You have got it the wrong way round.
Your writing can wait but your dreams cannot
because they come unsolicited from within
and point urgently to the way you must go."
I had been working on a difficult scene of the new novel.
It's a scene of much conflict & potential violence
among a number of male characters. I believed there
had to be some kind of violent act to make it true & satisfying.
There was a gun in the scene. I struggled with it and
worked on it, trusting that my method of gradually peeling &
developing & observing details would pay off, but I was stumped.
I didnt see how any of the obvious physical violent
acts, on purpose or by accident, would be true, advance the story,
or reveal more of the soul of the main guy.
I thought somehow that blood should be spilled,
and even considered somehow the ghost could
leave her blood somehow somewhere, but nothing made
sense or clicked.
The main character is in the center of this knot of conflicts.
He has been obsessed with something called The Tears Project.
He feels responsible for starting the conflict at hand
& for resolving it.
I definitely wanted the ghost to play a part in the scene & in
shaping the violence that the scene seemed to demand,
but I didnt want the main character
to be passive if the ghost did intervene.
Then I had a dream where I decided to kill myself.
I had decided that I was going to die anyway
& that I should kill myself and die now
so that I wouldnt have to worry about dying & death anymore.
The method of suicide was to cut myself across the arteries at the tops
of my legs. (Let me tell you, I have NO suicidal impulses these days &
if I ever did, CUTTING would be THE LAST way I would ever do it, just
to assure you.)
So in the dream I cut myself on both legs.
Immediately afterwards I changed my mind.
I thought, Oh oh I better do something about these cuts quick.
Then I noticed I wasnt bleeding AT ALL.
I calmly studied the cuts, kind of opening them, one in particular,
which was like six inches long and a quarter inch deep
but not a drop of blood. Moist, but no blood.
I peeled the cut open and was looking into it when I woke up.
My first thought was Wow I'm glad that was a dream.
Then I thought What the hell was it about,
especially because I was not feeling bad at all about my life.
I considered a couple blatant Freudian possibilities,
though Jung is more my man. There was the castration angle,
six inch cuts, moist flaps.
I let it stew.
I wondered mostly about how there was no blood.
Then I thought about the nature of the skin when I peeled it open.
I tried to remember exactly what I had SEEN in the dream.
It reminded me of how the eye itself appears right where
you pull the skin under the eye away from the eyeball--
that's how the wound looked in the dream.
I was writing later & recalled the dream and saw
that it had given me the solution to the scene.
The main guy would spontaneously burst into tears, unashamedly,
in the midst of all this harsh male threat of violence,
and that's what would stop the building violent tension,
shock the others out of their robotic march to destruction,
and it would change everything instantly.
His weeping would be more violent than a gun going off.
And that is how the ghost intervened, by somehow getting in him,
tapping into his unexpressed grief for her,
and leading to his passionate weeping
in the midst of this all-male scene of much macho energy
ready to boil over, even though he has little idea
why he is crying, and believes
it is not merely fear or cowardice.
Of course this act of weeping brings mockery from the others,
related to not acting like a man,
so perhaps both Freud & Jung were both right on this one.
More Jung on dreams:
"The dream is a little hidden door
in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul,
opening into that cosmic night which was psyche
long before there was any ego consciousness,
and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego consciousness
extends.... All consciousness separates; but in dreams
we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man
dwelling in the darkness of primordial night.
There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him,
indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood.
It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises,
be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral."
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"You tell me you have had many dreams lately but have been too busy with your writing to pay attention to them.
You have got it the wrong way round.