Plotting Horse

dream a little dream
June 26, 2009, 10:59
Filed under: Writing

I woke up this morning, deep from a dream.

I seem to be dreaming a lot lately, waking up either suddenly in the middle of action or gradually surfacing to consciousness as the setting fades and slows. There is no particular theme, although horses and riding have been a pleasant recurrence in the past few weeks.

This morning I’m thinking about how dreams are stories. That’s a pretty simple truth, but some people always are asking ‘how do you come up with that stuff?’ about my stories, like they couldn’t possibly conceive anything out of thin air. Well, everyone dreams, hence everyone has the story-making capacity in them. Granted, it’s subconscious. But that’s another thing: writers are always talking about that mysterious muse and that indescribable place they have to go to get their stories. That sounds much less like bullshit if that muse and that place is one thing: the subconscious.

The subconscious

The subconscious

Now, we all hate talking about the subconscious, you’re not the only one; what – after Freud and everything. It’s all so wishy-washy: maybe it’s like this, maybe like that. That subconscious is also quite a hamperer to our lives – always wanting to reveal our true desires to the surroundings, always secretly lusting (that is really just the subconscious though, right?), always making us feel guilty or angry or sad.

Take a look at Adrienne Rich’s poem Diving into the Wreck. It’ll drive you nuts, just like your subconscious. I think this poem is about examining the subconscious (or The Wreck) for information about humanity and existence.

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Maybe the book of myths is the bible, where there are people connected to god in a way that nobody today is connected to him. Or maybe it’s just a book of the past – the start. Adrienne Rich is a poet, so I will venture to say that at least part of the reason she is down there in the wreck is to get something to write about. Well, alternately maybe the reason she’s a poem writer is because she’s interested in exploring the wreck.

Note: I am still amazed that there are some people in the world who in contrast have absolutely no interest in that prehistoric wreck.

Margaret Atwood in the book Negotiating with the Dead – A writer on Writing talks about how writers are divided people. They have two parts to them, and they do not have much control of at least one of those parts – much like all of us with our brains, divided into conscious and subconscious. The writer often doesn’t know where the writing came from – Browning’s impulse to write Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came for example. Atwood also talks about how she thinks writing is motivated by a fear and a fascination with mortality – and so, the place the writer has to go for his stuff is as close to death as possible.

And what access point do we really have that might be close to death? In my opinion, we have sleep. It is black, we are gone, will we wake again? When we sleep we are controlled by the subconscious and presto – that is our gateway. Get the subconscious and you’ve got it all!

They do like to make it sound so hoity-toity though, them writers, don’t they? Like it’s so profound and deep. Like writers know everything and have the most dangerous job in the world. But really, it’s just the subconscious, that squishy underling of consciousness whose neural pathways we cannot thread. It’s just, perhaps, the thing that connects us to humanity via the collective unconsciousness (Jung: it is the product of ancestral experience and contains such concepts as science, religion and morality) and it just creates patterns in life and makes us notice particular things and learn the thing we most needed to learn.

Also, it makes love, right? (Not physically. I do that.)

What have you dreamt about lately?


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