Wednesday 13 August 2008

Portals of Ivory and Horn

Dogs dream.

We can have no idea what they dream about, but they dream.
Watch them.

The paws move, they make little huffing noises, the tail twitches.
What do they dream of?

Do even our domestic dogs dream back to a collective Jungian unconscious of chasing rabbits in a pre-human Doggie Utopia?

I doubt it.

What are our dreams?
Why DO we dream?

I don't think all our dreams are quite the same. I think maybe our dreams really do tell us a lot about who we are. I think that our dreams ARE us doing something, and we do it for a reason.

We spend a lot of time asleep. Even someone with what is pretty much a sleep disorder, such as myself. A long time, when you think what that means in the wild.
A long time to be prey.

Time in which our physical framework goes into overdrive using up the entirety of its energy in repairing nerve endings, healing wounds, building bones, etc.

The stuff it cannot devote full attention to whilst movement is ongoing.

The bodily equivalent of a factory shutdown.

And the body seems to need at least five hours.

But the mind? What does the mind do?

I don't think the mind ever quite shuts down. I've heard many people say they can't state for sure when they went to sleep. I always know, pretty much. I know, because when I wake up I find that as I adjust my eyes my brain pretty much hands me back the thought processes I was last occupied on. I know the time I dropped off, almost to the minute, because I know exactly how far down the line of a particular speculation I was.

And judging by just how quickly you can lurch out of sleep at the slightest warning, I don't think your senses are ever truly switched off.

Of course, I'm aware this is partly subjective. I think I probably physically wake up and check my surroundings every half hour or so. Gut instinct, learned in a place where you never sleep easy, because you never really trust the person in the bed nearby. One hand is always tensed to deliver that defensive blow to the neck.

I think sleep paralysis says a lot. I've posted on it once before, early in the life of this blog. I've had it, and it's downright scary. In the middle ages it was seen as demons come to get you, now the uneducated blame Aliens. I know who to blame. The computer game Halflife and Amphetamines. Basically, its walking up to a lucid dream in a jolt whilst your body still has all your muscles switched off. Of course it's freaky.
But it also tells us a lot about what dreams are.

I really don't believe anything Freud had to say about dreams. I don't think ties are penises, or going up stairs symbolises sex. My experience is dreaming about having sex, symbolises sex and walking up stairs suggests you're going somewhere.

So I look at my dreams and what I think they mean.

There was a time when I thought that our dreams might be us entering the lives of parallel versions of ourselves living in parallel universes. That somewhere in another dimension, lived another me- or multiple other versions of me, and that in our dreams we got to see those other days that the our other selves had.

The reasons I thought this were sound. I had- still have- many dreams where the dream has a self contained life- and more importantly, self contained memories, self contained awareness.

As in people appear who you do not know in real life. And you wake up not knowing who they are. Nor can you remember the name they had in your dream.

But in the dream they had a name. And a past. A past they shared with you. The dream you has a whole shadow past, which the dream you remembers.

There is a frequently occurring dream me. A dream me of a certain type which long made me believe it really was a parallel life I was looking into.

It was/is our world, but it was/is not. And that me is not me, not me as I am. And the divergence has grown wider over the years. But is he me as I might have been? Yes.

The world he lives in is ours, but it's not. It's a more openly corrupt world and the type of me who exists in these dreams is the me that I guess would exist in such a world, if he existed in such a world. I often don't like that me. For one thing, he always carries a gun. And he's used it. And when he does, he doesn't fire once. Three shots in succession, always.
He's a me as I might have become had I been subject to a mafia state and had power within such a society.
That dream me doesn't even like himself. He seems to live in perpetual fear.

These dreams don't show up often. But when they do, they're always vivid. With a clear plotline.

Other dreams I realise are based on hopes and fears. The dreams where you try to run, but can't move.
And haven't we all had the dream where we think we've woken, but are actually still dreaming? And aren't those always when deep down, you know it's time to get up, but you're bloody tired?

And school. How often do we dream about being back at school? Why?

I guess it's something we all look back on. Adolescence is a burden enough as it is, learning how to deal with discovering that in spite of the 'yuk' we felt about mating with the opposite sex a few years prior, actually we want to do it- oh- so- very- much. And pubs. And the rest of it.
And have to earn alphabetically graded bits of paper that would brand us with the mark of Cain for life. Adolescence as human society creates it today, is an ordeal we never forget. And it haunts our dreams for life. Or it does mine, anyway.

Some of the things I've done in dreams have really made me think when I've woken. I've never had a gun pulled on me in real life, but I know how I would react, simply from how it happened in my dreams.

Do we ever have happy dreams? I don't know. I think most people would say most dreams have a dark edge to them. For one thing, and I've asked this of many people- is it just co-incidence that in your dreams, its more often night time than day time?

Symbolism in dreams? No, I don't think there is. Not universal symbolism anyway.

