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The Truth of Surrealism and Surrealism of Truth

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posted on Jan, 12 2009 @ 04:11 PM
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 questions?

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 conditions.

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 Believe".

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 rule.

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.)

posted on Jan, 13 2009 @ 02:48 PM
What! Almost 24 hours and not a single comment on how our dreams play a part in our waking perceptions of reality? Are all of you asleep?

I'm shocked.

posted on Jan, 13 2009 @ 09:28 PM
reply to post by NGC2736

I just saw this - don't know why you haven't gotten more attention

maybe people are tired - and sleeping

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.)

first - do you usually dream in that much detail and with that much recall?

because that was really something - and it was not just surreal in the way dreams are surreal - but very much like a surrealist painting

I usually remember something of what I dream - but I do dream in that much detail maybe once or twice a month

Surrealism and Symbolism mean the most to me as far as art goes - and their similarity to dreaming is what attracts me to them

when I was a kid - even when I was very young - I had very vivid and detailed dreams - some of them I still remember because they were just that intense

so when you ask how they affect our personality, psychology and personal philosophy - I think that what I see in my dreams directly affects the way I look at the world when I'm awake. Those moments that happen the way they might it a dream - nonsensical - but still making sense on some level - stand out because in a way I'm looking for them

I want to say that my dreams affect how I approach art, but I think the truth is my art isn't affected by them so much as it's an attempt to understand them - recreate them maybe

I think most art is mankind's attempt to understand the dreamworld - and however people want to define surrealism - it's still symbolism in the end

what we take in when we're awake we analyze even in our own minds with language - but dreams seems to work with symbols. So it may be two separate ways of analyzing the same information, dreams processing that information we take in but discard in the moment.

I see things in my dreams that are relevant to my waking life - but that I'd not noticed when I was awake - or that I didn't consider important.

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.

exactly - the epiphany - the part of our mind that gives a nudge when we need to notice something - or understand - or maybe just remember

I'm not even going to try and analyze the dream you just wrote about

I think there are universal symbols, but I believe that our own personal symbols override those. What the elements of your dream mean to you may be completely different for me - so you're the only one who can really understand your own dream

For instance - what the twin towers (and their destruction) means to you is specific to you on some level - even if you share some feelings about them that we all feel

and, I don't think you're strange at all - because that would mean that I'm strange

oh, wait...

posted on Jan, 13 2009 @ 10:34 PM
I think our dreams play a large part in how we perceive our world, yes, but animals dream as well so I wouldn't say that it pertains specifically to humans. I often dream with extreme detail and recall. So much detail that I have been able to read books in my dreams. See the sayings on the individual cards in an isle of a store.

More than that, in the case of me and some close friends, dreams hold a lot of meaning and importance to us...I wouldn't know much about the rest of society.

My take on it is this:

Dreams are the answers to questions we haven't yet figured out how to ask.-Fox Mulder

(may sound a little silly to quote from the X-Files, but I think this sums it up for me)

I know that dreams have helped me gain knowledge: In one, really specific case, I learned how to count backwards from 100 to 0 in a dream when I was 3. My mother found me writing the numbers on a paper and asked me when I learned to do that and I told her I dreamed about it.

posted on Jan, 14 2009 @ 02:50 PM
Star and Flag NGC

I particularly enjoyed the colorful wording you used to describe your dream. Are you a professional writer or something?

I'm certain that your dream is reflective of who you are(personality wise) and what you think about most often. It seems 9/11 has a place in your dreams after all, perhaps because the media in the U.S constantly deliver subliminal messages, perhaps your a victim of the media using constant terms like 'terrorism' or '9/11' .. should be '9/11 TM*' considering how much they talk about it in relation to everything. Many people's mindset changed after 9/11, it has since become symbolically engraved in the subconscious of the masses. This is just one thing that particularly caught my attention regarding your dream.

Big fan of Star Trek myself, but spock firing a phaser at WTC picture?.. hmm.. maybe John Lear was right about holograms being the planes; and a laser beam from space collapsing the WTC towers? .. But hey, that's the logic operating under the assumption that dreams may represent real visions of a clue or truth to reality.

