What is a dream? Is it just a figment of the imagination? Are dreams reflections of personality or a prophecy? Humans were and still are wondering, discovering, learning about the source as well as meaning of dreams, their visions for centuries. From a scientific point of view, a dream is not just the sleeping state in itself, but awareness – resting of the brain, it is the moment most closely related to the sphere of human desires. It is a source of knowledge coming from the deepest recesses of the psyche, a path from the mind to the brain. REF
This topic was chosen as the author became fascinated with the subject of dreams following her practical work an earlier stage and decided to explore the topic in more depth, including historical references and symbolism used by artists and writers. How do dreams arise and what images do they create? How do artists reconstruct them and present in their work?
Night is not only the time in which one is resting, but it is also the time to disclose the true subconscious thoughts and desires, senses, needs, values, fears or even human hopes. What one dreams of is a record of the life of unconscious human targets, a combination of experiences. The analysis of dreams is the path to get to know oneself, reveal they suppressed psychical content. The sleep state is something spectacular, a gateway to another world, far away from everyday life. The dream reveals the secrets of the past, the future, as well as the present. It is a state of union of the human soul with the whole world around.
Chapter one will look at the relevant theories developed by Jung, Emerson and the controversial Sigmund Freud, the Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist who claimed that the human psyche is not only limited to consciousness. Chapter one aims to critically analyse psychoanalysis and the symbolisms of dreams.
Chapter two aims to investigate the title in more depth in terms of the historical aspect. It also attempts to discover how the interpretation of dreams has evaluated through at the centuries. Chapter two will examine the role of dreams in a few selected literary works and pieces of art and will explore the outcomes.
Chapter three will consider in more depth the one of the most interesting movements in Dali’s work including the 1929 silent film ‘Un Chien Andalon’ (An Andalusian Dog)
CHAPTER ONE – THE THEORY OF THE DREAM AND ITS MEANINGS
The title of the first famous work of the Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist Sigmund Freud has been translated as “The Interpretation of Dreams”. This is the manifesto of his ideas. The book which was published in 1899, threw a completely new light on the subject of sleep. According to Freud night is not only the time in which a man rests ‘ it is primarily a time to reveal his true, unconscious thoughts and desires. REF
Freud discovered by examining his patients that the human psyche determines active yet unconscious representations that relate to childhood. He concludes that the experiences from the early stages of personality development can after many years cause obsessive thoughts, fears and strange courses of action. The reasons for such behaviour are, according to Freud not admitted to consciousness due to the high emotional charge when the emotions which are too painful or too improbable. REF
Freud distinguished three spheres of the human psyche: the unconscious the Id, the Ego and conscious irrational the Superego. The Id acts in accordance with the pleasure principle. In 1933, Sigmund Freud described the Id as
‘the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learnt from our study of the dream-work and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of this is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We all approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations… It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.’ REF
The Id remains in conflict with the Superego and the outside world. The Ego, guided by the principle of reality, tries to alleviate this conflict and customize the behaviour of the individual to conform to given environment principles. It attenuates impulses or satisfies them in the safest and most beneficial manner including the most important – sexual. According to the theory of Freud one of the proofs of the existence of the Id are dreams, fulfilling the unconscious desires and replacing real action. Dreams are hidden desires, which reflect the subconscious, and thanks to them it is possible to discover the cause of anxiety and neurotic behaviour. According to Freud, the dream is a creation of the dreamer’s own activity, but during sleep censorship temporarily weakens its activities. This allows unconscious thoughts to have the opportunity to appear. REF
Thus the dream is a record of life, unconscious human needs, and a combination of experiences. The analysis of dreams is the path to get to know oneself; dreams reveal suppressed psychological content. In a dream, several forms merge into one. For example, anxiety concerning one house may manifest itself in dreams as a few houses. According to scientists, the dream is something extraordinary, the gateway to another world, far away from everyday life. Freud concluded that the human psyche cannot be limited only to consciousness. He claimed that there is an unconscious that contains in itself the specific content and which is also directing its own mechanisms. Unconscious processes affect our behaviour. REF
Freud introduced two new theories concerning dreams-manifest and latent content. Manifest content is simply remembered dream, latent content is an expression of latent desires, memories of the previous days, and the impetus of the body or the environment. The close connection between the dream and the unconscious the Id makes every detail of the overt content of dreams imbuing with it some significance. According to Jung, dreams are influenced by ancient culture, communications and the experience of the old religions dormant in the subconscious – what might be called unconscious memory. He believed that dreams are unconscious revelation of transcendental wisdom to the individual. Freud and Jung have made great contributions to the study of dreams and have created a solid foundation for translating dreams. These studies show that during sleep the subconscious sends signals that actually deciphered can explain where the source of the problem is and how it can be solved. REF
In dreams nothing happens without a reason, they can be deciphered. Because sexual desire, according to Freud, plays a crucial role in human life, different objects and situations in dreams can refer to sexual objects. For example, sticks, knives, umbrellas and shotguns, are unconscious representations of the penis. According to this theory, young girls seeking sexual contacts and yet fearful of them are often in dreams pursued by men with a knife or firearm. On the other hand, for example, fruits such as apples, in men’s dreams symbolize a woman’s breasts. REF Indeed, not all dreams are filled with unconscious sexual content. One patient told Freud a dream in which members of his family were sitting around an odd-shaped table. Seemingly the dream did not make sense. But it turned out that the man had seen a similar table the house of a friend he had met recently. REF
Another example of dream analysis he in accordance with Freud’s theory is cited in the book, “Secrets of Sleep” by Alexander Borbely. A certain man dreamed that he was riding a bike. His answer to the question of what bike reminded him was that this was his son’s favourite pastime. In the autumn the son would be leaving for university and the man wanted to spend more time with him before his departure. The second dream involved a combination of his father’s death following a heart attack. The bike had helped the father to maintain fitness. The dream of cycling related to two very serious things in his life. REF
Some people believe that many theories developed by Freud and his successors such, as Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) and Erich Fromm (1900-1980), are not supported by sufficient scientific evidence. On the other hand, the phenomenon of sleep and subconscious human hides so many puzzles that one cannot authoritatively determine who is right and who is wrong. Perhaps doubt will never be justified.
