Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.

This is the core premise of Christopher Nolan‘s new blockbuster Inception. I saw it last night. Inception is big, thrilling, mind-bending, and smart. (Smart for a blockbuster, I mean). I’d say it’s this decade’s Matrix. Watch the trailer on YouTube here, so you know what we’re talking about.

Let’s get into each other’s minds, deep into the subconscious. Let’s lucid dream for profit or power. Meh, who cares about profit or power but it certainly would be fun to walk about inside other people’s heads. (Being John Malkovich, anyone?)

Waking Life is a trip

I have long been fascinated by dream life. We spend one-third of our lives in another plane of existence where pretty much anything goes – we can fly, shape shift, jump through time and space, make love to strangers, murder friends, give speeches, eat muffins, become unicorns, climb mountains, escape the law, talk to dead relatives, or play drums in our favourite bands. We become masters of our own bizarre universes each night, and then we wake up and go to work and barely think about it until the next night’s epic adventure, battle, or love story begins.

That begs contemplation surely. What are dreams? And are we certain we can tell the difference between the “real” world and the dream world? This question, too, is raised in Inception.

In honour of the blessed state of dreaming, I present you my list of 5 great musings on dream life:

1. Waking Life (2001)
Oh man, this film is a mind-bender. It will rip open your cranium, poke around, expose all the flaws in our waking state, and leave you panting for more. Our protagonist shuffles around talking to eccentrics and philosophers about waking life and dream states, asking ever more provoking questions of himself and his reality. It was animated over real-life footage to become a dreamy trip through a beautiful and interesting world. I have used the light switch trick a number of times now, just to check. Watch the trailer here, seriously it is one of the best films you will find, both cool and smart.

Borges loved to blur the distinction between dream and reality

2. The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges
This short story from Borges’ Ficciones collection is haunting and truly beautiful. “The purpose which guided him was not impossible, though supernatural. He wanted to dream a man; he wanted to dream him in minute entirety and impose him on reality.” Is that not the dream of every writer?

3. Mulholland Drive (2001)
It’s just a dream. Another bizarre, perverse dream from the mind of David Lynch. Watch the trailer to get a taste. Be warned though, it’s a head scratcher. I had to watch it twice to even begin to understand it.

4. The Interpretation of Dreams, and On Dreams by Sigmund Freud
Freudian psychoanalysis applied to dreams which, according to the good doctor, provide a direct view of one’s subconscious. It’s all about wish-fulfillment and conflict resolutions supposedly. Interesting reading.

5. Inception (2010)
Multi-level lucid dreaming = fun.

Have any of you read or watched anything interesting on the topic that you can recommend?

And tell me, have you dreamed any big dreams lately?


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While I was dance-walking home from Salsa lessons tonight, I had a thought. (Ok, I had many thoughts but most of them were not worth blogging about and this one is actually only borderline.) Anyhoo, the thought was this:

Writing is a lot like dancing.

*pregnant pause to allow depth of wisdom to sink in*

Get on the dancefloor, forget all the rules, and go with your instincts

Basically, I see it like this. You have to learn the basics or you may as well not step out onto the dancefloor. (Really, you’ll only embarrass yourself and others if you do.) But, once you’re out there, you better forget every rule and instruction you ever learned and just go with your instincts or you will either freeze up, fall over, or freak out and do some tragic dance move like the pogo-stick while your friends smile awkwardly and try to pretend they don’t know you.

I haven’t danced for a while and I was pretty nervous rocking up there tonight, to twirl amid the talented. But I had fun, and I learned some new steps, and once I got going I wasn’t too bad.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been writing much lately and I’m pretty nervous about rocking up to the page tomorrow. What if I’ve forgotten all the steps and I stumble or, worse, think I have talent and everyone stands around me cheering but it turns out I’m only the writing version of that William Hung guy?

I’m beginning to over-think it again. And that is as dangerous to writing as it is to dancing. So I’m just going to stop now and go read my book and come back with a clear head in the morning.


PS: In case you don’t know, dance-walking is forward motion with headphones and dance moves.

PPS: While I was dance-walking home through the city tonight two, I repeat two, seperate weirdos stopped to offer me a ride home. I’m not trying to be cynical but I can assure you they were not offering me a ride in a “oh, people can be so sweet” sort of way but more in the “oh my gosh, I narrowly escaped being cut into pieces and hidden in the walls” kind of way. I’m glad I didn’t give in to today’s overwhelming sensation of being in dream rather than waking life and jump in just to see what would happen. I hate to think what sort of nightmare would have ensued and, judging from my real dreams, I would only end up not being able to shout loud enough or run fast enough (damn lead legs) or fly high enough (despite frantic arm flapping)… erm, have I said too much?

PPPS: Do any of you also have the flying by flapping your arms dreams? One of my friends flys just like Superman (point and go) in her dreams and I was always jealous of her coolness. My sweaty flailings look so unco in comparison. It probably says a lot that I’m not even cool in my own dreams!

PPPPS: I’m not being particularly original with the idea that writing is like dancing. I just did a quick net search and, to name but a couple, Kelly Polark says it’s all about practice, in both dancing and writing, and Shannon Philpott thinks writing is like dancing because it’s how we express ourselves.

