I’ve had it in my head all day. It’s fading, though: I only remember now less than half of what I remembered in the second between waking up and putting on my glasses.
In my dream:
I am listening to the radio in Hebrew. The radio may be a TV that I just can’t see, or is facing away from me. I am on my dorm room bed sitting up against the wall. I am also standing and facing the TV at the same time. I am myself and I am a 35-year-old man with a fat-ish face and some stubble, like maybe three days worth of stubble. Or maybe I am just looking at the man. The stubble looks itchy. There is blue-ish light on the man’s face. I can’t actually hear, in my memory of the dream, the Hebrew on the TV screen. Once I try to concentrate on what they’re saying, the Hebrew disappears altogether and the TV is in English again.
I do this basically every morning. The funny thing about dream interpretation and memory is that the longer you do this for, the more frequently you’re able to remember your dreams and the more content you can remember. Here, the itchiness of the man’s dream and the transition from Hebrew to English is most vivid to me.
This semester, I’m in a class called “Literature and Psychoanalysis,” and I’ve therefore spent the last two weeks engrossed in Freud. Freud, for me, is kind of like Taylor Swift. I took Tay Tay on as an exercise in understanding the male athletes’ worldview. I didn’t expect to get her stuck in my head; I didn’t expect to crave T. Sway dance parties every AM, but there it is. I came to Freud with at least a cursory understanding of the premises of neuroscience, with a focus on adolescent sleep cycles and dreams, most of which I gleaned from independent projects in high school and the occasional foray into the practices of Oliver Sacks. However, after survey what seems to be the tip of the Freudian iceberg, I find myself completely enthralled by his theories.
A brief example:
As you know, a cigar is never just a cigar. A man with stubble who I embody in one moment and then transition from the next is not just a man. He is some man. He is probably a composite of several men I know. Thinking about it further, he has the physique of the creepy tattoo artist who worked across the street from my favorite Mexican restaurant on the lower east side where my high school friends would sometimes pre-game parties in Manhattan. The blue light can be explained as the light from the sign above the tattoo parlor, where he would often stand in anticipation of speaking to my friends and I after dinner. He expressed an interest in me, which I (obviously) was not pleased about. Nonetheless, my friends liked to remind me of his interest and tease me about possible relationships with him. In this way, I became associated with him to them. He was my creepy tattoo artist. This explains why in the dream I both see him and am him…
I could obviously go on here and discover/explain how he is related to the Hebrew/English, the dorm room bed, and the composite of other people/memories that contribute to the male figure in my dream. I could uncover something about my sexuality, my relationship with family… I won’t play out for you an entire Freudian explanation of the dream above, mostly because it’s annoying and way too personal. Freud would connect the disparate elements of the dream using connections formed by simple free association from the dreamer. He would argue that these connections were not as arbitrary as they seemed, but that everything, which appeared arbitrary was actually an intrusion of the unconscious on conscious thought. For class the conclusions I reached after analyzing my dream were… disturbing, to say the least. I’m not saying that the conclusions an analyst would come to are right, but they are certainly interesting.
I highly doubt that every action is motivated by sublimation of an erotic drive, or that every random thought and slip of the tongue is a key to the unconscious. I don’t really see myself wanting to kill my mother and marry my father, either. Hysteria, the main psychological problem that Freud dealt with, was a strange mixture of psychological neurosis and performative degradation of women. His science is straight-up wrong.
My point here, then, is not that I’ve fallen madly in love with Freudian psychoanalysis. Just that I think it’s worth more than a day in a Psych 101 class.
Also, if you don’t want to go and read a bunch of case studies or philosophy, Dangerous Method is a very broad-strokes, sexy-light (Kiera Knightly, mostly), depiction of Freud, Jung and Sabina Spielrein. Our class went to see it last night and it gave a very fair, albeit reductive picture of the three leading psychoanalysts pre-WWII.