Monday, October 12, 2009

A Dream and an Imagined Conversation

Paul didn’t sleep well; he had had a dream that disturbed him. In fact, this was the first dream he had ever had of a talking animal. He had heard of such dreams before but he had never experienced one, although once he had dreamed of a wolf that walked up-right like a man. But the wolf never spoke to him; the horse last night spoke.

Although the dream frightened him; in some sense, he was proud of himself and embraced the dream as a breakthrough. He had studied the surrealists for many years and even tried to imitate them but he had never really achieved anything remotely surrealistic. His work was very cerebral but this dream, this dream about a talking horse, was something worthy of Buñuel or Dalí and he wondered if something within his unconscious mind was revealing itself. But if that were true, then what did a talking horse mean?

He knew the first question Günter would ask when he told him about the dream:"what did the horse say?" And here was the odd thing; he could not remember. He knew the horse spoke to him and that its voice was soothing and articulate but he could not for the life of him remember one word the animal said.

“Then tell me about the dream” will be Günter’s response to my inability to remember.

Here, too, I am a bit confused because although the dream is vague and the images banal I was infected with a sense of the noumenal. At first, I am walking on a street, leading the horse; and, then, inexplicably, the horse is down and sick. I am comforting it, whispering kind words to the beast, and brushing its coat. The horse is leaning into the brush seemingly enjoying the attention and I am brushing and talking. Suddenly, the horse lifts its head and turns to me and begins to talk. I am shocked and fall back. That is it; that’s the dream.

“Not much of a dream” Günter will say. “But it is not the images that are important,” I will respond; “it is the emotion. I was upset when the horse lay down; I was happy to care for the horse; I took pride in its rich black coat; and I was startled and afraid when it talked.”

“Ah,” Günter will say. “The best poetry and literature is where the author tries to convey an emotion. The most successful literature is where that emotion is conveyed. So an emotion or emotions were conveyed but I don’t think that was the purpose of the dream.”

I will scratch my head but I suspect Günter is right. The revelation is one of communication. However, the result is repression. For some reason I do not want to hear the unconscious speak or to understand that thing that the horse represents. Remember Günter will say “that which interferes with the work is repression.”

"So what am I to do," I will ask and Günter will answer as he always does. "Ask the horse to repeat himself. Call him back and talk to him. That is what Jung did and what you should do." He will pause and puff on his pipe and say, "I predict this horse will appear in your poems and prose until you know what he wants. Remember there is a wolf in every novel you ever wrote and there are bears in John Irving's work and toads, dogs, and snails in mine."

"Yes," I will say, as I imagine the horse and our next conversation.