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Dreams of Power

Prompted by a dream I had last night, a question for the self-selected but in some other ways possibly random group that responds to these entries. I think that males frequently have dreams that feature powerful figures, actual leaders or prominent persons, e.g. the President, former presidents, NFL coaches, Josef Stalin, George Lucas, etc., and that women far more rarely do. I have polled friends over the years and results seem to bear this out, but now I want to test my results more, you know, scientifically. Who does and doesn't dream of the mighty?

This prompted by a dream last night where I went into my local bank (or a dream version of it) and found an annoyingly large crowd waiting to see the sole banker. One of this crowd was President Ahmadinejad, who (as I was aware in the dream) had come to stay in my town for a while to get to know ordinary Americans. He was glad to see me -- we had hung out (apparently) before -- and wanted to show me the poster for his new American-style business startup. A very crude poster advertising a cigar sales business. The poster noted that the company would be selling Broken Splits cheaply. I let Ahmadinejad know that if he was to be successful he couldn't use arcane cigar lingo on a poster. The dream then turned to other matters.


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Jan. 21st, 2007 05:46 pm (UTC)
No movers and shakers in this boy's dreams. Most of the people who feature in mine are friends or anonyms.
Jan. 21st, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
There's an urban myth in the UK that we tend to dream about the Royal Family - especially the Queen and (less and less these days, of course) Princess Diana - rather than politicians. I have no idea how much the myth correlates with reality, but it's formed the basis for newspaper columns and even a Pet Shop Boys song.
Jan. 21st, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
I think I've dreamt of the Pet Shop Boys, but that's as powerful as they get. (Hey, pop culture has its own power.) More often I dream of fictional characters, some of whom are wealthy or something. No politicians, though, or royals.

(American female)
(no subject) - aardvark179 - Jan. 22nd, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 21st, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
Who does and doesn't dream of the mighty?

I do (on occassion.) - Also, I'm female.
Jan. 21st, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
I don't recall exactly ever having a dream with powerful people in it. I have very baroque dreams (like going to the theatre with a giant pasta...), humiliating dreams (like being naked before my students), erotic dreams (like everybody else I think -- and hope!), fearful dreams, but not "powerful" dreams.

I had had dreams with famous people in them, but not powerful ones, especially when I was a teenager (I was in my "fan of [insert name]" period.)

Oh -- by the way, I just discovered that Neil Gaiman gives a link to this very journal and the list of must read books for your students. See it at: http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/

He writes that two of the books in the list are among his favourite. But which ones, he doesn't tell.

(It's just past 12 in the USA, judging from the hour mentioned in this post. Here, it's almost 7 PM. Sunday is slowly ending and night has fallen. Another week is looming ahead... sigh.)

I would like to ask you your opinion of "The Public Burning" by Robert Coover. Do you agree with some critics that rank this book as one of the finest of the 50 last years, being on pair with Gravity's Rainbow or Underworld? (Quoting the backcover where we can read the editor's praise.)
Jan. 21st, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
As my contribution to science, I'll put in that I do not recall dreams of powerful figures, political or otherwise. A lot of mine feature houses undergoing inexplicable transformations--and when other people are the main focus, one of them is usually a dark-haired female teaching me obscure yet useful techniques, such as how to breathe underwater.
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)
I too do have dreams about houses that transform themselves. I think this is why Edgewood stroke a chord within me when I first read Little, Big.

You enter into a typical suburb house ("pavillon" in French) and you find yourself in a school, or in a old house.

My wife used to dreams about Nazi soldiers (SS? but in her dreams they were not identified as such) surrounding her parents' house. She heard their boots on the pavement.

For a long, long time I used to dream of being unable to swim back to the coast, driven back to the high ocean by powerful waves that crashed upon me and because there was like a wall of sand going up in front of me. I tried to climb it, but couldn't because the sand offered no hold and then a wave came crashing upon me and brought me back to the sea.

When I was a child, I lived in La Réunion (in the Indian Ocean). I almost drowned in a swimming pool. A friend of my mother saved me by pulling me off the pool. I used to dream of her hand coming toward me. It was a troubled vision, because I saw from underwater.

Also, I dream of waking up and going to the bathroom and splashing my face with water and when I look into the mirror, my wife is behind me and her eyes glimmer with a killer light. Or I come back to our bedroom and fight her savagely murdered on the bed, with blood everywhere. (When I first saw the movie "Open your eyes" with Penelope Curz and Tom Cruise, although it was not very good, I felt a oppresive anguish seizing me...)
(no subject) - silk_noir - Jan. 21st, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wolflahti - Jan. 21st, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
I don't often dream of powerful figures, but I did once have President Clinton show up in a dream. He was behind me in line at the grocery store. He looked really tired, so I told him he could lean on me. This was about the time he was having a lot of problems in his first term.
Jan. 21st, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)

