Returning to Kafka and Freud for a moment.

While reviewing past readings for ideas about my essay I returned to Freud and Kafka. I am intrigued by the relationship between dreams and art and believe some insight lies here. Critics often mention Freud as influencing the Existentialists and Surrealists; Kafka fits into these movements. In the first line of his “Interpretation of Dreams,” Freud states this motive:
“I shall provide that there is psychological technique which allows us to interpret dreams, and that when this procedure is applied, every dream turns out to be a meaningful physical formation which can be given an identifiable place in what goes on within us in out waking life.”
This demand of psychoanalysis to dissect dreams practically is where Freud steers away from the artists goals of Kafka. Freud views the unconscious as somewhere separate than the individual, he distinguishes between “self” and “soul” attributing the dream world to the latter. Kafka, and many artists we have read, like Shakespeare, understood dreams differently—as something more integral, something natural to the individual. While Freud treats the dream as distorted, Kafka treats the whole world as this since dreams are as vital as any part of the individual. The worlds of his stories are confusing and seemingly disorderly. “A Country Doctor” contains many Freudian ideas about dreams: it is filled with sexual frustration, oedipal angst, and psychosis. Except in Kafka this is the whole world, there is not separate conscious realm. He poses a question I find very interesting: which world is the real world and which is the “dream world.” How do we know this world is any more real than the other? Where do the lines between the two end? How bold are these lines?
Freud understood dreaming as a giant metaphor-machine for issues in our waking life, Kafka believed this alienates the dreamer for his dreams and devalues the inner-self. Kafka does not use his abstract or complex images as a vehicle to carry meanings for others things, they are to be taken as they are and effect the reader however they do. I found the best way to read “The Judgement” was accepting the world presented and analyze it; not compare each thing to what it could be an exaggeration of in the real world, not searching for the “manifest content” as Freud would demand. Freud claims dream-thought “confines itself to reshaping” (329). But to do this he always imposed certain standards of interpretation. In Kafka’s stories one can use all different kinds of Freudian guided interpretations and they will make sense, this denies a “manifest content,” and shows it to be multiple. For Kafka the dream is indiscernible from the real person, therefore as multi-faceted as a person. In this way I think art can present the dream-world far better than psychoanalysis. Dreams are complex and science demands simplification and separation of them into parts for understanding. By relating to the dream as an integral part of the self, not as a mechanism, byproduct, or expression of the psychological self, but an extension of the self that is valid in its own right, Kafka’s writing (like much other Surrealist writers attempts but few have been as successful in my opinion) surpasses the limitations of waking life. Kafka’s stories do not give labels, but rather recreate dream-like realms and let the reader understand it and be affected by them however they will be with their conscious waking minds.

Out with the old and in with the new friend, I hope.

I cannot remember where we were but I was with several specific guys friends. There was about six of them and all were close friends from all different places, times (childhood, jobs, school…), and many of them do not know each other. The main characters were: a new friend in my life, Dawayne, and an old one, Blaze. Bit of background: I have known Blaze since childhood but he’s always been trouble—in and out of jail, constantly lying, rude to strangers, and has always been a bad influence. In the past year I have distanced myself from him. Dawayne goes to Queens College with me, is a very determined student, and sincerely friendly to people.
In the dream they are in the center with me, one on each side. The other friends are gathered around talking as if we’re at a party. I want Blaze to know how much I like Dawayne so I am blatantly directing all my attention to him. He tells a simple joke that I think was—“if I ever want to feel like a million bucks, I just walk into a bank.” (Background: I do not like when people tell jokes in conversation, I laugh when funny things arise in the current conversation but jokes seem so contrived and premeditated that they seem unnatural. I feel like the person tells this joke to everyone they saw/ will see.) I cackle much exaggerated, almost falling down with fake laughter. I stare at blaze while I laugh despite that Dawayne, the new college friend, told the joke. Blaze says something about alcoholism but I can’t remember exactly what, I believe it was something about thousands of dollars of tequila being pissed away over the years. Than I hug Dawayne while staring at Blaze. I hug him so tightly that he is like a blow-up doll the way he compresses in my arms. The way I remember him is very similar to a smiling blow-up doll being hugged. His body stretched inwards towards my wrapped arms. I am smiling at Blaze and he is cursing at us. We remained doing this for awhile, me hugging tightly the inanimate Dawayne and Blaze cursing fiercely. The strange thing is that Blaze was so much more vivid and alive than Dawayne even though I chose Dawayne of the two friends; and also while I hugging and laughing at Dawayne it seemed my attention was focused on Blaze like I wanted to see his reaction, see if he would be upset.
Another very disturbing feature of the night’s dream is that I remember at some point, not sure if it was in the same scenario, a section that takes place on the cement path that runs through the central court of the college, that runs along the entrances of Friese Hall, Powdermaker, and ends at the library. Imagine a flat wood boar don wheels that could roll down this, small wheels so the board is close to the concrete. But on the board was a man’s head with a thick black beard. He was very much awake. On each side of the head about a foot from it there were long, pale, thing arms reaching out of the board all the way form the shoulders which were attached to the wood board. These hands were pulling the board on wheels as the bearded head looked directly at me and moved towards me. It was horrifying.

