Remembering the Battle of the Bulge –or- Patton’s Dream
Childhood Innocence-or-Political Regression in the Service of the Collective Dream Ego
In June 2011, having flown into Paris and after spending a few days mainly at Montmartre and the Sacré Cœur, I took the "Bullet train" (TGV) from Paris to Zurich, Switzerland. The train travels through the countryside at a cruising speed of 300KPH (or ca 185MPH). I was en route to the International Association for the Study of Dreams annual conference in Holland that would be held a week later. While in the train, I began talking to a German man who had gone to Paris with his son (9 or 10) for the day, to go to see an international miniature railroad exhibition, they were now returning home. We talked for some time about our mutual interest in miniature railroads and miniatures in general (miniature war gaming was a childhood passion of mine, something I thought I would not disclose). The father seemed to be an afficionado, something he evidently wanted to pass on to his son.
My imagination can take flight when discussing my own childhood memories about toys and miniatures. I can disclose to you the reader, that many of my dreams are in fact strongly aesthetically influenced by what Ernst Kris called a "regression (to the innocence of childhood) in the service of the Ego". Jean Jacques Rousseau, had already identified this "inner child" problem and the inability to return to innocence, as the central well spring of civilization's psychological problems. Having read Rousseau as a student, my dream has always been to make the processes of the dream and dreaming "transparent", much as it would be seen through the pristine political eyes of a newborn babe. The IIDR website, and the facebook page "Field Notes of a Dream Researcher" are a realization of that dream in part.
My parents had afforded me many toys, games and literature that became employed by my fantasies of how people, the world and history operated. I had toy soldiers who had silver attachable helmets and rifles that provided the miniature war gaming of the time. Other dreams sent to the IIDR show that this war gaming of the imagination has been transferred in a large part to the video gaming industry, read the dream interpretation Video Gaming Industry. As well, I had miniature train sets, miniature race car sets, miniature water propelled rockets, and squirt guns to name a few. These toys and miniatures all fuelled and stretched my imagination and most likely my dreams. At the same time, other media were part and parcel of the growing arsenal and toolbox of my imagination.
My parents had bought for me the political board game "Diplomacy", a game that evidently even Presidents and American Secretaries of State have taken enjoyment in. One of my favorite TV shows about the same time was "Combat! ", starring Vic Morrow and Rick Jason. In 1965, my parents also bought the encyclopedias Americana and Canadiana, as well as an encyclopedia outlining all the battles of World War 2. My imagination was further fueled when they took me (over my childhood school years) to see the war films of the Hollywood dream factory, such as "The Great Escape", "The Sound of Music", "Von Ryan's Express", "Where Eagles Dare" and "Patton".
Remembering the Battle of the Bulge -or- Patton's Dream
Part of the reason for writing this "Field Note" today, is that I met my neighbor in the elevator day before yesterday (December 16, 2011), he lost his wife suddenly last year and he evidently is still grieving her loss. For some reason, the conversation in the elevator immediately turned to WW 2. He said that he was 18 when he began serving in the Canadian army from 1943 to 1946. Once they landed in Europe, he said that he and the Canadian army proceeded through "France, Belgium and Holland". He said, the time was "crazy", he felt "crazy". As the film "Catch 22" makes abundantly clear, it was "crazy".
Did I mention, we live on the 19th floor, so we had some time to talk. I guess my neighbors comments make sense somehow if you think about it. December 16, 1944 is when Hitler launched his secret counter-offensive against the Allies in hopes of making a separate peace. We know this German offensive as the "Battle of the Bulge". I dedicate this Field Note to my neighbor's untold stories, dreams and nightmares, representative of all Canadian soldiers who defended our liberty against a totalitarian monster and menace whose dream of world domination was thwarted by their efforts.
Hitler's dream and plan of war for a counter-offensive against the Allies in the Western military theatre was imaginative, perhaps even based upon on a dream. Hitler who reportedly was superstitious and believed in omens, hoped that it would be "a new Dunkirk" for the Allies. Hitler's military operation was known as the "Watch on the Rhine", and had an allusion to an old patriotic German song. Hitler's dream if not bold, would be defeated mainly because of one man, George S. Patton. A man who we are told believed in reincarnation and out played the German masters of the military dream game. How well Francis Ford Coppola researched Patton's biographical life is unclear to me. Said another way, I do not know if the dream is a fact or a fiction. However, Coppola's use of a dream as a plot device fits Patton's poetic historical character to a T. Patton's opening monologue which at times uses colorful metaphors, is iconic American military "pep talk" rhetoric (watch video).
Patton (played by George C. Scott): "I had a dream last night. In my dream it came to me...that right now the whole Nazi Reich is mine for the taking." "You know how I'm sure they're finished out there? The carts. They're using carts to move their wounded and the supplies. The carts came to me in my dream. I couldn't figure it out. Then I remembered. . . . .that nightmare in the snow. The agonizing retreat from Moscow. How cold it was. They threw the wounded and what was left of the supplies in the carts. Napoleon was finished. Not any color left. Not even the red of blood. Only the snow."
The dream would foreshadow Patton's Third Army victory over a broken and defeated German army. Including the dream in the film was a stoke of cinematic brilliance. Scott would win Hollywood's greatest prize the Oscar, for his well researched personae performance of Patton. Scott would refuse the honor.