27 Sep


“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”, 1797-99
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes

In dreams I walk with you. Dream a little dream of me. Dream, dream, dream that I want you. Mr Sandman, send me a dream. I’m dreaming my life away.

All animals dream, save echidnas or some such. Cats dream of being bigger, hunting people they don’t like. Dogs dream the boss throws the stick all day, lets ’em eat at the table like everyone else. It’s the purist nonsense that you know in your heart to be true: there is a place called the Dreaming. We go there every day.

It is the place you long for, it’s a place you should fear. It’s the reason we must be rational, be virtuous, be noble. It’s where we got the idea. Somewhere in the everywhere and nowhere land of dreaming is a grotto perhaps: a face, a melody, a tree. Somewhere there is some thing or some body that is the reason you are glad to be alive even if you forget it when you wake up.

We have language so our dreams are tapestry. Endless kaleidoscope arcs and loops of crazy story; crazy pictures. Tales from the place where sailors go, stories from the skerries of Nightmare. The speeches of Hell. The songs of Paradise. But the Dreaming is not mere escapist fantasy. Tho’ a feedback loop effect obtains, superhero movies come from dreams not the other way around. From dreams, the truth that things are not as they appear. Not entirely. From words, the ability to articulate this; from hands, the ability to mark it down on walls and trees and skin.

Dreams come to us, it’s writ, thru one of two gates: that of ivory, that of horns. Most of our dreams come thru the gate of ivory. These are piffle. Frivolous wish fulfillment: sex fantasies, money fantasies, food fantasies. Greedy monkeys getting everything they want in la-la land. I’m glad I forget most of my dreams. But the dreams that enter the world thru the gates of horn bear the truth somehow. To them attention must be paid. I’ve had such dreams and can still recollect their imagery, their feel. What prophecy was contained therein? What revelations born? Shall we subject them to the cold hard light of Reason and see?

There are those reading this I know to be hostile to superstition. They know the mothers of fear are people who take dreams seriously. Indeed, I have some years now associated with stern fact, confronting the world’s unpleasantness and inconveniences. I have tried to see without sentiment the way things really are, what’s really going on. How far my gaze has penetrated and what utility was born of it remains to be seen. But underneath all this lies a dream that I know to be dangerous. How many revolutionaries have made a friend of Horror pursuing this dream? How many millions were stripped of dignity and life to fulfill it?

Francisco was right. The sleep of reason is monstrous. It breeds monsters and nihilists. I have been a nihilist. Was I a monster? Life was monstrous.

I am no longer a nihilist. I know what I believe and that what I believe is no-one else’s business or obligation. I have dreams that are the most real things in the world. Dreams of creation, dreams of love. Dreams of God. They are too big to be ignored and so are nothing if nothing physical manifests in consequence. If not, they must be discarded, killed.

Kill them all! say my Lords of Utility. “Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts”. The groans of the world are the offspring of Fancy.

This is the truth and I know it, regardless of facts: you must wake up. And when you wake up you must take these dreams and make them whole. But only if something whole and good may come of them. If not, if they are immaterial or destructive; if they are facile, a tower in a sand castle, then you must ignore them. You must fight them, you must win the victory over yourself. Nothing comes of nothing. And if nothing comes of your dreams they are nothing. And if your dreams are nothing what are you?


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