Stevenson’s “Oneiric Darwinism”

Blechner “Oneiric Darwinism”
Robert Louis Stevenson Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

In Blechner’s essay he makes a very modern claim through  a Darwinistic view of dreams accurately titled “Oneiric Darwinism,” oneiric being Greek for dreams. Blechner begins with a theory of dreams similar to Hobson, that dreams are random prudct of firing brain neurons. However, Blechner believes from these random connections some become useful to the dreamer’s psychopathology; as in Darwin’s natural selection the products of this mental activity that remain useful are maintained and not discarded like the un-useful dream images. Blechner claims that we dream– “to create new ideas, through partial random generation, which can then be retained if judged useful.”   One first get’s defensive at how much credit he is giving to the human mind.  So our minds are so powerful that all that we remember about our dreams were consciously stored because they are useful? No. He is careful to mention that “Oneiric Darwinism does not recquire that dreams be consciously re,embered for them to have their productive effect on waking thought.”  This argument is less disputable.

From here he justifies  the great ideas from the past whose thinkers claims they were founded in dreams. He mentions how Elias Howe resolved problems while  inventing the sewing machine through dreams and how this also occurred with the creator of the periodic table of elements.  He takes this idea a step further and applies it to literature.  He cites Lewis Carroll’s poetry to show it’s dream-like nature.  There is a connection here between Blechner’s theory and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because Stevenson exclaimed that it was a good “bogey story” that was visualized in a dream.  The idea that this story came to the author as a dream for evolutionary reasons is very interesting.  Blechner would read Stevenson’s  story through a psychonalytic lens and claim it delves into issue of the unconcious and helps make sence of certain confusions.  The story creates a dialouge about the complexity of man’s inner nature, between the kinder and the more wicked and cruel sides of a psyche.  Literature is evolutionary because it can be theraputic or somehow helpful to mental and emotional situations.  Ideas in literature that come from dreams, and are filtered out from the nights sleep because of their helpful quality,  are maintinaed and recorded because they serve this purpose.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The unconscious pervades Stevenson’s story. The title is based on a contrast of two names; this contrast comes to mean the separation of the conscious and social from the unconscious, private mind. In the first Chapter we meet Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield. Once they discover the subject they are discussing is personal for Utterson, they promptly agree never to discuss the matter again. However, in Enfields description of the man (Hyde) who he saw coming from Jekyll’s laboratory, the theme of unconscious is revealed before they end the discussion. Enflield mentions that Hyde appeared so overwhelmingly ugly that the crowd, and himself included, immediately despised him. There is something dream-like about this. In dreams one can have a feeling about something which they do not understand. It is impractical and without justification, in contrast to the Victorian standards of Enfield and Utterson. This theme continues throughout the book. The Victorian value systems largely privileged reputation over reality, logic over mysticism, and manners over emotional response. But yet already in the first chapter Stevenson shows logic overcome by emotion: “There is something wrong with [Hyde’s] appearance,” Enfield says. “I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point.” This sentiment seems dream-like: Hyde’s ugliness is not physical, but abstract. As the book continues, Utterson gets on the case of Hyde’s relation to the lawyer’s friend Jekyll. However his limited imagination fails him as he approaches the eerie and inexplicable true nature of their relationships; as rational clashes with irrational, language breaks down.

