My dreams in this flat are crazy. Jack blames the sheets. Both of us wake up sweating in the night even though we have both switched off our heaters. The cotton sheets soak us to the bone. My Primark Bugs Bunny onesie is all very well, but it’s made out of polydeathylene so if I’m going to wear it I have to open the door to the balcony which breaks the seal and wakes me with kids shouting by my ear. We are next to the university. The bulk of my sleep is on the edge of proper rest, with buzzing and ticking. My mind goes to strange places as I fitfully slumber. This morning I was clinging to the feet of a fire belching gargantuan Godzilla type horror as I jolted warmly into wakefulness. I have vague lucidity in dream, so I had compromised on clinging to its feet when the dream was trying to smush me. I remember finding great beauty watching the city burn on purpose. It’s often me versus my dream, but I can always magic safety.
Our imaginations are so powerful. We can create worlds in our sleep that are more detailed and complex than the worlds we allow ourselves to create in the day. Our dreams don’t care for logic. They are about ideas, image, colour and shape. They break the rules. And so we should when we are awake. My work feeds into this at the moment. Scrooge, surrounded by the names of people that owe him money, like a fat spider at the heart of a web of debt. Of course he wouldn’t have the names written up visibly on a big chalkboard all around his parlour. But how lovely and weird that he does. And people buy into the dream. When they realise I’ll make up a story for any of them, they start to ask again and again. “What about Chalvington Belk?” And it’s fun to talk about current affairs through the prism of these names.
Our imagination has edges based on the things we have consumed. As a child I voraciously read. At 10 I was in Earthsea. At 11 I’d finished Tolkein down to The Lays of Beleriand. If JK Rowling had been around I’d have bitten her hand off, the absolute legend that she is for fat books that kids read. She’s Ursula le Guin for a wider audience, even if nothing will ever beat Earthsea for me. But I was consuming hard and fast and it made my dreams insane. I was burning through Narnia at 8. My parents couldn’t keep up and were spending so much money on books. I don’t remember not being able to read. I do remember getting slightly passive aggressive with my teachers when they wanted me to read “Ted goes to the beach” out loud.
Reading was a huge part of my downtime. I’ve covered a wide pantechnicon. But I’m not reading like I used to.
I remember when my mum stopped reading books I started worrying. I started buying her books I loved. I even bought her The Fountainhead… (She loved the doctrine of the individual, and creativity. She subscribed to The Daily Mail. Ayn Rand is a great example of right wing libertarianism in story.)
I haven’t bought that Kindle yet, but I can’t wake up in the morning and start with these constant articles about Trump or Brexit, even reduced into video form now. These affairs are nothing in the context of history, of the world, of the dreamlike capabilities of our endless imaginations. I’m going back to words. I have to. We learn more from history than we do from now. Now is flow, as we all try to adapt, affect and comprehend. We can learn from people with similar concerns but different contexts. I will buy a kindle tomorrow. I’ll probably start with Earthsea again, but you beautiful regular readers – throw me your favourite books.
And yeah. Perhaps Jack and his Kindle is my inspiration. Just perhaps I’ll allow that he’s affected my thinking. Maybe… Harrumph.