On reverie

IMG_1970Reverie has so many meanings. Here’s what I make of it:

Reverie is a state of mind in which I’m able to flit in between subjective and objective attention states. That is, I am simultaneously aware of my inner idiosyncratic meanings and also objective ‘shared’ reality, as explored by psychoanalyst Sheldon Bach. It is a trick like a circus ballerina riding two horses at a gallop. When I manage it, it has the same effect on my nervous system as riding two horses in a tutu might: I feel exhilarated. Thrilled. Kind of intoxicated. It’s gorgeous.

This is another capacity I had to earn, a capacity that was not my birthright. I used to either be totally locked into an objective state of watchful, tensed hyper vigilance, or blissfully immersed in my own subjective daydreaming. There was no bridge between worlds. Switching between attention -states felt as mechanical and laboured as priming a lawn mower.

But now I possess the superpower of being-in-reverie. It is the pleasure of being both inside and outside of yourself at the same time.

It is dissonance. It is both receptive and penetrative. It’s interpenatrative- I picture it as snails mating.

Phillip Larkin describes the state of being-in-reverie as he takes in a church building he’s momentarily stopped in on a cycle ride in his poem Church Going. He observes: ‘a serious house on serious earth it is/in whose blent air all our cumpulsions meet, are regocognised and robed as destinies.’

It is the state of being that makes play possible. It is Winnicotts notion of transitional space, the interplay between ‘me-not-me.’

It is Whitman’s song of myself: ‘all these things tend inwards towards me/and I outward toward them.’

This is great sex, when I can stay rooted in my own desire and pleasure and also be aware of his. No one has to mute or harmonise their voice.

This is how I seek to walk the city- I walk and let sites and sights and smells and history wash over and into me as I listen to my own inner monologue: snatches of poems, what so-and-so-said, the feel of my soles on the pavement, my breath.

This is what my experience of therapy feels like, the ability to be both inside and outside myself at the same time.

Copyright Diana Smith 2018

I am deeply indebted to the following thinkers for my understanding of reverie:

Sheldon Bach: Getting from here to there: analytic love, analytic process

Phillip Larkin: Church going

DW Winnicott: Playing and reality

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Reveries of a mum on the psychoanalytic couch

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