Sunday, July 5, 2009

2) bookstores, reading, and dream consciousness

the literary life 7/5/2009

Today I've got books and bookstores on my mind. Reading inspires me to write. And ever since I can remember, I have lusted books.

I love the smell of books, the sight of a crisp new paperback. I love running my hand down the spine of a book, the scent of the first page like a hope-filled spring morning. I love walking into a bookstore at 9am on a Monday when it is just me and the early staff, the information desk ready and open for any questions I might have. Even in high school, I’d haunt the bookstores in Los Angeles, go out on a Wednesday night with my dad to travel the aisles. Bookstores for me are both a sanctuary and source of rejuvenation. It's where I go for inspiration. I could spend hours skimming through the shelves, pouring over the covers. Books are comforting, yet they are also magical—tumbling with landscapes and extraordinary people, promising a journey of sorts. As a whole, they can provide entertainment, inspiration, guidance, information, education, and escape.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved and lusted books. Books have accompanied me through my many transitions in life, making me both sillier and wiser. No wonder I fell under their spell early on. But my passion for books is no ordinary passion. It is rather intense. At times, I have felt myself becoming so obsessed with a book I find myself drifting out of bed at 3am because I must read another chapter. Then another. And another. And well . . . you know.

As a child with an active imagination, I lived more in my mind than in life. The stories in books occupied a large part of this mental world. As a poet, I am still introverted, but I balance it better now with other aspects of life (my work, relationships, and chores). I do have the need to feel grounded--it supports my creative life more. But I want my imagination to roam freely--to inspire "dream consciousness". In my teen years it was natural for me to live in this space which I have come to call “dream consciousness.”

I define “dream consciousness” as a creative mental state where what is perceived seems simultaneously real and creatively imagined--a place we enter when we read but a place we can also access when we "read" the world as a text. Everything—the trees, clouds, and bus stops—seem like potential subject matter for a poem or musing. Life seems to be a treasure chest for inspirational ideas. In such a mental state, I am simultaneously both actor and witness in my life—blending reality and imagination to embrace a more creative point of view. Many times I view the world this way after a rejuvenating sleep, a meditative walk, or a moment of deep connection with the people close to me. This is when I am at my best creatively. A surreal painting like the one at the top of this blog entry is an example of what I mean by "dream consciousness." It's a playful way of looking at the world, juxtaposing images to express unexpected statements.

Over the coming months, I want to cultivate inspiration by remembering to look at daily life through an artistic lens, in fragments of poetry, as slightly skewed. When there's inspiration in the eye, I believe even the most ordinary objects--desks, lamps, and chairs--become imbued with meaning. And humor.

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