I'm inclined to believe that, some dreams have powerful meanings(visions) and some dreams may just be regular dreams produced by the imagery in one's physical subconscious mind. Humans certainly have souls, spirits, or whatever you want to call it. We all have a universal essence in us, and we're getting ever so closer(scientifically) to discovering something that proves this or something similar.



[edit on 14/1/09 by Majorion]

posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 03:24 PM
What a rush it was, waking up from that one. Good job on the details, did you train on that or is it something natural?

Anyway, sometimes i have dreams that shift my perception of some situation that is floating in my head. Last time though i had something (even for me) weird going on. I have an ex girlfriend that is in theory perfect for me. Same humour, exactly the personality that is complementary for me and vise versa. Even lived with her for a, very short, while.

A few weeks before we hooked up again and i fell into the same trap. Before i broke up with her i would wake up next to her with a knot in my stomach, and she was the source. Sucks bigtime. I just could not ignore it or rationalize it away, but i could not rationalize the feeling itself either. It was pure feeling without explanation.

Anyway, one thing led to another and i ended up next to her again, waking up after a nice evening and night and yes, the feeling was back. Dammit. Even after 4 years of changes (When we had something together her father died and she changed so i thought that was the problem or something, but no) I asked myself repeatedly why it was there and i was dosing of in and out of sleep besides her.

Then it came to me.

'She isn't alive for; A bankbook(old style banking, don't know what it did there, a shared bank-account maybe), a relationship or children' It was like this was her lesson or something. Sad it maybe. But the really strange thing came next. I woke up and heard her say; 'Yes but... (couldn't understand it). She was discussing the answer i (we?) got! Later on when i was really awake i heard her talking to herself again on exactly the same manner so it was real.

Sometimes dreams are really weird.

posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 03:39 PM
Good job NGC

I would like to emphasize and repeat your idea that in dreams we allow ourselves a bit more leeway. Less constricted, less conventional, a bit more free. Having thus loosened up, we can see more.

posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 06:02 PM

Originally posted by NGC2736
The question one faces is to what extent our dreaming selves have a "better" grasp of life's realities than do our waking minds?

This is what caught my eye

I think sometimes what we see in our dream selves is displayed and understood as much more simple than in waking reality due to our inability to fully understand what is going on in a dream. In dreams I'm rarely confused (except in the lucid ones where I'm aware) everything is going as planned, much like a script in my subconscious unraveling. I think Dreams are vague, yet vivid and can be very surreal.

Although I don't try to generalize all dreams as a source of representation, I tend to feel the majority of them are the release of repression - of emotions and thoughts.

the dream you described definitely wow'd me, very descriptive, I'm guessing you keep a dream journal?

I do believe that dreams, especially the ones that don't make sense at first look, can reveal why they were put in such an order, by investigation where the visions come from to begin with, and as for unrecognizable figures, places and acts in dreams - well.. lets just say,I've had deja vu a few times..

posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 06:28 PM
Ey old hap, mind if I take a go at a dream analysis?

posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 07:24 PM

Originally posted by NGC2736
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?

That is poetry right there.
You put that so eloquently and flawlessly... excellent post and thread.
I can't even add to it...

Dreams have always fascinated me and i believe in a way, they are an unconscious gateway to the soul...


Great job

[edit on 15/1/09 by blupblup]

posted on Jan, 17 2009 @ 09:00 PM
Thank you all for the replies on this subject. I'm not someone who takes dreaming as a main subject of my life, but rather I tend to think/believe that they add content to what I already know on some level.

And yes, I often dream in great detail, and at least part of the time remember the dream in as much detail. I don't exactly keep a "dream log", though I do make notes about those that seem particularly "vivid" or "important". (This was one of those.)

I don't consider myself much of a 'professional' at writing, though a few items have seen print. I thank you for the compliment on my description of the dream, though I was only trying to give everyone the sense of what I was feeling at the time, and how I recall the dream. (And I'm naturally given to writing, and sometimes even speaking, in purple prose.
, a habit I got from a childhood of books I suppose.)

It's good to know that I'm not alone in feeling that our dream states bear strongly on our waking selves. I don't pretend to know what all my dreams are trying to express, but I feel very sure they are worth looking at more closely than modern man is often given to do. We cannot divorce our waking selves from our dreaming selves, IMO. It would be good, I think, if we could integrate the two states more often.

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