Dreams are encounters we have with ourselves, they often seem to color our perceptions of the world and the reality we live in. No matter how orderly
our waking minds, dreams can be scenes of intense chaos and high strangeness. It seems our subconscious needs them to express itself without the
straight jacket of conventionality. While dreams may seem almost random, we all instinctively feel there may be a hidden message in them, clothed in
surreal attire. In some respects, dreams seem to give us new insight into our own personal view of "reality", whatever that word means.
Dreams strip bare the concepts our waking selves grapple with, re-clothing them with absurdity in an attempt to give us new ideas about what we think
we understand, or so it seems to me. The question one faces is to what extent our dreaming selves have a "better" grasp of life's realities than do
our waking minds?
I too have strange dreams, often about the subjects I struggle to come to terms with while awake. At times a sort of epiphany comes from them that I
seldom find in wakefulness. Is this a result of the shock value of surrealistic nature of some dreams? Is it due to less restrained perspective of the
As an example, I'll relate a recent dream which caused me much thought afterwards; and to some small extent redirected my perceptions of what I
thought I understood/believed.
I was idly wandering though an art gallery, when I came upon a very large oil painting on one wall that caught my attention. I crowded the rope
barricade to take in the over sized work. It was some ten foot long and six foot tall, in a gilded frame, and it seemed rather tacky for the
surroundings. It was done in the "style" of those velvet paintings of a bygone era where dogs sit around a table playing poker; more suited to a
tavern than a gallery where works by Vermeer and Monet and Rembrandt were on display.
The scene was crowded with imagery. A large high ceilinged room lined with overflowing bookshelves, scattered tables and chairs, and at the far end, a
tall open window. The overall air was of a study in some 19th century manor house. The subdued tones, mostly earth colors, gave it a aged quality,
though not murky or gloomy really. A faint defusing haze to the picture made me want to look closer to see what it was about, like a man peering into
the fog to get his bearings.
Being a "book person", I was first drawn to the floor to ceiling shelves, and the eclectic assortment of works there. I could make out everything
from thick volumes of world history to Milton's Paradise Lost, and Stephen King's Carrie; from Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad and Samuel Butler's
translation of The Odyssey by Homer, to Alice In Wonderland and Ivanhoe. On a reading table lay a partially unscrolled Torah and a cuneiform clay
tablet. The assortment was staggering.
It was then that I noticed I was looking into the picture over the shoulder of a figure painted in the foreground that was instantly recognizable to
anyone of my generation. Though only in oblique profile, there was no mistaking the pointed ear and long sardonic face with arched brow. It was
Leonard Nimoy as Spock. At the extreme bottom of the painting I could even see the gold uniform sleeve and hand, which held a phaser pointed toward
the center of the room and spewing it's red beam.
The phaser beam was targeted on an easel which held a photo of New York City with the burning towers of 9/11. The smoke rose languidly from the
structures, though I knew they were already pregnant with destruction. In the photo's far background were several scattered mushroom clouds in
varying stages of dissipation. But my attention came back to the towers when I realized that my mind had tricked me into seeing the towers, which were
actually two verticle slits in the photo.
A few feet in back of the WTC photo was another easel, on which rested Leonardo de Vinci's Vitruvian Man. The slight reddish tinge of this drawing
made me aware that some portion of Spock's phaser beam had passed through the first photo's slits and was impacting the second picture. I realized
that this was a stylized depiction of the double slit experiment from quantum mechanics physics, though I couldn't tell wave from particle under the
Also in the foreground, though slightly forward of Spock, was another figure, also turned away from me. It too was easily recognizable in partial
profile. The frizzled wild hair and kindly seamed visage was Albert Einstein. He was strangely attired in the black robes of a priest, his waist
girded by the familiar rope belt, from which dangled shrunken heads and weird amulets and sported a K-Mart red and white sale tag on a string,
reminiscent of the hat worn by Minnie Pearle. He held a bubbling and vaporous chalice in his left hand shaped in the fashion of Archimedes' Screw,
and his right was raised in a three fingered salute toward the experiment.
