Friday, October 29, 2010

The Dreamer. Or "Are we human because we gaze at the stars?"

The other day, I found myself victim of a rather frequent phenomenon. You know when you watch a movie or a TV episode that's about to end - the plot has more or less reached a conclusion, the bad guys are in jail, blah blah blah - and you don't pay full attention anymore, you have relaxed and your mind starts wandering to other things, and then suddenly you catch one last punchline that 'wakes you up' juuuuust before the end credits roll? Well, I don't know if this happens to you, but it happened to me while I was watching "Medium" on TV. Patricia Arquette's soft voice said something along the lines of: "If a little dreaming becomes dangerous, the answer is not to dream less. It is to dream more. Dream all the time."

This line got me thinking until I fell asleep. The next day, in Theory of Theatre and Drama class, my professor started a discussion about imagination and reality. Can these two seemingly opposite things exist without each other? Do they depend on each other? And if yes, what does that connection mean?

The conclusions were the following: Human beings cannot think without imagining. There is no reality without imagination. There is no such thing as a 'pure' reality, a reality beyond our beliefs, our emotions, our desires, a reality that doesn't include our perspective and our wishes. Creation, revolution, change, which are all real things, so real you can touch them, need imagination. They need the idea, they need what is not real, but we wish it to be. But! Don't forget that imagination cannot exist without reality, without our brain's electromagnetic field, without our feelings, our memories and experiences, everything that makes us who we are. Everything that is real.

Neil Gaiman, the "rock star" of the literary world and creator of the Dream Weaver and his disfunctional family. Zorro aka Amelie Poulain, determined to change your life. Florence Welch, probably singing about Midas and final sacrifices.

The "Medium" quote and this discussion came together in my mind and made me think about the value of dreaming in today's world. Generally, having your head in the clouds, living your life like the hero of your own epic story, believing in trolls, vampires and love potions, being familiar with the imaginary, is frowned upon these days. Keep your feet on the ground. You don't live in a fairytale, this is the real world. Don't we hear that all the time? In school, we were constantly being told to 'stop daydreaming and pay attention'. But after studying the connection, the relation between imagination and reality, I feel it's time for a wake-up call; dreaming is necessary. It is part of the plan. It is the fuel that keeps the world moving.

I believe it is appropriate at this point, to mention the dialogue which takes place between Lucifer and Morpheus the Dreamlord, in the first volume of "The Sandman"; in fact, I think quoting it is required...
Lucifer: "You have no power here - what power have dreams in Hell?"
Morpheus: "You say I have no power? Perhaps you speak truly. But you say that dreams have no power here? Tell me, Lucifer Morningstar... Ask yourselves, all of you... What power would Hell have if those here imprisoned were not able to dream of Heaven?"

Lydia nearly married Beetlejuice in an epic red wedding dress and then floated around the house like it was no big deal. Max saw the Wild Things. Luna Lovegood; how to give a new meaning to the 'lost in my own world' stereotype.

Seriously, think about it. No scientist can make a big, world-changing invention without the dream of it. If enslaved men all through history didn't imagine how their lives would be if they were free, they would never break their chains. And we all know that no great artist creates a masterpiece without a vision, sometimes the vision is more important than the creating process itself.

Here, I'm going to introduce a term which is pretty much self-explanatory and which I'm probably going to use quite a lot in the future of this blog; the Dreamer. Notice the big D? Dreamers live among us, I bet we all know at least one, or we have known one at some point in our lives. You know one too. Maybe you don't (or you didn't) like them, maybe you found them annoying, overdramatic, too lost in their own world or just too weird, maybe they are not really the type of person you like to hang out with. Reconsider. The Dreamers may not talk much. They may not be too sociable. But they are usually those who really listen to you when you talk, looking straight into your eyes. Those who love to hear about unusual events and beautiful places. Sometimes, they even seem to be able to fully understand a vague feeling you find hard to explain, or remember insane details that made all the difference about something. They are great narrators, and they give out a really special aura that makes them pleasant to be around, even if you don't actually talk to them. They might not always make the best decisions for themselves, but they usually give the best advice. Why? Because they think big. They always see the bigger picture.

Charlie Bucket knew that candy doesn't need to have a point, and that got him an entire chocolate factory. Belle: There must be more than this provincial life; like a bewitched castle perhaps. Sam Lowry dreamed about getting wings and saving the day (and the girl), and he did.

