Another Chance at Spring

Tres Esculturas Monumentales de Javier Marín en el Parque Eulogio Rosado

by Jim Harrison, from Songs of Unreason

Something new in the air today, perhaps the struggle of the bud
to become a leaf. Nearly two weeks late it invaded the air but
then what is two weeks to life herself? On a cool night there is
a break from the struggle of becoming. I suppose that's why we
sleep. In a childhood story they spoke of the land of enchant-
ment." We crawl to it, we short-lived mammals, not realizing that
we are already there. To the gods the moon is the entire moon
but to us it changes second by second because we are always fish
in the belly of the whale of earth. We are encased and can't stray
from the house of our bodies. I could say that we are released,
but I don't know, in our private night when our souls explode
into a billion fragments then calmly regather in a black pool in
the forest, far from the cage of flesh, the unremitting "I." This was
a dream and in dreams we are forever alone walking the ghost
road beyond our lives. Of late I see waking as another chance at

More Full of Wonder than Your Deepest Dreams

Ian Ruhter/ Wet Plate Collodion 24”x36”/Narcissus /Mammoth Lakes CA /10.15.2011

by Edward Abbey 

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you  beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.

How Does the Mind Turn Off?

Excerpt from Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick

I was stuck...I remembered a problem my father gave me a long time ago. 

"Suppose some a Martians came to earth and they don't have this crazy phenomenon sleep. And asked you how does it feel? What happens when you go to sleep? Do your thoughts suddenly stop, or do they jusst mooovee mooorrre and morrrreee sllllowwwwwlllyyyy? How does the mind turn off? Does the stream of consciousness end when you go to sleep? "

I worked on my paper for the next four weeks. I had two time each day -- every afternoon and every night -- to make experimental observations.

It was very good! I noticed some interesting things:

I do a lot of thinking by talking to myself, internally. 

I also imagine things visually. 

And when I get tired...they both happen at once. 


I kept observing myslef even after I turned in the paper -- which I did well on! I got to the point where I could enter into my own dreams.

Unknowing Transformers of Things

“I love your silence. It is so wise. It listens. It invites warmth. I love your loneliness. It is brave. It makes the universe want to protect you. You have the loneliness that all true heroes have, a loneliness that is a deep sea, within which the fishes of mystery dwell. I love your quest. It is noble. It has greatness in it. Only one who is born under a blessed star would set sail across the billowing waves and the wild squalls, because of a dream. I love your dream. It is magical. Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the world, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are the unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”

~ Ben Okri, from Astonishing the Gods

[Thanks, Deborah!]

Time and Space are Lost

"Gilbert Garcin spent most of his life managing a lamp factory in France. At 65, he retired and took up a trick photography workshop. For the past ten years he has been creating comical, surrealistic photographs which warmly highlight sometimes cold, existential questions. Garcin inhabits this strange world and ponders it together with the viewer; with Garcin you have a dedicated, but perplexed, guide."

"Playfully placing himself within surreal landscapes and situations, Garcin allows the viewers to temporarily escape reality. In this existential state,  time and space are lost in Garcin’s imaginary world. Human existence and the solitude every being experiences in life and death is very present in his collections. However, any heavy philosophies of life are muted by the humourous overtones in each work."

"Interestingly, Garcin photograph’s himself, cut’s out the image, and pastes it back into a different constructed photograph. Garcin’s non-photoshopped crop is admirably non-technological. Perhaps his old-school process reflects his age (he celebrated his 80th birthday in 2009 with a traveling retrospective)? Or maybe because he is 'new' to the photography field."

~ from "The Surreal World of Gilbert Garcin," by Alafoto

The Collective Dream of Humanity

Excerpt from Falling Into Grace by Adyashanti:

All demands, at their essence, are ways that we try to manipulate reality, ways that we insist that life be different than what it is. It's not always obvious the degree to which we approach life in this way. If we look closely, however, we can see how pervasive this tendency is; in any given moment you are likely to be making unconscious, subtle demands upon life to be different.

