Revision Process

Due to the revision process I am in a much better place with my paper than I usually am at this point. The main assistance the week-by-week preparation process offered me was simply the continuous forced practical thought about shaping a thesis and format, rather than the usual abstract formation in my head where thoughts aren’t formed completely. I feel assured with my idea as a whole and have a concrete thesis. The main challenges that lie ahead for me are gathering evidence and giving an overview of my book. I have found very good sources so the evidence is just a challenge of finding the quotes to go with the ideas I have formed about the book and thus far I have been very successful with that. The book I am working on is extremely difficult and in almost any paper on it the essayist must explain simply what the book is about because few people have gotten through the whole thing and even those who have come up with different ideas of the actual plot. Luckily for me I was taught the book by a brilliant Queens College professor, Edmund Epstein, and simply have to find other critics to confirm my summary. I have good dream-theory support and am confident I will fulfill the arduous task I have set for myself. I believe that all great things are difficult and am truly getting into this paper which is always exciting.

Thoughts on the course as a whole

This course has truly given us an all-around view of the past and current ideas about dreams floating around the world. Honestly, I wish we had more time because the psychology was certainly essential in the beginning to help us form a lens through which to read the literature, but now that I feel we are finally establishing one the semester is over. When reading “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the first time I really felt I was doing an interpretation through dream-analysis. We had gone over psychological ideas and practiced with other literature enough that I was making connections and forming theories about Shakepseare’s ideas of dreams. I truly think the literature is the way to study dreams because that is what recreates them. The psychology is good for ideas to read the books with but it is in the literature that one finds dreams. Psychology gave terms, but the books had what I took the class for—dreams presented how great minds understood them. I wish we would have done some more literature (surrealist poetry for instance) and less of the more scientific psychology. Instead I would have preferred we spent time focused on the psychologist’s actual interpretation of dreams. Most of the books had sections where the psychologist’s would actually interpret dreams from test subjects and we rarely discussed these together. Through this we could have practiced on our own dreams and learned how to analyze them. However, we had little time and before any of this the basics had to be established and those certainly were. I have found sources to continue the class on my own with. I was impressed to learn that focusing on remembering dreams truly does cause one to remember them. It is hard to say concrete things about dreams because we can not see them or ever truly re-create them so this makes me nervous about my essay but I believe I have chosen one of the books that do it best. But precisely because it does it so well, it is an extremely difficult book to get tangible ideas from. I am very glad I took this class because there is a great portion of each day that was never taught in my college career and before finishing I have learned about it.

Tuna Thug and Central Park home

There had been action before this in the dream that is very blurry but I must have been moving close to waking consciousness because I remember the following section of the night’s brainstorm. I have gone to see a movie. This kid I used to know is in the front row smoking a cigarette. We talk from out seats (although I am in the middle of the theatre) and I remember speaking very frantically. After awhile he says: “You need to relax, no-one is out to get you. Next thing I know I have changed scenery and my mouth is full of cobwebs and a drug-dealer’s holding me at gunpoint next to a 6 ft. tall (or somewhere around that) tuna fish dressed as a banker. I also remember a parrot, maybe on his shoulder. The giant Tuna explains to me how ever since he was young he’d been chased by sharks, larger fish, and even whales. But this ended and now he has become the predator. I reach into my pocket and pull out a snake which scares the two thugs giving me a chance to run. I run through a door and across a street to end up in Central Park. I walk with conviction until I found a tent with all types of equipment including a gun to hunt in the park with, and a lantern hanging from a branch of a tree my camp is next to. After this it gets blurry, perhaps I woke-up. It’s very hard to remember that which you do not in the moment. You just get some features and don’t get others in dream memory; and it does not seem to be in my control what is stored.

The Unconsoled

I think the most dream-like feature of this book is its ambiguity. When reading, it feels like you are watching someone else’s dream, surrounded by blanks because it is their subconscious and you must put the pieces together yourself. We do not even know the setting, it is an unnamed city that the inhabitants are very passionate about, however we can figure out that it is somewhere in Central Europe because of the names. There is no specific dates but we can assume it is in the ‘90’s due to references like “2001: A space Oddysey” being shown in the cinema. But it doesn’t completely seem like the 90’s because the theatre is very old-fashioned with people playing cards in the back; and the language seems generally distant. The language almost seems like this work is a translation. The protagonist, Ryder, arrives in this dream-city only to find himself perpetually puzzled by an inability to remember why exactly he is there or where he is supposed to be next at any given moment, and he’s under siege from the solicitous and demanding local citizens. They seem the personification of his waking anxieties; perhaps they are projections and each represents a certain problem. For instance the citizens can be characterized as each containing some single human flaw: self-delusional, consumed with appearances, honor, and duty. This becomes more and more clear as we hear the stories of their lives. The most clarifying moments are when Ryder remembers things. It seems he is remembering things from his waking life that the particular character relates to. One of these memories seemed particularly relevant to me. Early on in the book, while talking to Sophie he has a flashback to a phone conversation they had where he explains to her “Look, the fact is people need me. I arrive in a place and more often than not find terrible problems. Deep-seated, seemingly intractable problems and people are so grateful I come.” (pg.37) This reminded me of Jung’s theory about dreams as functioning to help us deal with problems, to give whatever mental help is needed. Every night he visits different personifications of his problems and tries to solve them, that is why only he can do it and why everyone knows he is the one who can help.

