Dreaming of Whitney Houston -or- Visual Culture in Croatia
Presentation of Self in Everday Life -or- The Looking Glass Self
Erving Goffman "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" uses the poetic image of the theatre as the central organizing feature of the "mise en scenes" of our everyday life. From this "dramaturgical" theatre perspective, Goffman analyses our everyday acting on the performance stage of life. Goffman's ideas and play metaphor can be applied to understanding the dramatic psychodynamics of our dreams and dreaming.
In Tania's dream (below) she talks about, having a "first impression". Much of the "dream work" that we do every night, is about what Goffman has called "impression management". In this sense, we live in a "visual culture", where we are always looking at others to act as our social mirrors. In this way we create our "looking glass self". Our nightly dreams are continuously re-vising our looking glass self concept and self-esteem.
Here is Tania's dream;
Tania, 25 Croatian
I'm on stage, in the middle of an opera performance. I'm waiting for my turn to sing side by side with a great Primadona, although I have no training for a professional singer and everybody knows that. But other singers are ill and I know the role well so a troupe gave it to me because they trust in my knowledge of opera and my vocal capabilities. The great Soprano gives me support and an encouraging smile. That is my first time on stage and with not a single rehearsal, I'm doing great. Finally, the moment of my glory.
The dream has a second part, but it's not too long, and is very similar to the first one. I'm in school, Whitney Houston is the teacher. She asks me to sing "I will always love you" and so I did. After that she just couldn't stop praising my singing.
In real life I used to sing in the chorus, but that was a long time ago, and my voice is not as near as trained as was then. For me, Whitney Houston is an example of extremely well trained voice and so is the Primadona. That was my first impression. The Primadona in my dream was Cecilia Bartoldi, a great interpreter of Mozart's works. I saw here couple days ago on TV. Another thing is that all those professionals have faith and show their approval to someone who has no such knowledge and skill as they have. Why do I dream of such approval?
Mr Hagen's Reply; The Leading Lady in Croatia -or- I Will Always Love You
Opera is part of the "classical music" tradition and considered "art music". Such classical music sung by the "Prima donna" (leading lady) Cecilia Bartoldi is contrasted with "popular music" such as Whitney Houston's.
Karen Horney "Neurosis and Human Growth" believed that people were motivated and driven to achieve an idealized sense of self. Horney called this drive "the search for glory". Your dream of your moment of glory, illustrates Horney's point. Your dream also seems to be influenced by the media, in that you say that you saw Cecilia Bartoldi on TV a few days earlier. The mass media and the visual culture's dream factory suggests and induces in many the idea of "15 minutes of fame" and glory. Certainly this dramatic idea appears to be reinforced for all those "contestants" on say "American Idol". Has the global media "hype" induced "histrionic personality traits" of celebrity, fame, fortune in its audiences?
Your dream from a performance appraisal perspective, is one in which you find praise and support. Is your dream a psychological compensation for what you feel during the day, where people can be critical about your performance? The song that you are asked to sing "I Will Always Love You", is a song that Houston sang in the film "The Body Guard" starring Houston and Kevin Costner. (Watch music video)