June 19, 2012

Not-so-sweet Dreams

Something I haven't spent any time writing about on this blog is dreams. I find them continually fascinating -- I used to like to recount the ones I could remember at great detail in my journal, and for about a year I would turn every dream I had into a poem. Gone are the days I have time for things like that, but every now and again, when I dream something particularly weird or amazing, I take a look at this website to see what it's all about:


It's alright if you think this is bullshit -- I'm looking at you E.G.B! -- but whether there's any science behind it or not, I find it's often thrillingly correct. Carl Jung explored the idea of the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, which in layman's terms is a series of characters supposedly present in the minds of all people. These seven characters (of course there's seven, as there's seven of everything), the Animus/Anima, Mother, Father, Wise Man, Child, Shadow, and Trickster, interact with a Persona/Protagonist figure in stories spanning across different cultures, climates, and times in history, lending them the term "collective." Consider how the Coyote, a common Trickster character in Native American stories, still seems in our eyes to be dangerous or mischievous despite his small stature. Or how the tale of Cinderella has found its way into countless cultures' folktales, from Germans to Egyptians. I've been taught to distrust anything declared "universal" in anthropology & psychology -- especially by old white guys -- but in this case I think it's more fun to take everything with a grain of salt and draw your own conclusion by using these interpretations as a general guide.

The great old white guy himself.

So, on to my dream. In my waking hours I'm currently working with a realtor on locating properties and comparing them to the ones she's trying to sell, so I've been living and breathing apartment complexes lately. To no surprise, the primary setting of my dream was in one of those complexes. First I was in an empty unit by myself. I went outside to see the backyard and found it well-furnished, bright beneath an overcast sky, with a nice lawn and spacious spread. I took notes on all this, as if I was just dreaming my normal job, when suddenly my mind switched jobs on me and I was on the set of a film, acting in something like The Great Gatsby meets Seven meets Speak (which I just watched recently.) I was wrestling with this man whose face I can't recall (a tell-tale feature of Jung's Shadow figure) -- I couldn't tell what his motive was, but I thought he wanted to hurt me. Suddenly he was coming at me with a long knife -- it looked to be a gigantic butter knife, but it was absolutely sharper than one -- and attempting to pin me to the ground. Something told me I was going to be raped (thank you, Speak...) and I started punching him and grabbing at his hair. (Luckily in this dream I had a voice -- oftentimes I do not.) I somehow wrestled the knife away from him and then I was stabbing and slashing around his face, trying to get him off me before he could do any damage. Someone yelled "cut," and I remember thinking of the terrible irony of that word in this situation. It didn't feel like I was on a movie set, even after the command. Everything seemed too crazy to be fictional, dreamwise or moviewise.

I went off set to speak to my fellow cast mates, my face bloody and in need of attendance. As someone dressed my wounds a girl told me I'd lacerated Leonardo DiCaprio, and that he might never be able to act again. After that I felt horrible, even though he'd treated me so violently, and suddenly stupid cause it was "just a movie, anyway." An interesting fun-fact about real life me: I used to joke that I would get a sex change and become Leonardo DiCaprio; as he was getting his second wind with Shutter Island and Inception he suddenly gained a level of coolness than I never would've granted him in 1997. So, if I'm fighting off a shadow figure who happens to be Leo, who in my unconscious sort of equals me, what does it all MEAN?

The "Attack" dream is cited on the Inspired By Dreams website as such:
     "As frightening as it seems, the chase dream is a common dream theme for the 20 something crowd entering the work force. When we are young, we are uncertain about the ‘code of conduct’ or the behaviors that are required of us. The fast pace at which we may be forced to adopt new identities in the work place, brings a past way of being in opposition with a new way of being....This dream also happens frequently when we are moving, divorcing or making significant changes to our identity.
     Being pursued or attacked is the ‘internal drama’ of one side of you questioning your behavior as you enter new situations. Like the voice of the parents, who taught you about what you should or shouldn’t do, these tapes continue to play as dream characters that emerge each time a new situation calls you to become something you may not be comfortable with."


"Shadow" explicates further:

     "The Shadow embodies the rejected or repressed aspects of your more natural expression that was sent underground. At some point, you may have decided (or were told) that some part of you was unacceptable because it suggested weakness, fear of fitting in with the group, and can create unresolved anger. In actuality, these aspects become the power of your untapped potential. It appears frightening because you do not understand it."

Isn't that fascinating? They've hit the nail right on the head. This week I'm adjusting to a new job as I end my old one and beginning the transition to my new abode. Last night I was working out ways to debulk and revamp my wardrobe, in search of a more mature identity, rather than the teenager who belongs in most of my clothes. A lot of changes are happening, and I'm definitely feeling all those things -- what's "required" of me, what my parents believe I should be doing, what I think I should be doing vs. what my heart has told me to do for ages... My identity's shifting left and right, and even though on the surface I feel pretty jazzed about all the changes, I guess this is my dream-self hashing out some of the stress I've been refusing to acknowledge as I push ever-forward on this road called Life. On a more flattering note, if my "untapped potential" is anywhere close to Leonardo DiCaprio (minus the icky rape stuff), I'm going to get straight to work on setting that free!

Okay, that's enough dreamlore for now. I encourage you, reader, whoever you are to dream a little dream of your own and research some of the symbols that come up. You might discover things you didn't even know you were thinking. It's all there, spinning a weird web in our unconscious.

Or maybe it's just "a succession of images." Or maybe nothing at all. ;)

Good to be back -- thanks for reading!
R



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