Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Terra Incognita

I don't remember many of my dreams. I am sure that a large proportion of them are not worth remembering, being the bubble-and-squeak re-hash of the days' detritus.
Two nights ago, however, I had a corker:

I am a policewoman - an investigative officer. I have just finished a grueling case, the pursuit of which caused a fellow officer to be injured. I have decided I need a career change.
I arrive at the office of a career counsellor. The office looks like triage at a hospital. I tell the staff that I am here for career counseling. They tell me I am mistaken - I am really here for a 'healing'.
This dismays me. I don't like that voodoo hoodoo, chanting, hippy rubbish. I want some sensible advice.
Despite my protestations I am led to a white ward room, stripped of my clothes and laid out on what is unmistakably a dissecting table. Two men who look suspiciously disheveled and hairy for doctors enter the room. They lay wreaths and bouquets of flowers on all the parts of my body. They place my hands and my feet in water.
The healing begins and I am swept into a fog. Just before I wake from the dream I hurtle out of the fog into the stark ward where I am doubled over, vomiting uncontrollably and staring into the image of a giant and malevolent octopus.


Now, we could all get excited and run away with complex theories about my troubled psyche (which I've already done, believe me) but what really interests me about this dream is the artistry of it.

It's going to sound a little conceited but WOW!
What confidence! What symbolism! What deft economical brushstrokes that have realized a creation which leaves the audience with such rich material to work with and the space to be the artists of their own meaning and interpretation.
There's the police officer (power? control? Concerned only with evidence?)
The dissecting table and the flowers (cutting below the surface? death? a wake for dissociated limbs and skin?)
Then there's the octopus... (Do any of you happen to know Hokusai's 'Dream of the Fisherman's Wife' ?)

The most bizarre thing about this dream for me is that even though it emanated from my brain, I AM the audience.
I have no idea who made that dream, but I'd love to meet them.

For a while I was obsessed with Philosophy of Mind, which is about mental events and functions and how they relate to the body (as distinct from Theory of Mind which is about understanding that other people have different thoughts and experiences to yours). I read lots of different books about how the brain vector maps faces and where memory is stored in the body. It occurred to me that an interesting project would be to map my own mind as a web page using Versalius illustration of the nervous system as the navigation (please do not use this idea- I WILL get around to doing it)
For the most part, I think this project would be an exercise in narcissism- memories, thoughts, ideas - I mean its all about me. The genuinely investigative and interesting part of the project will be trying to map the part of my brain that dwells to a large extent beyond my waking ken. It's the artist in the dark I am interested in -the bell diver who can sink to the black recesses of my brain and drag barnacled objects to the surface, the investigative officer who can see patterns in the scattered evidence, the anatomist who slices into the skin to see what lies beneath.
Who that woman is and where her country lies I haven't the faintest clue.

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