I think its pretty much the same as a flight simulation. I think its brain maintenance.
I think your brain just does a systematic overhaul in the time that elapses between the time the brain says its physical processes are prepared to the time the rest of the body says its ready to switch on again.

I think it uses simulations, fantasy existences and the like to mentally test hypothetical situations, deal with underlying hang ups, work through problems- though not always in the way you'd notice, because it takes the shortcut of going right back to tweak the very roots of your thought processes.

And to do that it sometimes has to return to how you set those thought processes up in the very first place.

Those disturbing childhood memories you seek to suppress.

Your brain psycho-analyses you in ways a psycho-therapist never could.

I think dreams are good things. I look at my dreams, and yes, they often disturb me. But I actually do think that often, they are me coming to terms with me. That parallel me I described above, that's my own mind creating the worst possible me that could exist and exploring just what it is I really am, worst case scenario. I guess I know from my dreams exactly what I'd do in the worst situations my mind can conceive of. I know my mind is fully cognisant of its own systems- I know I COULD conceivably kill, but could NEVER conceivably rape. And that's reasonably comforting to know.

Your dreams really are your mind pushing the boundaries of who you are, dealing with every possible extremity that might come your way.

Of course your dreams are weird. It's like having a probe run through every image subconsciously sitting in your mind and rearranging them, so that when you wake up you're mind is fighting fit again.

You know when they say 'Sleep on it'?

They're right.


Anonymous said...

I suspect that myself. I've long believed that our dreams are just our brains way of sorting through the all the nonsense we encounter day to day.

Kind of like defragging your computer.

Anonymous said...

Great post crushed..I really related to this.
Yes, I've often seen 'me' in some paralell universe, hanging around people I don't know and have never seen but we have a history together. And I'll often see them again in other dreams.

I do a lot of sleep-waking. My eyes and brain will tell me there is something in the room and I will be frozen in fear and it might take three seconds before I wake up properly and realise it's just a dream.

I also don't believe those dream books that say if you dream of sharks it means you are religously repressed etc. If you dream of sharks then you are dreaming of, well, a shark.

I have a lot of quite unnerving dreams especially around my own death and ending and pre-warnings. I freak myself out to no end but I really believe that those dreams and feelings are my own fears seeping into my subconscious.

The brain is an incredibly powerful object that we don't even fully understand. I think it stores every single thing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Sorry more clich├ęs. I have been plagued by nightmares all my life, even as a child but the interesting thing they seem to have gone away as I've become a "little old lady". In fact I don't dream near as much as I used to.

I don't know about Freud symbolism but I do find it strange that so many of us have similar dreams, like falling or flying or being naked when everyone else is clothed.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a really good post. Dreams Crushed. I was thinking yes I recognise this, and this...

So dogs? And Cats for that matter. Do they dream? I guess they must do, You can watch dogs trying to run in their sleep and barking and howling.

What are dreams? Well I definitely do have dreams that are clearly my mind sorting out the lumber left over in the attic from the day. You can say “Yes. I recognise bits of that from the movie I saw”

I totally agree with you about Freud, etc. Sex is usually symbolic of sex in my dreams. I don’t think I ever dreamed of ties that I recall… Being tied up, followed by sex… Hmmmm… Cheese last thing before sleep tonight Moggsy ;-)

But also there are those dreams you mentioned that are your “might have beens” and you are right, they do have complete histories, that you know in them, but loose when you wake. Also people who you know there but forget on waking, and sometimes ones you know in your own life. At least for me they do.

I once dreamed a complete consistent dream about being a resistance fighter in a retro version of London that never was, or ever will be. The styles and vehicles were slightly weird. Like the 20’s had a one night stand with the 50’s sort of thing, with just a hint of Flash Gordon.

Very realistic and self consistent and it stayed with me, so I still remember having it. It ranged all over places I knew, and ones I didn’t, avoiding patrols. I think the enemy might have been maybe Austro-Hungarian? That one seemed to last for months. I think I may even have got killed at the end. I remember I felt slightly odd waking up in my own bed. Like “Oh I’m this me, that’s a relief”.

I remember another realistic detailed one with a history to it, where I was passionately in love, off on honeymoon with someone I knew intimately in the dream, but never ever met in real life. Waking up from that one left me with a real sense of loss. I tried real hard to keep their face in my mind.

Also I have dreamed about flying just by, well.. concentrating, exploring the house and streets, flying with my arms held out facing the ground. Almost like swimming. Those ones were just that, no story to them.

Some of those dreams are nice, or just ordinary, they fade so quickly all I know is that I had them, but I think I remember the scary ones more easily.

Ok I’ll shut up now before someone sends for the men in white coats, or decides I have some terrible psychological problem and am a danger to society.

Do other people do this stuff? I guess you do Crush. Is this a good thing? I know I do have quite an active imagination, maybe it’s all just down to that?

Makes you wonder though doesn’t it…

Anonymous said...

