Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Verba Ex Profundis - Words from the Abyss

2008 - Full moon on a cloudy night
I often wake up at dawn with the most interesting phrases or sentences in mind.
Some come from my dreams. Sometimes, instead, strange pronouncements come out exactly the moment I wake up; I literally catch myself uttering or whispering words while I'm still in the limbo that separates sleeping from being awake. Only once they're out do I realize what happened. That's when I pick up the pencil and my notebook to write everything down before I forget it.
Sometimes there's only a book at hand on my nightstand. So, if you grab a book from my bookcase and take a look at the first blank pages, you might incur into some otherworldly calligraphy; I usually do not turn the light on to write and I'm as tired as not to even open my eyes. Yet, by the time I wake up again a few hours later, I have forgotten, if not the whole, almost every part composing it.
When I take my notebook back in my hands, I wonder at the marvels I'm confronted with.

The first feeling is that it wasn't me, but someone else uttering those words. I called this phenomenon Verba Ex Profundis - Words from the Abyss. I took the habit of giving each of my dreams - or pieces of dream matter - a Latin title.  This allows me to keep my dream material in a dimension which is not the usual one; an unconscious dimension which, although distinct from it, is still in contact with my conscious dimension.
A Latin title also forces me to approach my dreams with the degree of respect and reverence that one would devote to a sacred practice.

Certain sentences apparently have no meaning. Yet, analyzing the context of the sentences - and of the entire dream - in relation to the period of my life, the details assume a clear meaning, although it might take me weeks, months, or even years to understand it.

Once I dreamed of a whole poem written on a white board. When I woke up, I was able to remember it from the first word to the last and write it down. I later on figured out that it wasn't technically a poem I had dreamed of; it was rather prose presented in verses and introducing a religious concept.
I haven't yet been able to make sense of it.

One early morning, in 2006, the year I developed my profound interest for psychoanalysis and analytical psychology, an emblematic phrase flowed out of my mouth upon waking.
I knew from the very beginning that the meaning of the phrase represented the gate to my newly discovered passion.

I am deeply convinced that a careful analysis of dreams and of their elements can be of great help in giving depth to our fictional characters. Whether we act or write, mastering our ability in psychological analysis can only enhance our artistic skills. Should I mention the good it will do us as individual persons? Isn't it a way to gradually get to know more and more chunks of ourselves?

Do your dreams ever speak to you through actual words?
Have you ever analyzed the meanings of those words?



  1. No but my words manifest into vivid and wickedly entertaining dreams.

  2. I have never received any kind of enlightenment from my dreams. For some time I used to wake up and write down dreams to examine them later. I can imagine meanings, but find no application for them. I have a hard enough time just staying in the moment and trying to escape the conditioning of what was in the past. At my age one wishes he didn't understand motives so well.

  3. Sadly, I rarely ever dream...in my sleep. I have to rely on good old day dreams. However, since I have studied psychology and work in the field, I am constantly examining thoughts of myself and everyone around me. A little scary

  4. I will write strange dreams down. Most don't effect me as profoundly as yours seem to. That's awesome. I've woken up at 3 a.m. with the perfect sentence to fix a stubborn passage, and will get up and go write in the closet. This is usually when I'm under deadline. So, it makes sense.

    Strange phrases often enter my head in the shower ... first lines or snippets of stories.

  5. I've had similar experiences, though what seemed like words of genius during the dream and upon awakening usually don't make much sense or are rather simplistic and not as amazing as they seemed when I look at them later. I do agree with you about the analysis of dreams and dream language can help in character and story development.

    A Faraway View

  6. Lass,
    The other way around huh?

    I suppose I'm lucky. I've always found my dream material very much connected to my conscious life, and once the analysis came forth, applying what I learned to real life was just matter of course.
    What you say makes sense. Sometimes I also am not too inclined to find out what certain motives are.

  7. I've often been given brilliant, witty, profound phrases in my sleep—which turn out to be only nonsense by the light of day, whichever way I look at them. Like M Pax, the shower is much more productive for me!

  8. Heather,
    I'm surprised. I think the case is that you simply do not remember your dreams, but you do dream like all of us. Should you be the only lucky one who's never bothered at night??!!
    Thanks for commenting!

    Is it h2o the liquid you use to shower? Or maybe you use a special soap of some kind?
    Sometimes it might take me months to understand what a sentence - or a dream - mean, and sometimes I find the meaning of it by sheer chance. I might be reading a book, or studying, or be lost in thought on the subway, and, suddenly, "Eureka!!"
    Thank you for stopping by, Mary!

    Arlee and Christie,
    I think the meaning is often hidden behind the nonsense. Our unconscious, unfortunately, is "limited" in the way it communicates with us; it can only do it to the best of its possibilities, usually through a symbolical imagery and figurative speech.
    Thanks for leaving a comment!

  9. Some of my best short stories - ie the ones that actually got published - began with a dream. But just the image. A strong visually compelling image. A fragment of something happening. I regard that as the clay and two or three days at the keyboard a story will be teased out of it. What makes this post so interesting now is that I awoke from a dream this morning with a face staring directly at me and a name: Alexis Sharma (or Sarma). Need to google that one. Just imagine if the face was the same as a possible real person? Now that would make the beginnings of a fine story : )

  10. Oh I'm too befuddled and woolly headed when in that in-between time of not quite awake but growing more lucid to have the wherewithal to grab a pen and articulate! But if you are able to do this then that's truly amazing - there's a lot of inspiration and insight then and there! Take care

  11. This is SO COOL. I'm completely fascinated! Will you share this one poem sometime? *wink*

  12. Mike,
    That happened to me too. Years ago I dreamed of a person I never saw in my life; upon waking, I could remember the person's name. The last name, given the sound of it, was clearly Portuguese. Doing research on the white pages I found out it actually exists, and I found some people with that name and that last name! I know nobody from Portugal, much less with that name.
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Mike!

    Ha! We have a lazy lady here, Kitty!
    Well, I hardly open my eyes when to do it, and do not turn on the light. So, when I go back to my notes later on in the day, I discover a bunch of phrases hardly aligned, at times a word beginning upon the ending of the previous word. This makes it to me even the more fascinating!

    I love your enthusiasm! Well, I might share the poem one day, in my autobiography, sixty years from now.
    Thanks for stopping by Morgan!

  13. I have had very strange pronouncements in dreams before. Sometimes I hear creepy, other-worldly music. I really love your description and name for the phenomenon, and I love reading your experiences. It sounds like you have a spiritual and creative connection to the dream world!

  14. These days I've been so tired that I haven't really paid attention to my dreams. However, I do pay heed to certain dreams, those which are more symbolic. When I had just graduated from university, I explored my creativity through poetry, so I used to jot down ideas that came to my head right before going to sleep (literally). I guess it was a good habit or perhaps I was less tired then. ;) But to answer your question, no, ironically my dreams are full of imagery and symbolism and not a lot of words.

  15. Raquel,
    Well, I do focus a lot on my dream world and on anything that connects me to my unconscious. Strangely enough, music is one thing I never experience in dreams...

    Welcome back!
    My dreams are also full of symbolism and imagery. Words, not all of the time, but when it happens, I literally can't contain my marvel and will be thinking about it for the months to come!
    Thanks for stopping by.
    Look forward to reading your next post!