Friday, January 21, 2011
We Are Such Stuff
Science, brain imaging and neural mapping have put a dent recently in some of the more esoteric aspects of our sleeping lives.We've been told our dreams are nothing more than our brains processing through the day we've just finished, or that our brains are merely clearing the buffers. And yet. Carl Jung taught that a number of cultures consider dream life to be every bit as real as waking life. He cites one culture that teaches children suffering nightmares to go back into the dream and confront the monster - they must face down that which they fear and demand compensation from the fear - a song, a poem, something useful to the waking life of their people.
Demanding compensation from fear - I love that. The notion of treating your dreams as valid, as real, appeals to me. The practise flies in the face of the tendency to reduce the human animal to its most mundane, constituent parts (your synapses replaying your fight with your coworker). It's interesting how while we're demystifying the workings of the human mind (no real magic or woo-woo stuff here folks!), physicists drilling down into the nature of reality keep finding more and more woo-woo. Granted. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (who said that and where??) and maybe that's at play here because that level of physics, while it fascinates me, is way over my head.
But really. What's your take. Dreams and nightmares. Reality? Not? Some combination thereof? Think back to the worst, most terrifying nightmare you've ever had. How did you react? How did your body respond? How did that nocturnal imagery affect your waking life? Or did it? Now recall the greatest dream you've had. Same questions. Those things colored your days, didn't they. Now define real versus unreal.
Ultimately, do we care about real versus unreal? I don't. Dreams and nightmares alike are a vast, deep ocean of symbols and stories. They feed into the books I write. What if books are to waking what dreams are to sleeping?
For anyone interested in monkeying around with dream symbolism and understanding, (if you suffer nightmares or night terrors, this book is vital) I highly recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/Living-Your-Dreams-Bestseller-Becoming/dp/0062514466/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295025577&sr=8-1