Formerly dreams were given different meanings. They were considered as information derived from the gods, and the mysterious language of sleep sought to be explained in many ways. The sages and priests spent much time on this. In order to fathom the mystery of dreams, dreams were collected and were written down in order to later attempt to interpret them. Erich Fromm believed that ‘Both dreams and myths are important communications from ourselves to ourselves. If we do not understand the language in which they are written, we miss a great deal of what we know and tell ourselves in those hours when we are not busy manipulating the outside world. ‘ REF
Myths and dreams are united by one shared feature – dreams can be written in symbolic language. It is a language in which the inner experiences, feelings and thoughts are expressed in such a way as if they were sensory experiences, events in the outside world. This language is governed by logic which is different from the conventional, everyday logic, in which there is not significant space and time, but intensity and association. Historically, for people living both east and west, dreams and myths were among the most important creations the mind, and the lack of understanding of dreams was treated as ignorance. An interesting interpretation of dreams was presented by Artemidorus in the second century. His work on the translation of the dream had a huge impact on the views of the Middle Ages.
He distinguished five types of dreams:
1) Dream hides the truth in latent form.
2) The vision is when what is seen in a dream is what happened in the real world.
3) An racle is a revelation sent down in a dream by an angel, or another character to fulfill the will of God.
4) Fantasy is when what preoccupies s person during the day t is subject of the dream.
5) The phantom is a night vision, which is manifested to small the children or elderly people to scare or scandalize them.
Ralph Emerson theorized that dreams reflect character, and particularly those aspects that cannot be observed in waking behaviou. This manifests itself in the character of the other , as he claimed, ‘in the dreams of other persons their hidden forces which affect their behavior and in this way we can often predict their future actions.’ REF
Whereas Emerson suggested a relationship between character and dream, Henri Bergson argued that dreams are actually caused by different physical stimuli, but these stimuli do not need to be explained as the dominant desires. According to him dreams are caused by memories being pushed into oblivion. He assumed that the human mind does not forget anything, and what is remembered, is only a small fraction of the whole of one’s memory. REF
Many researchers share the view that dreams have in them something of both an irrational and a rational nature. Some people believe that dreams reveal the animal nature and are the gateway to illusions whereas dreams for others are an expression of the most rational forces, which is the gateway to truth. According to some researchers, the role of dreams is to explain when the dream manifests the better part of the “I”, and when it dominates the animal nature. REF
A long time before psychoanalysis, great importance was attributed to dreams; hence the frequent presence of dreams and visions as theme in the literature of different eras. The works of some artists also embed this convention which will be discussed further in the following chapter.
CHAPTER TWO ‘ HISTORY OF THE DREAM AND ITS EVOLUTION
The first references regarding dreams in art are as old as literature itself. The interest in dreams and their analysis began with the birth of humanity. Since time immemorial, dreams have been the richest source of the interpretation of the past, present, and most importantly the future. The stories of Gilgamesh, Iliad and the Bible all describe dreams of some of the main characters along with their meanings. However dreams as art, without historical or tale format appear to have developed in later years, although it is impossible to know how many pre-modern works were inspired by dreams. (Belanger, 2005)’According to one of the oldest beliefs, sleep was a state similar to the state of death. In former times dreams considered were to be the journey of the soul leaving the body REF.
This idea of the soul leaving the body can be to the pre-Christian era.
