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To dream is to look death in the eyes

What is this dream, what significance does it have?


The first documented dream book was written in 2070 f.Kr. of the Egyptian Pharaohs Merikere. He interpreted the dreams that signal good or bad events, an interpretation that has been adhered to in our normal relationship with dreams for over 4000 years.

The word drømme has, like the English dream, its etymological root in the North East dreyma, with the meanings "joy," "cheer," "song," or "business," "life," "joy." The Germanic drugan can be associated with "cheating", "deceiving", "dazzling". And aren't the dreams a real blend?

A more materialistic version of the mysterious or less mysterious substance of the dream can be found in the Scottish philosopher Thomas Brown's (1778 – 1820) essay About dreams: "Ancient writers and Renaissance writers who wrote about dreams often operated in three categories: divine (implanted in the mind in a supernatural way) – natural (caused by dominant body fluids or imbalances) – animal (originating in daily affairs) that people deal with. "

The dream creates reality. First the dream, then the creation.

Freud's classic work Interpretation of dreams and Jung's archetypes (water symbolizes the unconscious) have created other and basic analytical concepts of dreams – and not least the concept of subconscious, or rather the plural form subconscious, for consciousness consists not only of a metaphorical "above" and "below", but of a complex interplay of chemistry and electrical impulses that go in all directions and render these "positions" meaningless.

A more real reality

In some American indigenous peoples, dreams are interpreted in ritual dances and shamanistic practices and are of great cultural importance to the understanding of reality. Some tribes view dreams as more real than the "waking" reality and believe that the dream represents a larger and more true version of it. And even more amazing: Dreaming is not seen as something the individual himself does – he or she goes rather into dream sphere. The dream as an independent world of consciousness.

Dreams have different meanings in different contexts in different cultures. In Bruce Chatwin's anthropological classic dream Track he writes of the Australian Aborigines: "A trail of dreams is an invisible path through which the ancestors of Australian Aboriginal people wandered in the morning. By singing, the ancestors gave names to everything they saw during their walks, and in this way they created the world. Today, their dream tracks can be followed all over Australia by just learning the song. ”

The dream creates reality. First the dream, then the creation.

We fly across desert landscapes we have never visited. We fall into dreadful horror until we let go of the fear of falling – and become weightless and fly like birds and navigate with wings. What causes the brain to trigger these views? Is there some kind of surplus to be burned and processed? Is there a chemical charge the brain needs to work optimally? Are dreams left over from a hidden, distant past, reminiscences of thousands of years ago, gathered in consciousness as both collective and subjective memory? An activity that solves the stress and turbulence of everyday life? Maybe the dreams are logical and rationally relevant in some sense?

Time collected and time dissolved

English flight engineer and philosopher John Dunne (1875 – 1949) wrote in 1927 An Experiment with Time, where he claims that time does not exist, for all that can happen in reality, has already happened in what he describes as a "serial universe" – it can only be experienced in dreams, since time has also dissolved there. Dunne claims that the dreams can therefore also have predictions about the future of the "awake" and memorizes their dreams the following day.

Do the salmon dream of the falls? The creek of the sea? The sea about the sky?

The book was read by TS Eliot and James Joyce, also because Dunne was inspired by Einstein's theory of relativity, which was discussed and used as inspiration for works in which the concept of time was an integral part. Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov wanted to try out Dunne's theories and wrote down and archived his dreams according to the systematic concept of the English philosopher. This is how Nabokov would either confirm or disprove Dunne's prediction theory. The trial resulted in a fine book: Insomniac Dreams. Experiments with Time by Vladimir Namokov (2018), recently published by Nabokov expert and translator Gennady Barabtarlo. "Dreams can be scenes in a tragic or trivial direction, with static or sudden images, fantastic or familiar, and contain plausible events paired with grotesque details, and both dead and alive escape," notes a critic John Lanchester after reading Nabokov's marvelous drømmebok.

Subjectless being

To fantasize and daydream is a way of thinking, as writing and reading poetry is a way of thinking. We are subject to rational, self-conscious control in our daily chores, but not when we dream. To dream is loss of control. We are rational individuals most of the day – making sensible decisions from morning to evening – finding determined causal relationships from a to z, but not when we dream.

In the dream you are without "self" – without a controlling ego that rationally subtracts and adds. The dream is a mode of consciousness without an self-conscious, controlling subject as indicator. Gunstein Bakke has a remark about the dream in his novel Havende, referring to Augustine: "No man is responsible for his own dreams, Augustine already established, and thus the relative subjectlessness of dreams was also acknowledged: that it is not man 'himself' who dreams, that dreams are something to which people are exposed. »The dreams are simply a world of their own with their own goals.

"I work best when I sleep," as French poet Paul Éluard must have said. Dream is the language, so to speak, which is closest to poetry. The dreams surpass everything that the conscious imagination can imagine. We do not know what the dream is for an activity in the brain when we sleep – as little as we know what the human consciousness is when we are awake. Brain research has taught us something, but given the capacity we have in mind that the brain is in possession, we know very little.

Cats and dogs dream, the bear and beaver dream, just like the salmon and mackerel dream. Do the salmon dream of the falls? The creek of the sea? The sea about the sky? And "everything is a dream," says the mystic. Dreams are like unedited poetry from the unconscious.

Dream and poems

Can the language of the dream really be interpreted psychoanalytically or scientifically without anything being lost? As much as you interpret and over-interpret metaphors analytically in a poem, are they no longer metaphors? For the metaphor itself is a transference and a mental transition from image to perception and from perception to thinking. And perhaps the dream loses its deepest meaning for the individual when it is put into a context based on a rational, logical method and a defined system of symbolic interpretation? Isn't the unconscious a language in itself and should be understood as just that, uniquely creative in an uninterrupted way?

I kept saying: One poem can only be analyzed with another poem.

A poem or literary prose text is open to as many readings as there are readers of the poem / text. Or to put it another way: Should dreams and poetry necessarily be interpreted and analyzed logically? I kept saying: One poem can only be analyzed with another poem.

The dream is thus the language closest to poetry, as creation (Greek poiesis) and languages ​​beyond control and cause / effect. And somehow poetry is also consciousness research. Surrealists' play with and use of automatic writing as a method was a test of the uncontrolled and non-deceptive – and should in this way reveal the intellectual distance that occurs by city fabricate. A dream stands outside or beyond the conscious mind, while the poem stands outside the ordinary, rational language of reason, which is based on information about our doings and barns.

Other dream books

Within Nordic literature we have August Strindbergs Occult diary, posthumously published in 1963, as a marvelous example of a mental dream-like journey in the form of a spectacular view of reality, which caused Strindberg to see ghosts in the highlights of today. His compatriot, scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg delivered in Drömboken (1743) another unique psychological and religious document based on visions and dreams, while English William Blake reported from heaven and hell in symbolically charged visions in poems and graphics. Not to forget Inger Hagerup's fine poetry dream book from 1955, the only book with this original title in Norwegian. When Ibsen bluntly thunders that "to dictate is to hold judgment upon oneself," I add: To dream is to look death in the eyes.

It is no longer just a matter of describing, explaining and criticizing our reality, but of putting human consciousness against the phenomena we cannot decode or control. We must explore the imaginary. Dream. Consciousness. And then we are not talking about Freud's symbolic rebuses or that dream is something we may or may not have to decode. The dream is one handling.

See dream book by Dragseth.

Terje Dragseth
Terje Dragseth
Author and filmmaker.

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