Wednesday, 6 July 2011

What’s in a Name?

The Forest of Burning Dreams symbolises the place where I keep my aspirations, desires and hopes. I use this symbolism because of its vivid and evocative imagery; blazing, towering columns of fire, searing heat, the loud crackling of ferocious combustion and the creaks of structures giving way and collapsing into themselves whilst encased in an immolating, infernal cloud (think Bavaria’s Black Forest, relocated to the centre of Hell).

I first began using the term years ago, but I don’t claim to have originated it. I do, however, believe that it came to mind independent of having read of it or heard of it somewhere, but I don’t rule out subconsciously assimilating it from some obscure song I may have heard.

It’s obviously a variant of Boulevard of Broken Dreams (which is, of course, a reference to Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and a Green Day song of the same name) and, so, coming up with it doesn’t exactly make me the next Neil Gaiman or Billie Joe Armstrong (or, indeed, Neil Armstrong for that matter. Come to think of it, at this stage I’d be chuffed if I were able to make one small step anywhere, least of all the moon!).

At any rate, I used it as a screen name or gaming alias starting from late in my industrial metal period, right on through my goth period, past my goth/metal period and all the way into my darkwave/ambient/symphonic/thrash/doom metal period. At that point I felt like a change and started listening to hillbilly bluegrass and began using the moniker Cletus Clearwater-Revival, but I’ll save that for a later entry… *grins*

And so in search of a title for my blog, and wanting something distinctive (no mean feat on the internet nowadays) I resurrected this old chestnut.

In terms of the meaning I attach to this title, and I suppose it is somewhat gratuitous, I acknowledge that, I see the Forest of Burning of Burning Dreams as having several levels of meaning. Back when I first used it, it was simply something I thought sounded a little edgy and dark but now see several dimensions to it. 

Obviously, burning dreams connotes depression, despair and aborted ambitions, which, of course, I have felt a little of as these past few years has seen me lose a great deal of things I value since my disability has worsened. I will likely touch on some of this in future posts, but, yes, that’s one aspect of the meaning behind the name.

Moving beyond that, however, I see two other layers of depth. Firstly, I often envisage my inner drive, my primary motivational source, as a firestorm or furnace. I guess when it comes down to it a lot of what it is that has driven me try to achieve some of my life’s goals has been fuelled by a type of constructive rage. It’s an anger to try to make thing better, I guess. The issue is trying to keep it at a healthy level, to keep it contained. I use a lot of analogies, and the one that comes to mind to illustrate this point is that of a person, outdoors, sleeping under the stars beside a fire. The fire can keep the person alive, by staving of hyperthermia and allowing the cooking of food, but, if an accelerant, say, petrol is thrown onto the flames, and the sleeping person is too close, they’ll be burnt alive. The fire represents something inside of myself, something I must respect but not lose.

Of even more significance, now, at this point in my life, a burning forest represents renewal and rebirth following disaster. I don’t profess any significant arboricultural knowledge but I understand that naturally occurring bushfires are a necessary element of ecological regeneration. They leave death and destruction in their wake, but after the flames, new life and a new cycle emerges. I hope for this as my life moves forward following the tremendous upheaval I’ve experienced since my disease worsened in 2009. Some dreams of mine have died as my circumstances have changed, there’s no escaping that, but I am replacing them with some new ones that are better suited to my life as it is now. The inferno simply clears the way. Or so I hope.

For me at least, the Forest of Burning of Burning Dreams is like most things in life; neither wholly positive nor wholly negative. I briefly pondered using another one of my multilayered aliases, A Smashed Crab – given (1) I’m a Cancerian [even though I think astrology’s a load of shit], (2) formerly drank too much on occasion and (3) am pretty unattractive – but I’m comfortable with my choice. It’s not like I’m naming a child or choosing a tattoo design…

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