Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dream Reflection: 'Manifesting the East'

Last night’s dream was a perfect example of a dream that defies any dream theory suggesting arbitrariness, or random memory imaging (i.e. the brain kind of ‘shorting out’). I find such theories unreasonable and extremely unpalatable (admitting my bias…); in fact, I would go as far as to say that they reflect an ulterior motive, a kind of academic defence against something that contains too much mystery to be treated ‘scientifically’, or methodologically in any way. It’s strange; I can’t say the dream was linear per se—I don’t think any I have are— but it was linear in the context of a dream and its perhaps common perception as a bundle of garbled memory/imagery. Dreams are known to be erratic, confusing and difficult to grasp in any conventional way. But this merely marginalises seemingly inexplicable elements; it does not address them in any way.

This dream was almost a hero’s journey type dream. I arrived at a distinct destination, a place where I was expected to be and where people knew me: a speech night of some sort at my old school, Mentone Grammar. But I left this place. I decided that I wanted to get away, and one of the people I had to avoid in leaving the place was a figure of my past who could no more resemble authority than anyone else—a former Vice Headmaster at Mentone Grammar. The man was intimidating: huge, broad-chested and with a potentially explosive temperament. Among others, he stood for everything I hated and probably still do hate about the world, convention, authority, conditioning and other such social elements. Anyhow, I slipped away, eventually arriving at a large Coliseum-like set of steps—very Roman indeed. Very monolithic and epic. I sat on these steps and was addressed by a God-like figure. I do not remember what the figure said, but when I left I began to ascend a huge set of (this time more regular) stairs. I struggled to endure the seemingly endless steps, but was eventually helped by a group of young Asian men. They were so benevolent in their manner; it was strikingly obvious that they posed no threat, and would only prove to be helpful to me. They even spoke in a gentle way. I remember very little from after this point in the dream, however.

In looking back on this dream I see a bundle of interconnected metaphors. I think, perhaps, that I could interpret this dream in many ways; but this is my initial interpretation. The night before I watched the movie Platoon. I think this is where the Asian men came from. The way I interpreted the movie (thus far) very much emphasised the rejection of the east by the west, in many senses. Among the arguably multiple dichotomies in the film, the central one in the protagonist’s platoon obviously stuck out: half was Man and half was Woman. That is, one half of them represented a feminine aspect, which sympathised with the enemy, the easterners, far more than the other side, whose attitude was far more brutal and whose acts reflected this. I plan to write a piece focusing on Elias, the leader of the feminine (or pot-smoking, ‘hippie’) side, because this side appears to be the side breaking through, but which is perhaps defeated in the film by the Barnes-led, masculine half. Anyhow, to continue with the dream: the Asian men were solicitous and helped me in such an amiable, respectful way; I couldn’t help but see them as an element of the Suppressed Feminine. I had just received some form of word, some logos, from a God figure on some ancient steps. This suggests to me, among other things, ancient knowledge: contemporarily suppressed knowledge. Something long forgotten, buried beneath the death-mounds of Man. Initially, I had arrived at my old high school, Mentone Grammar. This school was an all boys school and instilled patriarchal values in a very rigid, classical way; it shaped its subjects in a stereotypically Man-like fashion. After receiving the word, I was met by easterners at the foot of a huge ascent. Enlightened in some way, I was beginning a new journey back up to the grey, cold world of Mentone Grammar (the guys I knew from Mentone waited above, ready for some speech night). This could simply be seen as society, put vaguely. I was struggling to go back to this society after having been spoken to by the God figure, but was aided by the east, by the solicitous Asian men, who even appeared effeminate in their physique¬: not queer, or ‘girly’, but gentle and nurturing, like mothers. There were about three or four of them, all pushing me up these stairs, with no qualms about helping me. Going back to a patriarchal society after direct contact with some form of suppressed knowledge, or aspect, or perhaps just pure energy, was extremely difficult. But there were (are) aides. What is suppressed is not gone; it manifests in other ways and is even prominent in other cultures; it is always there, playing some role in some form—just as it manifested itself in Elias’ camp in Platoon, the latter being in the almost quintessential atmosphere of manliness: war.

And so, this is one way of looking at the dream. I cannot say there is a fixed meaning to dreams, or cause; and this is probably why it is often marginalised by the strictly methodised scientific method. But just because there are layers and layers of potential meaning, each perhaps buried in a different corner of the dream to be later excavated, this does not deem the dream devoid of value. Perhaps the dream is merely reflecting, as opposed to telling; perhaps it has a homeostatic effect, as (I think) Jung suggested, keeping the dreamer’s psyche in some form of balance; and perhaps, at times, the dream represents all that is marginalised in the human psychical life. I see no reason why it can’t be all these things, and more. Any formulaic approach to such vastly mysterious phenomena is, I think, bound to fail; nonetheless, a lot has been gathered from dream theories, and as such they cannot be blindly dismissed. And as an aside, I think that perhaps, at times, the dream is not so mysterious it all: it overtly displays something of significance, be it a conflict or what have you, from the dreamer’s life.

And this was but one dream, from a cornucopia of dreams and dream experiences. If this holds so much potential thought, so much significance but with no rigid meaning—what of the entirety of my dream life, of anyone’s dream life?

*thoughts continue as overlapping waves*