Saturday, November 2, 2013
Cue music: "Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum buh. Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream....Sweet dreams are made of this. Who am I to disagree? Travel the world and the seven seas...Will I sleep tonight? The day has been so long. But it don't feel right. Something here seems so wrong...Oh, my life is changing everyday. In every possible way. And oh, my dreams, it's never quite as it seems..."
Passion Pit cover of The Cranberries' 'Dreams' (from 1992)
Salvador Dali, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, (1954)
MC Escher, Convex and Concave, (1955)
Dreams: We all have them but do we heed what we're supposed to get out of them? Some dreams are so real that it seems as if they're the reality and waking up is nothing more than a return to slumber. I've had vivid dreams since I was a child. Nightmares too. And I feel that as I've gotten older, my dreams have gotten even more lucid and bizarre.
I often have dreams of traveling to other lands where I speak the native tongue and indulge in the country's culture. I sometimes feel like I travel to other realities where I have lucid conversations with seers and sages. I have distinct and poignant conversations that I remember upon waking. Often, I dream that I'm famous and walk the red carpet, rubbing elbows with all of my music, literary, and acting idols. They are my best friends in these dreams. Though sometimes I am living in the past, stuck in the 50's or 60's comparing those times to modernity. One thing is certain; I rarely have boring, mundane dreams. Perhaps this is why I'm an artist. My dreams could become a book or inspiration for a play or symphony (and have in the past). And I'd like to think that I share this with other artists; we love to create from our dreams. Our dreams flow from an endless tap of inspiration and creativity.
This topic du jour comes from the fact that very soon, we will turn our clocks back an hour thus ending Daylight Savings time (originally used to give farmers more/less time in the fields during summer/winter respectively). Its original purpose has been lost and many areas (Arizona, Indiana) do not observe Daylight Savings. However, most of us do and tonight, we will gain an extra hour of sleep. Tomorrow night we also have a new moon which symbolizes rebirth, recharge, and renewal. It is seen as a time to set intentions and attain deep desires. It is almost the direct opposite of what we associate with this time of year. November and the dying of light represents a return to darkness and hibernation. However, there is no reason that renewal and a reset of energies cannot happen even when everything in nature is dying and sleeping. Perhaps the first place to search for how we can attain our hopes and desires is to look within our own dreams.
I should, but do not, keep a dream diary. I've been told, however, that if I turned my dreams into a book, that it would 'sell like hotcakes'. So perhaps I should invest more time in writing down and keeping track of my dreams. I also should have held onto the three or four different dream dictionaries I had. I used to look up imagery and symbolism from my dreams on nearly a daily basis. I'd always take note of significant changes and themes. For instance, when I dream about vampires, I know it means that I am literally having the life force sucked out of me and that it's time for a break or vacation. One time I dreamt of wolves, which signify that someone close to you is in the midst of a betrayal. Turns out, the dream dictionary was right. I also used to pour over the dream interpretations and symbolism to point out the meaning of other people's dreams. Usually, it entailed some form of a mini-therapy session. Fact is that I believe in dreams holding power over our waking lives. They aren't only our subconscious thoughts playing out from the day. They hold a mystical and abstract definition of our lives. I truly believe that answers to many of our burning questions and doubt about the future can be sought out in dreams.
My interest in dreams can also be directly seen in my taste in both music and movies. My fascination with dreams and reality permeates aspects of much of the art I appreciate. For instance, the other day I visited The Dakota on the Upper West Side, where the late John Lennon lived and was shot in 1980. However, it was also where the film, Rosemary's Baby was filmed. Unfortunately, I could not get in through the double wrought iron gates to see the courtyard exterior where the film was shot. I did get nice photos of the building's creepy exterior, though. I know that the reason I love this film is because it deals with dreams, but their sinister side. I won't give away what happens in the film, but basically a woman, Rosemary, has lucid dreams about a witches' coven conjuring the devil to impregnate her. Rosemary cannot tell the difference between what's real and imaginary. And, the audience is left wondering up until the end what is real and what isn't.
The Dakota (aka Bramford) on W 72nd and Central Park West on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
My fascination with dreams can also explain my love of other movies like Donnie Darko, which I mentioned in my last post. It also deals with themes of reality versus illusion and leaves the audience confused on knowing what is reality. My appreciation of all forms of art deal with this theme, as much of the music, art, literature, and film I enjoy deals with theme of dreams and illusions. Salvidor Dali and MC Escher deal with those themes as do the genres of DaDa and Surrealism. The music I listen to often has a dreamlike, surrealist esoteric feel. Bands like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, M83, The Polyphonic Spree, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, and Queen. I also enjoy a lot of late sixties psychedelic music from bands such as The Electric Prunes, Sagittarius, JK and Co, The United States of America. Much of what I appreciate and am fascinated by involved the idea of dreams in it somehow. Enter: The Scissor Sisters.
Scissor Sisters video for 'Invisible Light' (censored version)
Okay, it's no secret. I love the band, Scissor Sisters, and I love their video for the song 'Invisible Light' even more. The song is off their 2012 album, 'Night Work'. I love them because they are definitely an outlandish, eccentric band who produce music that is deliriously otherworldly. Their music takes you to another dimension and has a Dali-like quality to the visions they create. What's more is that each album is exclusively different and strange in its own way. And in case you didn't know, each member has an alias: Jake Shears, Ana Matronic, Babydaddy, Del Marquis, and Randy Real. They are full of theatrics and eccentric antics. The third album, 'Night Work', certainly has an retro 80's theme to it, yet every song sounds fresh and relevant. I can't help picturing some of their songs being sung by women with keytars (keyboards that strap on like guitars) or light up sidewalks with a flair of mall hair and Members Only jackets. But the album 'Ta-Dah' has a creepy 20's vibe where you picture flappers and dapper gentlemen with suspenders and handlebar 'staches. But I am not going to blab on about the Scissor Sisters for an entire post, though I easily could. Lord knows I've already written other posts to one of my favorite bands. No, this time I want to focus on a more universal topic. Dreams.
