Paris Solo Oneironauticum, by Jennifer
As the final weekend of April approaches, I must explain the absence of an April Oneironauticum. After the Consciousness Conference in Tucson at the beginning of the month, my spouse and I have spent the balance of the month in Paris, from whence we shan’t return until early May.
I lived in this city 21 years ago. During that time, I slept a lot, and for the first time ever spent a lot of time alone. As a result, my dream life grew ever more vivid. A few months into my residency, I had a dream that proved to be a turning point in my oneiric experience. I wrote about the experience in Dreamflesh Journal:
I notice several eerily familiar toys arranged in a storefront, and I stop to look. A flood of realizations arises. First, I know that am dreaming, asleep in a bed in a tiny one room apartment in the servants’ quarters of a ritzy Paris condominium. Second, I recognize the setting: a dream version of Delaware Avenue, a main drag in Buffalo, New York, that passes by my parents’ house. I know that this dream street crosses the river into Canada, and that my dream version of Toronto is right on the other side of the border. Memories recalled within dreams often prove false upon waking, part of the construction of the sleeping mind. When I woke from this dream, however, curled in the bed of my Parisian home, I truly remembered having had those other dreams. In my dream world, I had created alternate versions of places I know well and then juxtaposed them to create consistent settings, places I revisited so often that my dreaming self knew the layout as well as this waking me knows my neighborhood.
This dream marked my first perception of an alternate subjectivity, a self that I inhabit who has her own memories, characteristics, and tendencies. Now I can inhabit this other being with a fairly high degree of self consciousness, most easily in the morning when I coast close to the border of waking. This is not lucid dreaming, because it is not this me—the one writing this page—who I experience myself as being. Perhaps a better phrase would be alternate self dreaming, or other dreaming. What’s most strikingly similar between the two states, however, is the experience of self consciousness while dreaming. Probably for this reason, lucid dream techniques serve to strengthen my experience of this self.
As I wrote in the Dreamflesh article, over the course of a few months in Fall 2006, I began to have the opposite of lucid dreams, my dream subjectivity popping to the fore of my waking mind. Now, here in Paris, I find myself self aware within that alternate consciousness often. A few days ago, my dreaming self reclined on her back looking up at a dazzlingly beautiful sky, radiant silver lines of cloud looping and furling around each other against a glowing, deep blue background. As I (she) laid there, I thought about my experience of self, of how comfortable my body felt, how appreciative I was of the beautiful scene in front of me. I also thought about my actual physical body lying in the same position in my bed, eyes closed. I wished that me could open my eyes and see the glorious show in the sky, but I knew that wasn’t possible. So the dream me stayed there looking up at the clouds, watching, for a long time.