Personality in dreams

In my dreams, I have a rather different personality. Actually, it’s not so much my personality that’s different, but the way I interact with other people is different. When I’m awake, I tend to be anxious around others; I come across as awkward and guarded. I’m also quite boring. This is by design: Authenticity is vulnerability, so I would rather pretend to be no one than be myself. In dreams, I feel much more like myself. I’m weird, but I’m weird in the way that I actually am weird, not just because I’m doing an uncanny impression of someone else. An honest weirdness.

I wish I could somehow bridge the gap. That I could be myself also when I’m awake. Lispector remarks that “… writing is the same process as the act of dreaming,”1 and indeed, I’ve found that I am more myself when I write than when I speak. But that still leaves a gap: what I write and who I am with others. It’s like I’m a different person when I’m writing compared to when I’m around other people. I want to become more like the one writing this. And I also want to write more and especially to write deeper, closer to the living thing itself—the it.

There’s another gap: the difference between what I write in my diary and what I write in public, although I’ve become more honest over time—that’s in part what this project is about. Sometimes I’ll write something down while I’m alone and then bring it with me to a psychotherapy session. The idea is that when I’m undisturbed in my home, I’m almost in a kind of dream state, and when I write, I write authentically; then, I can keep that snapshot of myself, and even as I become more and more opaque in the presence of the therapist, they will get a little piece of me. A piece of writing is a connection between two people in two ways: first, between the “I” of the past and the “I” of the present, and secondly between the person of the “I” and the person of the “them”.

The internet also has something in common with dreams. It’s a bit like telepathy—or maybe the opposite of telepathy: the internet is a way of communicating that’s even more like language than language itself, as opposed to shared dreams which are a form of truly direct communication. For more on the internet and its relationship to reality and coexistence, I recommend the anime Serial Experiments: Lain.

  1. A Breath of Life. Also quoted in Clarice Lispector’s writing style