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‘The dream,’ says Bergson, ‘consists of the entire mental life minus the tension, the effort and the bodily movement’ (Dreams 27). Dreamers, artists, the contemplative ones are all more or less like the dying, disinterested ‘visionaries’.

 

The being that dreams and, at the highest level, the dying visionary ‘keep[s] before his eyes . . . ,’ according to Bergson, ‘the infinite multitude of the details of his past history.’

 

Dreams no longer lead us toward an intuition of the continuity of existence rather present the disassociation and dispersion of the elements that make up existence, in the same way that when we stop listening attentively to a poem, we become incapable perceiving its indivisible unity: its lines, then its words, then its syllables separate from one another, each sound going back to its individuality (cf. Bergson, Creative Evolution 209).

Poulet, Georges, et al. “Bergson: The Theme of the Panoramic Vision of the Dying and Juxtaposition.” PMLA, vol. 126, no. 2, 2011, p. 493, 494, 495.

 

 

I had a dream, one of those memorial dreams again. It reconnected me to my past love, but, as the past, it is a strange representation. I had Ruth on my arm, supporting her, as we located at the Coopers Plains railway station. Strange, in that it was, as it once was in my childhood. We were returning to the family home on Orange Grove Road, and we had paused on the platform with luggage and family members to assist. Strange too was Ruth on my arm. It seemed we had returned on a long trip, and her response was not the disability from glioblastoma, but more in line with dementia…

 

“I want to stop at King’s Cross on the way back”, she said.

 

I thought ‘London, King’s Cross railway station.’ A second dream ensued shortly thereafter. I was spontaneously about to embark onto the town in late hours of the night – the pre-dawn early morning, with my friend Ian, who was not to be left behind. In a dash to the find the toilet in a rabbit warren of a wooden college-type dormitory, I paused, and observed –

 

…a small dog pursuing a large spider with it colourful toxic sack, getting bitten, before the spider exploded, and watching the dog die from the poison.

 

The past of home, sickness of the mind, confusion of the location, breaking out into a new day, the savagery of life, and death. What does it all mean?

 

Dreams no longer lead us toward an intuition of the continuity of existence rather present the disassociation and dispersion of the elements that make up existence, in the same way that when we stop listening attentively to a poem, we become incapable perceiving its indivisible unity: its lines, then its words, then its syllables separate from one another, each sound going back to its individuality (cf. Bergson, Creative Evolution 209)

 

In the Bergsonian universe, there are successful dreams and defective visions; in surging forth, some memories recapture the rhythm and strength of old perceptions, while others divide, spread out, and rigidify.

 

Here no slipping into dreams or wavering of attention. Attention, upside-down, inverted, takes possession of a mental universe that no longer scatters. Total, living, moving, composed of a multiplicity of heterogeneous instants that interpenetrate, existence discovers itself in its indivisible vitality. And the Bergsonian visionary who contemplates this, unlike that intermittent thinker Proust, does not contemplate a coexistence of juxtaposed elements. Instead of reaching for eternity or falling into numbered multiplicity, he ineffably attains to an intuition of the movement that constitutes his interior life.

 

Poulet, Georges, et al. “Bergson: The Theme of the Panoramic Vision of the Dying and Juxtaposition.” PMLA, vol. 126, no. 2, 2011, pp. 495, 497, 498.

 

REFERENCES

Henri Bergson. Dreams. Translated by Edwin E. Slosson, Champaign, Book Jungle, 2008 (originally, New York, B. W. Huebsch, 1914)

Henri Bergson. Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell, New York, Dover 1998 (originally New York, Henry Holt and Company 1911)

 

 

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Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He was a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch was the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and was a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.

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