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Hartmann v. Hobson

Oh, Hobson. You are no fun. If dreams mean so little, if they amount to a mere flush of the mental toilet, then why do they affect me so? Why do I remember the images and emotions of my dreams and carry them into my waking life? Why do I remember the flushing of insane, meaningless drivel years after I pull the lever?

You’re charts and diagrams are very impressive, and that is probably how dreams literally work. But congratulations. You have successfully turned the most mysterious and entertaining component of human consciousness into an mind-numbingly boring scientific treatise. Bravo!

Hartmann, however, has his finger on the pulse. Contextualizing images. Metaphors. Emotions. Sidestepping all of Freud’s hoops of free-association and obsession with minutiae. Hartmann understands that I come out the dreaming state having been under the influence of profound emotions. In dreams, I experience something more than a trip to the psychical lavatory.

Dream 9: Paints

I was painting. I never paint. I never have.

But I was.

I was using lots of browns and yellows and greens. I was making brown lines and then highlighting them sort of, with the yellow, and the outlining that in green.

Someone standing next to me said, “Use more [My Name] colors.” And so I turned the canvas blue. Completely blue in just a few swipes of the brush. It was effortless.

Dream 8: Bleach

In my dream the other night I was drinking bleach.

I don’t remember anything else aside from that.

I was swigging it from a hip flask, a tankard, and from the Clorox container itself.

I woke with a belly ache and felt lousy for the rest of the day.

Dream 7: Cat

I’m leading a massive group of people to safety. I recognize only some of the people in the crowd, and they are people I associate with my job. We are being chased by what I understand to be the military. The crowd is fearful, but I am bold and I inspire confidence in them.

They pursue us over a bridge. The bridge moves under our feet, like one of those walkways at an airport, but moving in the opposite direction. My crowd is fighting against the grain, but I move effortlessly on the moving floor and urge them on. Now there is sand on the bridge. Now we are up to our hips in sand. We move slowly but steadily as I pave a way for us all.

We are in a mansion. I know that many of my charges have been abducted and that we that remain are running low on options for our escape. I am leading them up stairways and down corridors the ceilings of which are so high they fade into black expanse. We hear the feet of our hunters. They have flanked us and there is no escape.

All is lost. I realize this with resignation and grace. I transform into the shape of a cat and leave my crowd behind, moving past the ankles of the bad guys entirely unnoticed. I know where all the cat-flaps are and I use these to get to a bedroom with a large window that looks out on body of water, glistening in the sun.

The military knows that I am a cat now and are chasing me. I leap out of the window onto a roof not far below the window. They’re still behind me. I jump into the water and transform back into my body. I’m safe.

Dream 6: Talk Show Host

They tell me that I have to host the show.

“I’m not prepared. I don’t know the person I’m interviewing. I have no questions. I’ll ruin it.”

They tell me I’ve got to do it, and they sit me in a large chair before a monstrous TV camera. There’s another chair with some seemingly important person sitting in it. We’re in a small room filled with people. Along the back wall there is an audience in shadow, sitting in rows of stadium seating that seems to go much higher than possible.

I’m terrified because I know that this program will be broadcast across the country, and that I will be made a fool of. I think that this will ruin my future ambitions irreparably, as I’ll be forever known as “that idiot from that talk show.”

Show time is always drawing near, my anxiety is always increasing, but the show never starts. I’m left in the chair before the camera in a maddening state of dread.

Dream 5: Planes

Mike Bloomberg is standing on a bandshell platform alongside a river (the Hudson? I’m not sure). He’s talking to a crowd of people, of which I am a member. The river is on my right, the bandshell is slightly to my left.

During the speech, my attention is captured by a plane that is flying low over the crowd, steadily rising before it plateaus, still rather low. I hear the sound of an explosion. The crowd becomes fearful as we realize the sound is from the plane, although it shows no signs of damage. Suddenly the plane is engulfed in flames that seem to swirl around its exterior, an airborne inferno still intact, and begins to drop over our heads, and disappears into the river.

A terrified panic has swept through the crowd as a second plane comes from the same direction that the first had. The back part of the plane explodes but remains intact, is wrapped in flames, but unlike the first it hits the water and skips like a stone before finally sinking.

“Did you see that?” I say to the person next to me. “It was like a giant skipped it like a stone!”

The person tells me that they didn’t see it. Impossible, I think.

But then a third plane arrives, explodes, goes on fire and skips three times on the river before it sinks, just like the second had.

“Did you see it? It happened again!” The person saw it that time. We are all terrified, we are all screaming.

Dream 4: Ropes

I’m holding onto a length of suspended rope over the ocean. The ocean is turbulent, and I am terrified.

I see another suspended rope which I perceive to be one of a series. I think that I can make from one rope to the next, and maybe get to the safety of the shore.

I swing and swing, and try to catch the other rope, but every time I get close to the other rope, it begins to swing in the other direction.

This is all I remember. I never reach the next rope.

Dream 3: Doors

I bummed this dream off of a friend.

“I was in an abandonded house. A group of rowdy, aggressive teenagers started coming into the house. I began to yell and swear at them telling them that I was capable of defending myself, and I was willing to hurt and if need be kill them. They ignored me. They began to push their way into the house. I went to slam the door and found there was another door. So I slammed that one, and found another door. So I slammed that door and there was another door and another door.

I ran to the next room and began slamming the door there and did! I saw that the door had bolts on it but all the bolts were broken. I tried to desperately to lock it but couldn’t.

I went into another room, bolted that door, but when I turned around one of the guys was already in the room, locked in with me. I picked up my phone and tried to call 911, but the numbers on the keypad were moving around, floating around and I couldn’t get at them. And then I woke up,” she said.


“Children on a Country Road” &  “A Country Doctor” demanded more than one reading from me in order to make any sense of it. And by “make any sense of it” I mean make barely any sense of it at all.

Both stories are disorienting, but in different ways. “Doctor” seems to spin a web of dream logic that baffles, but I at least found the action of the story to follow a reasonably (comparatively) consistent path. It feels as though the doctor in that story is narrating a dream that he has had, whereas the language of “Children on a Country Road” is more representative of dreams as they happen in real time.

It’s difficult to pin down place or time in the “Children”, especially time.

“We ran our heads full tilt into the evening. There was no daytime and nighttime.”

I needed to read the following sentence about five times; my mind kept rejecting something about it. I think it’s the combination of “usually” and “soon.”

“Usually the candle soon went out and in the sooty candle smoke the assembled midges went on circling for a while.”

Kafka makes me feel like I’m dreaming when I’m reading him. It’s a frustrating dream, and I’m not sure that I like it.

Jung & Freud


Jung seemed to be quite the popular guy amongst us, better liked than Freud.

I also preferred reading Jung over Freud, primarily because I feel he has a smoother voice than Freud does. I found Jung to be approachable, whereas Freud, as a writer, seems overly concerned in keeping his reader at a distance, with his references to obscure cultural references and detailed lists of dream images (Irma’s dream bored the hell out of me).

But I find it interesting that Hartmann offers a “synthesis” of his view and Freud’s view, and offers Jung a mere “apology”, due to Jung’s lack of a systematic theses. But that’s the thing: Freud is systematic. Being systematic doesn’t make you a fun read per say, but it does mean that those who come after you will most likely owe you quite a debt.

Freud and Jung use their unique styles as a rhetorical tactic to influence their readers. Freud adopts a sometimes aggressive and haughty voice, but this endues his argument with authority. Jung, on the other hand, assumes a more easy going voice, which draws the reader in his confidence. They are opposite styles with an identical aim: convince the reader that their arguments are sound, and they are people to be trusted.


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