Dream Gates

Dream Gates


Creating from the double life of dreams

posted by Robert Moss

 

Testament of Orpheus (1959), Cocteau's last film

“I realized that my dream life was as full of memories as my real life, that it was a real life, denser, richer in episodes and in details of all kinds, more precise, in fact, and that it was difficult for me to locate my memories in one world or the other, and that they were superimposed, combined, and creating a double life for me, twice as huge and twice as long as my own.”

The speaker is Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) the wildly creative French artist, dramatist, filmmaker, novelist and poet, friend of Picasso, Edith Piaf  and Proust. Edith Wharton described him as a man “to whom every great line of poetry was a sunrise, every sunset the foundation of the Heavenly City.”

Cocteau describes the immense double life he found himself leading, as an awakened dreamer, in his intimate journals. And what an invitation this is to us to claim that doubled life, “twice and huge and twice as long” as the life of those who suppose they reside only in one world.

In the prefaces he wrote for his films, from The Blood of a Poet (1930) to The Testament of Orpheus (1959), Cocteau was rather coy about revealing the full scope of his dream life and the inspiration that streamed from it. He declared that The Blood of a Poet  “draws nothing from either dreams or symbols” but then adds that the film moves like a dream and was constructed in a kind of conscious dreaming “by letting the mind relax, as in sleep, it lets memories entwine, move and express themselves freely.”

In a little essay titled “The Process of Inspiration”, as in his private journals, Cocteau says boldly, “The poet is at the disposal of the night.” He proceeds to give a fascinating example of a creative work that flowed directly from that double life of dreams.

“I was sick and tired of writing,” he recalls, “when one morning, after having slept poorly, I woke with a start and witnessed, as from a seat in a theater, three acts which brought to life an epocj and characters about which I had no documentary information and which I regarded moreover as forbidding.”

It took him some time to bring this into form on the stage. The result was his most intriguing play, The Knights of the Round Table.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mary Phillips

    Robert, that was a beautiful introduction to Cockteau this morning. Thank you so much for posting it. Are his personal journals in print? Accessible to the public? I would LOVE to read them. Can you help me there?

Previous Posts

The departed are dreaming with us
One of my driving purposes in writing The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead was to help  some of the many people in our society who are hungry for confirmation that communication with the departed is not “weird” or “unnatural”, let alone impossible, and that it is possible to extend love and for

posted 4:39:32am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Dream dates: Sir Christopher Wren dreams a cure
An intriguing account by John Aubrey of how the celebrated architect who recreated St.Paul's after the Great Fire of London dreamed a simple cure for a kidney ailment. I'll leave the narrative in Aubrey's voice. Note that "reins" in late 17th century English (as in modern French) means "kidneys".

posted 11:27:57pm Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »

The origin and power of the shaman's drum
The shaman’s primary tool for journeying is the single-headed frame drum, the type we use in Active Dreaming circles. I am constantly astonished, though no longer surprised, by how quickly this ancient instrument can help even the most rational, cognicentric Westerner to enter another state of bei

posted 6:15:48am Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »

Thanksgiving and affirming
I am in favor of affirmations. At a certain period in my life, I did not think much of selp-help gurus who were pushing them. I still have major reservations about affirmations that seem to be pitched from the head instead of the heart, and either project ego-driven "gimme" agendas or , alternativel

posted 1:54:18am Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Jung's underworld journey
Let's be candid: Jung's Red Book is not for the faint-hearted. Yes, there are passages of incandescent beauty, perhaps beyond any other of his writings. There are also vertiginous falls into places of rank terror and screaming madness. In my own reading, there was a moment when I wanted to throw the

posted 9:49:30am Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.