Listening to other people’s dreams is banal, unless you love them. It's a rude statement, but one that is usually true.
Neither science nor philosophy will never satisfactorily figure out what happens when we dream, and why. That’s a bet I’d stake my tomatoes on. And I’m okay with that.
Until then, I like what art can give us to understand dreams. Consider the three case studies of: 1) Corporate Affairs, by Nicole Patino; 2) David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and 3) Pixar’s Inside Out.
In a single (recent) week I have read Patino’s book, binge watched Twin Peaks (for the first time, I know, I know, I’m late to the party!), and saw Inside Out at the drive-in. They fit roll together in an interesting challah bread formation (and happy Rosh Hosanna and Yom Kippur to those of us observing in the Jew-ish way).
In Corporate Affairs, the setting is a company that does R &D on drugs that facilitate dreams that can then be analyzed for larger research projects. The drug and its corporate-body, ENCO (Elicitation of Nocturnally created Omens), is a mash-up of the drugs from Minority Report, The Cell and Total Recall. In this narrative, dreams give us missing information about history, ways of unlocking out present conditions and keys to unknown futures.
In Twin Peaks, on the other hand, dreams provide clues to a past crime, which then propel the narrative action. Agent Cooper’s dream is text-book David Lynch. Meaning it is creepy and actually dream-like. Cooper’s dream is a composite of clues relevant to the narrative of Laura Palmer’s murder.
Now, for the magical journey that is Inside Out, dreams are the mind’s way of processing the stuff that happened during the day based on lenses of formative memories and subjective identity markers. When they run amok, or into nightmare-land it is for our own good, based on the tiny, colorful, powers that be in our heads.
I have issues with dreams and nightmares. I relive scary things more often than not., and feel stuck in an edifice similar to a trade-show, card-board cut-out sumo-suit. It can get David Lynchy, and I wake up mad at the tiny, colorful, powers that be doing things in my head. I get frustrated that there doesn’t seem any purpose to unlock the present or future when I’m just repeating pasts.
I’ve taken drugs specifically to attack the undesirable dreams. Most recently, beta-blockers. They, allegedly, prevent the sleeper from having the physiological response to nightmares. Can have unwanted side-effects, such as crazy-low blood-pressure.
The FDA is exploring MDMA as a way of getting control of out of control nightmares (and PTSD, more specifically). Until fully approved, I’ve been exploring the therapeutic value of Tetris.
Studies have shown that Tetris is a poor-man’s approximation of Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization (EMRD) therapy (google and see what you find.). Tetris before bed makes my dreams less Twin Peaks-esq, and more open to the lucid-love proffered in Corporate Affairs.
I’d like to think I have a colorful team of pixar characters digging through the dirt in my head and planting dream-seeds of jasmine and honey…. But that appears not to be the case. So if your dreams have been bugging you, and you don’t want to skip right to drugs ("drugs are bad, m’kay?”), try 20 minutes of Tetris before bed. I'd love to know if it works for you.
p.s. I really want a proper a game-boy.