“I don’t sleep, I just dream,” says Rust Cohle after being explicitly told by his partner to “Stop saying odd shit.” Concurrently, a mysterious untraceable train horn resounds in the background, knitting a connection, a thought.
Rust is right. The organism never rests. True sleep can only mean eternal oblivion. [But even after an organism’s death, matter continually transforms itself further, pulsating and willing, on the everlasting unlife plane of immanence.]
In sleep our nervous system is continually agitated by a multiplicity of inner events, almost all our organs are active, our blood circulates vigorously, the position of the sleeper presses on individual limbs, his bedcovers influence his sensibilities in various ways, his stomach digests and its motions disturb other organs, his intestines are active, the position of his head involves unusual muscular contortions, (…) – all this, through its unusualness and to a differing degree each day, excites the entire system up to the functioning of the brain; and so there are a hundred occasions for the mind to be involved in puzzlement … (Nietzsche, Human All Too Human, §13
Brain activity never ceases, always productive and perceptive. Things impinge upon cognition all the time. Sleep is yet another rhythmically recurring state, a modulation. An electroencephalograph continues drawing up cryptic data.
Dreaming labels those hazily-detected dynamics. “We create and perceive our world simultaneously and our mind does it so well we don’t even know what’s happening.” It’s an incessant flow of emotions, desires, and hallucinations, a complex web with pulsating zones of intensities, thresholds, zany characters, horrors, games, and mysteries, a streaming labyrinth dissolving all subjective orientation. “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realise something was actually strange.”
It’s pretty common for long-distance travelling vehicles like trains to put its passengers into a trance-like hypnagogic state. The constant flow of scenery, being seated on the same space, the mere novelty of travel or weariness after daily drudgery, all contribute.
My head against the window and “I” succumb to the sleeping machine. Imagined scenes, inspired by the text on the book and/or sounds coming from my headphones, commingle with the auto-generated dream-sensations, as well as the moving scenery outside the window. Colours start to appear. The dazed “I” drifts in and out of consciousness, my eyes occasionally open and start gliding over the text again, reading the exact same passages they had before, and my ears pick up on some of the melodies again, but soon I slumber back into the sway and obscurities of the productive unconscious machine. Until after an unspecified amount of time, I arrive at my lucidly chosen destination. Or do I?
When positioned outside one, trains traversing the world are dreamy too. With their aforementioned vibrant train horns, travelling “na tej bocznej zapomnianej linii” (forgotten branch lines) (Schulz, Sanatorium Pod Klepsydrą) in unknown (techno?)landscapes, or weirdly appearing out of nowhere, penetrating the topography like an intrusion, an infiltration, perhaps without a telos, just transitioning for its own sake, continuing rolling on and on, like time. “You’re waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure.”
Some films with trains & dreaming: Trains Are for Dreaming (2009, Jennifer Todd Reeves), Kaili Blues (2015, Bi Gan), Inception (2010, Christopher Nolan), Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki), The Silence (1963, Ingmar Bergman), Innocence (2004, Lucile Hadzihalilovic)