In the second Chapter Stevenson offers a dream-scene to advise the reader to allow his imagination to make sense of this stories mystery. Utterson is haunted by nightmares in which a faceless man runs down a small child and in which the same terrifying faceless figure stands beside Jekyll’s bed and commands him to rise. While Utterson ignores this dream, anyone who knows the solution to the mystery would realize how useful this dream could be to establishing Hyde and Jekyll’s relation. Stevenson offers this as a metaphor for the relation of Jekyll and Hyde, and on closer examination one can realize how apt of a metaphor it is. Hyde commands Jekyll to rise from his bed. Hyde represents the unconscious darker desires of Jekyll. Often these taboo desires enter one’s dreams if they are not acted on in life. Hyde is ordering Jekyll to rise from his bed and act out his dreams rather than they remain in his head. Hyde is the personification of Jekyll’s dreams and does take them from the bed into the streets of London. Wherever Hyde goes in London a nightmare atmosphere seems to pervade that place. It is always dark and gloomy when Hyde is seen, this is most blatant in Chapter 5 when Utterson is in the carriage on his way to see Hyde and the London neighborhoods seem “like a district of some city in a nightmare.”

With his constant contrast of Victorian values and inner desires, seen most blatantly in the title characters antithesis, Stevenson suggests that his contemporary society focuses so exclusively on outward appearance and respectability that it remains blind to the fact that human beings also possess a darker side, replete with malevolent instincts and irrational passions. Society, like Utterson, cannot see that a seemingly upstanding person can also possess an evil potential hidden within. Stevenson’s book is shaped as a mystery. Without a belief in the fantastical and “strange,” the mystery can not be solved. Perhaps Stevenson is warning his proper neighbors to pay closer attention to their dreams. Perhaps they should learn from Jekyll when he declares in the letter of the final chapter: “I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man… if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”

Grass/Ice Sibling Fight

Me and my middle brother are in the backyard of our suburban home. However, this backyard is also an ice-skating rink, and we are wearing ice-skates. It looks like grass but we are moving around on it like ice. We are as physically developed and grown as we currently are (a 21 year-old and 23 year-old man), but we are clumsy on our skates. It is like we are just learning how to ice-skate; although in real life we can both easily skate around a rink. So us two grown-men are wobbling around and often falling as we skate on the grass of the backyard of our home. At sometime during the dream we decide we want to attack one another. We are throwing our bodies at each other in order to cut each other with our skates. I often fall before I can cut him with my skate and it is the same with him. We keep trying and missing each other as we slip and fall. On one attempt my brother get’s a steady roll towards me, as he is falling on his back he throws a skate up and kicks me in the stomach. I fall back on the ground but am not cut by the blade on his skates. The blow did not hurt, just as it had not hurt that we have been falling constantly on the ice/grass. I clumsily rise and steady myself on my skates. I roll forward and do the same move to him, kicking him with my skate as I fall back wards. Our fight continues and it is brutal; we keep kicking each other with out skates and falling on the grass/ice. I remember as the dream went on I got more and more detached from myself. Before long I seemed a spectator on the side, but was still watching my physical body and my brother fight goofily. I watched as a bystander would my brother and my body, separate from me the perceiver, going back and forth kicking each other with the skates. I became removed and was complacently watching the scene; but my physical body remained in the awkward, viscous, repetitive, futile fight of the bad-skating brothers.