Night terror

Me and my girlfriend are lying on my couch. Outside we hear loud music and motorcycles. I rush to my window and see a massive group of large men in their 20’s. I recognize certain faces as men I have been afraid in my past. For instance there was a boy who was four years older and a foot taller than me that always used to make fun of me in highschool and once tried to fight me. There are several other menacing faces associated with past predators. Me and my girl have to think quick cause it is clear they somehow know my parents aren’t home and are going to storm the house, beat us up, and steal whatever they please. We decide to stand on each side of the entrance with metal bats and slam their faces as they walk in one-by-one. The door knob jiggles, and we prepare. The first one enters and I swing as hard as I can hitting him directly in the face (it seems in slow motion) he falls to the floor. My girlfriend get’s the second one in the same manner but that’s all we can do for there are so many of them that they mob the entrance and get in snatching the bats out of our hands. I remember one specific villain coming towards me with a menacing silence (the same bully I mentioned before). His eyes are fierce as he chuckles saying “now your gunna get it, haha, o you are fucking dead.” I jump at him and tackle him to the ground but he quickly overpowers me and throws me onto my back, climbing on top of me preparing to pummel my face in. He looks at me directly in the eye and smiles again. Then, all of a sudden, my girlfriend comes out of nowhere and throws him onto the floor beside me. She climbs on top of him and punches his head hard into the tile floor. It is a viscous and powerful blow. She hits him again and his head cracks the tile. He is unconscious. She hits him once more and his head goes through the tiles. Dust covers his face from under it. Than suddenly his whole body transforms into a white stuffed puppet. It is like a body made of pantyhose filled with cotton and it is covered in dirt. I look at my girlfriend horrified saying “look at what you have done!” She stands up quickly saying, I am going downstairs they want your C.D.’s,” and rushes off. I rise and pick up the soft white stuffed panty-ho man, it is very light, and I am crying. I take it to a bathroom sink and being washing the dirt of its face feeling terribly guilty. I wash the whole thing clean then walk to the couch me and my girlfriend were lying on earlier and hide it between the couch and the wall. Apparently, in this time the cops had come and arrested all the boys. I woke up sweaty and feeling terribly guilty.

This dream was extremely exciting. I remember me and three friends being chased by police to an abandoned building in my hometown. However the building takes on a very maze-like interior inside—wherever I turned either my cops or friends would be there. Whenever I bumped into a cop and he flashed his gun at me as I said “Stop T.S. Eliot!” He then said—“I am not T.S. Eliot.” But before shooting me, he was for some reason distracted and this gave me chance to scram. Strangely, this scene kept repeating but with different variations on the author’s name; I remember it occurring with the name “Foreseter” and “Hemmingway.” In the end I was cornered in a room and arrested along with both my friends but I don’t remember these details well. I am very confused as to why I attributed the author’s names to the policemen.

Lucid Dreaming

Lucid Dreaming always seemed to me as a very nice idea, but only for an elite few who had some natural potential. The first day when it was asked in class if anyone was capable of lucid dreaming a very small amount of hands went up. The article gave me a very different view of it. The most significant section for me was when he explained that “lucid dreaming is for becoming more aware.” One’s imagination truly is a different type of consciousness than waking perception, and we have learned that some schizophrenics are sort of stuck between these two realms. Lucid dreaming becomes more realistic for me when understood as training one’s body to focus in on the experiences of imagination. We always here of these sudo-California-Guru’s preaching about reaching different levels of consciousness. The method of lucid dreaming seems much more practical (even though it is shockingly similar in how Stephen LaBerge describes it) than them. It is more believable because all of us have seen this different level of consciousness, we do every night—lucid dreaming makes it tangible.

