We dream; We have a map of the world

I noticed, today, to my surprise, that fall has come to Santa Cruz. There are big brown leaves on the ground. When the wind comes they float all around. Aside from that not much is different.

I’ve never been able to write stories. Junior year I thought I’d change all that and take a creative fiction class. I sat down with the first assignment:

Write 1 story. 6-10 pages.

I thought and I thought and I was full of ideas. But no stories. Just strange, broken bits of imagery. Scenes would come to me but no story. Words would come to me but no sentence. Just words words wodrs rwdos… I had started out full of hope:

When today’s story hits the news there will be a revolution. And it’s not about any war, or disaster, or miscarriage of information. Optical wires will sag with the weight of this revelation, from…

From… from…

Maybe that was enough build-up for something that doesn’t exist yet. I tried to find a new direction. I trained my eyes on a spot on the wall and waited for the colors to flow. But there was no next line. There was no story. I put on some inspirational music. I stood at the window and looked out. I changed my shirt, I laid down in bed. I took a shower and changed my shirt again and still nothing. Finally I write:

She received a box of chocolates the next day that opened up like a pack of cigarettes.

Wednesday night she swelled to the size of the world and brought rain to all the thirsty lands. This is a hopeless endeavor.

I decided to put it away and work on Junior Lab instead. A few days later I dropped the course (but saved the draft, haha). I told myself, I didn’t have any more time to waste. Besides, I really should wait to take it with Junot Diaz.

Really, though, it was my failure to even begin to coagulate a story.

It’s funny because I dream in much the same way. With complete lack of discipline. I’ve lucid dreamt only twice. Both times to wake up from something potentially scary. The second time was quite recently and informed by a strange thing. I woke up to a dark room. Sat up and flipped the light switch. Nothing. “I know this,” I thought. “This is from Waking Life. Light switches don’t work in dreams.” How strange the details that rise up like bubbles from deep in our brains. Where this had been stored up until then, I don’t know. I’d seen the movie once, three years ago.

So, knowing this, I woke up again. For real this time. Tried the light trick. Still nothing.


Other times, I have dreams that truly seem inspired by something. Once I dreamt of a bird tied to an awning by a string around its leg. Floating like a balloon. When I turned around it flew away and left a paper airplane in its place. In the same dream there was a seaplane with its engine turning. The drowning of a child, the sound was rushing. And when the tide came into the house that evening the animals came with it. With mouths full of water.

Last night, too, I dreamt of something truly novel, or so I thought. It was a movie put on by slits in a paper. A light is shown behind it and shadows cast onto the wall and every cut is an essential element of the story. When I woke up, with the sun in my eyes, I thought, “This is something truly novel and I’m glad to have dreamt it.”

A couple hours later, it hardly made any sense at all.

Two silhouettes - one


6 thoughts on “We dream; We have a map of the world

  1. rainjacket says:

    I had a vivid dream last night, I was in Las Vegas with Travis and had a conversation with the poker player Phil Ivey, then watched him play heads up against Vitaly Lunkin for the main event championship. There were like 40 spectator seats in folding chairs and only like 10 seats were taken for some reason. They were also using only one deck, I noticed they were using a really weird reshuffling convention where they didn’t shuffle the remaining deck from the previous hands and just sliced in the used cards. I had a conversation about the math of that with the dealer for 10 minutes, then I woke up.

    As for your dream, much of art is about the line between physical and abstract. The nice thing about dreaming is experiencing the abstract directly without it needing to be have been created by anything that actually exists.

  2. rainjacket says:

    I was really upset about waking up, it was my alarm clock. I wasn’t ready for the dream to end yet. I tried to continue it in my daydreams, but once awake I wasn’t powerful enough to keep it going, that dream really had a lot going on.

  3. Fatimah says:

    Nice post!

  4. Drew says:

    Hey, I found your blog from the MIT page, really weird since I’m from Santa Cruz too, enjoy reading your thoughts and musings. Keep up the good work!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Also, sorry for sort of imitating your theme and stuff, I just really liked it. You don’t have to aprove this, I just couldn’t think of another way to tell you. 🙂

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