Dream of Gigabytes

Woodall Rogers Freeway, Dallas, Texas, thirty second exposure, taken from the west end of Klyde Warren Park

Jung said that science is nested in a dream. The dream is that if we investigated the structures of material reality with sufficient attention and truth, that we could then learn enough about material reality to then alleviate suffering: To produce the philosopher’s stone – to make everybody wealthy, to make everybody healthy, to make everyone live as long as they wanted to live or perhaps forever. That’s the goal – to alleviate the catastrophe of existence. The idea that the solutions to the mysteries of life that enable us to develop such a substance, or multitude of substances, provided the motive force for the development of science. Jung traced that development of the motive force to over the period of 1,000 years. Jung went back into alchemical texts and interpreted them as if they were the dream upon which science was founded.

—-Jordan Peterson

I don’t usually remember my dreams. I know I have had them, I can feel them silvering away, sliding into forgetfulness. I’m left with vague feelings of fear and dread – so maybe it’s best that I don’t remember.

But sometimes I do. The other night I clearly remember one – or at least a good part of it. I go on these photowalks when I can manage it, and one was scheduled for Friday night down in the arts district. I’ve been thinking about this walk – working on a way to carry a tripod (it will fit in a gym bag I have – barely) and planning on doing some long exposures in the dark – working with blur and such.

In my dream I was doing my photowalk and taking a lot of pictures. Suddenly, a scene opened up in front of me, something of indescribably beauty and interest. It must have been indescribable because I don’t remember what it was. But it was something that I absolutely had to take a photo of.

When I pushed the shutter nothing happened. I discovered that my memory card was full.

Frantically, I lowered my camera and began deleting photos I had taken, trying to free up space for this amazing something right in front of my eyes. But I was too slow, and missed the photo of a lifetime.

I wondered what this dream meant and resolved to take a lot of photos – maybe even fill the card up.

When Friday arrived I carefully packed my bag with my camera, full battery, extra lens, tripod, and cable release. At the appropriate time after work I lugged the pack down to the LBJ/Central DART train station to ride downtown for the photowalk. Once the train began to move I decided to check everything one more time. It was all in the bag… then I pulled out my camera. Checking the battery once more, I saw the dreaded warning, “NO SD CARD INSERTED.”

My card was, of course, still on my desk at home stuck in my laptop where I had transferred the data from my last photoshoot. I didn’t panic – but was pretty upset at my idiocy. I began to think, “This is a huge city, where can I buy an SD card?” I didn’t have much time,

I don’t like to be late to group things.

I knew there was a 7/11 convenience store downtown, right at my last train stop. It’s major purpose is to sell cheap wine to the homeless, but it might have digital cards – for tourists and stuff. I pulled out my phone, did a search and found a page that listed items that 7/11 stores carried. I typed in “Dallas” and was presented with odd results – then I realized it was a dot.au site and I was searching Australian convenience stores – not much help.

Time was slipping away – the train was hurtling toward a digital-less downtown. So I pulled up Google Maps on my phone, watching the blue dot of my train going down the tracks. Looking ahead – I noticed that there was an office supply store right next to the Lover’s Lane train stop.

I was able to find a 16 gig card in the clearance rack. The whole store had a sad feel to it, Amazon is grinding office supply stores to dust.

Walked back to the train stop, caught the next train, and made it right on time. The day was too hot and I had trouble getting enthused – though I heard a really good Texas ambient band, This Will Destroy You, at the Nasher and am now a bit of a fan. I did figure out how to handle the tripod, camera, and cable release – will work on my technique for the future.

And pay more attention to my dreams.

The Only Right Thing to Do

“I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Oblique Strategy: A line has two sides

I rarely remember my dreams. When I am able to grasp the wispy end of something as I’m waking up it is always some form of daily frustration, like my car won’t start or my key won’t fit. I guess that’s why I can’t remember my dreams – they are simply more boring versions of my daily life.

