The Anatomy of the Dream: Dream Vision Interpretations

by Mark Hagen

"In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in the dark wood where the true way was wholly lost".
Dante, "The Divine Comedy"

The interpretation section as the whole International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) website is designed to be what the philosopher R G Collingwood The Principles of Art termed Amusement Art. For Collingwood amusement art generates thoughts, emotions and sensations within make-believe situations. The make-believe of amusement art creates a theatrical illusion. In Collingwoods' own words;

"If playing means amusing oneself, as it often does, there is no important resemblance between play and art proper; ... but there is more than a mere a resemblance between play and amusement art. The two things are the same."

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

According to the Canadian literary critic Northrop 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. Frye gave fiction an anatomical form and associated it with a compendium or encyclopedia for the satirical analysis of human behavior, attitudes and beliefs. Similarly, the IIDR has developed "The Anatomy of the Dream" as a narrative form to analyze human behavior, attitudes and beliefs, providing the basis for a dream vision dictionary or lexicon of the cultural stage. The creative life writing successes and failures of individuals, institutions, and popular cultures are revealed.

The Anatomy of the Dreams found within Western culture is reflected in the mythopoetic labyrinth called the Western Canon. Fryes' concept of human nature and culture as they relate to literature sees literature and literary canon not as an imitation of the world but rather the expression of the total dream of being human. In the interpretations section you are invited to observe the makings of this total dream.

Poetry represents and reflects the communal currents of enchantment and disenchantment. The mythopoetic archetypal structures of modern humans are not much different from those of primitive humans except for the moderns advantages and effects of media technologies. Marshall McLuhan "Understanding Media" provides a perspective for a modern poetic dictionary of the vehicles of communication and their effects on everyday life. In the interpretations section the modern currents of film, poetry and theatre as they are related to dreams and dreaming is researched.

If Dante's Divine Comedy stands at the centre of this mythopoetic labyrinthine road we call the Western Canon, then the oneiric (dream) journey into the darkness in search of the light is the central guiding metaphor of all western literature, life writing and dreaming. The quest for the centre is analogous to entering into a labyrinthe. The literary centre represents the need to find ones' way back to the spirit and the garden. Following this train of thought one finds in Christian mythology the labyrinthe can be decerned in the narrative of Percival's search for the grail. The IIDR has attempted to trace the outlines of this poetic laybyrinthe and human journey from darkness to light.

The dream provides a vision and voice through which to critique the stories and problems of Western culture. 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 expressed through psychopathology, poetry, theatre and film. In the archive of dreams the IIDR has collected there is a growing multitude of national social problems found in dreams which include; rape, abuse, addictions, violence, crime, corruption, fear, prejudice, conflict of right to life versus freedom of choice, pornography, hate crimes, conspicuous consumption, alienation, militarism, cultural and media imperialism etc.

So you are invited to enter the variety of theatres of the dream and dream visions and find in them a sublime and transcendental experience which allows you to go beyond the often narrow perceptions and definitions of meaningful life and living.

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