the Little Red Reviewer

dreaming in fantasy with a soundtrack

Posted on: January 10, 2011

What happens when you fall asleep reading one thing, but listening to something else?

Sometimes I just can help myself. I’ll be really tired, but I really want to read something. . . so I pick up a book and fall asleep 10 minutes later, book on my face, semi-dreaming of what I’ve just read. Results are especially amusing when I fall asleep reading on the sofa, and my other half is watching TV or talking on the phone.

Urban legend – Salvadore Dali would stay awake for days, and then, sitting on a ceramic tile floor he would crouch over, holding a large metal spoon in his hands. Exhausted, he would fall asleep in moments, and drop the spoon. The noise of the spoon clattering to the hard floor would awaken him, and what he saw in that moment of almost sleep, that’s what he would paint next. Urban myth for sure, but I gotta tell ya, it works for books too.

 I started reading James Enge’s The Blood of Ambrose  a few days ago(finished it this morning, and am working on the review). Had a bit of a Dali experience with this one, and I wonder if this has ever happened to anyone else? (the Dali-esque experience, not the specific James Enge novel, although this post seems to be edging towards the Enge-esque all of a sudden).

So I started reading the Blood of Ambrose last Friday night. Exhausted and stressed after a long work week, I was looking forward to vegging out on the sofa with a good book. Thinking a foreign movie wouldn’t distract me from my book, my husband starts watching Arn (a great Knights Templar movie based on the series of books by Jan Guillou), which begins in Swedish, jumps to some Arabic, and then jumps back and forth between English and Swedish. I don’t know Swedish well enough to recognize it, even less so if I’m half asleep. Somewhere between page 20 of Blood of Ambrose and the movie actually starting, I begin to fall asleep. Behind my eyes are images of a dark and frightening fantasy world, while what sounds like a fantasy language swims within my ears. Was quite the thrilling WTF moment when I woke up and I savored it as long as I could.

that Dali urban legend suddenly makes perfect and beautiful sense. I can’t wait for it to happen again.

Although this most recent time wasn’t done on purpose, If I said I’ve never read while exhausted and listening to something unusual just to see what happened, I’d be lying.

Does this happen to other people, or am I just extra weird?

3 Responses to "dreaming in fantasy with a soundtrack"

Wonderful observation of altered states of consciousness, Redhead! Thank you for posting this. I happened to watch Arn the other night, too. An uninspired and unengaging movie, unfortunately, although the setting and cinematography was good.

If you’re really interested in altered consciousness… you might like to read the Carlos Castaneda series, starting with The Teachings of Don Juan.


aww, you didn’t like Arn? I only saw the second half, and I liked it. but I am a sucker for good cinematography!

yes, that is the phrase I needed to use: altered state of consciousness. tends to happen to me when I’m really sleepy, or too hopped up on caffiene.

I read that wikipage on Castenada, it sounds bizarre! i think i will look him up next time I’m at the library, though I wonder if I might have better luck finding his stuff at the university library?


Yes, that wikipedia article does sound bizarre.

Everyone interested in spiritual development was reading Castaneda in the 70’s. (then the 80’s happened and it was just about money and cultural diversity from then on.)

My local public library has The Teachings of Don Juan; that’s the first book, and it’s the one that’s the most like anthropology research, but don’t let that scare you away. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you’re going to be deeply fascinated. I think it’s still an open question about how “real” his books are, whether they are fiction or fictionalized to some extent. Much of what he writes about is consistent with existing belief systems and practices of certain Indian groups (not necessarily Yaqui), and of other shamanic/spiritual teachings, such as Taiji (aka T’ai Chi).

If you want to see a Swedish movie about a knight coming back from the crusades, do watch The Seventh Seal. It’s one of my favorites, and on many best movie lists, too. Probably qualifies as “fantasy”, too.


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