Friday Open Thread (with Other People's Dreams)

Dear Friends,

What a week; what a month! Term’s in full swing for me now, and the rest of January is chockablock with writing and teaching and Zoom engagements, so, naturally, I want to talk about sleep.

A few nights ago I had a very weird dream, of the kind that makes me wonder whether dreams aren’t so much the result of our brains chaotically processing the contents of our days as they are surfing a cresting psychic wave of the world around us.

It’s Gatsby, you see.

I read The Great Gatsby either immediately before or immediately after watching Baz Luhrman’s film; I genuinely can’t remember which. There are definitely sections of the novel that I remember as scenes from the film, but that doesn’t prove anything. I remember enjoying it, and finding a lot more in it than I expected to, but I didn’t fall in love with it the way I do with a lot of things, seeing the world through the lens of it for a while, bending my body and soul into a dance with it.

Which is to say it was absolutely baffling to find myself dreaming, quite vividly, of being Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby, wearing a phenomenally beautiful pink suit, and being accosted by horrible wealthy men being snide and sniffy. I thought, very clearly: why am I anywhere near these dreadful people? They are bad, and I am rich, and I don’t need to put up with this.

So I excused myself and left their company, left their scrutiny, and decided to live in a beautiful stone cottage in a different, more modest and neighbourly place. The cottage was called Pomegranate House, and the stone was covered in climbing roses, yellow and pink and blowsy; nearby, across the street and somewhat aslant it, was a neighbour’s house with a gigantic, spreading persimmon tree in the yard, heavy with fruit.

Not having thought, consciously, of The Great Gatsby for years, not having allocated it quarters in my heart’s home, it was thoroughly strange to find it so viscerally in my dreams. I woke thinking maybe it was someone else’s dream — that maybe I had to wander away from it in my own head, wander towards pomegranates and persimmons in order to find my own mind again.

Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever felt a dream possessing a quality so foreign to your own head that you felt it must be someone else’s?

Wishing you a lovely weekend,

Amal


PS: Here’s a drink I made last night on the occasion of a Zoom-with-friends. It’s a MonteNegroni: a Negroni made with Montenegro instead of Campari. It tasted a bit like a vision of fruit trees opposite cool grey stone in a British summer.