This morning, though, as I crawled out of bed, I remembered. I was hitchhiking through Japan with two other people, a young couple. Why we were three was hazy, though there seemed an adequate explanation somewhere. At the time of the dream we were wading through a rice paddy, each clutching a train ticket. The tickets were paper and plastic, white and bright yellow, and valuable.

Ahead, rising out of the rice, was a track on a levee and a simple station. The biggest passenger train in the world was stopped there, vibrating and smoking. As we approached, it blew its whistle and slowly pulled off, just as we arrived. I was frustrated at the fact we had missed the train, and clutched at my ticket in frustration.

A minute later, we realized that this massive transportation system was too large for one single train, and a second, identical one came huffing into the station. Suddenly elated, I had my ticket stamped and boarded the nearest car. My two companions followed close behind me.

The rest of the dream consisted of me exploring the various cars up and down the line. They were laid out in a linear cornucopia of delights, each car more opulent and fascinating than the one before.

My alarm went off – time to get up and go to work. I hit snooze to see if I could drop off again and visit a car or two more, but the train had sped off to somewhere unknown.

The Opium Den of Remembrance

“In the world of the dreamer there was solitude: all the exaltations and joys came in the moment of preparation for living. They took place in solitude. But with action came anxiety, and the sense of insuperable effort made to match the dream, and with it came weariness, discouragement, and the flight into solitude again. And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, the possibility of pleasure again.”
― Anaïs Nin

H&K Pump Air Compressors, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Oblique Strategy: Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency

I had a dream last night – I rarely remember my dreams but this one I did, I still do.

There is nothing more boring than reading about someone else’s dreams. Sorry.

This was a nightmare, after all. Not a monster, murderer, or painful death kind of nightmare – I don’t have those. It was a nightmare of fighting the bureaucracy – which is what really scares me.

I graduated from college… next year it will have been forty years.

Just reading that sentence gives me the willies.

But I still have nightmares about final exams, or ones like last night’s where I go back to take some more classes. I was old, my present age – everyone else was young… well, college student age. I had a room in the dorm, and somehow, I still had a key from the old days and it worked. I had to park my car (the car I presently have) in some sort of inconvenient, dangerous, and illegal spot – half in and out of the common room at the dorm. I hauled my stuff up to my room (which was very nice, by the way) and stashed it.

Somehow, this was my old school, my old dorm, my key fit – but everything was completely different. It was better – the dorm was a tower, computers and screens were everywhere, it was glassed-in, full of light, the people were all happy and attractive. I didn’t fit in – makes no real sense – but perfect dream sense.

But then was the nightmare – I never received my schedule, official key, or, most importantly, my ID Badge. I waited in line at the front desk. In my dream I listened to the problems of everyone in front of me – mostly trivial or easily solved. When I finally arrived and told my story I was then asked an endless series of questions:

“If you don’t have your key or your badge, how did you get into your room?”
“Are you sure you belong here?”
“Did you register properly online?”
“Everything is done on the internet now, don’t you understand that?”
“Is that your car over there?”
“What made you think you could park there?”

…..

On and on… then I woke up.

Tarts and Tadpoles

“Tarts and tadpoles!…The boy is still alive!”

—-L. Frank Baum, Rinkitink in Oz

Tadpole Pool, Dallas Arboretum

There are few things as fascinating as tadpoles in a jar.

The tail slowly shrinks as the legs – back first, then front – appear and grow.

Does the tadpole understand what is going on? It must be frightening… to wake up in the morning (do tadpoles sleep? do they dream wet tadpole dreams?) only to find fresh, unknown appendages growing out of their body. They have a wonderful fish-like life – their precious gills – until they turn into lungs. Do they understand how they are following the evolution of their ancestors?

Of course they don’t.

