Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Somnambulist's DreamsThe Somnambulist's Dreams by Lars Boye Jerlach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

”’Time is never waiting,’ the raven said.’It’s script-less and senseless. It’s never hanging around for anyone to catch up. You are dancing an eternal waltz to the sound of your own beating heart. When the music stops, time has already moved on.’”

Being a lighthouse keeper is a lonely job. A job that is very similar in many ways to being a fire lookout in a National Forest. Edward Abbey did that job for a few seasons, mainly because he couldn’t hold down a real job and wanted time to write.

I can’t remember the last time I spent a full day alone. Sometimes I’m alone for an hour or maybe half a day, but always with the knowledge that I will be soon joined by other human beings. My brief moments of aloneness are not loneliness. A lighthouse keeper or a fire lookout might be in an area where the next closest person is fifty miles away or a hundred miles away. I can enjoy my brief moments of being alone, even relish them, but for a lighthouse keeper, the weight of being alone and knowing that it might be days or weeks or even months before they see another person can do strange things to his mind.

Then there are guys, like Jack Torrance from The Shining, who even with their wife and son with them descend into madness without the daily interactions of people to rebalance their equilibrium of proper decorum. Well, he might have had some help finding the road signs that led him to crazy town.

I prefer gentle madness, like the type experienced by Enoch Soule in this story, than the Jack Torrance…Here’s Jack with an Axe...way of dealing with madness. Of course, I may be casting unnecessary aspersions at Soule, for the question of whether he is insane or simply a man with a contemplative mind are up for interpretation.

Soule is having strange dreams.

I’ve mined my dreams for pieces of stories. Sometimes I’ve dreamed whole novels only to watch them evaporate like a snapchat photo before I can even fully appreciate the rosy hue of nipples or capture the sun dappled riverbank or see the dark shapes beyond the dust motes hanging suspended in a barnyard window. I’ve had strange dreams, foolish dreams, and dreams that woke me up with cold shivers that had me fumbling for a pen and a piece of paper so I could jot a few notes of what I’ve seen.

Not only does Soule remember his dreams, but he writes them down.

Not only does he dream his dreams, but he steps into them.

He becomes someone else, someone different every time.

When the new lighthouse keeper arrives, he, of course, as all of us do, makes the place his own. In the course of this settling in, he finds a manuscript titled: The Dreams of Enoch S. Soule. The days are long, and the nights are longer, and soon he is looking forward to the time every day he can spend reading these seemingly deranged writings of a man who is experiencing dreams that would make the most sane among us wonder if Poe’s raven has perched permanently in the halls of our remaining sanity.

Loneliness can lead to many things: existential dreams, brilliant novels, self-reflection, and madness. Can dreams be caught like a petulant virus from those who dream them? Can madness pass through the inked words of the insane? Are you ceasing to exist even as you read this review?

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