We look to everything in life to make us happy, not realizing that happiness is actually at our very core. It's natural to our being. There's no way to become happy. We simply need to stop doing the things that make us unhappy. One of the ways that we make ourselves unhappy is through making demands of ourselves and each other. It's very common in human interaction for us to demand that someone change so that we can be happy, or fulfilled. In this process, we completely disregard what might be in the best interest of the other person, or in the interest of the whole. Is this really an expression of love? Is this ultimately what we want? Do we really want everyone around us to be changing to make us happy? Do we really want to be that kind of a tyrant? Does that really speak to our deepest heart, to the love that we all have inside?

When we insist that the things, people, and events around us change so that we can be happy, we're actually denying something very deep within us. We're denying the truth of who we are. We're denying the truth of each other. We're imagining that happiness depends on the events and circumstances of our lives — and on the people in our lives. We believe that if everyone in our life could be "just so," then we'll be content.

So this desire for demands — just like the desire for control — actually arises out of this state of consciousness called the egoic state of consciousness, where we imagine ourselves, and everyone else, to be different and separate. But again, the notion that we are separate is not really true; it's all made up. It's all conjured up in our mind. It's one big dream that we have. The difficulty with this dream is that almost everybody around us is having the same dream. It's essentially the collective dream of humanity. So it's not just you or me that's dreaming, almost all human beings are also having this dream of being separate, of being completely other than the world around them. What this means is that we really have to look within ourselves quite deeply, because we're not only looking beyond our own deluded mind, our own misunderstanding; we're looking beyond the delusion of the entirety of humanity.

Choosing What We Perceive

Photo: Laitr Keiows (Wikimedia Commons)French philosopher Henri Bergson has a famous quote: "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." Bergson probably meant it metaphorically, but it seems to be literally true according to research by psychologist Martin Rolfs and colleagues. Rolfs studies the role of rapid eye movements in visual perception.

"It turns out, to see one thing, we have to not see many other things. Our brains can't process everything in our field of view, so our visual system has to come up with ways to pick and choose what we perceive." ~ Flora Lichtman

"The visual scene is full of so much information,  we cannot analyze everything at the same time...Our results show that shifts of visual attention precede rapid eye movements, improving accuracy in identifying objects in the visual field and speeding our future actions to those objects...And that's actually how you can tell imagery from a real visual experience, because if you move your eyes, things change on the retina. If you move your eyes while you're imagining, while you're hallucinating, nothing changes. So if you want to know if you're dreaming or not, you should just move your eyes or your body." ~ Martin Rolfs, from "Looking at What the Eye Sees," NPR's Science Friday, Feb. 25, 2011

Excerpt from A Natural History of Seeing  by Simon Ings:

“Hold your eyes still, and the image of a moving target is quite likely to flash by individual photoreceptors in milliseconds. If it moves past very quickly, your photoreceptors won’t have a chance to respond, and you won’t see the target at all. Even if it’s moving quite slowly, the target is likely to be blurred. This is why humans fixate so strongly on objects moving across their field of view — if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to see them. If you concentrate on a moving object, the eye will turn smoothly in an attempt to track it. The more you are interested in what you are looking at, the more it will try to hold on. But there is a limit: move your pen too fast, and the image will blur. The moment that happens, the eye will give up its ‘tracking shot’ and revert to ‘angle shots’. It will saccade, snapping from location to location, capturing a selection of ‘stills’.

In French, le saccade, describes the way a sail snaps in the wind. There is nothing subtle about a saccade; nothing delicate. The movement is sudden, ballistic, and powerful enough that the eyeball commonly overshoots its target; a barrage of smaller correcting saccades follows any large eye movement.

The eye exists to detect movement. Any image, perfectly stabilized on the retina, vanishes. Our eyes cannot see stationary objects, and must tremble constantly to bring them into view.”

In 1965 the Russian psychologist Alfred Yarbus reported the results of experiments that tracked eye movements. In some of them, he used Ilya Repin’s classic painting They Did Not Expect Him (aka An Unexpected Visitor, 1884).

