Essay Chynna Lao
Much has been said about the unconscious. Sigmund Freud understood it as a reservoir of thoughts, feelings and memories that lie just outside of our awareness, yet shaping our behaviour in numerous, at times insidious, ways. Sleep is a state where the unconscious manifests, spinning tales of desires repressed in the waking world. Salvador Dali painted sleep as a giant head and a tapering body suspended in the air by crutches, depicting the separation between the body and the mind as we dream. Songs often speak of sleep as a realm that we escape to, a space to imagine lost loves and missed opportunities. The Everly Brothers famously crooned the lyrics: “when I want you, all I have to do is dream”.
Whether it be the phantoms of hidden desires or lost loves, sleep affords us with the opportunity to bring to the fore the more vulnerable and arguably more honest dimensions of our character. No longer shrouded by our desire to be palatable to those around us, our unconscious selves allow us to move through a world where the only rules that exist are those that we have unwittingly conceived. Like marionettes, our bodies remain tethered to the surface below, miming the rhythms of the unconscious.
Love is like this. It is a story we weave in the crooks of our elbows and the spaces between our fingers, a warmth borne in intermingling breaths whispering things we never felt brave enough to share. It is a balancing act, limbs and lives overlapping, teetering from one side to the other as we fight to get closer, to disappear in the promise lingering just beyond our reach. Love is also the silence. The deep slumber, breathing synchronous, bodies interwoven, weightless in the space between here and there. In this vacuous place, time slows. For a moment, time disappears entirely.
This is the dilemma of Sleep. To sleep beside another is to surrender ourselves to the invisible motivations of our unconsciousness, to untether ourselves from the world and allow the warmth beside us to become our anchor. We allow our partners to inhabit our private sanctums, to be privy to our natural states. And, as in sleep, we come back to our dreams night after night, entering a place of blissful abandon with the implicit understanding that this state may not be ours to keep.
But perhaps we can find comfort in the cyclical nature of it all. Joan Didion writes that “we are fatally drawn towards anyone who seems to offer a way out of ourselves.” Like sleep, love can feel like a microcosm of abandon that we escape into, an invisible space where everyday pretences are absent. Yet just as the unconscious allows us to inadvertently explore our deepest and sincerest tendencies, love holds up a mirror and asks us to confront the often tumultuous complexities of our character. It asks us to exist with another in our most natural state and trust that they will be the crutches to our waking world. Braver still, it asks us to return, night after night, into the world that we have created, knowing that it may not always be ours to keep. But we do, and we must, because these moments between dusk and dawn are meaningful.They teach us important lessons, force us to encounter impossible obstacles of self and other. They help us become. And, as we awaken, we can find solace in the lingering tendrils of a dream, in the way that a song or a scent can cause it to seep back into our awareness, reminding us of the worlds that lie within us, lining the fabric of universes still unseen.
Love is like a dream.
Director Michael Cristian Greene
Producer Mia Danica Jamora
Director of Photography Don Buppapirak
Art Director Edana Isobel Jamora
Sound Design & Score Will Killen
Colourist Matt Campbell
In association with MSQUARE Productions