Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thanks to the dream Brownies

Osamu Tezuka, "New Treasure Island" (1947)
Robert Louis Stevenson thanked his "Brownies" for some of his best creative work. He described them as laboring away on his stories when he was asleep or in half-dream states, so that better than half his work was done when he came to put pen to paper.
    I woke with a similar delightful sense of creative assistance around 4 am today, a time when I often rise to record and research my dreams and see what wants to stream into a story, an article or a poem. My dream reports from last night include this pair, with the recurring motif of creative help:

1. I examine a typescript I've been working on. I have left gaps in the narrative. Someone has filled in these gaps and inserted some further material. I can see at a glance where the new material is, because it looks like it has been highlighted in yellow, though the highlighting effect fades as I read it. I am at first annoyed that someone unknown has been fooling around with my text, and assume that the inserts are random. But when I study the new passages more closely, I see that they are just right. The penultimate paragraph is beautifully expressed. I try to figure out who has been working on my text. In the distance, I see a beautiful woman in a yellow robe. 

2. With a woman companion, I have been encouraging an older man to take up art. We have expressed enthusiasm over some colored drawings he has done, and are looking at a folder of these. Most are incomplete, and they are not especially well executed when we look at them more carefully. There is a spill; I think it is my companion who spills water or tea over some of the drawings. This makes the colors run and the effect is quite magical. I am excited that an accident has brought the drawings to life.

I stirred from these dreams in a state of excitement and delight. 

Reality check: I am currently writing a story and have left gaps in the text. I draw a good deal, often with colors, but my technical execution could do with improvement. 

Action plan: I'll fill in the gaps in my narrative, and let the colors run - by using oil crayons and perhaps watercolors - in some of my new artwork.

And I reopened RLS' "A Chapter on Dreams", included in his book Across the Plains, where he describes in detail the role of his dream Brownies, including this celebration:

And for the Little People, what shall I say they are but just my Brownies, God bless them! who do one-half my work for me while I am fast asleep, and in all human likelihood, do the rest for me as well, when I am wide awake and fondly suppose I do it for myself. That part which is done while I am sleeping is the Brownies' part beyond contention; but that which is done when I am up and about is by no means necessarily mine, since all goes to show the Brownies have a hand in it even then. 


Stephanie Deignan said...

Grateful for the dream helpers, for your wonderful examples, & the reminders of the importance of action plans! Some if it were my dream thoughts: yellow robes remind me of messages re: amber light; the spilling of the water on the artwork reminds me of the very Waldorf habit of teaching children watercolor painting on wet paper--creates beautifully dreamy paintings with lives of their own.

Robert Moss said...

Stephanie - I love amber and amber light, and have dreamed of being invited to a place of clarity and protection by those I have called the People of Amber. The yellow of the robe here, however, is different. It is daffodil yellow. Thanks for the tip about watercolor painting on wet paper.