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Varieties of Oneiric Experience

...is what tomsdisch labelled these investigations, and he held that hearing (in this case reading) others' dreams is as amusing as hearing any story can be, which I agree with completely, whether creepy and unheimlich or goofy and dadaist.  There's just no doubt that it all means something, and something important, but what or why can't be said, just as with stories themselves.  Teaching a lesson (or learning one) just won't do.

Anyway, after carefully grooming the data I seem to arrive at no conclusion -- most people don;t have those kinds of dreams and of the few who do there seem to be as many women as men -- so forget it.

It does suggest though the need for a real taxonomy of dreams:  not an analytic mode or method, we are far from that pace Freud and others, but a simple taxonomy, like the meme structure of folktales.  SO you can wake up and say oh one of those.  We do that anyway of course, but this would be science, like.

The Forgotten Errand.
The Big Nice House  (this one is cognate to the New Apartment, which in my dreams is always a wonderful refuge, sometimes with free meals or similar).
The Big Nice Elaborately Produced City.
The Big Guy who makes me Guilty/Nervous/Anxious
The Rock Band that Needs my Help (this can't, at least in this form, be a permanent fixture of mentality, though it might have earlier cognates. e.g.  The Shaman who Neeeds me to Beat the Drum.  In my case it was auditioning to replace the bassist in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, a band I never even listened to much.)
Meeting Dead People who Act Alive
Being Dead but Still Alive
Meeting Famous Dead People who Act Alive

... well I seem to be drifitng into inconsequence, like the Chinese Encyclopedia. 


Comments

( 75 comments — Leave a comment )
petro_gulak
Jan. 22nd, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
I've read the paper that stated: we don't dream stories, we dream images and then - in the moment of awakening - we construct these stories, influenced by something that caused the awakening. Some metal thing hit your neck – and you believe that you’ve had a dream about the French Revolution with a guillotine in the end.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:23 am (UTC)
I've dreamed stories.

In fact I dreamed a really irritating pomo one that started out as an I-have-super-powers-and-can-fly dream, except that then little continuity and evidentiary cracks kept showing up in the superpoweriness, and I was somehow both starring in and narrating the book (and I looked more like Spider Robinson than me). Then it became increasingly evident that the narrator was increasingly unreliable (yeah, yeah, I was reading Pale Fire at the time), and the last scene was a set piece where the narrator believed he was breaking into a Seekrit Govt Lab to steal a McGuffin but he was actually being manipulated by his erstwhile friends, preying on his delusions, into stealing a big TV from Best Buy. It ended with his/my arrest and the unresolved question of whether the author's portrait on the last page, all by itself, was the lamest "About the Author" page ever, or a mugshot cropped just above the numbers.

As a novel, I'd give it about a 3/10. I mean, I *have* read worse, but not lots worse. For improvisation while asleep it was a little better, I suppose. But as I told my subconscious, I better not quit my day job.

Adam
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vakratunda
Jan. 22nd, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
John
Have you read 'An Experiment With Time' by JW Dunne?



.
vakratunda
Jan. 22nd, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
Here's An Url
To the wikipedia article about Dunne and his work:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Experiment_with_Time



.
peregrin8
Jan. 22nd, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
The Test I Forgot to Study For... (isn't that one of the most common?)
asajeffrey
Jan. 23rd, 2007 12:57 am (UTC)
And for teachers, the course I forgot I was meant to teach.
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - burnin_tyger - Jan. 23rd, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
lizjonesbooks
Jan. 22nd, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
That would be such an incredibly fun thing to read, if you had the patience, and time for things like:
--getting a random,huge group of people to write down all their dreams and send them to you
--extrapolating symbols across individuals consistently and getting the dreamers to provide good translations of the dream experience that include those symbols (AKA coding-- but it kind of begs the question)
--figuring out what the most appropriate reporting time would be, to make sure you document all the big ones. For instance, I have mindbogglingly spectacular dreams a couple of times a year, but I have no idea if my experience is typical. Is a year enough of a window to catch all the good stuff?
--and finally, after you've hired a team of coders and peons to record all this stuff, you'll have to deal with the ones who already figure they have a lockdown on dreams and their meanings.
Sounds like a whole academic career.
All the same. Wouldn't it be nice if there *were* something like that..
jackfirecat
Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
wouldn't it be nice. The initial list is quite impressive. Let's just nail the motifs like folklorists can when they say, oh Cinderalla, yeah that's 516 cut with 412. (made up numbers, but folklorists have their motifs codified I believe). (Battlestar Galactica, that's a 913 and an 800 and a 111 on the side with 666 as subtext, no mayo.) The Journal of Dream Codification - I look forward to it.
(no subject) - lizjonesbooks - Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
sunpony
Jan. 22nd, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
It would also be interesting to not just establish a taxonomy, but, closer to Disch's title, actually talk about the different ways that people narrate, make sense of, and interpret their own dreams. A true study of the forms of experience, of the notions of dream that we carry, and how we render these night-jaunts significant and oracular. What does it say about the intersection of culture, symbol, and mind, and can it tell us anything about how we create and understand other sorts of story?
lizjonesbooks
Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
I agree-- I think that's what makes it so compelling. Dreams beg for interpretation of some kind, which is why dream dictionaries and Freudian psychoanalysis sell so well. The problem with bringing analysis in early on is that we tend to find what we seek. If we had a taxonomy developed in the absence of interpretation attempts, it would provide a lot of raw material for analyzing the relationship between cultural and personal experience and dream symbolism. I'm not entirely convinced we can be that objective, though!
(no subject) - sunpony - Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
mary919
Jan. 22nd, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
I often have a Big House Dream-- with rooms one after the other and secret passageways and spaces between walls... and lots of furniture. I also dream about a Big Elaborate City where everything is self contained and there are elevators and escalators everywhere. Sometimes it's like an extensive mall and sometimes I sense that it's floating in the ocean or in space.

