Genres of Life Writing and Dreamwork

by Mark Hagen

Everyday, people speak and people dream, what do they speak about?... what do they dream about?

The IIDR's research shows that dreams can be viewed from a literary work/communication perspective and organized as such. "Anatomy" from a literary perspective is defined as the detailed analysis of a subject, an exhaustive examination. Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism was a groundbreaking literary work and can be applied to dreams and dream-work. In this case the "anatomy" of what we are trying to examine is the anatomy of the dream, where the dream is the subject and object of investigation.

Collective dreamwork patterns (read national/cultural) reveal how work/communication is authored and authorized thereby producing the dominant narratives of everyday life. Dreams are induced and are transformed from one generation to the next; the literary structures and functions are the stuff which is induced and transformed via the Western Canon, hence a transgenerational screenplay where the primary archetypal plays/works being screened are Romance, Satire, Comedy, Tragedy becomes visible (See the images on the screen above). This literary universe of meaning is constructed as we speak; it is a work in progress.

Within the narratives of the dreams of individuals, patterns, common themes and symbols emerge which are indicators of collective literary narratives for the groups to which individuals belong. The collective daydreams of individuals provide the screenplays of literature and film. For the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye the "whole domain of literature is a self-contained verbal universe a massive, complex and intricate product of human imagination". This imagined order of words constantly expands and grows through new works of literature even as it continues to use its' essential literary archetypes. According to Frye, literature projects an organized myth of human experience configuring and reconfiguring the world and one's self according to the desires and anxieties the individual and the community are faced with. The verbal expression of these experiences are the domain of literature both the fictional and non-fictional. Dream research provides access to the communal dreamscreen and its' dreams, myths and fictions.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.