Friday, July 07, 2006

Lately, I've been having the same nightmare. There I stand, a character in the last few scenes of a zombie flick, shotgun in hand with a meager complement of shells loaded in the chamber, the reanimated corpses of the undead inching toward my warm flesh. I take the shotgun to my shoulder and let loose a round, blowing away the head of one of the ghoulish creatures. They come nearer, now there are hundreds of them, a phalanx of grey, expressionless bodies shuffling toward me. One grabs my forearm, another my ankle. I kick, I thrash, I scream, yet nothing I do shakes them free. I look down at my arm as one is about to take a sizeable portion of it away with him, then I wake up. I wanted to see what had to say about my nightmare. Their analysis suggests there is some part of my "greater self" (zombies) that threatens my "strength" and "direction" (hands and ankles).

Now, I contend - much as Native American religions do - that dreams are man's internal wormhole, allowing us to take a peak at the eternal - be it poetic or literal, I'm not sure. And even if you deny dreams bare any significance on a person's life you can't dispute sleep's ability to provide clarity. That is because throughout the day the brain is constantly being damaged little by little by the body's metabolism, it is only at night during sleep the brain can stitch itself back together. This is why we feel refreshed in the morning (or late afternoon on days off) when we wake up.

Sometimes the aesthetics of dreams can spill over into the world of art. Take the story of a budding young director who went to the great Orson Welles with a problem. The director just received a crew from his studio that didn't want to deviate from the script for a specific scene even at the young director's insistance. Welles said the best way to surmount the crew's orthodoxy is to tell them they are filming a dream sequence. Dubious of Welles' advice the young director nonetheless went to his crew and told them this white lie. Immediately the crew felt liberated, they did as the director instructed at times offering their own suggestions on how to make the scene better. The director went back to Welles and asked him why this worked. As Welles put it, we all have a rigid sense of what's real but in a dream there are no rules and we are free to do as we please, those restraints that reality imposes can be cast aside. This is the supreme example of how dreams can effect our lives. Here, through art, dreams and reality touch.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I had a recurrent nightmare that I'd meet myself, who'd look the same except for some subtle sign of madness and degradation, and the recognition of this difference terrified me. Such dreams ceased when I started taking antidepressants. Don't know if that is a significant connection or not.
With that aside, thanks for commenting on my blog.