I’ve been doing too much homework on this blog lately, so here’s a series of real blog posts, because I was starving myself from satisfaction with my work.
I’m very bad at keeping a personal journal, just because I think it’s silly to record our itinerary for the day, I don’t feel creative enough to come up with all my random thoughts and insights when I do sit down to write, and when it does happen my hand hurts to much to scribble it all down. So all those blank books I have are for various things; granted, I don’t write in them all everyday, some have been sitting on the shelf for far too long, but at least I’m trying to develop a habit for when I do have the time and patience to make that kind of personal discipline a regular element of the routine.
One book I enjoy writing in is my dream journal, a self-explanatory volume (which looks like the image above) in which I record what I can remember through the night. It’s difficult because dreams are both inescapable and fleeting; I once read that the reason they are so difficult to remember is because they are so contrary to the reality we take for granted and so unique to our experience they have a hard time taking hold in our minds. But what we are left with is a profound feeling, or resonance of theme; guilt, wonder, terrible dread, joy, whatever went on during the dream.
Dreams are constructed in much of the same way meaningfulness in our lives comes to fruition; highly representative semiotic devices and pre-existing elements from our day come together to communicate a narrative with some plot or overarching message we understand. Understanding them means understanding ourselves; we cannot have one without the other. People who try and claim they can interpret dreams rely on the conventional cultural relationships of objects to their intrinsic meaning – these relationships can be based on any number of factors. A tie can be a symbol of authority, responsibility, position. It can also be oppression, constriction, deadlocked restriction. The individual’s relationship to the symbol and it’s cultural status determines the psychological weight of those objects.
So, dream interpretation is a matter of personal deconstruction. Understanding our relationship to various situations and events which occur in dreams will help us to better understand the way we interpret and deal with the world. Dreaming is subconscious mythmaking of the most primal kind.
Again, this isn’t a matter of building illusions or false narratives; dreams are useful for our subconscious, psychologically. They’re a natural (and necessary) function of our person. So when we move to understanding mythology in our personal lives, we’re not talking about achieving some idealistic, Kantian position of “thing-in-itself” knowledge, where there is nothing but the absolute reality. We’re talking about understanding our personal mythos and possibly reshaping it in a way that is more useful and meaningful in our lives. And that’s the exciting aspect of dreams; they offer an insight into our subconscious not readily or conveniently available in any other way. And if we can understand the process by which that works, we can understand a lot about ourselves.
But this is a difficult and tenuous process that can easily get away from us. We’re very reliable on the hell of other people as Sartre understood it; their perceptions, judgement, feelings, beliefs. So we’re more apt to submit and defer to the ideas of truth that society presents to us, than we are to develop our own frameworks and constructs for living. This series will explore this topic like a journal documenting various semiotic configurations, much in the spirit of this blog.