January 28, 2008


Dreams are a perennially fascinating topic. It's pretty amazing that each night as we sleep our minds produce such wild images, stories, and ideas--or at least it seems that way when we wake up. Some animals even seem to do it.

El Cabrero is not an expert on sleep or dream science, but it seems like the latest research indicates that dreams play an important mental function connected with memory and the processing of the information and stimuli of waking life.

Freud shook the scientific community with the publication of his The Interpretation of Dreams at the turn of the last century. His ideas that such phenomena were meaningful seemed ludicrous to materialistically oriented scientists, but in fact it concurred with the opinions of pretty much all humanity throughout pretty much all history. Dreams probably influenced the development of a lot of human myths and religious beliefs and practices--including the belief in life after death as people dreamed of encounters with the departed.

Some dreams seem to be just residual static from the previous day's events, but others appear to have a clear or disguised meaning. Occasionally, some are downright deep.

I've always been interested in this subject, but dreams really got my attention when I discovered the ideas of Freud and Jung in my youth. I'm not an orthodox Freudian or Jungian now (though I lean towards the former most days), but I agree with their main idea that these creations of the unconscious have a lot to tell us.

I take dreams pretty seriously, especially strong ones, and they have even influenced some of the most important decisions of my life. It's not that I think they are messengers from beyond--although some sure seem that way--but rather that they express a lot of the mental activity, thinking and feeling that go one beneath the surface of our ordinary awareness. They have triggered insights and creativity from scientists as well as artists.

Dreams will be the guiding thread through this week's posts.

Speaking of which, here's a funny dream I had when I first read Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, which argues that they are basically wish fulfillments. I wished I was able to interpret dreams--so I dreamed I could. Pretty cute.

DEALING WITH RECESSION. Here's an op-ed by yours truly on what it would take to provide a strong stimulus to a slowing economy.

TIME FOR DISASTER POPULISM. Here's Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, on how the right is great at cashing in on bad news and how the rest of us need to dial in.

MINE SAFETY. Ken Ward had a good one in the Sunday Gazette-Mail about how many coal companies ignore fines for unsafe conditions.

is increasingly a factor in courtrooms around the country in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MEAT. More and more people are rethinking carnivorous habits, or at least the ways we satisfy them.



Anonymous said...

waaaay off topic:
The whooping crane class of 2007 finally made it to the Chassahowitzka refuge!!

El Cabrero said...

Glad to hear it. I wish my great blue heron would come back after the drought this summer.