Dream: Slaying the Plesiosauria

It started on an island. I was on a trip with classmates (an odd mishmash of people I know from college and high school). I don’t remember much of what happened on the island, but it was someone’s birthday, and I was commanded to dance in celebration. I refused.

We were boarding a plane to leave the island. I was searching frantically through my bag for some kind of ID that everybody else had. All I could find was my passport and boarding pass. Would they let me on? They did. I let out a sigh of relief.

When on the plane, I go over to a bunch of my college friends and sit down with them. The interior of the plane resembles a fast-food restaurant, except with more open space. My friends’ table is fully occupied, so I go over to another table. This table has an open seat, and is populated by friends from my high school. They are all Asian.

Next thing I recall, I am in a house. I have a rifle. One of my friends and I are on a mission of some sort. We go out for the purpose of reconnaissance. I see our enemies exploring an abandoned building. I lift up the rifle, but I can’t line up a good shot, and it’s not worth blowing our cover. I go back to the house and go to sleep.

When I wake up, there’s an emergency. It is pouring rain outside. I know that I need to go out and take out the bad guys. I grab the rifle and fumble around with some gloves before deciding that I don’t need them. I exit the house through a door that is a bit below street level. There is a staircase that leads up to the street. I start climbing it. They’re coming. I lie prone on the staircase and watch. I don’t know how many of them there are, so I don’t want to shoot the first one that comes by. Instead, I watch.

Only one passes by, but I am now able to track him.

Next thing I know, the house morphs into a pool of some kind, and what appears to be the Loch Ness Monster (in retrospect, it seems to be a plesiosauria) emerges and swims toward me. It is going to kill me if I don’t act.

I dodge its first attack. The house has continued to morph, and now I’m in a large cylindrical chamber with high walls and a pool in the middle. I swim to the edge of the pool and get out. There is a few square meters of dry ground for me to stand on. The monster is coming at me. I lift the rifle and shoot it in the head.

It looks stunned, but not dead. Slowly, a gate drops between my little patch of dry ground and the pool. I wait. And the gate lifts, just as slowly. I shoot the monster in the head once more. The gate does the same thing. A third time, I shoot the monster in the head. This time, the gate comes down, and the ground beneath me starts rising, bringing me back to the surface.


A Thought on Dreams

I’m currently reading through Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams. While I find much of what Freud says implausible, I think he’s right to say that dreams do have a meaning and can therefore be interpreted meaningfully. A few years ago, I would have dismissed Freud as nothing more than a pseudoscientist, and I thought that dream interpretation was bunk. That changed when I started listening to Jordan Peterson’s lectures.

Peterson relies on Jung more than on Freud, but Jung himself drew heavily from Freud’s work. What Peterson has taught me is that there is something (or a collection of things) in your mind that can be reasonably referred to as “the unconscious.” One can phrase this more intuitively as follows: There are components of your personality/mind that are somehow in opposition to one another and to the part of you that you think of as you (i.e. the ego).

How does this relate to dreaming? Dreams seem to be a product, at least in part, of the unconscious mind. My current mental picture of how dreams work is that there is a part of our minds which retrieves random information from the unconscious. We cannot direct this process, as far as I know. We have no control over what comes into our mind. Things just occur to us. This “occurring” happens both when we are awake and when we are asleep, but the presence of other stimuli causes us to mostly disregard these occurrences unless they are directly relevant. There are some exceptions, however. Earlier today, I had the chicken dance song pop into my head. God knows why.

I think our brain is constantly doing this, whether we are awake or asleep. When we are asleep, however, we don’t filter out the noise. Instead, we build on it and construct a world out of it. This is why dreams are often so nonsensical. They are the product of unfiltered thought.

It is hard to say exactly what dreams mean. But what is retained in memory is an indication of what is important. Dreams devoid of significant content are not as likely to be remembered. Likewise, the details which stick with you most are probably the ones that are most meaningful. It’s important to remember, though, that the fact that something sticks doesn’t make it significant. The chicken dance song wasn’t important to me this morning, but it stayed in my head for much longer than I would have liked.

I certainly put a lot less stock in dream interpretation than Freud does. I do not think that what the unconscious dreaming process produces has a lot to say about you on its own. I do, however, think that the nature of the things in your dreams which strike you most can tell you something important about what you value. The same is true of the way that unwarranted thoughts that occur to us affect us. What matters is not the thought itself, but our reaction to it.