18/11/2021 0 Comments
On dreams and poetry
It tells us something about poetry perhaps that when we need to talk to ourselves about something we don't know we know, we need to tell it to ourselves when we are asleep, in images we struggle to remember when we awake, that take some interpretation, sometimes comically obvious, sometimes strangely oblique, and often taking more than one reading to fully understand, often revealing their full meaning only in relation to other images and dreams. I dreamed recently about living with a large indoor pool, more of a pond, but with, I think, a wall around it, about waist-height, in which a large fish was swimming. I wasn't sure how to care for this fish but it seemed to rise up happily enough for cat biscuits. And then a lizard, emerald green, amphibious, emerged out of the water and climbed onto a tree and from there onto my finger. I woke up with a sense of resonant possibility, a feeling of hope. It is a dream I understood, afterwards, in relation to the dreams I used to have about looking after mice, and I wondered what it meant to have moved from dreaming about furry animals, that I kept in cages, to swimming animals, that came to me from out of the water, and I read it in terms of the association I have made between my dreams about mice and my writing practice, an association I have made ever since reading about Karl Stead's interpretation of a recurring dream about feeding hens as a dream about creativity. It was a shift to cold-bloodedness, perhaps, but surely more significantly a shift towards fluidity, and movement? For some time I haven't been writing here, while I have been in pain, but I have a page of notes made recently of thoughts, things to think on, and one note was "dreams - photography," and I remembered, with a struggle, another dream, in which I was in conversation with, or in a relation with, a photographer, who had been photographing a series of traumatic scenes, perhaps from his own life, a series of photographs both terrible and beautiful. But, before he could exhibit them, before he could even print them, he exposed all the film, and all the images were lost. Now, he wondered, did he have to go through everything again, re-enact the scenes, in order to recreate the images? How strange - my notes read, "a dream about repression," but what does it mean that the images were exposed to light? I read it, on first waking, in terms of the destruction - "lost/destroyed the film" is what I'd written then, "exposed all the film" is what I have written here, "accidentally" I even considered inserting, but now I am rationalising, revising, perhaps repressing the significance of the original dream (film I began to write), in which it was an act of destruction, which meant everything would have to be replayed. (There is something interesting to think about, when thinking about photography, in the way exposing film before it is developed is how the images, the recordings, are lost.) In any case, it made me think again about the pool of water that the dream fish inhabited and the dream lizard climbed out of, and its relation, perhaps, to the pool of grief I find at the centre of myself, that I have been working to release as I work to release the pain I have felt in the body, and offers a further interpretation of the dream, if it is read, poetically, as a dream about writing, as observing the possibilities there are in writing out of grief. "Thought stalls on an event it cannot bear to contemplate, can go no further," Jacqueline Rose wrote in her book On Not Being Able to Sleep. "The task of psychoanalysis is not so much to undo forgetting, but to put poetry back in the mind." But/and the task of poetry, as it writes itself in dreams, is to do the task of psychoanalysis - it is a kind of clambering upwards.
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