The Dream Argument -or- What is Trash Culture?
The Ontological Source Code of Plato's Cave -or- Dream Reel of Trash Culture
One of the primary messages that the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) has tried to send (since 1996) via the Internet, to those living in the global village, are the everyday effects of media, the culture industries and the Hollywood dream factory on our dreams. The mantra of social psychology is that "belief creates reality", this idea is echoed in the words of the film character Morpheus (The Matrix), "what is real?". In terms of media effects created by the Hollywood dream factory, we can see them nightly, in our dreams. When looking at a dream, I often ask; "what reel is playing?"
This question is not a new one, Plato's allegory of the cave has the philosophical problem built into it. The dream argument is an age old philosophical chestnut. Those that have experienced lucid dreaming understand the problem well. Now, after well over 30 years ago, I can tell you the reader, that I had a lucid dream, in which I knew I was dreaming, however in terms of my senses (touch, smell, taste, hear and see), this simulated reality was indistinguishable from waking reality. For Jean Baudrillard, we live in a "postmodern reality", a reality in which the self-referents between fantasy and reality have become blurred. Again; "what is real?" Morpheus provides Neo with an answer to the question of; "What is the Matrix?", Neo is basically told that he was a brain in a vat. In the film, Neo has been living in a computer generated neuro-simulated dream world, known as the Matrix. Star Trek had already used this science fiction concept in the episode "Spock's Brain". In a more recent film Source Code, the science fiction hero is a man who basically is a brain a vat, who with the help of a machine is able to catch a bomber by searching for the bomber in alternate timelines.
What is also of interest in the dream below, is that Ginette recognizes, that the action in the dream is a test. In her own words; "I realize this and know that all of this is a test". The test could be testing knowledge, skill, physical fitness testing. Or, it could be a test of what is morally right and wrong, a test of temptation. It could also be, a test of what are fictions (illusions, fantasies) and what are facts (reality). Finally, all tests in life can be viewed from the ontological perspective about our "being".
Having worked in a Child Psychiatric clinic, I learned that a dream can be viewed as psychological testing, specifically as a form of "projective testing" such as the Rorschach or the TAT. From this perspective, dreams often represent a projective test of character (personality) as a whole. Many dreams sent to the IIDR, are made of the stuff of "low brow". One such dream "Below the Belt" speaks of failed consciousness and moral character development in relation to codes of chivalry. An argument could be made, that Ginette's dream represents her attempt to escape "trash culture".
Ginette, 32 American
As the dream begins...
I am gathering with a group to watch the movie Deliverance (which I have never seen in real life). The next thing I know, I am in the movie. There is a voiceover describing what is happening, kind of like a movie preview. I am running along a hill by a river and am being chased by crazy people. I am very frightened. The voiceover is telling what has happened to the other people in my group...some have been killed and others have escaped in various ways. I come to a high cliff over the river, and there is almost no way down. Several people have died here. I see a rope to use to climb down the cliff. As I start to climb down the cliff, a giant monster creature with a mermaid body looms up over the cliff. I know I have to get down the cliff to get away.
I climb down over an outcrop of rock where the monster can't see me. There is a boulder tied with rope (in a bow), and I know that I have to untie the rope to have the boulder land on the sand below so I can walk on the rock and not across the sand. For some reason I can't walk across the sand, but I don't know why. I also know that the monster will see me when I start crossing the sand, but it is the only way to get away. I untie the boulder and start crossing the sand, hopping from this boulder to other rocks. The monster starts throwing diamonds at me because this is the way that it lures people off the rocks.
I realize this and know that all of this is a test, so I ignore the diamonds and keep going. I get to a place where a maze-like path goes between tall cliffs of grey rock. I run along the path to get away and then come to a house. In the house is a woman who I know in the dream (but not in real life). She is reading some scriptures. I grab a few other books of writings from various religions for us to read. Then I hear someone coming and know that we have to get out of the house and away immediately. I urge her to go, and we run outside, where there is an old pick-up truck.
I am worried that we didn't grab anything to take with us, and then I realize that we already have everything we need packed and in the truck just in case. We get in the truck and start to drive away. A woman with a backpack starts to chase after us, and I recognize her as someone I know from work (in real life). She is running after us, and we are frightened of her for some reason or that if we stop the monster will get us, so we don't want to stop for her. She keeps chasing us and yelling, and I realize that everyone else is either dead or has gotten away, and if we leave her behind she will be stuck and won't be able to get away.
I start to feel very bad and sorry for her, so I make the driver stop the truck and we let the woman get in the truck. I feel relieved (otherwise I am afraid through the whole dream), and we start driving away. I then woke up.
Dreams as Character Testing -or- Deliverance and the Lord's Prayer
At first the monster throwing diamonds at you as a "lure", did not ring any bells for me. On second thought, I think it may allude to Marilyn Munroe's iconic song "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend" (watch music video). The song would be imitated by many, including Madonna in "Material Girl" and Nicole Kidman in the film "Moulin Rouge". In the IIDR interpretation Dreams, Cinema and Gender Ideology in the Mirror a feminist cinema perpective is employed to understand a dream in the film "Gertrud". In the dream, the female protagonist is pursued by hounds, in your dream the pursuers are personified as mermaid monsters. Both dreams appear related in that they both represent an attempt to escape gender stereotypes. The fact that you state "the monster can't see me", points to Laura Mulvey's theory of "male gaze".
In your dream you survive, as well you stop and find the compassion to help another person, even though you believe that this action may endanger yourself. Is there a better test of moral character, than a selfless act? Doing some further research, the another perspective of this selfless act, can be contemplated. Stephanie Golden Slaying the Mermaid: Women and the Culture of Sacrifice (the mermaid monster in your dream?) believes that many women put the needs of others before their own needs and well being and thereby creating self-defeating behaviours.
At the "deviantcrimes.com" website "reality testing" is discussed as it relates to criminal fantasy and behaviour. Criminal behaviour, is viewed in part as a consequence of failed reality testing and impulse control of violent fantasies of the criminal mind. Explore the Jungian Zodiac type fantasy wheel (at the website), and the fantasy cycle aspects of the personality profile of the "Zodiac Killer", a serial killer never brought to justice. The fact that in your dream you resist the temptation of that which might "lure" other people, points to this being part of the test. In the dream you see a woman reading scriptures, and grab books of various religions to read. It would seem logical to think in this situation, it might be prudent to invoke the Lord's Prayer to dispel the fear of evil, that rings throughout your dream narrative.
Your dream reads like a mixture of various films including, Matrix (what is real?), Inception (maze like path) and Deliverance (savage monster). Much like the novel and the film by the same name "Deliverance", provides a first person non stop narrative. Deliverance is a film propelled by four city slickers, on a canoe trip down the fictive Cahulawassee River, who become victims of hillbilly's. These are not the "Beverly Hillbilies", these hillbilly's are savages interested in sodomization perhaps murder. The film's final scene (of Deliverance) has the character Ed awaken screaming from a nightmare in which a dead man's hand is rising from the lake.