My last dream was the only one i remember being so perfectly pleasant from beginning to end. Everything was so convincingly real; from the main plot to the characters right down to their individual quirks, the story and its framework were a carefully lifted extension of real life, my life here, my life now. I was fully invested in the story; i dreamt it in the first-person, and every move i made, every feeling i felt, was analogous to my character in waking life. It was too real for me to even tell whether i was dreaming what i wished for or what truly will happen in the near future. It was everything i wished for (and still wish for, possibly, maybe subconsciously), yet there were enough flaws in the story—pitfalls in the dream life—to convince me that the dream could be real enough to be premonitory.
It was part three of a series of dreams i’ve been dreaming on the same issue. It’s amazing how much the story develops with each episode. Every development is believable; there’s a clear explanation for every story arc, logical reasons for everything that the characters do.
I regularly have premonitory dreams. This is only my second set of episodic dreams.
My dreams rarely ever make this much sense while being completely fictional.
The dreams i have the most trouble with are the ones with people i know in them. When a dream moves and haunts me as much as this one does, i feel obligated to tell the people who were in it. This time, i can’t bear to. And i lost episode 2.
What if it is a premonition? What if it’s the kind of premonition where it’s best for everyone to know about it? But even if i did tell them, how could they possibly understand exactly what i felt, what i saw, what i knew so certainly in the dream? It was something i could never believe in real life.
Or what if it’s the kind that doesn’t come true unless you do something about it? Like a whisper in your ear urging you to go after what you were always too afraid to pursue? Because you could never do that in real life?
Everything about The Cremaster Cycle is sensuous, and Matthew Barney is the most generous filmmaker; he is not interested in feeding us a world through his eyes and ears. Instead, he wants to open up a world to us by uncovering for us the things we want to see and hear. What he sees and enjoys most, we see from the most satisfying angle. What he hears and enjoys most, we hear at the most appropriate volume. And these sights and sounds, we experience at just the right moments and frequency. The camera floats at times like our eyes do when scoping out an unfamiliar place. Static shots and long silences (i.e. with audio, but no dialogue or music) allow us to see and hear the situation and every detail in it to our heart’s content. There is so much gratification for the viewer that you can’t help but love the experience you’re being given, despite it being given to you by Barney and not yourself. As long as film is a practice in voyeuristic pleasure, Barney, as filmmaker, delivers.
For being a study of sexual differentiation, the epic does not take itself too seriously (maybe 5, and parts of 3, but most certainly not 1, 2, and 4). Those who claim that it is a masterpiece defying all classification are blowing what is a neat series of films all out of proportion. For The Cremaster Cycle is just that: five films, nothing more. And Barney knows this: he knows that a movie is a movie, and that above all, a movie’s purpose is to entertain. His sculptures may be art, but his films are not. Nonetheless, there is a link between the two, a link that truly distinguishes The Cremaster Cycle: these films make love to sculpture.
It’s 6 p.m. My roommate Heather’s not back yet, so i have the luxury of listening to my music without headphones. The day is winding down, much too soon, and cars honk here and there as they rush home. Wheels sound slick on wet roads.
It’s 7 p.m. My suitemate Kristen takes her usual evening shower. Maybe i should shower early tonight, too. I’m tired and i’d like to go to bed early, maybe wake up early to finish studying. But Heather will be back soon and i wouldn’t be able to sleep with her in the room, typing away on instant messenger. My pills rattle as i look for my glass bottle of Vitamin B6. I press down firmly on my pill splitter until one tablet snaps neatly in two, giving me two manageable doses of 25 mg. No need for 50 mg at this time of the evening.
It’s 8 p.m. Our heat’s broken again; i turn on my electric heater. It clicks merrily as it heats up the oil inside. The satisfying click, the promising click… Heather’s back, and we make our usual small talk, but there’s more to talk about tonight. Sometimes i think we turn every mundane event into drama to compensate for the lack of excitement in our lives. An ambulance blares and honks its way down our street as Heather and i discuss the latest passive-aggressive behaviors in our suite.
It’s 9 p.m. The heater whines and buzzes to indicate that it’s reached maximum temperature. It’s still cold. I walk over to the room thermostat and press the fan button to no effect. The radiator makes a jerking sound as if it’s going to do something but doesn’t blow any air. Kristen’s removing her dishes from the dish rack; she closes the cabinets and returns to her bedroom, shutting the door. My turn to do the dishes. At least the water will be hot.
It’s 10 p.m. The wind howls through high-rise valleys and building vents. The locals next door to our building chatter into the night, savoring the last puffs of their cigarettes. Delivery trucks growl, rolling up 1st Ave. Someone on the street yells, “Watch out!” The city has so many people and sometimes it upsets me that i can’t care for every one of them, that i can’t know what happens to every one of them.
I do not believe that you’re either born creative or not–creativity is just as much a state as it is a trait–nor do i believe it is impossible to enhance creativity. But a recent article in Scientific American discusses a research on “an easy way to increase creativity,” a research so preposterous that i couldn’t help but assume that its researchers are exactly the type to say something like the above.
The main argument put forth by the researchers is that psychological distance enhances creativity, and one can effect psychological distance by displacing an event into the future or a far-off place or imagining an event to be unlikely. This makes sense (as one commenter put it, “Ask an artist – these are no new ideas to us. We do this naturally”), but the research seems over-simplified and i am highly skeptical of some its conclusions. For instance, the article ends with the suggestion that modern technology gives us ready access to faraway “people, sights, music, and food,” which might mean that we are getting more creative. I would think the exact opposite: the web, whose communication transcends space and time, makes these faraway and exotic things seem near and familiar. Is anything even “faraway” anymore?
This is a common question that i’ve seen pop up in many places, but i never thought deeply about it until my best friend asked me it the other day. At first, i confidently said, “Smell.” I couldn’t give up sight; i’m a visual artist. I couldn’t give up hearing either because i think it’s even more powerful than sight. Touch was out of the question because i’m too sensuous, and as for taste, well, everyone knows i’m a foodie. Smell and taste work together, of course, but between those two, i thought smell would be the least useful. But then i remembered all those days of snuggling with loved ones and breathing in their unique smell emanating from their bosom; those days of hallucinating their smell when i missed them and smiling inwardly knowing that my nostrils had somehow “memorized” their smell; those days of stumbling upon articles of clothing they’d left behind, the pillows they’d slept on, and being hypnotically reminded of the tender memories. I think i could live without smelling all those other scents i love like that of the rain, the ocean, the fresh-tilled soil, but i don’t think i could give up the scent of the human being.
So which would i lose? I’d lose hearing. I honestly think i appreciate dead silence more than the most sublime music, the pristine sounds of nature, maybe even the human voice. Sound is more often an irritant to me than a pleasure. There are surely things i’d miss hearing, especially water and wind and certain voices, but when i imagine myself first without smell and then without hearing, i see myself much unhappier in the former case.
Now it’s your turn: which would you lose? And a bonus question: if you could choose one last thing to sense before losing your chosen sense, what would it be? I chose hearing, so i’d choose to hear my love’s voice, whoever that may be at that moment.
Am i the only one who’s terrified of these? I had to walk into a roomful of these 7 foot tall soundsuits in various poses for a sculpture assignment, and it took all the mental power i had to stay in there for more than a minute. These things are terrifying! Stand in their shadows one day and you’ll see what i mean.
Filed under art, perception