This is the reason why I love bands like the Scissors Sisters so much. Their music and the story that their songs tell, seem to arise straight from dreams (nightmares included). Their music embraces the strange and dark side of our subconscious that is so often expressed in our dreams. Many of their songs involve a transcendence from reality, and this is why their music is so interesting. Because the band celebrate oddity, they rise out of reality itself, making their music part of fantasy and outlandish art. For instance, in the video 'Invisible Light' (seen above), one is not sure if this woman is imagining everything that happens to her, if she's dead, or if she's dreaming. I'd like to vote for the third. There is something about the video that calls one to think about dreams and what they represent. This video and others of theirs are like a moving Salvador Dali painting. Really!
Concerning the 'Invisible Light' video, you can ask yourself many questions after watching it: Who are the hooded figures that kidnap the woman? Is this woman taking drugs or is she insane? What is the 'invisible light'? Why aren't any of the band members present in this video (especially Ana Matronic who adds quite a hotness factor)? Why is there a wolf randomly running loose in this estate? Are the horses, coffin, and Sphinx woman all symbolic? If so, what do they symbolize? For that matter, is everything symbolic? Is the whole video one great big metaphor?
I like to think about the thin line between dreams and reality. Have you ever woken up to discover that 'Damn, that dream was so real, I swore that was reality!' I often wake up confused, thinking 'where am I?' or 'was what I dreamt about really happening'? How do we know that our day to day life isn't some fabrication? Perhaps we're all hooked up to machines like 'The Matrix'.
There is a lot of theory about dreams. Some think dreams represent a part of our minds that, though sleeping, is still active. We are hashing out problems that we had during the day, and we are actually problem solving. Well, what about nightmares then? Some of my dreams are so vivid and real that I swear I'm really in the places that I see. I have entire conversations with people who tell me their names (people I've never met before). I often have dreams of traveling to far off places, some to which I have never actually been to, some which I have. Or, I can travel from one place to another, with no conception of distance. For instance, once in a dream, I traveled from Texas to New York in the matter of hours. Sometimes I learn in dreams that the world map is entirely different. I am seeing a wholly separate reality.
Dreams can be both exciting and scary. I have had dreams so intense that I wake up sweating and have to go watch some TV to get back to sleep. I've had dreams where I'm running from someone trying to kill me or where I see dead relatives suddenly alive but possessed to stab me. I often have reoccurring dreams where someone is breaking into my childhood home or I am hiding out from terrorists. I also have dreams where I am consciously aware that I'm sleeping and tell the other people in the dream about being able to disappear at will.
The most intense dream of all time was when I had a week long succession of dreams that were out of order and had to be put together like a puzzle. At the end of the week, I realized that this was the case. It sounds really strange, but here goes my explanation. In one dream, I was wearing a military uniform and getting angry taunts from people in a supermarket. It was snowing outside, and for some reason I had to find an old pool table in my grandfather's house. In another dream (still winter), I had to get my friends together and go to my grandfather's house to hide out. Another dream had me rounded up by military police and thrown in a prison where there were only 20-somethings and teenagers. The weirdest one of all was when I was holiday shopping with family. The older salesman helped me and my sister carry packages to the car. Then, all of a sudden he told us to get in the car, and we realized it WAS our grandfather. He started singing in his native language, and told me that I had to be the one to save myself and my sister. From what though? I never found out. Intense?
As I mentioned, I've been a vivid dreamer since childhood. I used to dream that witches lived in my basement or that there was a family of skeletons and vampires that lived in my closet. Did I mention that I wasn't allowed to watch scary movies as a kid (not until I was 12 anyway). I used to think it was possible to enter mythical worlds like Narnia. It explains my obsession with fantastical worlds like the one depicted in C.S. Lewis's books (and Tolkien). I was the kid who would always think that at night there was a secret portal in my closet. Why not?
One thing is for certain, I have had dreams that come true and also dreams that remind me of a memory long forgotten. Sometimes, I relive the past or see people I haven't seen in a long time. Often, I meet celebrities or I'm on a stage performing in front of thousands of people. Yes, there are dream interpretation books out there. There are also books about astral travel; this theory that there are different realms of reality that you can apparently travel between. I have been to whole villages and cities that don't exist in this world, though I've revisited malls, shops, streets that exist in my dream world. I can also visualize them while I'm awake. But what does it all mean? I don't think we'll ever know for sure.
There has been a lot of debate about what dreams mean. I just like to think of them as nightly adventures. At least, the ones that are pleasant. I don't really have that many nightmares anymore; that was more when I was small (when I would wake up and be so terrified that I had to crawl into my parents' bed). I wonder if we'll ever get to the bottom of dreams. If they are a different level of reality, perhaps this is what dying is like, one long dream. Or, as postulated by a friend of mine, we're all dead and what we live is just our imagination. Whatever dreams are, they are extremely powerful and exotic.
I will leave you with scenes from Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland'. That is the ultimate dream fantasy, based on the book by Lewis Carroll. So, sweet dreams, and when you fall down the 'rabbit hole', remember that there's always a way out!