February, 1965

"What do you do when you're asleep?" -- Seth Hill

One time I made up a list of my favorite activities. At the top of the list was sleeping. Sleep does three basic things: physical rest emotional rest, and synchronous fantasy. I shall describe these three in detail.

First, however, I wish to delve into the realm of daydreaming. One of my basic compulsions but a neutral one in that it is both good and bad, is elaborate intentional guided daydreaming which I call "imaginating". A great deal of my waking and pre-sleeping life (that time spent in bed going to sleep) has been spent in living many lives in my "imaginating" activity. They'have in- cluded: lives as an athlete in all sports successful lives in business and politics, writing and directing, traveling and family raising, space travel, jungle life, lives incorporating all of these activities, lives altering my past and postulating my future, lives of grotesque and unusual activities cowboy, detective, pirate, cave-man, and soldier lives and so on throughout the range of all the fiction and biography I have read or invented. Truly I have lived many lives, and have done all things many times.

Has this done me good or harm? I can't recom-end it because of the prodigious waste of time that could be spent in more direct productivity nor because of the compulsive nature of it whereby I can work myself into a veritable headache and leave undone other things that I want to and must get done. But I still feel that it has contributed to my breadth of interests and my ability to respond to unusual as well as ordinary situations. I have felt, re-felt, hypothesized tested, and corroborated feelings, thoughts, and even actions, in these hours and hours of fruitless fruitful activity.

Daydreaming seems to me to be a level of activity with tremendous potential for developing greater use of our minds. Perhaps sometime I will write something in more detail specifying approaches and uses of these tools. But its relevance to your question is in the realm of what I call synchronous fantasy: dreams, but more than dreams -- synchronously exercising and exploring intellectual, emotional, and physical possibilities.

There exists a real difference between our waking and dream worlds, despite all arguments about the nature of the conscious and subconscious minds. This difference may be expressed perhaps concisely as: Everything is possible in the dream world, but there is limited conscious directing. In the waking world there is only limited possibility, but everything (that is possible) may be consciously directed. In dreams at night one may experience all the wildest adventures, if one can bring them about; in daytime experience, only the most usual things will generally come to pass but you know that it is genuine experience. In daydreams these two worlds may be merged, and those desired or experimental experiences may be lived under the conscious management and awareness of the thoughts and feelings. But how can it ever be real, you ask? That is what I am not sure of; I remember vividly the many experiences I have had and my brain says, Don't be silly, those never really happened, and my feeling-memory says I have lived indeed.

Now what of spontaneity? The dream world, in absence of control by the waking world rambles among the scraps of literature of the memory or the mind, or I don't care what you call it, but it produces combinations and pictures and experiences which would never be assembled by the conscious mind. And daydreaming gets lost in repetition of traveling the same road again and again because one really doesn't know how to vary it. My suggestion is that through actively practicing daydreaming one can bring the spontaneous element from the dream world into the waking world, and the directive ability may reach down into the dream world, and one can approach a fusion of the mind-substance and mind-activity...and maybe even reach another plane of whole, transcendent existence.

More mundanely, let me assert that dreaming falls into three catego:ies. Anticipatory dreams are the explorat~ons of the subconscious among those hopes, fears, expectations which have not yet come to fruition in the waking world; recapitulatory dreams are the explorations of the subconscious among those memories, reactions images which have been collected as a result of past experiences in the waking world. It does not take much attention to perceive these two: who were the people you dreamed about, what were the elements of the situation, what was the resolution of the situation? Such dreams make up at least ninety per cent of the dreams of at least ninety'per cent of us.

Creative dreams, the third category, are the most important ones. It is here that the visionary the clairvoyant dream occurs; I do not say how but I am sure that it does occur. It is also here that the potential for mental development lies; we dream of far-removed situations which have no relevance (so far as we can see) to our anticipations and recapitulations, which, operating beyond conscious and physical limitations, are the "fun and fancy free" with which we would want to decorate, ornament, impregnate, and saturate our "odorless, grey, droning world." What I do or would like to do, or at the very least would like to try to do, while asleep, is to augment and expand my potential for creative or intentional dreams.

There is more that might be said about the first two categories. It is here that nightmares occur, representing some unfortunate combination of experiential memory and premonitive anticipation. It is in this category that the serial or reoccurrent dream takes place, representing some context or situation which the subconscious mind is exploring again and again, like a broken record. It is here also that certain symbolic dreams occur especially,the ones representing the universal or virtually universal imagery. It is here that the practice in developing conscious spontaneity finds its field of materials, toward the goal of ability to eliminate repetition, to vary in infinite patterns one's conscious dreaming.

The second major thing which is accomplished in sleep, is achieving physical rest. That sounds obvious and trite, but let me describe it this way. The human body is an organism, a kind of machine, and will burn out if it is run too continuously or too fast. It has re-creative powers which a machine does not, and exercising those powers is what I am doing when I partake of physical rest. The muscles, the eyes, the digestive tract the blood stream, all of these frequently are pushed towards their physical limits, and in sleeping I am letting the powerful magic of the organism replenish its depleted energy. There is no cure as necessary and as many times sufficient for an aching or over-extended organism than sleeping.

The greatest thing which sleeping does, and the reason I placed it topmost in my list of favorite activities, is the providing of surcease of emotional rest. There are many kinds of situations I might think of, in which the psychology of the self or whatever is disintegrated or disassembled. A tragedy may strike one, leaving its drowning wake of helplessness and meaninglessness. The heart may be wracked by the separation from the one who was most important for a while, a stormy sea in which a person's self-value, self-respect, hopes and wishes dissolve leaving only anguish and incipient bitterness. The degree of calm equanimity towards oneself, of knowing one's purpose and direction may disappear through failure, pressure, confusion and the same quality may vanish in the way one sees others, leaving only empty questions about empty values intentions, meanings. But to all these stretched tendons of emotion sleep comes as a panacea, knitting up the ravelled sleeves of care, carrying one away from the presence of the oppressive pain-inflicting waking world while the root of the emotional engine may tighten itself up once more. This may, as you know have to occur many times before the sharp edge of the situation has turned into only a soft, stinging memory, about which one has both fond and bitter memories. Even then, the bitter memories die away before.the fond ones, and that is the glad truth of emotional recuperation. But in sleeping I find the answer to all my problems perhaps it is the anticipation of a new day perhaps it is the retreat into a womblike comfort for a journey into the dream world where "possible" does not exist, perhaps it is only compulsive habit of the warmth and inactivity of one's blankets.

So how much have I said that is of value to you as you seek to form a theory of sleep? Firstly I regenerate my machine through its chemical processes; secondly, I dream three kinds of dreams the anticipatory, or the recapitulatory, or the creative or intentional, over which I seek to increase my conscious powers and from which I hope to diffuse a greater spontaneity into my waking world; and thirdly, I bring back together the vagrant emotions, and try to re-establish my unity at that deep level of being which motivates my actions constitutes my feelings, and gives color and tones to my ideas and values.

(originally published under the name of John Fitz)