Literary Structure of Society: A Menu of Dream Vision

Dream Vision and the Anatomy of Criticism

According to the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye Anatomy of Criticism, literature projects an organized archetypal myth of human experience, poetically configuring and reconfiguring the world and one's self according to the desires and anxieties the individual and the community are faced with. These desires and anxieties are shaped by the longue duree that is the historical novel. The poetic story of humanity can be told by screening the dreams found in history, it will reveal the anatomy of the dream.

In Structuralist Poetics, Jonathan Culler relates literary competence and performance to the semiotic concepts of langue and parole. Culler applies structuralist concepts to lyrics and the novel, helping to interpret the text according to the literary constructions of character, plot, themes, and symbols. In the same way, this structuralist approach can explain the text of dreams. The literary binary opposition of the sacred and the profane is the guiding fiction for the primitive's Dream Vision. The mythopoetic archetypal structures and organization of modern human thought is not much different from those of primitive humans except for the moderns advantages and effects of media technologies.

From a sociological perspective children entering the modern cultural stage of human Dream Visions are shaped primarily by civilizations industrial, institutional and media forces. The speech communities of Western culture become united (or disintegrate) as observers and actors of the spectacle in their own historical and everyday cultural stage in homes, railway stations, hospitals, universities, factories and buildings, in which particular social and cultural activities go on.

Dream Vision represents and reflects the everyday communal communication currents of integrating and disintegrating forces of enchantment and disenchantment. When the theatric spell of enchantment of communal living fails, disillusionment with social reality is the result. Disillusionment and alienation effects are unconsciously acted out on the communal dreamscreen and more consciously communicated and expressed through psychopathology, poetry, theatre and film.

Sociological Frame Story, Genre and the Menu of Dream Vision

Hippolyte Taine‘s History of English Literature analyzed race, geographical milieu, and historical moment. Similarly, the sociological novel is chiefly interested in the society in which the characters live, and if the society is the source of the major conflict, it becomes a problem novel. In this sense, dreams are sociological problem novels and can be criticized as such. The individual dream is a personal document, similar to a journal or diary that captures a life story.

When we study dreams, we study the literary intersections of individual mind and biography and group mind and collective history. The IIDR has attempted to mimic the total dream of the 6.6 billion dreamers living in the Global Village. Dream Vision is an ongoing epic like that of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, endless tales told every night, including love stories, tragedies, and comedies. Condensing history into such stories orients us to the literary landscape of history, culture, consciousness and the mind.

In place of T.S. Eliot's "simultaneous order" of literary works, Northrop Frye proposed a total "order of words" in which literature "imitates the total dream of man," structured in archetypes. Life-writing (and creative writing) enables the writer to present life in all its states as, in Ernest Hemingway's phrase, "a moveable feast." We are all diners at the feast, and the dream is our menu. This total dream can be viewed as a sociological frame story categorized by a menu of literary genres. Each literary genre has been linked to a dream interpretation, often a dream can be mixture of numerous genres.

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