Thursday, April 9, 2009


How to describe this...ever have a dream which was filled with the sense that you were re-visiting somewhere from a past dream?  Not a recurring dream where the same basic idea plays out again, but one in which you "return" to a place that seems very familiar but which may not really have existed anywhere before.

Though I've been awake for a couple hours this morning, I am still filled with a clinging sense of weirdness from a dream that I had this morning shortly before I woke up. In the dream, Jeff and I were in a building in St. Louis that (in the dream's "back-story") I had scouted as a possible location for our restaurant but then had not pursued it. He was kind of teasing me over thinking it would have been a good spot for it, and I agreed that it wasn't in the best business district. The thing is, this building and its location in the city seemed so familiar, like a thing that was very well known to me for years and years. Now that I am awake, it still feels that way, but I am nearly certain now that this place does not exist in the real world and that I probably never even dreamed of it before either. It remains so vivid, however, that I feel that if I were in St. Louis right now, I could get in the car and drive to it...and then end up befuddled because I would have no idea where it is. Because it's not anywhere. It's not real.

Though I wish this particular dream would loosen its grip a bit, I really dig it when something cool as far as a place or a plot element reveals itself in a dream. My novel-in-progress (Neglected Project) started that way.  I had a vivid and rather scary dream in which I and a few other people were boarding a boat (about the size of a largish cabin cruiser) that had been waiting for us at a pier just off of a seaside boardwalk somewhere. It was night, raining, thundering.  Other people were pursuing us and shooting at us. We had guns also and were returning fire as we readied the boat for departure. In the boat's sleeping cabin, there was the body of a young man. Apparently we were stealing this body from the people who were pursuing us. There was a definite sense that the young man might have been a vampire of some sort. Sometimes when I looked at him, I could see a shimmering, vaporous column of eerie white light transfixing him through his heart. Someone else in the dream referred to him as strigoi, the word for the undead in (I think) Romanian. The gunfight proceeded, but we managed to cruise away from the dock and escape to sea. 

I got out of bed and immediately started writing what I intended to be a short story based on that dream. Like most of my attempts in recent years at short fiction, the story quickly got a lot larger than I had imagined and started to demand a novel-length treatment. In creating some characters for it, I found that I was re-inventing the Martian army from Really Neglected Project (co-written with Pat) so I decided that this new story could maybe be set in that same universe, perhaps a thousand years prior to the events of the other book. "Oh yeah!" I said to myself. "This gives me a chance to actually show what happened to Earth!" Which was an event in the distant past in the "later" novel. Of all the conceived-of novels rattling around my hard-drive and in my head, this is the one closest to being actually written, and I am sticking with it until it's done, even if another weird dream inspires a new one.

The accompanying image is taken from the artwork of the 1970s Bantam edition of Dhalgren. I've never read anything in which Delany describes what inspired that book, but the sheer weirdness of the city of Bellona, the mysterious unknown something that's happened to it, is so dream-like that I bet it did come from dream imagery. Actually, the very structure of the book is dream-like ("No end and no beginning," as Madonna once said in a song--I bet you will never find anywhere else in the whole wide web a comparison drawn between Dhalgren and "Like a Prayer!" Ridiculous!)

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D. D. said...

I have had that scenario many times. I am dreaming about being in a place where I have dreamt about before. I have memories in my dreams of the continuity of my experiences in prior dreams. Same city, same neighbor, same continuity of emotions but somewhere else down the timeline of my life there. I am convinced that during some periods of very deep sleep (especially drug or alcohol induced) our minds actually experience life in a different quantum reality. I hold to the Many-Worlds theory of Quantum Physics (That's how I conceived "The Hole That Max Found") which would easily explain this.

Christopher Fletcher said...

That's an excellent way to describe it: continuity of experiences in prior dreams, like there is another parallel life being lived somewhere else. Sometimes I am SO sure that I am really remembering something that happened before in that space, but it slips away during the waking hours. Weird.

D. D. said...

My dreams are mostly about roads not taken, or roads that I have made choices to get off of. Nice to know I can get an idea of what I DIDN'T get into! Now I don't have to wonder!


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