Why are dreams mysterious?

I wake-up and tell my wife about the dream I had while sleeping. That’s a dream-report.

Dream-reports are given by the dreamer in the first-person present-tense. Even if  I dreamed I had incarnated another person (either a real or imagined person), it is always I (the dreamer) who peers out from the face of the other person during the dream. And that’s what is communicated when I tell my dream to another person.

Why do human beings share dreams? 

Sometimes a dream is amazing. Amazing that I could even dream up such an experience. What is important to human beings in this case is that the dream really did impress me. Dream-reports can be spontaneous responses to what we see during sleep. So: that I dreamt such-and-such is amazing and of more interest to other people than what the dream describes. Dream-reports can therefore function more like exclamations or interjections than descriptions of what the dreamer experienced. 

However, the dreamer may sometimes become frustrated trying to communicate the dream in a dream-report. We try to describe what happened in the dream using the medium of language (the dream-report), but we cannot. The dream eludes the net of language. At least that’s how we feel. The dreamer is frustrated with language and may think that since the dream cannot be described, it points to something beyond itself. But – why must a dream be capable of being described? After all, can you describe all the experiences of your waking life? Try and do it. Why must dreams be any different? In life, human beings are both the way and the wayfarers.

For some reason, we see dream-reports as descriptions of dreams. We see them as fragments of a story we assume can be told in full. Yet, dreams cannot be described to our satisfaction. Frustrating. Frustration leads to puzzlement. Most of the time we are puzzled by dreams (our own, and those of other people). Why? – are dreams seen as mysterious because dream-reports are assumed to be descriptions of dreams? 

3 thoughts on “Why are dreams mysterious?

  1. A dream moves us to do things, not just one dream, but all dreams, to a greater or lesser degree, and sometimes acting upon a certain dream becomes a real-time necessity, and not just a backwash for everyday life. Dreams are never false.

  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for dropping in.

    You: ‘sometimes acting upon a certain dream becomes a real-time necessity’

    I guess blog entries entitled ‘Why are dreams mysterious?’ are an example of just such an act!

    ‘Dreams are never false’

    Does that make dream-reports necessarily true? No, that’s too strong. Then, how is the accuracy of a dream-report judged? Well, we usually take them at face-value. I imagine lots of mediating factors are relevant here (e.g., people do report dreams only by confiding in close friends). So: truthfulness (honesty, sincerity) is important in the context of a dream-report, maybe more important than truth!

    Thanks, Simon

    • A dream is never false or true because there are no physical or situational comparisons to be made for an assessment of truth or falsity; no physical ontology forces itself on a dream. Dreams are facts, we take them at face value as you say.
      A dream interpretation will always be after the fact or force of the dream.
      Dreams have only one ontology, and that is the ontology of objects, and objects are given by life-forms. That is, all dream objects are alive, or of flesh.
      Truthfulness in the telling of a dream and a preoccupation with the objects in it sidesteps the force of it, even if one acknowledges that dream objects do not represent a phsyical ontology but a living ontology.
      As we know, there doesn’t appear to be a sharp line between dreams and other states: revelations, flash-backs, seeing spirits, etc occur in the context of dreams. Nightmares are always a prelude to great positive change.
      Dreams often follow a death/rebirth trajectory (see Stan Grof), where revelation occus at the end, for example, with a return to the light or waking state. Powerful archetypal figures that drive our lives can also make a strong appearance at these times, e.g. The Mother, the brothers, gaia, a variety of demons. These appearances can affect the way we live.
      That’s about as much as I have garnered.

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