Much of my early experimentation with dreaming is beyond the reach of my memory.
Memory is a mark and those marks have become faded, often I’m reading the impression left on the second page. I’ve reordered my being so many times since and suffered through the process of becoming, the rigors of painful individuation, dark nights of the soul, that earlier persons have rubbed away.
I can recall, if only through a charcoal rubbing—impressions of an early technique. Happened upon quite by accident, I was desperate for decent sleep—and the standard breathing exercises just would not do. By inclination or clinamen, I came to decide that I should experiment until I might will myself to bed. Holding still, I would focus first on my extremities, toes and soles, and force them to ‘relax.’ What ‘relax’ meant then, was focusing on them and voluntarily annealing all tension in them, until identification with that part of my body, my homoculi, fell away. I would ascend my body, moving through my legs, my knees, my thighs, then fingers, hands, wrists… all while lying perfectly still. Finer clines were take across the body as the method repeated, but crude generalizations were found to be useful. At the end of this process, I found myself at an odd place of near sleep. Induced paralysis, that was associated with a pulsing warmness, that could be drawn out for hours or slipped past without much mind.
These were taken as hallmarks of entry into an altered world outside this one, a place populated with entities unlike ourselves and planes of existence each with their own strange character. It felt as if one could carve out a space and make a home here. One’s own reality, where one could rule as a God-King, and such realities were indulged in my misspent youth. But what was more interesting, were the worlds I did not make, the one’s that were made by some other, or were never made at all.
Before landing near some unknown star, there were rites of initiation. Unavoidable first steps as one learns to move in worlds that do not share the character of our universe. One of the most noticeably absent properties is that of a metric. A way to say there is a distance from here to there, though not necessarily that there is not a distance from here to there. Steps—that cannot be taken with a meter as a walking stick. This stunted movement can prove difficult at first, if one only knows how to move by putting one foot in front of the other. When there is no continuum, one leaps like Zeno, in bursts from here to there. A point viewed must be here and then you’re there. It’s inspired a fantasy and I’ve often found myself dreaming, staring at some distant hill and wanting to suddenly find myself there—a kefitzat haderech, a contraction of the way.
While assuming this posture, one begins to feel as if one is floating, disconnected from the bed they’re lying in. The body has been so relaxed, so removed from it’s normal identification that the sense data has been habituated, removed from input. This floating leads to flight in the most peculiar manner. Unlike the gliding one normally achieves in dreaming, this flight is accomplished by some strange pumping of the limbs… like a child on a swing. It produces a leaping—to a height that can be maintained by this motion and one can rise only by insistence, will, and this rigorous ‘rowing.’ The limitations on how high I could fly was always tied to my psychic well-being during the day and I began to take this ceiling as a more serious indication of my mental health than any other. During my flight, I would say, “Ach!, I can’t rise more than a few feet above the ground, I’ll have to reflect in the morning.” When I was free to rise and fall as I willed, I encountered the oddest obstacles. The way my mind rationalized these obstacles was projecting the scene that I was outside my house and I was being hooked on or roped by the electrical wires that ran outside. Of course these wires were strung miles above the ground as I made sense of it, but the sensation of a black cable barring my neck and causing me to tumble down was distinct. I cannot say definitively that these are barriers in the space between worlds, but many have described “how high the eagle can fly between the layers of the many worlds.”
We are more than we’d like to be.
Artwork: States of Mind III, Those Who Stay; Umberto Boccioni