I am certain some of you out there are rolling your eyes and smiling bitterly as you read. 'That's all good' you are thinking, 'but magic, fairydust and sparkles talk, nowadays? I don't think so.' I know. I've actually been around people who refuse to accept anything imaginary, who rush to cover their eyes so as not to take even a glimpse of a magic faraway land. It's okay. I really understand. But please, people of the world, do not fear the Dreamer. Do not fear the secret worlds inside you. You may find it hard to "dream all the time", and I don't blame you. Learning to dream is like getting used to seeing colors after a lifetime of being able to see only black and white. In the beginning, it can be overwhelming, confusing, but later on you are bound to marvel in the beauty of everything you were missing until then, of everything that these new images can teach you about the world and the possibilities that lie ahead. So start slowly. Sprinkle a pinch of fairydust on your everyday thinking. That pinch may be small, but it may mark the beginning of a series of future victories.

Because as someone recently said, you mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

EDIT: If you'd like to drop by the Dreamworld on a more frequent basis, visit the Dream Catcher, where two wonderful girls share the adventures they occasionally have... while sleeping.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Opening Titles: B is for Blog.

Famous still from the 1902(!) film "Le voyage dans la lune", directed by Georges Méliès.

Ray Bradbury's books "R is for Rocket" and "S is for Space" made Neil Gaiman think of giving the title "M is for Magic" to his collection of short stories. So it is now my turn (having already gone beyond the point of quoting Gaiman ten times a day) to use the same play on words when introducing this blog of mine. And it really seems appropriate because we are going to talk about magic here, about how you can create a universe and give it life with a camera, a photogenic face and a handful of spoken phrases. About how you can break a heart, and then mend it with just the strings of a guitar, how you can summon the spirits with a stage and a spotlight, or how you can start an illusion with hand and pen. Simple ingredients, difficult potions. But it's okay, you just need to get the proportions right.

If you do, the trick is done. Just think what happens with a good movie. You press 'play', and snap! You're somewhere else, living someone else's life, at another place. It is not teleportation. It's merely magic. If it isn't, then I don't know what is!

And it's this extensive talk of magic that justifies the name of this blog.

Some of the first fairytales my parents ever read to me were stories from the russian folklore. In these old myths, the witch, depicted as a horrid-looking old woman with an extremely long nose, always lived in a hut right in the middle of a dark forest. That hut was standing on chicken legs, walking and running around, never staying put. Now, if the hero (or usually, the heroine) of the story wanted to enter the hut to rest and ask for the witch's help after a long journey, they had to humbly ask it to turn the door towards them and stand still, so they could walk inside. Otherwise, the hut would never stop moving, and they would be left alone in the cold, dark, scary forest.

To me, this image -the hut on chicken legs, running crazily around the clearing- is the most primitive symbol of fiction, of stories told and never forgotten, buried somewhere deep inside me, just like all the other fairytales and mythology I was reading instead of doing my math homework and all the movies I was watching instead of Saturday morning cartoons.

So, I'm giving this name to the blog.

Now, before I start posting, there are a few things I want to say, for the record. Please note that...

~ I am just giving my opinion here, my personal view on things. I do not think (and you shouldn't think) that what I believe is objectively correct and indisputable.(Well...there are of course some minor exceptions...;D) Therefore, I definitely do not mean to insult anyone's personal taste. If you have a different opinion than mine, I am open to discussion at all times.

~ English is not my native language. I am a quite confident english speaker, though, and I am trying my best to write in good english that is pleasant to read. But yeah, I will make mistakes, so I apologize in advance. Please, if you spot a mistake you can't forgive, kindly bring it to my attention. Thank you!

~ Please do not use any of this blog's content without my permission. And by content, I mean the text, or parts of the text. Please ask me first if you want to, or Morpheus will uncreate you! No, seriously, stealing is not cool.

~ Regarding images and videos used in this blog: I do not own them, unless I state otherwise.

~ If you happen to catch the references I make here and there, comment and say it! It always makes me happy.

~ There will be a 'series' of posts called "bloopers". These are going to be more random, off-topic posts, and you can always skip them if you're not in the mood for slightly pointless stuff.

~ REGARDING SPOILERS: I will try to keep details and major spoilers to a minimum, because you know, you might actually want to watch that movie afterwards, and I wouldn't want to ruin it for you. HOWEVER! If a movie is more than 10 years old, I suppose you've already gotten enough chances to watch it, so I'll talk more freely. It depends on the movie, of course - I'm not going to spoil "The Sixth Sense" for example, although you should have watched it by now, if you're a cinephile...;)

~ I have to confess that my blog's not-so-extravagant design doesn't exactly thrill my eyes, but that will change soon enough. Just bear with it for now, please.