Zhuangzi the Butterfly

Zhuangzi (369-286 BC) was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century B.C.E. during the Warring States Period, a period corresponding to the philosophical summit of Chinese thought — the Hundred Schools of Thought. Zhuangzi is famous for a dream. Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. This hints at many questions in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and epistemology. While this may be true, the dream of him interests me for far simpler reasons. I am fascinated by the creature he imagined himself: perhaps one of the most poetic due to their stories of resurrection from worm-like caterpillars to the most beautiful and graceful insect—the butterfly. It would be totally different if he chose a different creature. A tiger would give a completely different image of the man’s nature, or a roach for that matter. I find it so moving that he chose the lovely little butterfly. That he did not know if he was man or butterfly on awakening shows that part of him wanted to remain butterfly. This idea of the imagination as something positive can also be seen in Jane Eyre. Her imagination is a helpful escape from a less ideal real world. For instance at Lowood when her dear doomed friend Helen has just been beaten with sticks and made to stand in the hall disgraced Jane notices her face is distant and unaware, she assumes Helen is daydreaming. The imagination as an ideal continues throughout the novel, in times of need it offers you an ideal form for your current condition to escape to, like Zhuangzi the butterfly. This theme runs throughout the essays we have read form Jung’s “compensation” to the recent New York Times article posted on the blog which demonstrated the way dreams help us each night. So, even though Zhuangzi has not offered us a new idea, I find his presentation moving like I did Charlotte Bronte’s. I think that due to the way dreams creatively assist our minds, the arts are a superior way to understand their content than practical and technical scientific essays.

Covering the Old One’s

I remember last night’s dream very vividly, this is uncommon for me. I am in New York City and it is extremely packed. Squeezing through the crowd uncomfortably I spot 2 older Chinese Women. One is very short and the other is chubby, they are both wrinkly. I am supposed to follow them. I did not even have tot ell myself this it was just natural that I go to them. But somehow they are moving so quickly through the crowd. I squeezing through people as fast as I can but it is very difficult.
During my pursuit they turn off the main avenue we are walking on. I follow them there as fast I am able and see them walking down the long street that has much less people on it, but is still populated. The domestic streets in The Meat-Packing District, nice homes that are divided into family apartments all connected down the streets. I run up behind them and they continue walking at a fast pace. Without a word I lift up and open an umbrella, the top is made of feathers that are beautiful shade of vibrant purple. I am supposed to hold this over the short old Chinese Woman’s head. I did not have to tell myself this but just knew inherently. She continues rushing down the street and I try as hard as I can to keep up and hold the umbrella over her head.

Strange Fruit

I am in a tropical forest. Huge thick green leaves come form the ground, each leaf is big enough to be a bush in itself. Palm trees stretch thin from the ground and thick pal leaves open up above my head and very lively green. The green is so vivid and there is a dirt path I move down.

Lined by trees, there is a gate with a sign written in a language I can not read over the entrance. The entrance is cracked open, it is wide enough for cars to pass through but now it is only cracked for pedestrians. The words are in some Indian language, perhaps Hindi. I enter to see a large Buddha Statue about my height but much rounder. I cannot see myself, the dream takes place in first-person, I think. The statue is colored a very vivid blue. As usual, the face looks very peaceful. The statue is on a platform of cement or some hard substance. The platform ends, and his feet begin, at around my hips. At his feet, in the center of the platform there is a small holder of the cement-like material. It holds exposed cigarettes, and has been filled perfectly. They seem for the taking. Instead of that, I add a cigarette to the holder, and walk on.

I pass a large building and walk-on into a clearing of nice green grass that reaches my ankles. I see her. There is a beautiful dark Indian girl wearing a traditional dress that is the same color blue as the Buddha statue. Her sash/pashmina I also the blue but has gold arabesque designs flowing down it. She is gorgeous: hazelnut skin, pitch black hair, and green eyes, vivid as the palm leaves. However she is deaf. She stares at me but I know she cannot hear me, or anything for that matter. I approach. She tries sign-language but it is useless, I am ignorant to it apparently. Stargin at her I grow more and more turned on.

I am touching her body. No kissing just my hands firmly rubbing her torso. I remember that though the dress looks like a thicker more formal material, it responds and feels like satin. My fingers move the fabric just as it would satin and it feels as soft on my fingers. I clearly remember firmly rubbing her sides, from a little below her armpits to her hips.

