Worlds & Time

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Disturbing Dreams

I had some seriously disturbing dreams last night:

First, I dreamed about getting into Harvard. Not through long study and skill but through a bizarre ping pong competition. I know, I know, but at the time my subconscious overrode my common sense and convinced me that it was all happening. Emotionally I was so happy because then I'd get to live near Ben. It simplified so many things (housing, job, to some extent money) and I just felt so glowingly happy.

My mom was there (in the dream) and we were talking, and she was being her usual practical self, and she was asking me what I wanted to study. I was having a lot of trouble deciding because it seemed obvious to me from the last few years that English was not the way to go.

All the way through this, I was asking myself, could this really be happening? And the answer was "It doesn't seem real, does it? But look around, it's happening!"

I've thought the same thing recently while awake and in a situation that seems unbelievable: with Ben.

What eventually forced me out of my dream was that there was a "scene break" and like an episode of House I asked myself: "How did I get from that room to this hallway? I don't remember covering the intervening space." And then I woke up.

And my happiness about finding solutions to some of my problems disolved.

That was the first disturbing dream.

The second involved me flying. I can sometimes fly in dreams. I don't know what that symbolizes, but to me it isn't a big deal. I like to fly. I'm usually fairly decent at it in my dreams and my mind is good at convincing me that it's real.

In this dream, I was flying by swimming through the air. I realized that I could swim a lot faster and without so much thrashing around if I dolphin kicked through the air. So I was dolphin kicking and slicing through the water and suddenly I am rocked out of the dream by Ben. Ben said something like "You can't do that, you're waking me up." I mumbled something like "I'm dolphin kicking to fly" and he replied "you still can't do it though. I can't sleep." I reluctantly went back to sleep.

In the morning, I asked Ben about it and he gave me a blank look. "I didn't wake you up. You never kicked me."

So this means that in my dream of dolphin kick flying I also dreamed that I was awakened by a dream Ben who scolded me for kicking him.

So I guess I'm having multi-level dreams now.

The third dream somehow involved being upset about the bailout and pointing out that it was mostly a group of farmers that were against the bailout even though economists like Paul Krugman were for it. This was kind of a slur against farmers and I'm not saying that they can't be intelligent, but I thought it was interesting that people trained in economics kept having to fight against the people who did not have active experience or training in the field. I suppose this could have been some sort of Creationist representation: the frustration certainly felt the same.

I was so upset that I wandered over to the bar and had a Sam Adams, which was okay. In the dream it was sort of like drinking a German wheat beer. Yes, I know that they don't actually taste like that, and I've never had one in real life. It was definitely that brand though, in a pint glass. The Sam Adams didn't last long though. I asked the bartender for something else and he gave me three beers off the shelf/out of the cooler and a coke. I tried to push the coke away, and he looked at the Sam Adams and pushed it back saying something like "If you liked that, you're going to need this to dilute the taste. They're awful." One was a Heineken and there were others in green bottles. All of them had specific brand names and no, I haven't had any of them either.

<disturbing image warning. If you're squeamish, don't read the rest.>

Finally the bartender cut me off and because it was his break and I looked like he was in bad shape, he took me for a walk. We walked out to a park in Cambridge (I remember thinking, "Ben's place is just over there.") There were other people in the park and we sat down. After a bit, a dog wandered over. It was a Pug, but it had a huge cancerous growth on the left side of its face. The tumors were tubules and some of them went through the skin and revealed little clear structures that looked like malformed eyes. In a sense, they looked like grubs growing through the skin and bone.

Someone, one of the other people in the park, mentioned that they thought this was "Landis' disease" and passed over a magically present medical textbook with illustrations of a pug. But the pug in the textbook had only a few lumps on his face. The poor dog in front of my had several inches of growths. The text book didn't even imply that the actual aberration could be as serious as it was. In the dream though, I just sat and petted the dog and patted it on the head until I woke up. I still feel sorry for it.

Yes, I patted it on the growth. Yes, normally I'd freak out. No, I don't know why or how I managed to retain my sanity and stay calm.

First, disappointment. Second, weird meta dreams. Third, horror.

All in the same night.

I've had nightmares before but all that on the same night is still unusual. The first one upsets me the most though. All and all, it was a very disturbing night of dreaming.



  • I like to talk dream tech, so, I hope you don't mind if I say some stuff. Lots of stuff, as it turns out. Thanks for posting this!

    Multiple dreams in the same night I tend to interpret as the subconscious mind in a frenzy of problem-solving. It's got all the experiential data you can give it, and it's churning out the kinds of solutions in which it specializes: symbolic ones. Different than logical ones, sometimes more insightful, sometimes just as unhelpful.

    Flying, for me and a few other people I've talked to, usually comes from a feeling that you have ownership of your life, that you're in tune with who you are and where you're going. So maybe even though there's things you worry about, you're in an okay place with your identity.

    You might actually have half-woken Ben up, though. It very possible for a person to be "awake" enough to talk but not fully conscious. My little sister is a whiz at this. I could walk into her room, shake her shoulder gently, say "Hey, Pearl, it's time to wake up." She'd open her eyes, say, "Oh, hi, yeah, I'm getting up, thanks," and start to move very convincingly. Then when I peek back in five minutes later she's out like a light. And when she does wake up she has no memory of me coming in that first time or what she said to me. In other words, just because Ben didn't remember it, doesn't mean he didn't say it. Plus, the fact that he didn't react at all when you said the movement was helping you fly suggests it's possible he was asleep enough that your statement seemed logical to him at the time.

    The third dream is what I like to call a "complete" dream, meaning it came in three acts: the first act gives background and setup, the second act gives a specific picture of the situation, while the third act projects a possible resolution based on available knowledge. If you did actually wake up and then fall back asleep, it's probable your sleep was finally deep enough that time to get the full dream your brain had been struggling to produce. In the first couple of dreams you were a little more lucid, questioning the dream state, which also points to the possibility that you weren't asleep as deeply until the last dream.

    The first act, about the bailout, I would suggest is not about the bailout per se, but about the life situation that's got you worried enough to dream. You've got conventional wisdom or maybe real-life advice-givers telling you one thing, but all your instincts and internal voices are saying "no no!"

    The second act, in the bar, is your dream-self taking in something new, then being offered more new things in addition to a remedy for the first new thing. When the dream self consumes something, or physically interacts with the dream environment in a powerfully sensory way, it's always worth careful study. For me that's always indicated an important decision about to be made, or an aspect of the personality that's developing in a new way.

    An animal in a dream usually indicates powerful emotions; whether the animal represents your whole unconscious mind or an important aspect of your emotional self depends a lot on context. In this case the bartender, who'd pushed some new and potentially unpleasant things into your view, takes you to the place where you encounter this dog. It's a dog for which you feel compassion and kindness, but which is afflicted by a terrible and repugnant illness. Meaning that whatever emotional strength you'd drawn from the part of yourself represented by the dog is marred by complicated, negative thoughts and feelings. The bit about the encyclopedia indicates that whatever the problem is, it's something expectable and known, but that is much worse in fact than it should be in theory. This didn't cause you to draw away from the dog, only to offer what comfort you could, even though you couldn't solve the problem just then.

    By Blogger Fiat Lex, at 3:13 PM  

  • I just want to thank you for this. I'm not a Freudian, but this was a really interesting insightful analysis.

    Awesome. I was engrossed. :)

    By Blogger Spherical Time, at 4:41 PM  

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