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Dreams and Visions

I was always a dreamy child. At school I was often obliged to sit away from the classroom window, because my attention was usually directed outward rather than towards my teacher and the content of their lesson. At least that was the teacher’s perception. In reality, my attention was directed to no aspect of the physical world around me at all. Rather, it was directed inward. I have never been a particularly physical being. Although I have enjoyed some sport I have never demonstrated any notable aptitude for it. Nor have I taken pleasure in simple physical exertion. Running, gym work, yoga etc…all leave me cold. Although I concede that the simple practical necessities of continued bodily existence require some attention to keeping my body healthy, I have a marked tendency to treat it simply as a conveyance for my head.

I live, quite simply, in my head and the world outside of this is no more than a necessary adjunct to this essential state. The outside world provides me with the physical context by which I may structure and manage this internal existence. My reading and learning, my place in society, my relationships with others provide me sustenance of all kinds, but also with the source material I require to build and maintain this internal world. Those blind from birth can perhaps never be brought to anything more than a superficial understanding of the colour purple or of a tree. So it is with dreams. Dreams are painted from the palette that our external world endows us with. The dream world of the blind must be very different indeed, perhaps creating a world beyond the power of shared language to describe. Because language is the key. We clothe our thoughts in words and those words are a rather imprecise medium of exchange, that reader and writer may interpret very differently. That is at once the limitation of writing and the joy of literature. This is the reason why books, in my view, are almost always superior to any film that is made of them. When we read a book our own dream world engages with it, our own imagination conjures up faces, costumes and landscapes. When we see a film of the same book we are presented instead with the movie-maker’s vision of that world, which may or not equate to our own. Very often this is unsatisfactory, but sometimes we are carried along and convinced by this vision, a vision that then tends to replace our own fragile conceptions when we later come to visualise those stories. The world of Middle Earth that Peter Jackson conjured up in his Lord of the Rings trilogy was almost exactly as I had imagined it when reading the original books. My understanding is that many others felt the same, that he achieved a true universality of vision. That was his triumph. To fix and make substantial the dreams and visions of others is a truly beautiful thing.

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