Don’t talk to me about journeys to the Underworld. I think of myself as one of those people who doesn’t dream. Oh, sure, ‘Everybody dreams!’ they say, with a knowing smile, ‘it’s just that some of us remember them’.
They tell me this stuff, these people who remember all their serial incarnations. Seriously, they emerge into our daily world from some curious realm that reacts directly to their thought, and calmly step into this entirely different reality – finding me haggard, hung-over, habitual – and they seem neither excited nor scared. Why? Because they not only remember their dream interludes but they also remember their continuity from the day before. Despite all the picaresque adventures of their nights, they seriously rejoin this apparently stable place I call ‘reality’ with quiet resignation. Maybe their consciousness is virtually continuous.
I can go no further. At this point I feel blind. When I finally shut my eyes I drift awhile then I vanish into the black – not for an eternity because as soon as I open my eyes again the world continues. It often seems as if no time had passed. When I felt frightened of the following day I used to stay up – waking hours last longer – if I fell asleep then OPENED my eyes I would face the feared morning (oh, I don’t know, dentist, exam, interview, opening night). And yes of course, sometimes the anticipation felt great – how do you think I ever let go into sleep then OPENED my eyes to another day?
But here I just refer to the good days. After all, I often seem to only get sixteen hours daily life to many other people’s twenty-four. So I get a bit behind having to do my dreaming in the daytime – pressure on – but then again, I don’t have nightmares, I guess (how would I know?)
They’ve done tests. It appears that sleep deprivation alone doesn’t make a human hallucinate in the waking state, but the deprivation of dreams does. So, imagine – me with no dreams, no surrealism, no lucidity, no monsters or jump-cuts, zooms or eternities, always stuck with gravity, and hunger and life-threatening situations that are REAL goddamit, how do you think I feel when I open my eyes to the same old world, still, without a break.
At the breakfast table the jet-setters come in with their travellers’ tales of mythic adventure in lucid dreams. Me, I feel like I haven’t slept (I often feel like I haven’t slept – sleeping often seems about as refreshing as blinking). Anyway, my ‘real, one and only’ world has to incorporate any fun I might get, and for sure it contains some problems I’ll have to confront – dead subtle, too, some of them.
Dream rememberers often appear refreshed by their dimensional vacation (though sometimes they report getting stuck at some psychic airport), and they also remember what they were doing in real time yesterday, and why – so they may well have a script and plan for the day ahead, as they move smoothly back to take up where they left off.
What I call sleep is like the black bar between the frames of a movie. Normally (awake) we don’t see it, but when someone like me slows down into sleep it takes an age (a split second) to cross that line. Many mornings it goes as smooth as a flicker book – next image, next day. Just some days I cross the line and it’s a CUT to another scene entirely – sure, there’s probably a connection, some editing gets real suggestive, but there are shock cuts, like coming round and finding someone tied you to a chair and a light shines in your eyes.
Oh, sure. Call me hero. ‘Talk! ‘ they said. I can’t talk after I wake up until I have had at least three cups of coffee, some days. At 150 milligrammes per cup I must use a gramme a day. A gramme of caffeine.
It keeps me in the awake world – better the frame you know than the one coming up. Funny that, most people think coffee speeds things up, and I take it to stay awake and get more time in the same frame.
– somebody slugged me
– They put something in my drink
– what happened?
– It all happened so quickly
I find myself back again – seeing if I can figure out a sequence to this movie or find out if the cuts have a logic or merely a careless randomness to them?
Each morning I struggle to piece together what I remember of the time before the last blackout. With a continuous memory of previous frames I might have a chance to pick up a theme, at least – some kind of order apart from mere habitual days, another page of the book, semi-coherent action flickering by (or at least the image of it.) No abruptness interrupts my days.
I find belongings, sometimes, and notes to myself, when I wake up alone and I’m not tied to a chair or whatever. I have no idea what they mean, beyond what they say.