Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), The Dream (1910). Museum of Modern Art, New York (Source: WebMuseum, Paris: http://www.ibiblio.org).

Much has been researched in the last almost three hundred years about dreams and dreaming, yet, we still do not know where we go when we dream.
Looking at early, biblical accounts of dreams in the history of dreams, we see their images and interpretations to be of another world outside the one we experience with our day-to-day senses.
See Jacob’s dream during his flight from his brother Esau:

Michael Leopold Lukas Willmann (1630-1706 ), Die Engelsleiter (Jacob’s Ladder), ca. 1681 (Source: Wikipedia).

In Willmann’s imagination there is more of a sense of the above, whereas Blake keeps closer to the biblical text and gives us much of  the up and downward movement, but then, Willmann is a man of the Baroque with its heavenly glance and Blake the mystical-romantic of metaphysical union:

William Blake (1757-1827), Jacob’s Ladder (ca. 1800) British Museum, London (Source: Wikipedia).

The idea is that of a world we can access, once we have, in a manner of speaking, taken leave of our senses – shutting down while opening up, opening up while shutting down.

Leo and Anni in Cape Town’s  Two Oceans Aquarium.
Do fish dream? And if – where do they go?

REM (rapid eye movement) phases have been observed in Dolphins, so, they might dream. What about trees then and other organic matter?
If it sounds absurd, halt for a moment and consider how all forms of life on earth, if not the universe, are in infinitely complex ways interconnected.
If the dream, with Gérard de Nerval’s first line of his Aurélia, is a second life, and if that other life is outside the bounds of our quotidian consciousness, then it is possible to think that instead of rising up we might sink into a different realm of depths in space and time. Not necessarily parallel universes but places that we are connected to, yet cannot access without the loss or powering down of our faculties, which are harmonised and optimised to run the affairs of our daily life.
To let go of those strong forces that for good reasons, hold us here, we need to sleep; as Hamlet is contemplating:

                                                             … To die to sleep,/
To sleep, perchance to Dream;
  Aye, there’s the rub, /
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,/
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,/
Must give us pause.
(First folio text of 1623)

– a drastic contemplation of letting go for good.
Where, however, do we go in our dreams, from where we do return?

Namib desert after a series of rainstorms.

The desert is such a place outside the bounds of day-to-day living. Or the ocean, source of all life on earth.

False Bay. Cape Peninsula.

will we all
be able travelling
outside the bounds
of earth’s gravitational field,
widening the scope
of our daily experiences.
In dreaming then
we deeper plumb this depth
of nourishment for our confidences.
our wildest

 Much of our ordinary self slips into our dreams – projections, suppressions, wishes and dreads. Yet, while therein bound, we are freed to live another, second life.  In dreaming we re-connect to all living matter on this planet and beyond. That is our ultimate freedom. And paraphrasing Jean-Jacques Roussseau’s 1762 opening dictum in his “Social Contract”: Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains: Man is born in chains but finds himself everywhere free to dream.

Coastal road near Rooiels. 

With love as always
Walter & Colleen
Betty’s Bay
Friday, 10 May 2013

One thought on “Dreaming”

  1. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s
    the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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