Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Dreams

Apologies, once again for the late and far apart posts. Not much has been happening, as usual. However, recently I have been having amazing conversations about dreams. Dreams have always been the fascination of many: including men like Freud. But this conversation wasn't exactly a systematization of dreams. It was more the awe and wonder with which we tend to perceive them. Dreams can be amazingly spectacular, can't they? So, well, once, over dinner I was talking with Gitanjali about how dreams seem perfectly real when we dream them, and how there is a perfect explanation for every impossibility. It has been quite a while since these amazing, spectacularly mind-blowing dreams have entered the labyrinth of my mind.
On an aside, did you know that the word 'amaze' seems to be the root of the word 'maze'? You would think it would be the other way around. 'Amaze' is an early 13th century word originating from (probably) the Old English word, 'amasian' which means "stupefy or make crazy", and the meaning "overwhelm with wonder" began to be used for the term around the 1590s. The word 'maze', on the other hand, began to be used about a century after the word 'amaze' and derives its root from the same Old English word as well. However, it originally meant "delusion or bewilderment" and the meaning of "labyrinth" was ascribed to it only in the late 14th century. [source: www.etymonline.com].
Back to what I was saying: it has been a while since I dreamt wild dreams. But recently I dreamt of an amazing concert hall with two tiers of steps, where one was used for walking and the other was the seating arrangement. It was perfectly normal that people could slide from one level to the next to find their seats. A concept which now flabbergasts me.
And then, yesterday, I saw a movie called Coraline. I am not too sure about how many of you would have watched it. It is an animated movie about a young girl who finds a doll that looks exactly like her. A bit of a background on the girl, Coraline: she is about ten years old, and her parents are bent upon a garden catalogue that they need to publish, and therefore do not spend time with her at all. The girl, though, misses them, and wants to have a happy life, but finds herself upset. She also sees a small doorway that is opened at night by a bunch of animated mice (they seem unreal even in the animation- like paper mice or something), and she sees an imitation of her world, except that the family seems perfectly happy. However, her mother and father have buttons for eyes, proving their non-reality. But they provide her with everything she needs- good food and a happy and loving home. And finally, they put her to sleep, and when she wakes up, she is in the world of 'reality'. However, that family seems to change as the days go by. They want Coraline to stay with them, and sew on buttons into her eyes, but she refuses. The story goes on along this line, until Coraline finds out that her family is trapped by the 'other mother' and she realises that she has to save them from that world. (the ending shall not be revealed, just in case you might want to watch it)
Well, the story is not exactly about the dream world, but it as well could be. The world opens to her only at night and when she wakes up, she finds herself back in her own home. That world is, at least initially, an ideal one. It posits an alternative that Coraline can take- the easy way out of reality. However, it becomes necessary for her to lock that world behind her to prevent it from spilling over into the world of reality- the one world in which she lives. If she does, then the confusion of worlds will become her madness. Does that not mean, then, that the spilling over of the dream world into that of reality will eventually give rise to madness?
Recently, even in class, we have been looking at women who go mad- surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), most women with dreams end up in a madness- and most of these women have a dream (now a dream is no longer the dream of the night, but the 'I have a dream' dream). Let us take Pecola from Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Pecola is a young girl who wants the bluest of blue eyes (since blue eyes signify a white face), and doesn't get it. After a series of various forms of abuse, she goes mad. But it is suggested toward the end, that a man 'gives' her blue eyes. She believes she has blue eyes, and she believes she has a friend (who is suggested to be imaginary). This is where her world of reality merges with her dream world (of pretty blue eyes) and she becomes crazy.
Then, there is the lady/wife in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, where a lady keeps staring at the walls, believing that no treatment can cure her (where her husband does not believe that she has any illness). Toward the end of the story, she finds her shadow walk out of the wallpaper into the evening and she locks herself inside, not letting her husband come in. She finally turns mad. Here, she believes that the wall paper is talking to her. She ascribes to it a reality that is not there (or do walls really talk?). But it is the dream that takes shape into a reality.
So, dreams become vicious then. It has become a recent aspect of literature and cinema. The mind and its multitude of pathways fascinate us, and we choose to attempt a study of it with the limited capacity of our brain. But literature, too, has means of studying the world without scientifically approaching it, and maybe that is what the world needs- a mixture of the scientific (with the connection of lobes to eyes attempting to figure out the causes of dreams) and the philosophical or metaphysical, as you choose to call it (attempting to create multiple worlds, like Inception manages to do and studying them by not studying them, if you get what I mean).
There is a thin line between the world of dreams and that of reality. We should tread carefully, or perish...