Black Knight

Black Knight (artist unknown)

This is a portion of an unpublished body of work written between 2008 - 2010 tentatively titled Patterns and Paradox.

This was one of several memoir pieces that highlighted events whose character colored the early development of my philosophical ideas on identity and/or the exploration of altered states (which I found intimately tied to questions of identity).

“It’s time to get settled down for bed, boys,” my mother announced.

“Okay,” I sighed. It was about ten o’clock. I unrolled my grey nylon, flannel-lined sleeping bag on the living room floor. Tom and Mitch followed suit, then inched and shuffled feet-first into their bags. It had been a good night so far—a little D&D, some ice cream, lots of laughs. Though tired, I didn’t want it to end. I decided that I could continue our stories in my dreams. I had never paid much attention to dreams, and didn’t recall them that often. I had often heard it insinuated, however, that one could somehow dream about something in particular.

“I’m dreaming now,” I shared. “I’m seeing a black knight in a courtyard.”

“No you’re not. You’re not even asleep,” Tom fired back.

“I’m dreaming.”

Even though I wasn’t dreaming as I knew it, I was imagining I was dreaming, quite strongly. My body sunk gratefully into the padding.

Tom and Mitch were holding some conversation, but I was oblivious to the content; instead, I focused on my “dreaming.” I was imagining, in the manner I had from time immemorial, this black knight, his armor the dark silvery mirror of hematite, against a backdrop of granite towers and a open arch with green and sky beyond. It was vague and somehow “inside” me, interior to a undefined boundary between “me” and the “outer” world. It was not like seeing, even though the words I use to describe it are visual—all I could “see” was the two-dimensional, charcoal-colored field with shifty whitish shapes that normally comes when I close my eyes.

Then it changed—that field and its shapes were taking on recognizable forms and even some pale color. What? I was seeing the black knight and the courtyard, fading in like a shot in a movie. The scene became more defined and vibrant to the point I began to ask, “Am I dreaming?”

But Tom was right…I wasn’t asleep. How could I be dreaming and still awake? I was sleepy, but I knew I hadn’t fallen asleep. I kept talking to Tom and Mitch, “I’m dreaming. I’m seeing the black knight.”

“Yeah,” they laughed.

The scene was in full-color and focused, more picture-like than any imagining that I had ever done before. My vision didn’t quite have the intensity or absorptive quality of dreams (at least the ones that I had recalled), but it was still different than any “waking” imaginative experience than I had. I was “inside”, yet awake.

My “waking dream” didn’t last long—maybe a minute or two—before abruptly disappearing. I left with the idea that I could influence my dreams, even to the point where I could possibly have a dream while awake.

[image credit: Unknown]