Noticing the floor, I was drawn to the huge rug that covered most of it. It was well worn, but I could easily discern it to depict the Piri Reis Map,
although "upside down" to my eye. The old rug was worn through in spots, and I saw a King Cobra curled around the reading table legs eying one
particle spot. There the exposed threads seemed to ripple and shiver, to vibrate to some sound only the snake could sense; an effect perhaps caused by
the red phaser beam passing above the spot.
Glancing upward to the top of the painting, I noticed the ceiling of the room was done in a scene of one of the paintings from the Sistine Chapel,
where Father God stretches forth a finger to touch a reaching human finger, presumably Adam. But here the Father God was passing a key to Adam, who
instead of reclining at ease was straining to break free of the underbrush and vines of a clutching Eden.
Finally my notice turned to the far end of the room, beyond the two easels, where the open window showed a country garden with manicured lawn and well
tended beds. There elves and unicorns and baby dragons sat or stood in sedate rows watching a big screen TV. Motionless and subdued, they seemed
drained of the energy of life as they watched the Pat Sajak and The Wheel of Fortune.
Horrified, I drew back from the rope barricade. It was then that I noticed there was now a large crowd on either side of me, all studying the same
painting that had claimed my attention for the last while. As they murmured and gazed, I grew aware that I recognized many of them. There was Mrs.
Barber, my post mistress, and Tom Sulley the banker. Nick Bertram and his wife Karen, who owned the bowling alley, and died there last July. Among the
crowd were others better known, such as Donald Trump and Paris Hilton, Anwar Sedat and John Wayne, Groucho Marx and Bob Dylan. Dead or alive, they all
were atwitter as they sought their own meaning in the painting.
Stepping back even further in an attempt to clear the throng, I bumped into a wheelchair bound figure, and again I instantly recognized the person.
Stephen Hawking sat his chair hunched over, gazing at a ouija board cradled in his lap. Looking up, he caught my eye, and rasped out in that
mechanical voice, "The truth is easy to find, it's the understanding that's hard." Then in a hum of electrically induced ozone fumes he wheeled
his chariot around and headed down the hall.
Completely confused and shocked by the surrealism of the moment, I stepped back even further, and found myself outside the building on the street,
looking into the scene through a window covered in some kind of sheer gauze material. Faintly on the window covering I could make out another image,
and peering intently, I perceived it to be the famous poster from the basement office of the X-Files; the one with a saucer and the words "I Want To
At last turning away, I saw that both I and the massive building stood on a small rocky hill. It was night and a billion stars blazed overhead. On the
far horizon, barely to be made out in the faint night glow, was a ruined metropolis, stark and forbidding in the cold light. Glancing down at the
pavement, I noticed that I was totally naked, though in either hand I held an object. In my left hand was a bow drill, and in my right was a slide
Unaccountably, I was not dismayed by the scene around me, though I now seemed to be alone on a ruined Earth. I at once set off with a firm pace toward
the dark forest at the base of the hill.
Sorry for the length of that recounting, but I did want to try and convey the texture and flavor of the dream. I'll refrain from speaking to what
this dream meant to me on awakening, though obviously I took some things of worth from it. The real question in my own mind, is one of the
"perceptual value" of such inner discourses. In the ying and yang of self, do we gain worthwhile information and insights from such ramblings? Do we
guide our dreams with our waking minds or do our dreams guide our waking minds? Or is it both?
Such nocturnal musings must mean something in relation to our world view, but in what way are we imprinted by such surreal images? How much of what we
accept as "truth" is flavored by dreams? Do dreams allow us closer to the wellsprings of life, or are they only escapes from the mundane?
How much are we as a species changed and colored by our dreams?
Thoughts on the subject of how dreams are, or are not, a portion of our life philosophies will be appreciated. (You are free to analyze the dream
itself, though I'm sure most of you have already decided on the basis of reading it that I'm a tad strange.
But the real questions I have
concern your perceptions of what effect such dreams have on our personalities and how we see the world.)