Friday, January 28, 2011

The Dreaming Imagination

I've always dreamt, and often remembered the dreams, but recently its been different somehow. My dreams have been more vivid, more detailed, and I've often remembered them - through waking early - in immense detail. Rather than the detritus of the day, or a representation of my worries or anxieties, I'm beginning to think that my creative imagination is increasingly taking place whilst I'm asleep - pushed into that space by the prosaic pressures of every day. As I get older, I get less time, rather than more; things get harder, energy reduces.

Also, recently I've been away quite alot, and being in a different place seems to accentuate the dreaming imagination. The stimuli of new places, but also the attendant pressure on negotiating an unfamiliar space - and sometimes language - seems to make the waking day imagination-free zones, where all my mental abilities are concentrated on the every day. I know I'm not saying anything that many people haven't always faced; particularly parents of young children; but I guess I've always lived my life attempting some kind of psychic balance. I've enjoyed having the day-to-day stability of working, as well as having to; but I've also found at various points that the bit that gets squeezed out is your creativity, your art.

I was speaking to an artist friend in the week and he's recently gone back to working 4 days a week, after managing to get down to 3. And the economic necessity is one thing, but the art is what suffers, falls away. I sometimes think artists should be encouraged to have sabbaticals - three months here, a week there - rather than try and balance the necessary mundaneities of life with a regular "making." Yet our somewhat brutal economic world doesn't often allow that.

So I'm finding myself exhausted. Last week rushing off to Amsterdam with work, next week to Brussels. Such trips are enjoyable, and productive, but they also eat into one's everyday routines, take a chunk out of the week. Life you try and fit in and around things. There's a pay off - there's stimuli in travel, but you need time to reflect, to process. After my reading the week before last, I was mentally and physically exhausted.

My hotel in Amsterdam, Hotel Aalders, was on a street next to the Rijkksmuseum, and made out of two 1904 townhouses, merged into one. There I was on the top floor, and it was only on the second day that I realised there were two staircases in the building, rather than just one with two branches, like some real-life Escher. Amsterdam was wet and grey but grand nonetheless. The elegance of the city's streets always noticeable. Waking in the middle of the night, with rain pouring down outside, I'm not sure if I was a dream I began writing down, or simply an idea that had crystallised. In longhand I must have written between two and three thousand coherent words of a fully formed story before I fell back asleep. In my waking hours, I don't necessarily need to find the imagination to complete it, just the time...

1 comment:

Jason Crabtree said...

Sleep, and what the brain gets up to in that time, never fails to amaze. I spent two hours one evening trying to find a scrap of paper with an important note written on it - and failed. I woke up the next morning and went straight to the spot where I'd lodged it, as if led there.