See also:


The Heart Will Find Itself Open

This is the Dream
by Olav H. Hauge, from The Dream We Carry

This is the dream we carry through the world
that something fantastic will happen
that it has to happen
that time will open by itself
that doors shall open by themselves
that the heart will find itself open
that mountain springs will jump up
that the dream will open by itself
that we one early morning
will slip into a harbor
that we have never known.

Like a Flame

La vista desde nuestra palapa. (San Augustinillo, Oaxaca, noviembre de 2010)

The Dream of Now
by William Stafford

When you wake to the dream of now
from night and its other dream,
you carry day out of the dark
like a flame.

When spring comes north, and flowers
unfold from earth and its even sleep,
you lift summer on with your breath
lest it be lost ever so deep.

Your life you live by the light you find
and follow it on as well as you can,
carrying through darkness wherever you go
your one little fire that will start again.


I Had a Dream Last Night

Josh Ritter - "Change of Time" (Live, Solo Acoustic) at Fingerprints (Long Beach, California) from Doug Rice on Vimeo.

Change of Time
by Josh Ritter, from So Runs the World Away

I had a dream last night
I dreamt that I was swimming
And the stars up above
Directionless and drifting
Somewhere in the dark
Were the sirens and the thunder
And around me as I swam
The drifters who'd gone under

Time, Love
Time, Love
Time, Love
It's only a change of time

I had a dream last night
And rusting far below me
Battered hulls and broken hardships
Leviathan and lonely
I was thirsty so I drank
And though it was salt water
There was something 'bout the way
It tasted so familiar

The black clouds I'm hanging
This anchor I'm dragging
The sails of memory rip open in silence
We cut through the lowlands
All hands through the saltlands
The white caps of memory
Confusing and violent

I had a dream last night
And when I opened my eyes
Your shoulder blade, your spine
Were shorelines in the moonlight
New worlds for the weary
New lands for the living
I could make it if I tried
I closed my eyes I kept on swimming


Like a Strange Dream

Evening Talk
by Charles Simic, from The Book of Gods and Devils

Gods and Devils (1990) Everything you didn’t understand
Made you what you are. Strangers
Whose eye you caught on the street
Studying you. Perhaps they were all-seeing
Illuminati? They knew what you didn’t,
And left you troubled like a strange dream.

Not even the light stayed the same.
Where did all that hard glare come from?
And the scent, as if mythical beings
Were being groomed and fed stalks of hay
On these roofs drifting among the evening clouds.

You didn’t understand a thing!
You loved the crowds at the end of the day
That brought you so many mysteries.
There was always someone you were meant to meet
Who for some reason wasn’t waiting.
Or perhaps they were? But not here, friend.

You should have crossed the street
And followed that obviously demented woman
With the long streak of blood-red hair
Which the sky took up like a distant cry.

Constantly Keeping Track

Excerpts from "Sleep," Radiolab, May 25, 2007:

sticky-notes Robert Krulwich: Robert Stickgold has the theory that as you go through your day, your brain is constantly keeping track of emotional content. Your brain is going to flag that stuff, It says, Oh, I need to remember so I can work on it later. I’m going to put a sticky on this one.

Robert Stickgold: So if it puts a sticky on everything that’s hard during the day, then all the brain has to do when it’s creating a dream is go and grab stickies.

Jad Abumrad: Stickgold thinks he’s seeing the outline if the dream-making process here. It starts really simply at the very beginning of sleep, right after you fall asleep, with the replay. This, he suspects, is just the brain emptying out its stickies.

Robert Krulwich: Are you at all puzzled by the super-duper, Technicolor, extraordinarily cinematic qualities of some of these [dreams]? Because if it were just an everyday brain function to sort of make sense of the world and allow you to make new connections, you wouldn’t really need quit the movie quality.

Robert Stickgold: When we talk about dreams, what seems to come into dreams are memories, concepts, relationships, associations that have a strong emotional flavor and — I’m guessing from the data — need a full-blown orchestration to be properly processed.

