A Meditation on Dreams

S.D. Chrostowska at Hedgehog Review:

The most buried things about us, apart from our self-deceits, our dreams are what we nevertheless do not shrink from sharing with strangers. They remain for us the strangest and most fascinating things about ourselves. We share them because of their striking originality, of which we hesitate to claim authorship.1 But we also share them in another sense, and for almost the opposite reason: The broad outlines, if not the details, of our unconscious are willy-nilly what we have in common. As such, dreams have long been fodder for superstition, folklore, entertainment, and art.

Yet dreams are significantly not life. They are and are not real. It is a fact that we dream, but what we dream is not fact. The Latin title of Aristotle’s treatise on dreams is De insomniis, its lexical ambiguity (the prefix in- can express either privation or inclusion, or in this case of/in sleep) well suited to their paradoxical nature: illusions of being awake conjured from the depths of sleep. To us moderns, dreams seem, rather, like the product of an involuntary background process, one the mind runs nightly to update and integrate waking experiences.

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