When I used to remember dreams, at least in fragments, they were clearly distortions of forms and events drawn from my everyday life, and could survive, however shadowy and transient, the transition into that world which had inspired them. But the dreams I have now don't survive except as a feeling of loss, a vague uneasiness, a sadness, a desire to return to sleep. They cannot inhabit this world, from which they represent an escape. Saturday I woke late, though due to the dimness of the light I thought that it was even later than it was. It was only a bit after three o'clock, but the overcast had made me think it must be evening. In fact sprinkles came from the cloudy sky soon after I woke, and continued for hours.
By nine o'clock I was unable to stay awake, and returned to bed and slept another five hours. I experienced waking twice within ten hours, and the second was even more melancholy than the first. Each time my thoughts, after an immediate sense of disappointment at being back in the waking world, turned quickly to the imaginary world, the fantasy life that takes over more and more of each day, and I had the feeling that it was what was trying to draw me back into sleep yet again. But is it my imaginary life that is informing the secret dreams, or are the dreams instigating the activity of my waking imagination? It's like a variation on Zhuangzi's old question: Am I the man dreaming he is a butterfly, or the butterfly dreaming it is a man? Maybe if I could remember those dreams I'd find out. Or maybe if I remember those dreams I will be able to forget.
The Ruined Garden
by Charles Baudelaire
My childhood was only a menacing shower,
cut now and then by hours of brilliant heat.
All the top soil was killed by rain and sleet,
my garden hardly bore a standing flower.
From now on, my mind’s autumn! I must take
the field and dress my beds with spade and rake
and restore order to my flooded grounds.
There the rain raised mountains like burial mounds.
I throw fresh seeds out. Who knows what survives?
What elements will give us life and food?
This soil is irrigated by the tides.
Time and nature sluice away our lives.
A virus eats the heart out of our sides,
digs in and multiplies on our lost blood.