I used to have Clinton dreams a lot! And I still have nightmares about Hitler, about once a week, sometimes more.
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Jan. 21st, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
What does it all mean - sheherazahde - Jan. 21st, 2007 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I beg to differ - tomsdisch - Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I beg to differ - crowleycrow - Jan. 22nd, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lizziebelle - Jan. 21st, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
Who does and doesn't dream of the mighty?
Another female response: I have dreams of the Devil/Satan from time to time. In my most recent Satan dream, we were break dancing and then he taught me how to levitate. Other than that, no powerful people.
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
no powerful and mighty in the dreams that i remember

they usually fall into one of two categories - totally bizarre fantasy stuff (almost like i'm watching a good film of a good fantasy novel) or extremely strange scenarios featuring friends and lovers

oh, and btw, i found your journal couresy of officialgaiman
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
I never have "powerful" dreams. When I dream it is almost always either vivid impressions of false mundanity (eg no socks in drawer) or extremely baroque and meaningful non-stories which retain none of said meaning upon waking. The characters are folk I know personally or original creations.
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC)
I am female, and have difficulty recalling my dreams. But none of the ones that I remember feature celebrities. Fictional characters have been known to have starring roles. There was one where I went back in time and met Sherlock Holmes, who informed me that I must be either mad or American, neither of which I believe to be true, but he was very insistent.
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC)
I don't. Mine are nearly always pursuit dreams, where something's chasing me. I've had recurring pursuit dreams, where I get a little farther in the setting each time, and twice I've Escaped, in the setting. After escaping I never have those particular dreams again.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 21st, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
If not in dreams, where can we be narcissistic!?
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:41 pm (UTC)
I can't think of a time when I've had a political figure in my dreams, although people famous for other reasons show up from time to time. A year or so ago three different women on my f-list (unlinked to each other) had Georgia O'Keefe appear in their dreams over the course of a week--I was jealous.

My mother, on the other hand, occasionally reports dreams in which she's found herself talking to the president/governor/whoever and giving them a piece of her mind--wish that would happen in real life, as she could take anyone down a peg or two and have them thank her for it.

The shifting architecture motif mentioned above is a common one in my dreams, although less so since I stopped moving around so much, both geographically and emotionally. For years one of my most common dreams was being at a party in a confusingly large house and looking for someone in the crowd, while being continually distracted by other goings-on. It was with some amusement that I realized a while back that I haven't had that dream since I got married--guess I finally found the person I was looking for.
Jan. 21st, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
Big Budget Dreams
Fairly often I have dreams that must have cost a lot to produce, but the buget all seems to go for the sets. There's wonderful architecture but no big name stars. Now that you point out that deficiency my sense of entitlement kicks in: where are the Presidents? the kings? the movie stars? I once shook hands with the real Jackie O., but did she ever deign to visit my dreams? Never! The snob.
Jan. 21st, 2007 07:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Big Budget Dreams
I love the idea of big-budget dreams -- mine often set in baroque cities lavishly produced, palaces and slums and ports, and often airships or strange air travel (often crashing disastrously or harmlessly.) Other dreams, minimal, like old film noir, all happening at night and in plain rooms.
Re: Big Budget Dreams - lizjonesbooks - Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Big Budget Dreams - lizjonesbooks - Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 21st, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
I dream a lot about houses and transportation (walking, driving, taking buses or trains). Since I was 13 or so, I've had a mostly rural dream landscape that I've visited almost nightly. It's so realistic that I have landlords there. Not to mention Greyhound buses, convenience stores (in last night's dream I was thinking of marrying the owner of one), trains, mappable roads, small towns, one big city, and green hills where I walk for miles. Also many different houses, some with hidden rooms.

That landscape is in Pennsylvania, where I grew up. A year or so after I moved here to California, I started dreaming about this state -- a real shock and an indication of how rapidly the Bay Area has become home. (A total of five years in Connecticut and New Jersey never resulted in a single dream set in those states.) Now I dream about driving all the way across the country from the Eastern dream landscape to the one in California.

I have died in dreams, violently and sometimes peacefully, and had several dreams in which I've gone on to an afterlife. But I don't think I have ever dreamed of a politician.

My dreams in which famous people appeared:

In about 1980 I dreamed that Jesus was washing me with copious suds. Not at all erotic, but tender and reverent. I never saw suds like that until I put bubble bath into a Jacuzzi. (Do not try this at home. Try it in a hotel, as I did.)

I once dreamed Edward Villella was teaching me to dance. (Warm, lovely dream for this clumsy girl.)

I dreamed I was in bed with Albert Einstein but got up to let Eric Clapton in. (I had to explain to my then-therapist who Eric Clapton was.)

After John Gardner, the author of Grendel, was killed in a motorcycle accident, I had several dreams in which he appeared and exhorted me to keep writing. He had been living in the small town where I grew up, and died in the hospital where my mother worked. Later on I heard that he appeared to a number of dreamers in the area. So I am not sure if that's so much a dream of the famous as of seeing a ghost in a dream.

