Cartoonist Jesse Reklaw turns the dreams of strangers into the most insightful, humorous, and clever four-panel comic strips you have ever read in The Night of Your Life. This hardcover volume captures the sublime pleasure of tumbling through the freewheeling narrative of our sleeping lives. Each strip is an adaptation of the many dreams submitted to Reklaw from all over the world, every one a unique and compelling journey into a landscape to which we all travel. The Night of Your Life is a testament to the ability of comics to illuminate the corridors of the imagination with wit, sincerity, and joy.
For once, I haven’t forgot to wear the little armband that comes with my sleep phase tracking alarm clock (I’ll write a review of it soonish) and everything worked perfectly: I was woken up right after a dream (and thus REM phase) was ending, well-rested and alert.
This also made me remember the dream that I was seeing. Believe it or not, all I did in that dream was look at modern art at the Guggenheim museum (the one in New York).
Two nights in a row I had dreams about attending balls. The first dream had me hanging out with Count Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy in 1700s. This is pretty easy to explain — I am reading a book about the Tolstoys.
This morning I had another dream, where I was at a Newscorp ball at the Hilton and talked to Rupert Murdoch. He completely agreed with all the things that I proposed to be done at TV Guide and I woke up very pleased with myself.
If you’ve been readin my journal for a while, you might know how important dreams are to me.
There are a lot of important and famous dreams recorded in history – Mendeleev seeing the periodic table; Kekule seeing the worm Oroborous and understanding the benzine ring; Chief Sitting Bull seeing soldiers falling upside down and predicting victory of the Little Big Horn, Hitler seeing the trench engulfed in molten lava in his dream and leaving it thus saving himself, Julius Caesar having a dream in which one website that will be left unnamed says “his mother appeared” and then “taking” Rome, etc.
Over the weekend I was reading Igor Sikorsky, His Three Careers in Aviation by Frank DeLear, and in it was an example of a forshadowing dream that I haven’t encountered before.
The book says that when he was 11 years old, Sikorsky had a dream in which he was standing in a narrow passageway. There was a bluish light overhead and the floor with a fine carpet under his feet. The floor was vibrating, but for some reason he immediately realized that it wasn’t a train or a boat, but a flying machine. He walked through to a door that led to a richly decorated lounge and then woke up. Since he was born in 1889, this would make it the year of 1900 when he had the dream. The Wright Brothers flight was three years away.
Years later, in America Sikorsky was walking through his latest design, the S-40 plane and was struck by a sense of deja vu. There it was, bluish light of fluorescent lamps overhead, the vibration and the fine carpet and even the smoking lounge at the end.
(the photo is from Igor Sikorsky, His Three Careers in Aviation) by Frank DeLear
Most people I know don’t like their sleep to be interrupted. I, on the other hand, as long as I don’t have to get up right this minute, don’t mind being woke up multiple times.
First of all, the actual process of falling asleep after quieting the harsh beep of the alarm clock is a very pleasant experience. Second, I find that a short series of naps is more refreshing than a long “wow, how long was I out” sleep. I also a series of alarms has a much greater chance of waking me up from an REM state. This is the best way to wake up: the brain is already active and the dreams can be easily recalled.
At some point I wanted to make an alarm clock that would detect either eye movements or the brain waves associated with them and wake me up during REM. Understandably, for the lack of time, skills and gumption I never got further than playing with a basic stamp microcontroller and reading EEG newsgroups. I suck.
Anyhoo, this morning, between the infamous 9 minute alarm clock buzzes, I had 2 dreams.
In the first one,
Youâ€™d think I went clubbing with
Had an interesting recursive dream today. At the very beginning of the dream I realized that I was dreaming. Great, I thought, lets try to do some lucid dreaming. But as soon as I though that, I was kicked out of the dream state. I was desperately trying to fall asleep and get back into that dream, but failed miserably. That’s because the part about me trying to fall asleep – that was also a dream.
This morning I had a short, but unsettling dream. I was searching for the word “Cthulhu” (which I pronounce “k-TU-l-hoo”) in a folio-like dictionary. Could not find it, but found something like “To Cthulhuize”, which had something to do with creation of imaginary worlds.
Holy crap, I hope I am not reading “Necronomicon” in my dreams…
Dreams are fascinating. Yet it is very hard to listen to or read other people’s dream narratives. Irrational, disjointed nature of dreams requires a special skill to translate them into words. Also, dream narratives are often bogged down with unnecessary details. Of course dreams helped Mendeleyev and Kekulé, Joseph, Dali and other notables, but it is still very hard to listen to somebody rambling about a weird dream he or she had that morning. “And you were there, and the cat was there .. and we all were running .. oh but wait, you weren’t there. Oh it wasn’t the cat. You were the cat. Hmm, can’t remember.”
Of course, some people have very interesting dreams and can even put them into interesting stories. But the master of the genre is Jesse Reclaw, an online cartoonist. His motto is “Your dreams I will draw”. He takes dream narrative submissions, chooses the most interesting ones, edits them and makes a four panel cartoon out of each. You can read a fresh one every week at his website, http://www.slowwave.com/. Here are some of my favorites.You can find a full archive here.
I strongly recommend paper version of his comics, Concave Up, his book Dreamtoons (if you order from Jesse directly, he’ll autograph and draw a little picture on the title page.) and an absolutely hilarious little xeroxed pamphlet Applicant. It would not hurt if you wrote to the editor of your favorite paper, and ask for Slow Wave to be in it.