Sunday, January 12, 2014

Epiphany #5

I have bad news for all of us.  Our dreams and nightmares are not interesting to other people.  It hurts to discover that, I know, but I know that it is true because other people's dreams and nightmares are not interesting to me.  So I'm saying what others won't, even as they commit to the tedium of hearing your rebelling of your sleep's highlight.

Sad, isn't it?  Because what is more meaningful to us than our dreams, especially soon after we dredge ourselves awake, still half-drunk on those dreams?  But they were so real, we say.  But only to us.

Told to someone on the outside, who cannot generate the palpable emotions of having lived the dream in one's unconsciousness, dreams are tedious and improbable.

How does that differ from any other fiction, you ask?  Well, imagine this.  In dreams that we are told by others, we know the characters involved, and we know that those people can't possibly do what the dream says that they did.  In fiction, we are in the writer's world, and when he or she holds the reins, we are far less skeptical about where the story goes.

But what about prophetic dreams, you ask?  Prophetic dreams, like all dreams, have lost their urgency, once Carl Jung and other dream-masters who put so much stock in dreams were replaced by the current understanding of dreams as common sense physiological reactions to the brain's attempts to process the stimuli of the day's events and information.

Though I would add to that, when is the last time that someone told you a prophetic dream ahead of time?  I don't mean to suggest by that that I don't trust prophecy after the fact.  But anytime some tells me that he or she had a dream about something that then happened, it is always after the event. I wonder if a more general dream becomes more specific in the rebelling when it is connected to an actual event that took place.

There are two exceptions to my "disinterest in other's dreams" theory.  The first is if your dream is funny/outrageous/sexual.  I mean, sure, if it makes for a good anecdote over a beer or if it is just so crazy that it needs to be told, then, sure, I'm all in, unless you start trying to make it mean something.

The second, of course, is if I am in your dream, then I very much want to hear about it.  I always want to know what I am doing, wherever I might be, and I doubt that you are much different.  That I have surfaced in your underground thoughts only makes me richer, and as long as there is the slightest chance that I will come up in your dream again, then I will hear the whole damn thing.

The only dream that ever meant much to me was, I think, one that the comedian Henny Youngman had.  He said, "I keep having this same dream.  It's about hot dogs chasing doughnuts in the Lincoln Tunnel."  Now, that's my kind of dream!


Robert Berman said...

The demystification of dreaming has indeed made them less interesting, to self and especially to others. I feel the same about "behind the scenes" documentaries. Twenty years ago when I started getting DVDs, I always watched those bonus features. But it turns out that all movies are made pretty much the same way, and the law of diminishing returns set in rapidly, because there was no narrative force in the process of filmmaking itself. The same is true of dreams; they don't go anywhere. They start abruptly, careen randomly, and then suddenly end. Any appeal is simply in the scene; the thought of hogs chasing doughnuts in a tunnel is much more interesting than hearing the play-by-play of the dream's chase sequence.

Billy said...

Summer before my sophomore year in college, I got a job waiting tables at a new restaurant in town. One of my new coworkers, who had just graduated high school and at whom I spent a significant amount of my spare time staring, came up to me in the middle of one of our evening shifts. In a voice not unlike Victoria Jackson, she told me that I was in a dream of hers the night before. In that dream, we were taking a bath together. She said that was really weird, because she never takes baths.

We ended up dating for the next several months.

She later confessed that another coworker had helped her make up that dream because I was too clueless to catch on to anything more subtle.

So how meta is that? I'm telling you about a story about someone telling me a story about their dreams, making it many times less interesting!

Bob said...

Au contraire, Billy! You made it more interesting. Like I suggested, when you are in someone's dream, then it becomes interesting, even if the dream is made up, or a different kind of dream altogether.

troutking said...

Don't dream it's over. Hey now.