I had this great dream last night that was half of a nightmare. It involved an old Victorian or Edwardian house, with stained and polished mahogany floors, stairs, and banister, and an investigation into paranormal activity. We’d leave a room, and the furniture would move on its own — at one point, shifting as violently as lawn chairs on the deck of a cruise ship in heavy seas.
It was fairly frightening, until I remembered that I was dreaming and I had some control over whether the ghosts were hostile or in need of help.
And then after I’d left that house, I walked up the path to another building that seemed familiar. It was a duplex, and as it turned out (in the dream), one in which I’d lived before but didn’t remember having lived there. It was as though my experience of living in this split-level with a big round window by the front door had been erased and was being reformed in my memory as I toured the dwelling. And I realized that the adjoining residence was also haunted. I wanted to explore more but suddenly my husband was pointing out that we had overslept by nearly 30 minutes and I had to get moving . . .
I think there is something to the idea that the dream world is as real as the one we wake up to after our sleep. Sometimes I picture the world I go into as a map, especially considering that I tend to find myself in the same locations, though in a generally random way: Long, winding highways along which I am either driving (until I realize I am trying to steer and brake while sitting in the back seat or passenger side), riding a bike, or walking; the second-floor apartment my hubby and I lived in during university; rural farm areas connected to a house in Honeywood, Ontario where I lived when I was 13; certain streets in Orillia, Peterborough, Toronto, and places I’ve never been or that don’t exist, like archipelagoes with volcanoes, razor-edged mountains, train stations linked to canal-lined streets next to waterfalls and grottoes. It’s always so frustrating to leave these places, and the characters who inhabit them — as frustrating as my own self changing character within the dream. The Incredible Morphing Human.
There was a great Wim Wenders movie I watched once with William Hurt and Solveig Dommartin, called Until the End of the World (1991). It was a fascinating futuristic / apocalyptic yarn about a woman — Claire — who accidentally gets involved with a man who has invented a way for the blind to see. The apparatus is very much like the Oculus Rift, actually. At the same time that she is on this journey, a weapons satellite goes rogue and various populations of the earth are on the move, evacuating cities in the hopes of surviving its impact (should it hit near this place or that). So this couple end up seeking shelter in a cave in the Australian outback, and they discover that the apparatus he’s invented not only records images for the blind to be able to see — it also records dreams. And they learn that being able to record and watch your own dreams becomes addictive. Claire in particular gets hooked on the need to watch her dreams, studying the images that her subconscious mind produces and trying to determine what they mean. To me, that is very relatable. Imagine if we could record what our heads come up with while we rest, in perfect detail.
I envy artists who are able to render their dreams in the colour and shape with which they were formed. Pictures speak more eloquently than words, especially if the images are fragmented after we’ve awakened. I’m left with a scattering of ideas of that damned haunted house, pictures that may solidify themselves right when I’m about to fall asleep again.