Bright, shining, luminous, resplendent. Now poet. and techn.Entomol. and Bot. = Smooth and shining. Astron. Of a star: Visible to the naked eye.
Visible to the naked eye…shining, luminous, resplendent…these are qualities in a life not meant to be experienced continuously…what makes us human is our capacity to experience lucidity in small doses…the alternative is reserved for angels…unless they are deranged angels, as PKD says, then they are simply men…
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