People are intrigued by dreams.
What on earth are they? Why do we have them? What do they mean? (There we go again, trying to find meaning in things that we don’t understand.)
My own personal feeling is that they are relatively mundane things, made fascinating by little more than the bizarre juxtaposition of the events that (seem to) occur in them. In this respect they are a little like those children’s picture books that have pages cut into sections allowing you to compose strange and exotic creatures out of quotidian life-forms.
However, some people take them extremely seriously.
I recall hearing a Jungian therapist talking about dreams on the radio, and she was convinced of their importance. She was asked if she herself had had any particularly meaningful and life-changing dreams, and bizarrely (considering the importance that she attributed to them) she could recall but one.
She described it.
She was on the moon and in front of her was the Eiffel Tower. That’s a great dream image – the Eiffel Tower on the moon.
She didn’t just leave it at that though – as an interesting juxtaposition of two disparate objects – she interpreted it. The Eiffel Tower represented humanity’s hubristic impulse to construct edifices – not just follies such as the tower itself, but other follies such as bridges, motorways and skyscrapers – while the bleak lunar landscape represented the barren and wasted state that we are visiting upon the earth due to our enterprises in folly building.
As a result of the dream she resolved to devote more time to working towards averting the looming environmental catastrophe that we are engineering. This is a very laudable resolution of course, with which I have no objection, and which is far better than the other one that she could have extracted from the dream, that it would be a great idea to build replica Eiffel Towers on the moon.
It seems obvious to me that she took this dream to be particularly meaningful simply because her chosen interpretation of it resonated perfectly with an issue that was preoccupying her at the time. People see what they want to see in things.
You could interpret the children’s picture book figure above in just the same way. It could illustrate, for instance, the fact that people (represented by the human head) are capable of dominating the air (due to the insect wings) and the water and the earth (due to the bird’s webbed feet that can be used for walking or swimming). So far the interpretation’s looking good. But look more closely at the figure and a worrying factor creeps into the analysis. The ‘creature’ is segmented in such a way that none of the segments carries reproductive organs (It is a children’s illustration after all). The interpretation seems to point to the fact that this figure is doomed to oblivion. The creature has so much potential, but so little future.
I made that interpretation up as I went along, as you can probably tell, but it just shows how anyone can extract meaning out of nothing.
You may in fact say that my interpretation is wrong, because there is indeed just about enough room for some reproductive organs to be squeezed in there somewhere.
You’re right. Just like everyone else I ignore factors that don’t fit in with my theory. Otherwise I just wouldn’t have a theory, and where would I be then?