Enormous Ducks and the Old Irish Saviour

I am at a pond in the town I grew up. There is a family of ducks and they are strangely large. The mother duck is almost as big as me and she has three ducklings that are also large, each almost up to my waist. Ducklings do not look cute so big. They want bread but I don’t have any. I am searching my pockets frantically because the mother is getting angry and I cannot run. I know that I cannot leave. The mother gets out of the water and is enormous, she quacks fiercely. She begins to come towards me. But just then we both look up to the woods behind us and an old woman is walking down with a very patient look. She comes down next to me and is very short with glasses on her wrinkly face and short hair; much smaller than me or the duck. With an Irish accent she says “no worries love.” She spoke more in her sweet Irish voice but I cannot remember what she said. She reaches into her bag and pulls out slices of bread. She hands two to me and we start breaking them and throwing them in the water. The mother duck returns to the water and eats with her ducklings. They all return to regular size. And then I woke up. I felt peaceful upon awakening because the dream had such definite closure.

Musing on Dali

Dali is fascinating. Just Saturday I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and got stuck at a painting of his. You may know it they have it in the hallway as you enter the Modern Wing. Here is a link for it:

Observers have noted that this work is actually a marriage between faith and science, hence the scientific and mathematical angular cube meeting Christ. This marriage by Dali has been labeled “Nuclear Mysticism”, in short, a marriage of Christian imagery with modern forms and depictions. Dali considered himself a modern alchemist.
Paintings like this reassure me of the significance of surrealism. They reassure me of the importance of things which I cannot completely explain why they affect me in coherent, academic language, yet still allowing myself to experience them. If this painting subconsciously affects me, perhaps subconsciously I understand it and it is helping me deal with certain frustrations or confusions. There are many surrealist artists, but Dali is one of few who is able to convince me that another world of the subconscious could be as real as the perceived one. In looking at his art I am reminded of Jung’s archetypes, his re-occurring symbols that affect me in an indescribable way proves the power of social symbols. He is also connected to our class’s forefather Freud. Dali had a genuine interest in the mind and dreaming. His interest in the enigma of the mind brought him into contact with Sigmund Freud. The meetings occurred in 1938, when Freud was ailing in his London residence. Dali would draw numerous portraits of the father of dream interpretation. Later, he would design the dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” we saw. As said before I think art is the best medium to depict the subconscious. But even in art it is very difficult to depict the unconscious in a way the observer can really understand and even possibly vocalize; and Kafka and Dali have been two of the best at this I have found to date.

I have read two interesting facts about Dali: he never hid the fact that he was an avid drug taker… and before meeting the love of his life, his wife Gala, whom he considered to be his muse, he had also made it known that he considered himself to be “the Great Masturbator.”

Puck as Dream Personified

In this masterfully crafted play (with the best play-within-a-play I have ever read) I found the fairies to be almost a metaphor for dreaming itself, especially the most well-known one—Puck. Puck/ Robin Goodfellow largely motivates the plot of the play. The play is titled a dream, and he is the moving force of this dream. Puck is whimsical; he can do things that people cannot with their physical bodies; Robin often does things that are taboo in society or “mischievous;” he is vital for the motion of the play; Puck has some randomness hinted at in his character; also, he is good overall, never causing any serious damage and helping humans often. These are all theoretical characteristics of dreaming. Dreaming is certainly whimsical for it can often seem exaggerations of the conscious world, also people either can physically do things they could not, or do things they simply usually would not in dreams. Robin Goodfellow is necessary for the movement of the plot, in this same way dreams must be somehow necessary for sleep, which is necessary for our bodies, because we dream the entire time we are sleeping. In the dreamer often doing things they would not, dreams are often associated with taboos. Things are done or images are presented which would not be in the conscious world of societal norms and restrictions. When we first meet Puck he is associated with mischief telling of how sometimes he disguises himself as a stool that old or fat women will go to sit on and than move so they fall. There is also a sexual implication here with the focus on women’s butts. However this mischief is dangerous and sometimes he gets overly viscous in mocking humans, like his opinion towards Bottom claiming “lord, what fools these mortals be.” Here we see he contains the dark-side of dreams. We can also see the random quality attributed to dreams, not usually in their totality but often partially. Puck is compared several times to the blind cupid, randomly shooting his arrows. He is often comic, speaking in metaphors to entertain his master Oberon; dreams often make one laugh either in them or upon looking bad. Most importantly, overall Puck is good. He resolves the problems he causes, brings lovers together, and helps make the wedding night a joyous one. In this same way we have seen that dreams often serve a helpful and positive purpose overall. Many scientific interpretations of dreams have shown their positive quality: whether it be expressing emotions required, compensating where needed, sorting out memories form the day and storing the helpful ones, or even storing the images which can help in evolution. While they have their dark sides, overall dreams are helpful; they have a therapeutic purpose for, the dreamer’s mind. Puck is more good than bad. Although he can cause problems, in the end: “If we shadows have offended, / Think but this, and all is mended, / That you have but slumber’d here / While these visions did appear. / And this weak and idle theme, / No more yielding but a dream, / Gentles, do not reprehend: / If you pardon we will mend. / Else the Puck a liar call. / Give me your hands, if we be friends, / And Robin shall restore amends.”

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