Wednesday 31 January 2024

The Oniric Domain

    Confined from early childhood in a world that almost everything he ever hears or reads will tell him is the one and only real world and that, as almost no one, on the contrary, will point to him, is a prison, man—l’homme moyen sensuel—bound hand and foot not only by those economic chains of whose existence he is becoming every more and more aware, but also by chains of second-hand and second-rate ideas, the preconceptions and prejudices that help to bind together the system known (ironically, as some think) by the name of ‘civilisation’, is for ever barred except in sleep from that other plane of existence where stones fall upwards and the sun shines by night, if it chooses, and where even the trees talk freely with the statues that have come down forever from their pedestals—a world to which entrance has generally been supposed, up till now, to be the sole privilege of poets and other madmen. For it is undeniably true that the oniric domain is still regarded in very much the same way as was the erotic domain during the Victorian era. That the dream is useless, as escape from reality, the dreamer a self-indulgent and lazy person, is the accepted view of an overwhelming majority. How, then, can man reconcile himself to the fact that he spends more than a third of his life on earth in sleep, and that he spends the whole time of his sleeping in a world that his conscious mind so despises?
David Gascoyne, A Short Survey of Surrealism (London: Enitharmon Press, 2003; 1935), p. 23.