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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. 


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.
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.
Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
Believing dreams
In fiction that seems always to be a good rule. For instance the movie I saw yesterday: Pan's Labyrinth, and in so many others about magic kingdoms where moral choices are utterly relevant. Surely after those dreams about your father you must have had a different relationship with him, and he with you. Even if, or just because, he didn't exist any more. A good part of all our social life (in our heads) is with nonexistent people. Esp. those of us who write fiction. It would be interesting to know from musicians if when they dream of "other music" it is attached to particular characters/musicians. My imaginary architectures exist in themselves, though they observe the decorums of period style. Some cathedrals are baroque, some gothic, come contempo. The best are in High Baroque style, Il Jesu in Rome, or Boromini. I never dream original music--but surely musicians must. Charlie was a musician but wouldn't talk about his dreams.
Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:22 pm (UTC)
dreams and echoes
Of course I have been getting at this very topic in my recent posts through such labyrinthine subordinate clauses that nobody has noticed. I'm happy to see it brought clearly to the forefront, and much more productively.

I had at least two and perhaps three dreams after my father's death, spaced a month apart from each other, in which he came back, completely aware he was dead but wanting an update on how things were going in the old home town. In one of them, I finally worked up the courage to ask what had been happening with him in the intervening month, but just as he was about to answer, the dog outside (in the dream; this was set at the family home in Florida) began barking loudly, drowning out his words and eventually waking me up.

There was no sound going on in the real world to correspond to the dog barking; in the world we live in, the dog did nothing in the nighttime.
Jan. 23rd, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
Re: dreams and echoes
Ah yes -- the schemes our dream producer gets up to to cover what he can't or doesn't know -- maps that can't be read, lectures on iomportant topics that can't be read. I remember auditioning for a part in a Shakespeare play and being unable toread the text, it was printed in something like old German black-letter. I woke up and htought Well sure -- what's my mind going to do, supply the Shakespeare text from memory?

ALl the more so when the very most important questions are to be answered.
Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
Your mistake was eating the food. NEVER eat the food offered you on the other side!

I'd venture that all the world's festivals of the dead, from the Day of the Dead to the ancient Greek Anthesteria, and many others, derive from exactly this dream: the dead come back and are offered food (and conversation). My father actually admitted to me in one such conversation that, yes, he was indeed dead, and would have to go back; he offered to take me with him. I was a bit hesitant, naturally, despite his reassurances that it would just be a visit, and I could come back.
Jan. 23rd, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
Oh! I had one of those as a kid-- where someone offered to show me "what it was like". Only I wasn't sure who. I resisted, and s/he ignored me and pulled me along. I started seeing all kinds of interesting color patterns, but I was terrified. So I fought and screamed, loud enough that my mother came in and woke me up. Weird.
I've never had one where the dead person didn't know s/he was dead, but I've had a number of conversations with dead friends and relatives. Most interesting was my grandmother. I dreamed she had just died, and my mother and aunt were there by the bedside grieving. She stood up and talked to me out in the hall, and we discussed the uncertainty of existence.
"Of course, you know there may not be anything after life," she said. I nodded, and a few seconds later thought-- yeah, but you're dead and you're talking to me. So what gives?
(But they never do tell you how it works)