So fucking boring

Anonymous said...

wow... cool, cool....!
i never thought about whether my dogs dream :-) i guess ur right, they do ;-)

yup, even in dreams, we have memories; albeit dream memories. and there are times when i wake, and wonder if i've dreamt the dream before; just like while in the dream, i wonder if i've lived it before ;-)

> I think it uses simulations, fantasy existences and the like to mentally test hypothetical situations,
One i used to have pretty often (and not often at all now; guess 'cos the issue is resolved), is being 'tempted' sexually, and trying to decide if to give in or not. cos as you say, it's practice; if your willpower is strong enough in the dream, there's a better chance you'll be able to live out your dream in life the way you choose, too ;-)

Good title; good choice of words:-)

Anonymous said...

i just noticed fwg. and coincidentally, he's a contributer here, too! good choice, CBI :-)

Anonymous said...

My favourite Dali painting name - "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate"

Anonymous said...

Dreams always fascinate me. I agree with Bunny, I once read that dreaming was a way of filing away what happens day to day!

Sometimes my dreams are things I would like to happen and if I have those I can drift in and out of sleep for ages and sort of manipulate the dreams direction.

Occasionally I have dreams where I know I am awake but can't open my eyes. Those are a bit more sinister and scary!

Anonymous said...

awesome posts. Guess dream is something we all do, whether we remember it or not.

I hardly ever do, which might be good cuz my dreams are always twisted. Just the other day I had this dream abt a friend - dont think I'll be able to look him in the eyes for quite some time... ehum

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I dream the answers to problems that have been running through my mind for a while. Brings a fresh meaning to the expression 'Sleep on it' lol. But it's as if the answer had been staring me in the face all the time, and my mind during sleep simply uncluttered everything and let me see the answer clearly.

Anonymous said...

I only really dream stuff I cant remember like being lost or in an airpport of going somewhere .. nothing with any information or detail..

Anonymous said...

Bunny- Mostly, I think so, yes. Kind of like sorting the till out after the customers have gone.

No idea about defragging computers. If I knew what it meant, it's probably something I should do.

Kate- That's what made me thinkn parallel lives. I don't believe it now, but you can see why I thought it.

I think the imagery is usually there for a reason, but not in allegorical form. As you say, sharkls are sharks, rolling around naked, is rolling around naked.

I remember havig a dream once wghee thee whre these fake humans identiable only by.... having those cartoon eyes that are taller than they are wide.

Quite wehy dream me never asked why no one lse but me sawthrough this cunning disguise, I'll never know.

But it scared the shit out of me at the time.

I think it stores way more than we realise.

jmb- I wish I could say that. Having said that, I remember very little about my dreams. Proportionally, any way. I know I do dream a lot.

Well, flying and falling kind of make sense, I guess. Being naked when everyone else was looking...

That wasn't a dream!

Moggs- Dogs definitely dream. I've watched them closely. It's REM sleep, they're having.

I'm glad your dreams seem like mine...

Dreams, I never had your PARTICULAR fantasy London dreams, but dreams of alternate existences, yes.

In one dream I found a book in a library telling the history of the lost homeland of the dwarves situated in the Pacific.

Fascinating history it was as well.

My dream flying is wierd, Kind of more swimming in air.

Ray- Trolling? I should imagine it is.
I would say, continue with the other hobby, but maybe Mummy found the magazine stash?

Eve- Watch them. They do.
It's quite cool to watch, actually.

Though maybe your dogs are still young enough to move more than sleep.

Dogs. Great creatures. But hell, do they sleep?

Anonymous said...

Not a Sheep- I prefer him to Picasso. Slightly less style, but a lot more substance.

CherryPie- And the ones where you kep telling yoursel that yoy know you're dreaming?
See, I don't think we're really asleep when we have those. It's lie in dreams, not actual sleeping dreams.

Sounds like the opposite of sleep paralysis, if there is such a thing.

Crashie- I can imagine...

Oh dear. Dreaming about a friend... In THAT way???

Not good to remember those dreams...

Looking them in the eye is never quite the same...

Ginro- Yes, that happens. I sometimes wake uo ansd just see what it was I was pondering on before I went to sleep, and I realise that at some point whilst i was dreaming, my brain managed to tie up the thought process.

Mutley- No dreams about radioactive howler monkeys? Or Lestor Piggot?

Anonymous said...

When I really look at myself and my actions it seems clear that my subconscious is achieving way more production than my conscious mind. I sense that my conscious mind is such a minority that this 'self' that I feel is 'me' has about as much control over this body as a passenger does of the ship that he sits on.

I think there is massive communications going around the foreign levels of the brain, each with their own languages, some of which are not entirely dissimilar to the conscious 'language'. I suspect that dreams are just ever-present misinterpretations of messages not intended for my 'self' brain level and that we only glimpse them in sleep because that's the only time they're not drowned out by our own 'self' level thought.

I have lots of little waking 'dreamettes' as I begin to drowse at my desk at work. They wake me up.