I dream a lot about passageways, elevators and escalators. Sometimes the elevators are glass and travel outside of the house or city and sometimes they are small and dark and seem to swivel and swing and travel on diagonals.

I rarely dream of other people unless they are strangers.

I recently dreamt about a cathedral. I was with two men I had never met before and we were running around the cathedral. Not in a panic or for fun, but more as if we were examining the size of the place. And we had no pants on.
(Deleted comment)
cat_i_th_adage
Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
The Plot Ripped From the Last Lurid Movie I Saw dream...
dangerousbeans
Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
I would add to the Big Nice House dream, a house (at least in my dreams) like Edgewood (like I imagine Edgewood to be). A house with many and changing passages and turns, a house I feel that at least in some way I "live" in, but that has vast spaces that I do not know. In each different dream (I visit this place often) I see some rooms I know, and then begin to travel and find rooms and halls I have not seen before. I meet assorted people, some of which I know on whatever level, and some I have never met. Always interesting, and I always wake with a sense that I have actually been somewhere with those people, doing something Important. Of course, I can't remember what.

There is also a place I call the "Astral Dorm", where a number of my friends "live". Everyone has a room and the walls are all glass, so I can see into parts of this seemingly endless structure that would be far away if I were to walk but in dreamspace seem nearer. There are "common rooms" that connect the various rooms, and the inhabitants meet there to talk or hang out or whatever. It feels sort of like a switchboard, in some ways, if you want to talk to someone in a dream, go there, and see if they are home. Frequently the rooms are empty,
crowleycrow
Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:42 am (UTC)
The Astral Dorm hereby added to the meme list.
(Deleted comment)
lizjonesbooks
Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
*waves inky finger in air*

(no subject) - jackfirecat - Jan. 23rd, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
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nightspore
Jan. 23rd, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
Freud says, and I can confirm, that there's a standard dream of mourning where the dead person returns and it's all very embarrassing because he or she doesn't know. Often you have to have a meal with them. I did. Strange -- it brought out everything that had been embarrassing and unsaid about this person when he was alive. But now there was a bizarre way that he held all the cards, because it just wasn't his fault this time.
crowleycrow
Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
Oh I know this one well, and was just discussing the same with Amy Bloom at Yale -- when my father died very suddenly and far from where I was, I experienced a whole raft of dreams where he behaved in this way -- a man I'd never got along with, who now was ready to talk to me as an equal and a person; walking with him, talking about inconsequential things, saying "Yeah , I know what you mean" -- telling truths -- he actually cuddling in my arms and wanting to sleep and be held. Yes, not his fault, as though death had earned him a pass. Urg.
Believing dreams - tomsdisch - Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
dreams and echoes - joculum - Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: dreams and echoes - crowleycrow - Jan. 23rd, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lizjonesbooks - Jan. 23rd, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
vakratunda
Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
Then there's the ever popular
Hey! Where Did My Penis Go?



.


crowleycrow
Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Then there's the ever popular
You or your dream-manager is more literal than mine -- my equivalent is having all my teeth start to fall out suddenly and painlessly, but distressingly.
Probably - vakratunda - Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Teeth - (Anonymous) - Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Then there's the ever popular - gtrout - Jan. 28th, 2007 07:53 am (UTC) - Expand
tesla_aldrich
Jan. 23rd, 2007 04:13 am (UTC)
The Shallow Annnoying Person Who Turns Out to be a Profound Personal Advisor.
rushthatspeaks
Jan. 23rd, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
I have one which I doubt other people have, though I'd be very interested if they did, which is why I mention it. See, I have a dream job. Literally. I have a recurring dream in which I am employed at an art supply store which does not actually exist, but which is clearly the same store from dream to dream. It has the same employees. I work part-time. It's a very good art supply store, and just slightly skewed from reality, in that the customers include dinosaurs and sentient fish and Things I Can't Describe and the building's annexes change without notice and the art supplies for sale include things that are improbable/illegal/probably not useful for making art. I've been working there for about a year, two or three times a week. Occasionally they'll chew me out for not showing up for shifts, but I never remember any actual scheduling sessions or anything like that.

