23 October 2011

Perchance to Dream

Perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub. For what dreams may come when we have shuffled off our mortal coil.
I love those dreams that come when I have shuffled it off.  For a long time I have considered that we are embodied by everyone who people our dreams; each character in the dream is chosen to represent an aspect of self. To me this seems consistent with the postmodernist/poststructuralist idea that we are not seamless unities but rather, are fragmented, often conflicted and contradictory identities. In dreams I enact those states, conflicts and contradictions by populating the dream with people with whom I interact in my daily life—or perhaps only with those characters that I can recognize from that life. No one in my dreams is ever a total stranger. In the dream the issues that confront me in my daily life play out in plot and emotion. In the dream I engage in experience that acts as metaphor for the various thoughts and conflicts I experience in my life. When I awaken I consider the drama, and as I might any production, interpret it. I need not be a critic of it because in my dreams I do not aim for art; rather, I aim for clarity and insight.
So the enjoyment in the dream resides not only in its presentation but also in its interpretation. I discover the identities of the issues that I experience in my daily life by understanding the characters that have been chosen for the dream, and the plot, such as it is, that reveals character—my own, of course.
How is this not Eliot’s objective correlative? Eliot has said that the objective correlative is “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events that shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.” Eliot claimed that Hamlet was a failure because it did not have a clear objective correlative. But I think that I do not search with my dreams (or anywhere, for that matter) for an objective correlative to my feelings, but create in my dreams a situation that represents my interests and conflicts from which a variety of often contradictory and conflicted emotions derive.   The variety and multiplicity in my dreams  suggests that my life that can not be ever objectified in any single image or scene. If Eliot’s criticism of Hamlet is that Shakespeare lacked an objective correlative, then my dreams suggest that no objective correlative exists to represent the complexity of the emotions.
But this afternoon’s dream was so lovely and spoke so clearly (and cleanly) to my current life. It was not that the dream expressed no conflict, but that the choices that had been made for and expressed in the dream were pleasurable and sustaining and they spoke so clearly of direction. I awoke expectant and eager to carry the traces of the dream into my waking life, which I suppose, is the purpose of the dream in the first place.


Post a Comment

<< Home