“By the truth we are undone. Life is a dream. ‘Tis the waking that kills us. He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life.” (Virginia Woolf in Orlando)
‘Oneiric’: of or relating to or suggestive of dreams
At the same time as the words ‘kickoff’, ‘pipeline’ and ‘keyword’, came into existence, ‘oneiric’ was first used. Its roots can be found within the Greek word ‘Oneiros’ (a dream), and was preceded by words such as ‘oneirocriticism’ and ‘oneirocritic’ (both referring to those who interpret dreams). The word is also closely related to ‘oneiromancer’ (those who foresee the future through dreams), ‘oneirism’ (used within psychiatry to describe a patient who is experiencing a dream-like state whilst conscious), and ‘oneirophobia’ (describing those who are afraid to dream).
In film theory, the term either refers to a dreamlike reality films try to convey to its audience, to a dreamlike state of its narrative, or to the possible interpretation of a dream of one of the protagonists as part of the film’s plot or metaphor.
We have progressed from the body (as corporeality was our theme over the summer) to reclaiming (which we attempted to do with our autumnal theme), now we will move into this dream-like state oneiric is handing us for the first few months of the new year: 2021. At the time of writing this, knee deep in a second (third? has it ever truly stopped?) lockdown, I wonder about he strangeness of it all. Had we come up with this theme one year earlier, how different my approach to the word might have been. I would have written, perhaps, of dreaming associated with a vision for the future, of goals, of looking forward, towards the new year and seeing all that was not, but could be.
Instead, I find myself thinking only of the other side of what dreams can bring us. This oneiric state we find ourselves in, and have found ourselves in for quite a while now, feels suffocating to me. Like a thick fog, this dream-state has slowly settled in around me, moving with the tiniest wet white droplets even my facemask can’t protect me against.
With this new theme, we ask you to explore what oneiric means to you, to your stories, to your words. Will you write of the dream that is the vaccine? Will you describe the nightmare we have been living through in a spoken word piece? Will you create a short story that gives us an alternative 2020, filled with all manner of things, but no virus? Will you interview a COVID-19 particle, and ask it why?
If you are in need of some inspiration, please look at some of our previous dreamy entries like Saskia Soelaksana’s translated poem The Night Falls. Bandung sleeps, or GRIEF TOWN by Laurel Sanders, or Teach Me by Elžbieta Janusauskaite.
As always, be inspired by the theme, but don’t let it hold you back if you feel like it might. We fully encourage you to take your freedom, and interpret the theme in as big or as small a way as you would like. If you would like some input, have some questions, or would like to send in your work, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Juul Kruse