Voices in the Night

Last night I read a little of Lord of the Rings before I went to sleep. I don’t always sleep so soundly during the first couple of hours, and that was true then. Even though I was asleep, I heard voices off at the edge of my mind. I understood them, I thought, and was perfectly content to allow them to stream past. But then I came more fully awake and realized that I didn’t understand what was being said at all. It was a steady stream of amorphous sounds that somehow made sense at the edge of consciousness but when fully awake just seemed like a stream of uncharacterized dialogue.

After a couple of hours of this, I woke fully and decided to write. I frequently work on my novel in progress, Robot Dawn, during the night, and I found this session unusually productive. I wrote nonstop for a couple of hours, focusing on the internal dialogue of my protagonist as she mulled over thoughts of her home town that had just been bombed and her relationship with the captain of the spaceship she was on traveling to Mars. All very intimate and personally revealing.

Somehow, this event seemed to reveal a characteristic of consciousness and its relationship to the unconscious. I’m reminded of the ancient Greek view of the duality of life as characterized by the two words bios and zoë. Bios was viewed as a characterized life here on earth with all its nuances, including both a birth and a death. Zoë on the other hand was an uncharacterized eternal life of the spiritual realm. Bioses appeared as pearls strung along the thread of zoë like beads on a neclace. The dialogue I heard in my stream of unconscious at the very edge of sleep seemed like a discussion between several manifestations of zoë. I can’t say that I heard or recognized individual words. It was just that the stream of dialogue made sense, but when I tried to interpret it in terms of a characterized conversation, it disappeared entirely. It was as if enough consciousness wasn’t there to interpret the unconscious’s efforts to supply creative material. Usually, we just see consciousness’s side of the creative act, and I was then viewing only unconsciousness’s side.

Strange experience. Really exciting to someone researching the deep recesses of our creative instinct.

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