Saturday, November 17, 2007

today : dreamers of the dream

I've never been interested in dream analysis. Mostly it is nonsense on a par with astrology and the like. The endless dictionaries that provide a guide to the symbolism of your average night-time reverie are as pointless as lists of personality traits according to whether you were born with Saturn rising in the Plough, or whatever. I don't think you can interpret a dream where your teeth are falling out in simplistic terms, if at all. Even Freud seems rather flawed. I kind of think that he was on to something conceptually, but The Interpretation of Dreams seems to me, like the other bits and bobs of his original writings that I've read, as much an exercise in building a watertight theory, even if the pieces have to be jammed together to make them fit. Perhaps it was the style of the time to declare yourself right about everything.
(I also wonder if, if dreams are wish fulfilments, then do you have less dreams the happier you are, given that you have less unfulfilled wishes?)

There are people who endlessly write down their dreams in order to analyse them. I must say, I've done it once or twice in the past. It can be fun to connect remembered fragments of dreams to waking experience, emotional quandaries and such. But I don't really hold by the idea that there is much credence in this. It's like cold reading. If you are looking for a connection you will find it. The recurring dream in which I have tender and intensely vivid sexual encounters with ****** ********, a girl I fancied rather strongly 20 years ago, signify nothing other than a possible measure of regret that I only adored her from afar and, although I did once share a bed with her, did not actually have a waking sexual encounter with her. I seem to remember it involved industrial quantities of alcohol. There is a little mystery in that I only started remembering the dream about 3 or 4 years ago and what happened in the intervening 11 years, I don't know. Maybe there is some sound or fragrance in my house that triggers it, or something.

In some ways I wish it had stayed unremembered.

What got me really thinking about this was an especially vivid dream that I was awoken from by the milkman's pick-up truck having a broken exhaust silencer. The milk-man delivers about 3-30 am each morning to the cafes and restaurants close by to where I live. My street is the closest to get access to the back of these places, and there is a useful alleyway for them to use. Mostly, the sound of the truck and the clink and rattle of crates of milk bottles doesn't wake me. But one morning a few months ago the truck obviously was having problems. It roared along the street like a stock car, and in a second I was stone awake, propelled right out of a dream. I couldn't move for half a second and then remembered that I'd been dreaming. The fact that I awoke so quickly must have short circuited the dream into my memory, and it didn't evaporate. The details are fairly mundane, and did not feature ****** ******** whatsoever. In fact the main detail was the feeling I had at the moment I woke up. In my interrupted dream I had walked into a room, knowing, as I walked along the long corridor towards the door, that I'd visited it many years before. It was utterly familiar. I'd apparently experienced deja vu inside my dream.

I have no scientific knowledge of the nature of dreams. In many ways the tantalising wispiness of a half remembered dream is the best thing about them. The fact that it gets away from you and doesn't seem to inhabit accessible memory is where the intrigue lies. The fantasy that I constructed on the the back of my dream deja vu experience is that it was not deja vu, but that I was actually visiting a room I'd been into years earlier. That inside my dreams there is a narrative that spans over years and decades. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was an entirely parallel life that is lived whilst asleep?. I'm not talking about real Schrodinger's Cat kind of parallel universes or anything that can be described as spiritual. (I pretty much think that people who see ghosts, experience alien abduction, have out of body experiences or visit the gates of heaven are just mistaking their dreams for reality).
What I do like is the notion that maybe the life inside our dreams is not random or schizophrenic, but ongoing and interconnected, perhaps in the shape of an unfolding modernist novel.

It would be nice to know that in this alternative unconscious universe, without having laid eyes on or spoken to her in waking life for almost 20 years, actually I'd been ****** ********'s lover for at least 11 years.

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