October 14th, 2012
The creative act I am reflecting upon is a poem I wrote about the permeability of dreams, and a concept that perhaps dreamers can enter those of another. When a vivid, lucid dream comes to me, I often find myself faced with a person I know in the conscious world. A friend, family member or even someone I had only met once – perhaps at a party. These people behave with lifelike mannerisms, speaking how they would in person, thinking and responding, so that it truly seems as if they have passed the boundaries of my resting mind, and found themselves in my dream – or perhaps, I have fond myself in theirs.
In her Skype lecture, Dr. Alice Flaherty responded to a question from the auditorium which asked if there was a neurological connection between dreams and creativity. Dr. Flaherty said that dreams were essentially all the garbage of the mind, thrown together haphazardly and voided by the brain in sleep, therefore non-creative. In a later workshop, a majority of students polled said that they derived inspiration for various creative acts from dreams. If dreams are nothing more than garbage, it would stand to reason that when the refuse is pulled together, polished, refined and put to a medium it becomes a beautiful form of recycled creativity. In the mind all along, it simply needed to be exposed. However if there is no rational in dreams, how then would such detailed human-beings be able to present themselves in another’s dream. If they were just the random, collected thoughts there would be no coherence, when in fact these individuals seem to be quite comprehensible; often in my personal experience offering unique wisdom or perspective on issues that I had been struggling through in my conscious state.
Our first lecturer, Dr. Oded Lowenheim spoke of the book he was in the process of writing, The Politics of the Trail: Reflexive Mountain Biking Along the Frontier of Jerusalem. The particular excerpt he read aloud was of a dream he had; detailed; revealing in an alarming way the stranglehold the Israeli military still held on him, though he had long since completed his mandatory service. Entering a network of caves, Dr. Lowenheim found himself faced by a desk with three Israeli soldiers. Dr. Lowenheim described the young soldier, a corporal and an aging Colonel with near photorealistic detail. Perhaps it is the skill of a talented prose writer to create lifelike characters, but he did not explain it as such. These were three people with beliefs, judgments, thoughts and individual actions of their own. As flesh and blood in their own mind as he was in his.
The two perspectives on dreams the doctors revealed are engaging models by which to examine my creative act. I began the poem from a BBC article headline entitled “Space ambitions shrink in scale”, using it as a prompt from which to construct the rest of the poem, which would have been impossible to write for me had I subscribed to Dr. Flaherty’s proposal that dreams were rather meaningless, as I find it very difficult to create something I do not believe in. Each image, metaphor and connection drawn with words was as crucial and conceivable as the next, they needed to be in order to formulate the theory in poetic verse. Dr. Lowenheim’s conviction in the power of dreams for introspection, which he displayed during the lecture that took place before the assignment of the creative act, inspired my poem considerably. To me, all poetry is a form of self-reflection, and equally so are dreams and their interpretation. This was the notion which propelled my creative act along the striae of the page, as I toyed with the concept of an abstract opening in the mind that lets in a collective consciousness of others, an external source of creativity. It certainly felt as such when I wrote the poem, as if a muse guided my pen through the raw draft.