Fiction itself is an imaginative dimension outside the realm of reality. When authors write about dreams, they remove the ‘ontological distance’ (a term coined by David Mitchell). Because dreams are personal experiences, they often appear in modernist literature to emphasise our inner consciousness. Postmodernists extend such form of aesthetics to epistemology to represent the sublimity of the universe with their metanarratives. Modernist or postmodernist, dreams give the reader a feeling of half-awake, half-drunk. Such state of half-consciousness contributes greatly to the aesthetic beauty of literature.
by David Lynch
Popularising surrealist cinematography to the mainstream audience, Lynch projects new interpretations of reality onto the big screen through his dream-like shots. The ‘Lynchian’ fever does not stop there, he casts his spell on the internet with his series of short horror web films Rabbits. With seemingly meaningless and incoherent conversations, the acknowledgment of the presence of the audience, and the mise-en-scène living room, Lynch explores the philosophy of existentialism with a surrealist parody of ‘normal’ everyday life.
“The Circular of Ruins” (1940)
by Jorge Luis Borges
In Jorge Luis Borges’ Ficciones (1944), the imagery of an exitless labyrinth is often employed in his short stories to expose men’s roles as God’s prisoners under the notion of Pantheism. One of the stories, “The Circular Ruins”, creates a matryoshka doll of dreams in which the man who creates another man finds himself just another artificial creation by mankind. Trapped in infinite layers of falsehoods, the final realisation of the sorcerer mocks the attempt of men to create golems to imitate God’s Adam is doomed to failure.
Ten Nights Dreaming (1908)
by Natsume Sōseki
This work of Sōseki consists of ten dreams of a person. Travelling from the Meiji era to the early 20th century, these surrealist representations of dreaminess reflect on love, fear, death, loneliness, melancholy and separation. Given his academic background in Britain, Sōseki’s style is dominated by a heavy shade of Western modernist aesthetics. However, feeling alienated in a foreign land, his works become complex hybrids of Western and Japanese literature. In the preface of Ten Nights Dreaming, Sōseki writes that “the riddle contained in the dreams will only be understandable 100 years in the future.” Now that it has been 101 years since he published his novel, are we able to decipher the enigmas of these ten dreams?
Categories: Weekly Features