Do they imagine what might come next? Do they dream of growing wings? A tadpole, like everyone, must dream of flight. What a blow it must be when they realize that they are stuck with their legs, no matter how muscular and sinewy they feel and how high and graceful their leap.

Daily Writing Tip 21 of 100, Proceed From the Dream Outward

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Proceed From the Dream Outward

Source – The Novel of the Future, by Anaïs Nin

It is interesting to return to the original definition of a word we use too often and too carelessly. The definition of a dream is: ideas and images in the mind not under the command of reason. It is not necessarily an image or an idea that we have during sleep. It is merely an idea or image which escapes the control of reasoning or logical or rational mind. So that dream may include reverie, imagination, daydreaming, the visions and hallucinations under th influence of drugs – any experience which emerges from the realm of the subconscious. These various classifications are merely ways to describe different states or levels of consciousness. The important thing to learn, from art and from literature in particular, is the easy passageway and relationship between them. Neurosis makes a division and sets up defensive boundaries. But the writer can learn to walk easily between one realm and the other without fear, interrelate them, and ultimately fuse them.

….

For this the writer has to learn the passageways. Those passageways are like the locks of canals, feeding each other while controlling levels to prevent flooding. The discipline and form of an artist’s work are set in the same system to prevent flooding. The amateur drowns. The writer has to remain open, fluid, pursue and obey images which his conscious structure tends to break or erase.

This comes back to imagination and courage. Do you have the courage to let your imagination guide your work? Or is the inner editor always there, saying things like, “Nobody is going to understand this,” or “This isn’t what the paying public wants to read right now.” He will be there, saying those things – but you don’t have to listen.

The inner editor might be right… but he is still an asshole – and you shouldn’t listen to assholes.

Short Story Day Nineteen – Eyes of a Blue Dog

19. Eyes of a Blue Dog

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/bluedog.html

This is day Nineteen of my Month of Short Stories – a story a day for June.

Source Figure, by Robert Graham, foreground, We Stand Together, George Rodrigue, background

Source Figure, by Robert Graham, foreground, We Stand Together, George Rodrigue, background

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favorite writers of all time. One Hundred Years of Solitude was a revelation when I read it decades ago – it is on my desert island list for sure. Love in the Time of Cholera might even be a better book, all around.

My love for his prodigious output of short fiction has never matched that of his epic novels, however. In small doses his Magic Realism (can this style of writing even be done in English? In an American settting?) feels overly precious to me – though his genius is evident even there.

Even though I love his work, if you tell me you can’t get into it… I’d have a hard time arguing. It’s not for everyone. Either it resonates with you or it doesn’t.

Today we have an early short story by him, Eyes of a Blue Dog (originally published in – you guessed it – the New Yorker in 1978). At first the story is confusing… What is going on here? It doesn’t take long to figure out we are in a dream, and the author does a good job of implying the odd geometry of a slumbering illusion.

There are two people in this dream, a man and a woman. They meet in dreams, but can’t connect in real life, because – even though the woman wants to find the man and goes around spreading the phrase “Eyes of a Blue Dog” as a clue to her whereabouts – he can’t remember anything once he wakes up.

It’s a concice example of loneliness. Even when we have found a kindred soul, our passion and hunger are doomed because of the mortal shell we are all trapped within. This theme of the human soul desolate and alone runs through all of his work – despite plenty of life-affirming, entertaining, and hopeful passages.

Now, next to the lamp, she was looking at me. I remembered that she had also looked at me in that way in the past, from that remote dream where I made the chair spin on its back legs and remained facing a strange woman with ashen eyes. It was in that dream that I asked her for the first time: “Who are you?” And she said to me: “I don’t remember.” I said to her: “But I think we’ve seen each other before.” And she said, indifferently: “I think I dreamed about you once, about this same room.” And I told her: “That’s it. I’m beginning to remember now.” And she said: “How strange. It’s certain that we’ve met in other dreams.”
—-Eyes of a Blue Dog, Gabriel Garcia Marquez