We all dream; figuratively and literally. It has been shown that dreaming is a necessary component of our physical lives. When a person is sleep deprived and is unable to dream, the person begins to experience hallucinations. In my opinion, this fact illustrates how dependent we are to this break from rationality which we call dreaming. So much so, in fact, that we begin to dream while still awake, hence the hallucinations. We are not entirely sure of all the reasons why this is so but it is apparent that a lot of things are occurring during our periods of sleep. Simple rest, of course, is probably the most obvious need for our time spent under the covers, as our body gets the opportunity to re-direct its energies. The graveyard shift takes over, as it were, punching in the time clock while day crew punches out. Night crew takes care of all the things that day crew needs in order to start fresh again tomorrow. All of the hustle and bustle of the day cannot persist any more than the quiet of the night can persist. On the other hand, our mind, it would seem, is a bit more complex. The unnerving task of running the whole show must invariably fall into its capable hands. In lieu of resting it simply takes vacations, as it were. Many of us don’t remember these excursions that our conscious mind slips into without some concentrated effort to do so. With practice, however, we can become more capable of exploring these inner worlds. Having spent some time working on this myself, I have discovered that at least one feature that my many dreams seem to share, is an inability to maintain cohesiveness. In other words, my dreams are constantly shifting or falling apart, if you will. Even to the point of being paradoxical, in that the more I try to grasp something, the slipperier it becomes. You may liken this phenomenon to the watched pot of water that refuses to boil or the thought on the tip of your tongue that comes unbidden after you have let go of it. In regards to interpreting a dream, Sigmund Freud states “the process of displacement” as being chiefly responsible for disconnecting the content of the dream from the impetus thoughts; often employing symbols to represent ideas.
Now let us consider a dream that has come into manifestation; hasn’t reality vanquished the dream? If the dream has come true, was it false before? I’m not sure but when I get myself into a pickle like this, it becomes apparent that what is falling apart is my ability to describe reality. The things which are most susceptible to falling apart, it would seem to me, fall into two main categories; those which are over used and those which are under used. Therefore, any extremes seem to precipitate this falling apart. I am thus led to ask the question; what does not fall apart? And, I’ve decided that the one thing which does not fall apart is falling apart itself. Much like change is the only constant. I may declare, at this point, that it is this paper which is falling apart. Furthermore, I could justify this by stating that it’s only fitting for a paper about falling apart to, that’s right, fall apart. At which point, it would seem, to the gentle reader, that this paper has now taken a turn. These events, nonetheless, give rise to an opportunity to witness that it is only the preconceived ideas about what this topic struggles to represent, that are falling apart; creating an avenue for the ideas to re-assemble into a more accurate portrayal. This ordering and re-ordering contains a necessary element of falling apart; very like what our conscious and unconscious mind does between sleeping and waking. In Sigmund Freud’s book On Dreams he describes how certain experiments led him to conclude that there is indeed a connection between our dreams and our waking lives. From manifest dream content he derives latent dream content, finding a relationship which connects the two; all being a function of the mind. Once thought to be pure rubbish, it is now common knowledge that our dreams offer a better understanding of the issues, in our lives, which are difficult to consider directly in the conscious state. It would seem that the mind has less constraints upon it while dreaming, which provides more freedom to explore possible inner difficulties. I picture this scenario like a two way bridge, which is somewhat narrow, between dreaming and waking. The commerce on this bridge would represent the information which we are able to see (become aware of). A direct quote is made in the book Dreaming Souls, by Owen Flanagan, that Freud called dreams “the royal road to the unconscious mind” (9). A sustaining principle in Flanagan’s book is that dreams are “self expressive”; in most instances. Invariably, what I have discovered, by reading these books, is that we ourselves are in the best position to interpret the possible meanings of our dreams and their relationship to gaining insight into our lives.
So far, I’ve been mostly discussing dreams which occur during the dream state but now I’d like to talk a little about the other type of dream; the conscious dream. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream which he is largely remembered for giving in a speech heard around the world. A lot of people dream of becoming famous one day but statistics show that only a handful, ever reach that aspiration. King’s dream that he shared with us, wasn’t to be famous but that was certainly one of the results of his dream as it helped to launch him into the public eye as an American icon that stood for equal rights. The impact of his dream has been felt but sadly his dream has not been fulfilled. Although often unfulfilled, these daydreams, as it were, can still serve as guiding principles in our lives. Our dreams may fall apart but we can still select useful pieces out of the rubble in order to create new dreams.
Flanagan, Owen. Dreaming Souls: Sleep, Dreams, and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.
Freud, Sigmund. On Dreams. New York: W.W. Norton, 1952. Print.