Peter Buckley just sent me this article he wrote for us, and I feel it to be really powerful… read:
I wish to talk to you about dreams. I will try to resist sentimentality. Dreams are both beautiful and dangerous, and I want to demonstrate how they can be utterly pestilent, as well as a positive force that propels us through life, and writing.
I can discuss dreams with little reference to the “dreamer”, or “myself” – self-importance is futile in my case because I am not one of those “lucid dreamers” who possess the ability to control their dreams. My current project, “Peter and the Hare” requires me to evoke dreams, not entirely to the letter of the original inspiration, but, still, they are not “mine”. To say I “write” dreams would be like saying I lasso clouds. How can I claim ownership of something that only half-exists? And who creates the clouds? Writing for me is a collaborative effort.
The “something” that reveals itself to me in my writing is not particularly mysterious. It is always the same thing I am chasing, and that it remains a “something” hardly matters, as long as I have the desire and energy to chase it.
What I hope to produce is a body of work akin to a body of a centipede. This strange insect constantly grows extra legs and on those legs, more legs and more, more, more, until it dies or I do. Just to confuse things, the legs might not always be those of a centipede.
It is important for dreams to run free, yet to capture them we must impose rules, or make compromises. The most skilled writers can capture the energy of the original ‘dream’ while making it easy-to-read and accessible to others. You are writing with your readers, not against them. This is what I occasionally (and sometimes deliberately) forget…that centipede thing? What was that about?!?
“Peter and the Hare” is very experimental; please do not assume that I know what I am doing. The stories on my site are more like impressions, and it is up to the reader what impact they are allowed to make. The overall effect is anarchy. It’s a playground, but one I take seriously. It’s also just a place I put my stuff.
The fact that it’s a weblog affects the content. The internet is insane, uncontrollable – it can make us more intelligent or more ignorant. It can broaden our horizons, or expose us to unhelpful ideas. It feeds us this exhilarating white-noise. I’m hoping “The Hare” will confuse, shock, and entertain in equal measure – just as dreams do, and the internet itself is a dream.
If my blog is about anything, (and I want it to go anywhere, and be “…about anything”) it’s reality. So in an article about dreams, I should say something about reality. But reality can not necessarily be singled out as a “thing” separate from dreams. And dreams are real enough.
The whimsicality of dreaming can be seen in my work’s humorous elements. Laughing is better than crying, they say, and I laugh a lot. I’m not sure what “their” stance is on doing both at the same time, so I’ll assume that’s ok too.
I’ll reproduce some of my poem, Bubble, here – one of my worst poems (!) but it might at least demonstrate a point. The full text is here:
“When you live inside a bubble
the archway of the stars
becomes the pattern of the ceiling.
The edges of each table-leg
are softened with used teabags
that stain the carpet mahogany brown,
and the stain lingers perpetually.
you’ll be asleep
most of the time
and become proficient in dreaming.”
This character is trapped in a dream. Is he fortunate, or is he to be pitied? The most un-clichéd answer is “neither”, but even that’s been worn-out.
Dreaming = escape, and this is wonderful. But it can also take its toll. Firstly, it demands dedication – the dream will always demand “completion”. My characters often seem blinded by their dreams. “The Hare” is the most habitual dreamer – he can hop from world to world, and doesn’t seem troubled by this destiny. Conversely, there is Dmitri, a comedy-Russian stereotype I have a lot of fun with. Dmitri is a realist who has seen too much to dream. He dislikes dreamers. In the middle of this are a cast of anonymous people, who stage dreamlike conversations. It’s not clear when or where they are happening, and it doesn’t matter. What emerges from conversations such as “It Takes a Train to Laugh…” and “In England, We Say Toilet…” is the pain of dreaming; dreaming breeds loneliness, delusion, an inability, (even unwillingness) to communicate. Perhaps I feel guilty about dreaming and about creating, for as long as we each build our own castles, there will be wars.
“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can play together all night.” – Bill Watterson
But we can deal with dreams in two ways – they’re both disposable and essential, because things can be simultaneously insightful and very, very silly. These “in-flight movies” can teach us to wander through life with a sense of humour. Confusion need not be a source of angst, but something to be embraced; a coping strategy that gives us hope.