I really, really hope I'll find out what they pay me.

I would consider setting some fiction of some sort in the store, except that, I mean, it's retail and therefore fairly anti-narrative. If I can ever parse or make up a plot I might.

As I said, I'd be fascinated but also quite surprised if anyone else has something like this going.
crowleycrow
Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of cases (psychological) one of which was recounted by Ioan Culianu -- people who can actually remember every detail of their dream lives, just as completely as they can their waking lives, except that the dream-lives have so few permanencies -- but yours does -- I think this is extraordinary -- you must immediately sign up for a Sleep Study and take an MRI.

Do you ever arrive for (dream) work and think Oh damn here I go again -- just got off eight hours at the job abd now this?
(no subject) - rushthatspeaks - Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - burnin_tyger - Jan. 23rd, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Ditto - tomsdisch - Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ditto - lizjonesbooks - Jan. 23rd, 2007 11:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _swallow - Jan. 27th, 2007 08:06 am (UTC) - Expand
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undyingking
Jan. 23rd, 2007 10:33 am (UTC)
It would amaze me if there's not already a copious body of academic work devoted to exactly this. But where to find it, I don't know.
jackfirecat
Jan. 23rd, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
Ought to be. But is there?
(no subject) - undyingking - Jan. 24th, 2007 10:18 am (UTC) - Expand
mattboggan
Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
Recently (for two to three years), I have tried to develop a method of "lucid dreaming", i.e. when I'm falling asleep, I try to focus my mind on things I want to dream of.

Since, from time to time, I do roleplaying games, I thus try to envision the characters played by my friends, the situation in which the last game left them, and I trust my "dream imagination" to continue the tale.

It fails, often, but sometimes it works and, when it works, it's wonderfully well.

I often do it in order to try to avoid having nightmares of the kind mentioned previously for teachers...

(As a footnote, Michel Jonasz, a French singer, once confessed that he dreamt the lyrics of one of his songs "Lune" -- at least the first verses.)
anselmo_b
Jan. 23rd, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
Chinese Encyclopedia
Well then at least include in the list
Those that are dreamt by the Emperor.
Those that may be mistaken for lies.
Maybe Borges would have liked those.

No, seriously, I like your list a lot. I recognize a many of them, and I loathe the one about teeth falling out which you mention in some reply to a comment. I find it interesting that dreams in literature tend to be all but dreamlike and often serve only as pretexts. It is only on rare occasions that one comes across fictive dreams that have the taste of the real thing. I was only going to mention one in a short story by Ambrose Bierce which I do not fully recall but which hinges on the dream not being one after all and the one from the Yellow Sign by Robert Chambers. Then I remembered Pierce Moffet's dream about meeting Rose years later with her ability to ignite matches by only willing it, a memento from her days with that horrible sect 'the powerhouse'. I wonder, did you dream that dream, or did you only make it up?


burnin_tyger
Jan. 23rd, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
One trope/meme that hasn't been added to the list yet is The Storm, or more like The Tornado/Hurricane/Huge Destructive Disaster. For instance, there have been several times I dreamed that there was a tornado or tornadoes approaching the house I was in (at least once I was outside and had to run to a house to take cover). The tornado never seems to destroy whatever building I'm in though, there is just the threat of great destruction, the fear of it being ever present.

Another one that happens frequently in my dreams is The Mysterious Old Flame That You Shouldn't Have Let Get Away. In my dreams there is frequently someone who is hauntingly familiar and dear, that in the dream I have been intimate with in the past but am not intimate with now...yet when I awaken I think of the person and it doesn't match up with anyone I know at all, let alone with any actual old flame.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 23rd, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)
Subcategories
As a variation on the Back-In-School dream, what about finding yourself back in a job that oppressed you? (In my case, the restaurant business.) And for many years, I used to have a dream that I'd unwittingly reenlisted in the military---but this is probably particular to those of us who've been in the service. What about the Big Threatening House, or the claustrophobic one, or the one that's permanently under construction (this last might be peculiar to homeowners)? I have a recurring dream situation where I'm trying to get from one end of town to the other, usually along a waterfront, and the only way to get there is through everybody else's houses or apartments, a long chain of them linked together---obviously trespassing, invading other people's privacy, and at risk of being caught in the act---and, like Alice, the exits get smaller and harder to find, until the journey dead-ends or circles back on itself.
degatesjr
anselmo_b
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
Plane Crashes
I dream that one a lot. The plane is forced to land on unsuitable terrain. It suffers serious damage and though there are no victims, we are stranded in a strange land.
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