|not marble... and they knocked |
down the house...
And the King said unto them: “I have dreamed a dream and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.” Then spoke the Chaldeans in Syriac, “O king live forever, tell thy servants the dream and we will show the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The thing is gone from me, if ye will not make known unto me the dream with the interpretation thereof ye shall be cut in pieces and your houses shall be made a dunghill.” (Daniel, 2, 3-10)The question arises as to whether this sense of dreams' meaningfulness arises from a fact - from the actual meaningfulness of dreams, for example - or arises because of a similarity of dreams to other phenomena which are clearly meaningful. A further - presumably separable - question also arises, as to whether dreams really can be said to have meaning, and (if they can) what it means for them to have such meaning. We will also be interested in how this meaning can be got at, and what it is that makes any interpretation of the dream correct - as opposed, say, to it merely being engaging or provocative or delightful or stimulating of further emotionally productive imaginative activity. That psychoanalytic dream interpretation may have such effects, that the dream may provide a therapeutic sandpit for patient and analyst, is not in dispute. A constructivist - to simplify - may give up the idea of interpretations getting dreams wrong or right, and instead will focus on how dreams are assigned meanings in the clinic. Yet can we stave a constructivist's capitulation to the scientific critic of dream interpretation, and instead still find something of value in the idea of a 'right interpretation of a dream'? At issue here, too, are two different forms of riddle, and the question of which is that which best characterises the dream (Matalon): is it that a dream provides a riddle with a pre-existing solution which must be retrieved, or is it rather that we must do the creative work of developing a solution which at the same time provides a more determinate, articulate shape to the riddle question?
|Carl Gustav Jung|
Furthermore, do we do well to think of the general notion of dream meaning as given independently of our specification of the general procedures by which dream meaning may be interpreted? Or is it rather that, if we want to know what it means for dreams to have a meaning, we should look to these practices of dream interpretation to tell us what is here to count as dream meaning? In short, must the methods fit the object (Blass), or must the object fit the methods (Elder)? And if there are several different ways in which dreams have meaning, is this a function of there being several different procedures that go by the name of 'dream interpretation' - or is it that distinct procedures have been developed to unearth these otherwise-assessable different forms of meaning?
has a compelling, inexorable inner logic and narrative, but precisely from this standpoint its meaning is opaque. To the listener, however, the meaning may be all too obvious, and it may even be embarrassing that someone should so openly and unwittingly declare their innermost feelings and make all too clear their lack of self-possession. The dream 'betrays' the dreamer in the same way that an un-noticed slip betrays her. In the dream the dreamer is 'too close' to the meaning to be able to grasp it: in the dream the meaning is instead lived out. The meaning has not yet been born, has not yet dehisced from the self's background to become an encounterable piece of the mind's foreground. The story-like 'and then' quality of a dream consists in its correct portrayal being as a series of happenings: ...and then this happened... and then I found myself doing this.... and then we were in a dark wood... and then I said... One reports these things quite as if the dream hadn't originated 'within one's own mind'. The interpretation, however, is part of an encounter between dreamer and analyst which restores agency and self-possession through recovering subjectivity. (In the peculiar Kantian idiom, the 'I think' may now once again accompany such 'representations'.) What I mean by this is that the dream interpretation encourages the making conscious of such unconscious wishes and fears as were expressed in the dream, and as a result of this restoration of subjectivity the dreamer can now take up the reigns of his own agential sovereignty again: I feel x, therefore I shall now do y.
Rachel Blass (2002). The Meaning of the Dream in Psychoanalysis. State University of New York Press.
Charles Elder (1994). The Grammar of the Unconscious. Pennsylvania State University Press. chs 2&3.
Sigmund Freud (1900/2010). The Interpretation of Dreams. Basic Books. chs 2&3.
Carl Jung (1909/1985). The analysis of dreams. In Jung's Dreams. Ark Paperbacks.
Carl Jung (1948/1985). On the nature of dreams. In Jung's Dreams. Ark Paperbacks.
Nadav Matalon (2011). The riddle of dreams. Philosophical Psychology, 24, 517-536.
Hanna Segal (1991). Dream, Phantasy and Art. Routledge. chs 1&5.