Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The Things Dreams Are Made Of...
Two Children Threatened by a Nightingale
(Deux enfants sont menacés par un rossignol), 1924
I have been charting dreams since 1986 and I have found a certain pattern to some of the things that will show up in the content of my dreams. Often what appears is imagery related to something peripheral that I thought to ignore or put aside, particularly if I felt conflicted about it or had doubts about ignoring it.
For example, Tuesday night, November 29, 2011, I dreamed that actor William Hurt was my friend but needed experimental radiation therapy. I don't know the man personally, not at all, but even while I was dreaming I knew (because I have developed some lucidity in dreaming) why I was being visited by him and a laboratory plot in my dreams, it was because film director Ken Russell died and I chose not to read about it on Monday, a little conflicted in my thoughts on Monday as to what I critically thought of his films, and pushing the news aside with fleeting memories of having seen his motion picture "Altered States".
In my journals I call this "the two day delay effect" because it's after the second day that it shows up in dreams, like ghosts in the back seat of the car that represent some nagging memory I suppressed. I never dream about subjects that I indulge -- no Harry Potter dreams, for instance. In the previous 72 hours I had watched an episode of Lost in Space on Hulu because I was nostalgic over Christmas when I was age 8, had watched two John Wayne / John Ford westerns that were filmed in places I had visited, watched one Harry Potter film and part of another, posted in this blog, watched all or part of five versions of A Christmas Carol, studied maps and fretted over traveling family members and worried about my children and none of those things, not one, had appeared in my dreams and I know why they didn't, they didn't show up as content of my dreams because I had looked at and indulged them directly and had thoroughly remarked on their meaning, significance and my feelings. What I look full on at does not show up in dreams, it's the stuff in the corners that I look away from that show up later.
So, I have formulated a theory that the content of dreams is often the stuff of peripheral vision and conflicted suppression, which is not too far from the theory formulated by Sigmund Freud that led to the piece of art by Max Ernst above and the style known as Surrealism.
To explain Surrealism as strictly based on dream interpretation is to dilute the movement of more than half its other goals, as I will explain tomorrow, but it was certainly a hefty portion of their inspiration, although to be a Surrealist one would deny such things, perhaps. Freud's theories, briefly, were about the divisions of the psyche, of the parts of personality, and what he deemed conscious and unconscious. What the Surrealist artists intuitively realized and what I am getting at is more physical and less metaphysical, and that is the separate and not necessarily equal powers of the Right Brain and the Left Brain.
Over 25 years of journal entries about dreams I find a relationship between the two hemispheres of the brain that is almost like William S. Burroughs' dialogue, "Hey! Pal! This looks like some kind of guest-host relationship, if you ask me!" The articulate and organized and analytical Left Brain makes decisions in black-and-white-and-gray and indexes and categorizes and files and the Right Brain says, "Hey! Pal! Wait a minute! I have files about that!" That is how my Right Brain can present a fully realized visual of William Hurt and cast him in a new production in my brain. If only I could tap into that! I wouldn't struggle anymore with keeping to model or rotating forms to other angles, my Right Brain perceives and stores all that for ages!
Among his other gifts, Leonardo daVinci seems to have been able to do just that. He was known for being able to draw posthumous portraits years after the subjects died, and for being able to design inventions from all angles. I theorize that his left-handed skills enabled him to indulge and draw upon his Right Brain. This came home to me during my correspondence and friendship with the artist Alex Toth. A master of animation he was known for making model sheets where he could envision and realize people, animals and objects from all angles, and he worked almost exclusively from memory, and he, too, like Leonardo, was a lefty.
These are brief observations for a blog entry, so tell me what you think -- and point me to any pertinent research. But, whatever you do don't suppress it, unless you want it to sit behind you in dreams...