It’s not Freud vs. Jung– it’s Freud and Jung

During my first interpretation of Jung while I was reading, I had considered him in opposition to Freud. Perhaps because I knew they were the two great psychologists of their time and I knew of their dramatic break-up. I read “Dreams” as a rebuff to Freud’s “The Interpertaion of Dreams.” However the more I have considered them the more compatible I realized they actually are. Jung is really not that far from Freud, he is just adding his own ideas in the interpretation of the function of dreams.
While their writing styles are certainly different, Freud’s definitive absolute tone as opposed to Jung’s flexible uncertain voice, I realized in class how their fundamental ideas are very similar. They are both sure dreams are directly related to conscious waking life, that they are contiguous with one another. They both wanted to correct the false belief that the two are not connected. While Freud may be more specific and perhaps pessimistic, both interpretations are meant to help make sense of waking life and clarify confusions. I don’t find realizing the “compensation” at work that much different than recognizing “desires.” What Jung differentiates as “causality” and “finality” are not that different. Both look to the past and present to recognize the main message of the dream. Freud’s ideas do not contradict Jung’s claim that all dreams are compensatory to the conscious situation of the dreamer. The desire that Freud aims to identify is also a product of a lacking or deficiency of a certain want of the unconscious. Is “imago” that different from “dream content?” They are both the manifest depiction of a subjective proclivity.
Freud’s usage of outside sources and general desires that most people have is compatible with Jung’s collective unconscious and archetypes. They both believe in general similarities between most people; while Freud believes almost all people have certain latent sexual desires, Jung believes most people use certain similar symbols in “big dreams” that are common to all people at certain stages of life. Therefore, they both share this idea of the subjective and objective unconscious. “Free Association” is respected by both to find the personal connections of the dreamer. But they both will also apply the dream to outside sources. Freud brings in literary works to highlight certain desires of a dream that is also in the novel or poem, and Jung will use classic artwork to show how this dream applies to a common confusion or lacking that people want to fulfill.
I believe locating the similarities Freud and Jung share is beneficial when searching for understanding of dreams. They are both great minds of understanding the human mind, and they both studied thousands of dreams. Where they meet may be the truer aspects. If these two brilliant thinkers of dream-content agree on a certain point, this point should certainly be seriously considered. “Dreams” is not a refute of “The Interpretation of Dreams.”

My Most Accurately Recorded Dream Yet

This dream was recorded a week-ago from today. I was tipsy that night, had 3 glasses of wine but was by no means wasted. I am recreating it exactly as I have it written down, adding nothing to make it more coherent, logical, or narrativish. The parentheses are my commentary, they were not written down.  I didn’t want to record this dream for two reasons: 1. I was scared of it, I didn’t like the images, but the Kafka story made me want to post it; 2. I have a tendency to poetessize when I write in this kind of whimsical style and I know I have here (thereby distancing this recording from the actual dream).

Things are in kind of black and white.
I am a sole member of tonight’s studio audience.
Before me is made for T.V. backdrop of some classic (I think I meant vintage-looking) cooking show set. A man who has a George Washington haircut and somehow resembles him on the dollar bill but much younger is standing before me, on the stage.
My fingers are in my mouth out of fear. I am seeing this from my eyes in the audience, I can’t see my body. My shadow shot itself up on the wall behind him, throwing a peace sign up that look like devils horns above the president’s head silhouette.
He then notices me, and calls me up to the stage. As I make my way up to the stage we bump and he stumbles to the side, his jacket opens up exposing a change slot where his heart would be. The hair on my neck stands up (I can remember how real the hair standing up felt).
I notice steel wool, safety glass, and loose teeth somewhere. The teeth are not in a mouth just there. My shadow is scared. George is angry and won’t let me talk. I want to yell but he won’t let me.
I motion to cover my eyes and my shadow breaks free and runs away into the audience.

Can’t remember here. I know something happened but my mind is blank to it.

I wake up weary on a park bench. There’s a rock next to me and nearby is an elderly woman. She is filling up a Poland Spring water bottle. I am sunk heavy on the bench.
I make for ice chips. It’s a me on me violent night. (I think I mean me vs. me but not sure. No idea what the ice-chips sentence means.)

It’s morning and there’s color. I’m walking. I pass a few balloons tied to a love-sick car salesmen’s wrist. I press on. There’s a bicycle wheel chained up behind a savage looking pair of women’s dress shoes, to the left, next to a gutter, there’s a dead pigeon that the wheel had run-over. (That image of the savage women’s dress shoes has been in another dream and I included it in a poem I wrote last semester.)

That’s all I have written down. I am scared and confused by this dream.


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