Surrealist Dreamscapes

I don’t sleep much, but when I do, I do it very, very well. I’m a championship sleeper. And a world class dreamer.

When I reflect on particularly vivid, memorable dreams I’ve had throughout my life, what usually sticks with me is a sense of place, not the things that happen in the dream, nor the people to whom they happen. My dream plots are always notoriously surreal, fragmented and scattershot. But my dream locations, my dreamscapes, are often well-realized, if improbable. There are certain dreamscapes that registered as totally, convincingly real to me at the time I dreamed them, and have since archived themselves into my brain as if they were places I’ve actually visited while awake.

The oldest dream that I can still remember having had, and then intellectually processing later when I was awake, occurred when I lived in New Jersey. I was somewhere between three and six years old at the time. It was set in a scary old house that I saw in black and white in the dream, very Addams Family, except real scary, not funny scary. There were severed heads that rolled around the floor under their own power, back and forth, back and forth.

Another lingering dream from that early childhood period featured a dirt path, with woods on one side and a wire fence on the other, and a high speed highway roaring by on the other side of the fence. I dreamed a friend stuck his head through the fence, and in probable response to the way that parents of that era would say “You’re going to split your head open if you keep doing that,” a car did indeed split his head open, a clean seam, right down the middle. He was fine, otherwise, except that his head was split right down the middle. I remember how he looked with his head split open, but I remember even more how the path, fence, road and woods looked around him.

Then there’s the mysterious bubble room from some years later, a very Grecian looking room filled to about chest level with bubbles. And there’s the pink country, a warm outdoor location, very comfortable and inviting, with patio furniture and buildings that were almost all in varying shades of pink. And another path through the woods, this one with a creek alongside it, a little rural oasis between two very large, developed, bustling cities, a secret trail between them. I remember specifically getting muddy on that path, and wondering if the people in cities would know where the mud came from. I didn’t want them to know.

Then there’s a spot that has appeared in multiple dreams over the years: a very high, rocky, forested crest that has paths that lead up one side to it, and a road that leads up the other. In dreams, I’m usually knowledgeable of the knotted series of paths, and am taking one, while cataloging the others in my head (I like maps, that’s probably why). One variant of this location has the main road on a high thin ridge, while I chart and navigate the paths up the sides of the ridge. Another is sort of a circular version of the same, winding in curved paths, ever upward, to the high point, which I never quite seem to reach, although I know what it looks like, and know in the dream that I’ve been there before.

I keep waiting for the day when I turn a corner unexpectedly and see one of these places in the real world, the ultimate deja vu, knowing my way around a place I’ve never been. I record some of the most vivid dreams just to help me remember those places. Maybe I will share them. Maybe you will know where they are. Other than in my head, I mean.

5 thoughts on “Surrealist Dreamscapes

  1. Interesting that TV was in our dreams. My earliest nightmares that I can remember were that Robot from Lost In Space was coming to get me — which of course led to a ban on my watching what was my favorite show. (The genesis of the nightmare was the incredible clanking gas furnace in our basement, which looked more like a malevolent Iron Giant than Robot, but made scary noises through the flues all night long.)

  2. There’s clearly a reason for the setting — or the dreamscape, as you call it — being memorable in your dreams. Perhaps you gain a sense of perspective, a greater context, from the details of the scene. Without them, maybe you wouldn’t feel “rooted” … and thus, the dreams may quickly escape from your memory.

    I too often root myself in the surroundings of my dreams. I have a recurring dream that is based in my old home, which was located at the base of a hill. I can smell the sagebrush, feel the textures of the trees and landscape, hear the sounds of the birds. This dream is particularly memorable because of how involved my senses are.

    I think we’re lucky to have this level of vivid introspection. Though if I were you, I could do without the guy with the head split in half…

    • I agree 100% about the focus on the dreamscape being key to dream recall, that’s a great insight. When I have a handle on the complete sensory experience within the dream, my ability to hang on to plot lines long enough to record expands dramatically.

      When I was writing poetry more often, I used to go straight from bed to computer regularly to record words and imagery from the dream-state . . . what I consider to be the best poem I ever wrote came from inside my head that way: http://indiealbany.com/2010/09/08/jefferson-water/

      Sometimes, though, the plot lines too complex to create poetry, so they required story-telling instead . . . http://indiealbany.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/sd12.pdf

      So here’s hoping that the Big Fat Poop Wedding does NOT become a recurring theme and scene for you!!!

  3. I always have fun analysing the dreams of Mrs Dim, but it sounds like you have quite a handle on your internal landscape. I’m envious of folk who remember their dreams – mine slip away as day breaks, leaving a real sense of loss and dislocation. But it looks like yourds are a good source of inspiration for you, and you express them beautifully.

    • Thanks for kind comment . . . I enjoyed the follow back to your secret blog, especially the bits about (shhhhhhhh . . . ) Canada. I’ve added you to the blog roll over there (pointing in rightward and downward direction), and look forward to reading more.

      Just so you know, though, we have a paid informant from Saskatchewan (easy to draw, hard to spell) here at Indie Albany, so we’re wise to your Upper Canadidian kind here at Indie Albany, what with all of your hockey talk and your shale oil fortified beer . . .

      So you’re welcome here, just as long as you don’t try to recruit our children and make them into Upper Canadidians too . . .

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