I dreamed I was having an argument with Neil Gaiman. Then woke to realize some useful things about being a writer.

Jan. 21st, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
My memorable dreams are also primarily landscape-oriented, though not nearly as frequent as wordweaverlynn's. The landscape is clearly drawn from tiny snippits of real places I saw as a very young child (I identified a number of them once I could drive, and they were places I hadn't been for years). The rural landscape has recently given way to a quasi-victorian cityscape; a sort of Charles Dickens small city with a college and located on a large lake. Also a trainyard.

Most of these dreams are solitary; I don't run into other people, or the people are "empty", without identity. Not hostile; just...taking up space.

I've had a few dreams of buildings, and when I do dream of "real" people, it's usually a party.

My oddest dream was probably of finding a brand of coffee that gave me superpowers and fast-growing facial hair. Different powers every time I drank a cup. I don't drink coffee in real life.
Drink a cup every day - tomsdisch - Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 21st, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Interesting. I never thought of men dreaming more about powerful figures, but then I don't talk to other people about dreams.

My dreams generally have to do with situations, ordinary people--except when it's the odd dream where I've encountered a celebrity crush, such as Russell Crowe--and the use of power that I've somehow been given. Like flying or shooting lasers from my finger tips or dazzling swordsmanship. My favorite dreams are absolutely epic in scope, dripping usually with gold and amazing fabrics and music. Like a topline production of Boris Gudonov, or something.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 21st, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
No mover/shaker dreams. I sometimes encounter a favorite actor of the moment, but mostly I meet with friends. Lots of anxiety dreams, which have morphed over the years from 'late for class' to 'late for convention/panel'. I also have a dream that other contact lens wearers occasionally have, where I need to insert lenses which are much too big for my eyes.

Chase dreams, where I realize on some outside-the-dream level that I should be more scared than I am. Or I climb stars as the staircase crumbles beneath me. That one's fun.
Jan. 21st, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
Male; no powerful figures. My dreams have always utilised the people in my life who have a direct influence on me.
Jan. 21st, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
Dreams: female, age 40
When I was a teenager I dreamt I meant President Carter and asked him a question that was very important to me (and still is). I am still an admirer of Jimmy Carter, the only man to use the Presidency to go on to better things.

That is the only time in my life that I remember dreaming about a famous person.
Jan. 21st, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
Never until the Clinton administration. Then I began having dreams that featured him, and / or Hillary, others of the administration and those who hate them unto, yea, verily, this very day.

I have constant nightmares about the current regime, the players of the regime, both in D.C. and in the Middle East.

I have other sorts of dreams as well. But when I began dreaming of the D.C. people it was a startling development, because it had never been so previously.

Love, C.
Jan. 21st, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC)
Male. No-one grand and glorious in my dreams, at least not that I can recall.

I find it interesting that most humans enjoy talking about their dreams (and will do so at the drop of a hat) but listening to other people's dreams is always a chore. Why is that? And why should it be so fundamental to human nature that it seems to be true across a lot (all?) cultures? I've heard the same thing said in a few non-anglophone cultures, anyway.
Jan. 21st, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
No powerful people that I know of. Only famous musicians, most notably Neil Young and Peter Gabriel.

I can't remember how I found your journal, but I am glad I did! Thanks for sharing with us.
Jan. 22nd, 2007 12:15 am (UTC)
Hello. I just found your journal, thanks again to Neil Gaiman, and though you don't know me you might remember my mother. She typed a manuscript for you, Aegypt I believe, when I was in high school. So, Hi.

I have dreamt of Bill Clinton, and Dwight Eisenhower. In the dream about Eisenhower, there were others having important meetings with him, planning something momentous, and they were waiting for someone to arrive in order to continue the planning. That person wasn't me, and though they were curteous and offered me a drink, they wouldn't tell me what they were up to.

Also, I had a dream once about some founding father or other, I couldn't remember when I woke up which one it had been, Washington or Adams or some equivalent. There was talk of crossing rivers and managing estates, and writing the Constitution.

I have had MANY freams involving famous people, though arguably not important ones.

I am female, native of W. MA.
Jan. 22nd, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
Well hi. Remember Mom well. A great typist and a nice person. So wonderful after years of typing my own stuff so laboriously. I remember the beauty of it, all clean and perfect.

I was supposed to get a job in the Eisenjhower administration (in a dream, but the dream actually was dreamt in the Eisenhower administration) and I waited a long time on a bench for them to come and tell me about the job, but no one ever came.

During the Vietnam war, I dreamed I was to meet with Dean Rusk and HoChi MInh to settle the matter, but I couldn't find anything clean to wear. It took me so long to find a decent outfit that when I finally got to the state department the building was closed and dark.

So dreams of power people aren't always dreams of glory. Just more Trying to Please Them and Failing.
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