“Sleep is the annihilation of consciousness, so it’s a terrible time in which everything disappears — the universe and yourself with it. I think if people didn’t sleep and didn’t have the unconsciousness of sleep, they possibly wouldn’t even realize that consciousness is an enormous gift.”

~ Dr. Giulio Tunoni

Not Beyond Your Imagination

James Cameron, in conversation with Elvis Mitchell for a special online edition of The Treatment, recorded live at a benefit for the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“I’ve always believed in exploration. I’ve always believed in that sense of going beyond and looking where we haven’t looked. I think the film connects that way in a number of different ways. There’s one line I hate and studios love to use: Beyond your imagination. It’s not beyond your imagination. People have great imaginations. They have great dreams when they’re kids. You can fly when you’re a kid in your dreams. As you grow up, your dreams somewhat diminish and you don’t fly as much in your dreams. I wanted to go back to that childlike dream state in this movie because I think we all kind of connect at that level. And so I wanted to create essentially a lucid dream that would connect us all at some kind of unconscious level.”

*     *     *

“We were tasked with designing all these creatures and plants and everything for this movie. And every time we thought we had a great idea somebody would bring in a photograph or some bit of nature here had beat us to the idea. Ultimately, at the end of a two-year design process, we had to just admit with great humility that nature’s imagination was better than the combined imagination of the best visual artists on the planet that I had gathered to make Avatar. And it’s true.”

*     *     *

In his talk at TED 2010, James Cameron “reveals his childhood fascination with the fantastic — from reading science fiction to deep-sea diving — and how it ultimately drove the success of his blockbuster hits Aliens, The Terminator, Titanic and Avatar.”

Leaving the Outside World Behind

Excerpt from “All-Nighters: Failing to Fall,” by Siri Hustvedt, New York Times Opinionator (March 3, 2010):

The Neuronal Switches for Waking and Sleeping

In sleep we leave behind the sensory stimulation of the outside world. A part of the brain called the thalamus, involved in the regulation of sleeping and waking, plays a crucial role in shutting out somatosensory stimuli and allowing the cortex to enter sleep.

One theory offered to explain hypnogogic hallucinations is that the thalamus deactivates before the cortex in human beings, so the still active cortex manufactures images, but this is just a hypothesis.

What is clear is that going to sleep involves making a psychobiological transition. Anxiety, guilt, excitement, a racing bedtime imagination, fear of dying, pain or illness can keep us from toppling into the arms of Morpheus. Depression often involves sleep disturbances, especially waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep. Weirdly enough, keeping a depressed patient awake for a couple of nights in the hospital can alleviate his symptoms temporarily. They return as soon as he begins to sleep normally again.


Between Waking and Dreams

Photo of western Arctic Ocean, north of Alaska, taken out of an airplane window at about 200 feet above the ice by Jeff Key.

by Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Clare Cavanagh

I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.

I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.

As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.

I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport's labryinth,

I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day's sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.

Everyone’s Dream

Being a Person
by William Stafford

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone's dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn't be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.


From "Boyle's Got Talent," by Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo's The Buzz Log:

Susan Boyle (remember that name) became a Web phenomenon after singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. The performance brought the audience to its feet and left the judges (including Simon Cowell) either speechless or in tears.

Before going on stage, Ms. Boyle admitted some self-deprecating facts about herself (she's never been kissed and lives alone with her cat, Pebbles). For those reasons and more, audiences were expecting the female William Hung. They were wrong.

Lookups on the sudden star posted huge gains. A no-name just the other day, Ms. Boyle quickly surged into our top 5,000 overall searches. Blogs and gossip rags went wild. The Mirror jumped on the story, reporting that while Ms. Boyle thought she "looked like a garage" on TV, she received a standing ovation when she showed up at her local church.

Other sources write that as a child, Ms. Boyle was the target of bullies because of a disability. But, with her newfound fame, she is getting the last laugh. In fact, she's already meeting with officials from Mr. Cowell's Sony BMG label. This may have been the first you've heard of her, but it certainly won't be the last.