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The Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain

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A strange medley of market stalls run along the outer wall of the famous jesuit ruins of San Ignacio Mini in Argentina. They are strung together by the cheap and cheerful wares they display and the desperate glint in the eyes of the vendors. Strolling by, each hawker greets you, entices you to touch their merchandise (as they know touch to be a forerunner to desire), desperate that you will pause with them before you realise that each table is lined with identical mass-produced tourist rubbish, the same colourful trash that tourists must inevitably carry home with them to gift to disappointed relatives or hide in forgotten drawers. If you fail to show sufficient interest they either glower at you (they may as well spit on your feet for the way it makes you feel) or apply the tireless nag-factor technique that children the world over have honed in the aisles of supermarkets and toy stores.

By the end of the consumer gauntlet you feel weary and spent, already dreading the return journey. You may consider walking off into the wild but are braced by the realisation that, no matter how far or in which direction you walk on this continent, you will surely have to run the gauntlet again before too long.

Plaza de Armas, San Ignacio Mini

I warily pay the 10 peso entrada and try not to notice the incredulous glares from the merchants at this definitive proof of wealth. It is here that the fence line, ashen and overgrown, leaps skyward before continuing its dance about the perimeter. Upon entering the grounds the sense of exit is overwhelming. The world of haggling and sweat, sustenance and toil, copulation and excretion stands glowering behind the wall, invisible from the inside; it seems possible that it never existed now that you have entered this eternal dream state. Time is an illusion. This is real. Even the smattering of tourists disappear into their own dimensions and I am left alone in mine. Here I am in a world of substance; there is a sense that nothing has really existed before, except this place. This is the only place that has ever existed and I am the only woman.

Walking across the grassy plazas my shoes melt away and the grass caresses my bare feet. I feel every blade. I am every blade. I am every brick. I am the breeze in the trees and the sun on my skin. I am the moss that slithers up the side of the fallen cathedral, the clouds floating across its gaping ceiling. I see the outline of the houses, only a handful of bricks high. They grow up from their skeletons and reach their former heights. Straw grows over them, forming rooves. I see people come and go, smiling at one another, working, embracing. I see an entire civilization laid before me. I smell the casserole bubbling away on the fire, the juicy steam curling out of a doorway and down the lane. My mouth is watering. I hear the cajoling crowd at a public meeting. I don’t know what they are saying but the trees are alive with cheers and jeers. Touching my fingers to the dank brickwork in a hidden corner, they come away bloody. I lick the salty juice of the ages and lay down on the grass to gaze into the eye of the Universe.

It’s all pretend, of course. I don’t see a thing. I only feel it, yearn for it, dream it into being. How can you know a thing about this place and these people if you haven’t lived with them, loved them, or paid for a tour? And who can afford to pay for a tour?

Ancient worlds spring up from the ruins of San Ignacio Mini in Argentina

I content myself with imagining their world and delight at the thought that one day, four hundred years ago, a young Jesuit priest had sat in this very spot and imagined our own world. Had he seen the tread marks of our rubber-soled shoes trampled through his village paths? Had he smelled the artificial orange fizz that I guzzled with my lunch? Had he hid his eyes from the mass-produced vendors selling “handicrafts” made by faceless strangers in a distant factory? Had he felt my breath on his neck, my hair on his chest, and fancied himself in love? At this thought I lose all interest in his world. Steeling myself to face my jurors, I pass once more through the festival of fabric and retire to my rooms.

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A beautiful abandoned schoolhouse in Tokomaru Bay, New Zealand

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La Boca, Buenos Aires

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What inspires you? What gets you racing to the computer or fumbling eagerly for your notebook to capture your thoughts and stories before they disappear?

Thomas Edison famously said that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. While this should encourage in us writers the kind of determination necessary to succeed in an incredibly competitive field (if you haven’t already, check out my previous post about famous writers who were knocked back time and again by publishers), it should not be overlooked that without that one percent inspiration we would never reach our full potential.

With that in mind I call for a public brain dump of inspirational places, people, questions and such… perhaps sharing your inspirations will inspire another writer to their masterwork and, if not, well it’s still pretty interesting to see how other people’s minds work, no?

My favourite inspirations:

Reading Virginia Woolf never fails to inspire

– Walking in nature
– Reading my favourite authors (especially Jorge Luis Borges, John Steinbeck, Milan Kundera, and Virginia Woolf)
– Writing letters (often while sharing experiences or thoughts with friends tiny details flare in my mind that I wouldn’t have thought to write about otherwise)
– Dreams (sometimes I wake up and reach straight away for my journal to jot down the details before they fade – I have written a lot of poems and several short stories based on my warped night-time mental wanderings)
– Sitting in cafes or on ferries and observing human life
– Travel (new sights, smells, sounds, and smiles get my pen flying across the page like nothing else)

Ok, now it’s your turn! What inspires you to write?

PS: The inspiration from this post came from reading these recent posts on Subtle Thoughts and Matt’s Blog.

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