Saturday, 4 October 2008

Dreamtelling by Pierre Sorlin

Notes - conclusions

Updated 7/11/08
- Mere impressions, the consequence of an emotional, euphoric state of mind, and they dissolve when we wake up.
- Kafka (from his diaries) - a simple sentence that starts a tale can conjure up an entire world in our imagination.
- Unrelated details drawn into a series of visual/sensual perceptions that do not follow logical order.

Ancient civilisations gathered information on dreams but only in the 1950s - Professor Kleitman and Dr Aserinsky at the University of Chicago noticed that patients eyes more during sleep - detected different stages.
REM sleep - 'paradoxical' as body most relaxed but brain most active.

Dreams lie partly beyond the boundaries of our experience - as soldiers in wars dreaming same scenarios - connected - but
- Culture e.g. attitudes, behaviour, values, traditions is a relevant aspect of our imagination. Influenced by the context in which the dreamer lives.

Thousands of people over the centuries have recorded their dreams to retain fading memories. Many reports may have been reworked by the dreamer to dress them up or conceal embarassing details.

Always perplexed and fascinated people as they are so mysterious, combining precise images and vague impressions.
'Desire with loathing [is] strangely mixed' - Colerdige (The Pains of Sleep).
Easy to descrive thinking or seeing or hearing - virtually impossible to descrive kinetic sensations or pure thrills.

Writers and artists have always used dreams to create fanciful worlds - unfettered by earthly limitations.

Inadequate to describe dreams to others using words alone – impossible in fact.

‘Dreams, in totality, are beyond words, consisting of much more than we can say about them.’

He discusses how dreams have been recorded through history from shamans to written descriptions to artistic interpretations. Influence of dreams on human imagination.

Exploring systematic relationships between the ways dreams have been told, analysed and explained.

There is always an intermediary between the dreamer and it being real for other people – historically shamans or soothsayer, now:

‘Social communication is concerned with the transmission of messages. In order to make our ideas accessible to others we must arrange them. The intelligibility of what we say relies on the organisation of our speech according to patterns that reduce the danger of misunderstanding but which channel and impoverish our thoughts.’

Any dream report is an exercise in language – unless the listener was with you in the dream! Cannot adequately describe it – could just be emotions and sensations.

Section ‘Beyond words’ how dreams have been represented in the visual arts. Early 20th century poets producing fabricated characters too ‘nice’ (omitting stuff).

‘The difficulty is not limited to written accounts. Although dreams are mostly visual, representing them on canvas or in drawings is almost as problematic as describing them, if the painter wants to make it clear that what is depicted is a person’s internal, evanescent sensations.’

Due to the Bible, Western artists have often attempted to sketch God’s dream messages. Also na├»ve dream depiction – Marc Chagall – showing a narrative – ‘witting avoid the dream’s lability and emotional unsteadiness.’

‘Such works have been criticized not for their unquestionable artistic value but for their arguable reading of dreams. A forged vision allows no room for imagination, while inconsistency is what makes a dream delightful or worrying.’

Whats the difference between telling a narrative and relating your dream?

Cesare Pavese - in dreams we are the narrator of the vision but unlike the novelist we cannot know what will happen next, it is our tale but it is beyond our control.

Long been attempts to manifest dreams basic inconclusiveness - people real then blurred, sillohettes, haziness, fogginess.

1920 - German expressionist films, optical effects, fog, scenery to represent the transcence of dreams. Eternal sunshine - peoples features erased so hard to identify them - friend / stranger?
RESEARCH - Bergman, Luis Bunuel.


'Initially their aim was to free human imagination from the burden of civic, social and family duties. They celebrated our mind's mobility and inventiveness, urged their contemporaries to enter the realm of the unimagined, the reversible, the indeterminate.'

Of course inspired by Freud, but:

'[The Surrealists] rejected the opposition conscious/unconscious and every other dichotomy, such as real versus illusory or reason versus imagination. For them dreams were not the manifest but the distorted aspect of a concealed desire; they were one of the human species' fundamental aspects. More precisely, they were desire itself in its most radical form.'

The arts were could provide a means to represent the impressive power of a dream, provided they did not tell a story but went straight into the mind's eye by transcribing an effect produced on the sleeper.

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