My subconscious needs dream-writing lessons (Retro dream-style reasserts itself...)

Just had a dream in a style that I haven't had much since leaving architecture, very film-noire, lots of montage and suggestive imagery, with really hard-to-interpret symbols crawling over various surfaces.

The dream was a standard "get your house in order" type thing, set in a cottage, where my mother, father and myself were moving into a new cottage. Lots of standard stuff in there about fixing relationships (mostly images of cleaning and attempting to whittle down mother's clutter).

There was a brief clip where I was watching these fascinating "watermarked" pictographs crawl across the TIVO-like on-screen menu selector while pretending to watch a single program in the little box in the corner. This was, if I'm reading it correctly, trying to remind me that I should be working on philosophy and/or design theory instead of programming, with the watermarked images representing underlying memes and ideas in the design of the shows. This imagery was actually interesting enough that I'd love to actually implement something like it.

Up until this, basically just a normal dream from my subconscious' film-noire period, warped, overwrought, and not really challenging anything, but with various images that suggest neat little side projects.

Then it got normal, that is, it went mainstream in the design, with a simple horror flick. Heard a noise as mother was saying good night and going to bed. Go upstairs, find that only the screen door is closed and some guy is standing just outside looking in.

So, your garden variety "don't forget the day-to-day", or even "don't trust the goodness of people too far" parable, nothing new. Close door, lock. Problem solved.

Except that scary naked guy (pet name the women in the building have for a creepy man (with an incredibly annoying habit of assuming you are his best friend for a conversation then getting offended when you don't act as such) who used to flash them from his apartment window, (he wasn't naked in the dream)) was inside, and sleeping in an easy chair upstairs. Given my (dream character's) actions, I can only assume my subconscious figured I didn't really "get" the message that I have become too complacent. I (the dream me) wound up cursing the chap out as I bodily threw him from the cottage and started locking the door.

There was a little side-parable where I discovered that there was no lock for the path leading to the sleeping areas in the basement, where all of my tools were, while there was one for the useless formal area upstairs, but before it could really get going (and really, who pays attention to parables telling you to focus on the important things...), something interesting happened.

As I was trying to rig something with the gate latch to protect the sleeping area, I saw that SNG was across the way, looking in through the door of one of our neighbours (non-descript, no one in particular). I started yelling at him to get away, at which point the owner (female) returned.

A conversation starts, the neighbour describes why she's okay with SNG and friend staying in her cottage while she's away. As we are talking, we walk to a nearby children's playground and start picking up (amazingly disgusting) trash as we talk (all four of us).

It was right around here that I woke up, because the emotional effect was extremely unsettling. Moments before I had been in a screaming, ranting, physically violent rage tinged with no small amount of fear. Then all of that rage and fear was replaced with this subtle, loathsome sense of shame at being so self-centred and forgetting that society collapses if we all look solely to our own needs and not to those of the people around us.

So here's why I'm bothering people with a dream recording (which is something I normally try to avoid):

The last segments of the dream (from the open door on) had been pretty much about using fear as a motivation to reduce sympathy; to rebalance perceptions to avoid being taken advantage of. That kind of rebalancing happens all the time in dreams. What was interesting (when I woke up and started thinking about it) was that the dream, unlike a traditional media, was adding new (crude) segments in response to my responses.

When I wasn't upset enough about the shadowy lurker, it added an invasion scene. When I went overboard about the invader and started throwing up psychological defenses to keep everyone out, it added a segment emphasizing humanistic concern for one's brother.

Which got me to thinking. It's likely that very iterative quality which makes a dream so dull when translated into other media, while being extremely effective at motivating the individual. The dream-maker (the subconscious) has full access to the viewer, it can alter emotional and perceptual operations at will, allowing for very crude story lines to be completely effective. It can pave over even the most abrupt segues. It can rewrite the "script" at a moment's notice to respond to the audience' thoughts or feelings.

Without that access, the dream just turns into a poorly-structured narrative which seems to jump from one idea to another, often as an agglomeration of images which mean little or nothing to another human. It can be interesting artistically, but isn't likely to be effective in anything like the same way as something created consciously (unless, of course, the dream segments are dealing with extremely common imagery and motivations). Dreams are, in other words, extremely media-specific.


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