In the Bible there are many examples of dreams. In ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, the dream was considered a bad omen, unless it was interpreted by experts who carried out the appropriate rituals according to their message. Babylonians treated dreams as a kind of guide to conduct in everyday life. Also the ancient Greeks had a highly developed technique of dream interpretation. Initially, they considered dreams as signs from the gods, consisting of a kind of guide to the complicated way of life. Health was analysed in terms of dreams. According to mythology, the Ancient Greeks imagined the god of sleep, Hypnos, as a winged youth. He was the brother of Thanatos, the god of death. Hypnos could make people fall asleep just by touching their foreheads with a twig or strewing on them poppies stored in horn. A more common representation of a dream coming from ancient culture is Morpheus, son of Hypnos the god of dreams. Morpheus had the ability to mimic any human form and appear in dreams. REF
In the Bible the dream has a symbolic meaning. It could be an omen, prophecy or vision. God appeared to Pharaoh in a dream, cautioning him of imminent danger. Pharaoh’s vision allowed him to avoid the oncoming adversity. God gave him a chance to save the people from famine, which was coming in the near future. Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, when up seven cows, sleek and fat appeared out of the river and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. The cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up, but when he fell asleep again, he dreamed a second dream. Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was a dream which may have been sent as a warning.
– Image 1 Pharaoh’s Dreams by James Tissot
The next day, Pharaoh decided to convene all the magicians and wise men of Egypt but none of them knew what the dream meant. Joseph, who was held captive had the gift of interpretation of dreams . ‘The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.’ REF
However, after seven years of prosperity there was to be time of misery and poverty. Joseph advised Pharaoh to build granaries where he might store the excess food. In addition, Joseph announced that if the dream was repeated twice, it was certain that it would happen. REF
The author of the Exodus proved that dreams could predict the future or foreshadow any specific event. The Bible is a source of various motives and symbols that are for people a reference to real life. Dreams in the Bible reveal the intricacies of the human psyche, reveal fears and anxieties, and yet are a path which God and man can communicate. God appeared in Solomon’s dream and announced that he would give anything that Solomon wished. Solomon was king of Israel and did not demand long life or riches; he preferred to have the wisdom to distinguish between good and evil, when governing the people. God fulfilled his wish, but also gave him fame and wealth. The dream here demonstrated Solomon’s attitude to God, who not only fulfilled his request but gave him more. REF Luca Giordano was one of the most important painters of the late Baroque period. Invited to Spain by King Charles II in 1692, he was soon established as the leading painter at the Spanish Court. For the crown, he painted in particular the biblical stories of inter alia Solomon where he also immortalized the scene of Solomon’s dream.
Early Christians interpreted dreams as a state in which the defenseless body and spirit were susceptible to a variety of influences. Nightmares were thought to be a clear manifestation of demons and monsters or warnings from God or a message from heaven. In the New Testament, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and declared that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Mary and Joseph were not married yet and Joseph thought about annulling the betrothal because of the pregnancy of Mary. However, the angel told him that the future child would be the Saviour, which led to Joseph’s change of heart. REF
Dream themes appeared as early as in ancient Greek and Roman comedies, and continued to provide material for drama throughout the centuries. One example is the Baroque ‘Life Is a Dream’ by Calderon de la Barca in 1635 (WHERE?!)
Long before the discovery of psychoanalysis and its development, there were attempts to unravel the mystery of the origin and message of dreams. Also artists started to be more involve in this phenomen. The Renaissance era was no exception. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, dreams became a theme often adoptedby artists who tried to push the boundaries of art seeking ways to show the unpreventable. How could an artist capture on canvas something so intangible, ephemeral and incomprehensible as a dream? Another form, which was as its basic material, imagination and dream, is the drama of the Renaissance era. Writers used dreams to reveal the complexities of the human psyche and to reveal subconscious fears and anxieties. This method was used by William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) who already in the sixteenth century broke with the existing conventions of drama and placed the supernatural alongside the real world. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” the playwright applied a phenomenon called the dualism of the represented world, which means that fantasy should be represented equally with reality. REF
One night in the middle of summer the boundary between these two worlds was obliterated. The forest, which was the place of the action, became a place for the simultaneous operation of two states of consciousness: reality and dream. In this way, Shakespeare created an image resembling the original beliefs of the people or the fantasies of a child whose mind was not yet sufficiently affected by the suffering of the world and the things overlooked by adults. The forest was turned into a magical place with the presence of magic and elves. Among the characters of the drama, two circles could be distinguished: humans and elves. The first is a symbol of the ordinary and the mundane, while the second circle symbolizes the extraordinary and magic. Elves show that anything can happen. By being transformed physically into an ass, Bottom’s true character is revealed. This was depicted by Edwin Landseer in his painting ‘Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.Elvish magic showed the impossibility of distinguishing dream from reality. In the words of Shakespeare: ‘The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, are of imagination all compact.’ REF
In Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ the world resembles ghostly phantom apnea, which is rife with crime, and the scenery is immersed in the darkness of night. The theme is the desire to gain power, which Macbeth and his wife achieve by the murder of King Duncan. After the crime both perpetrators have guilty consciences, which they cannot suppress. Dark thoughts and memories haunt both characters in dreams. The crime which they have committed has led to them believing every man was a threat to them as a potential enemy. In a dream Macbeth sees the spirit of a dead friend, Banquo. This means he is faced with a difficult choice. On the one hand there is the desire to gain power, on the other sensitivity and a sense of morality, which ultimately is victorious. Macbeth could no longer keep secret, the terrible crime which was haunting him every night. Nightmares also tormented his wife. Remorse disturbed his peace of mind. However, recurring nightmares still had a greater influence on his wife, and especially on the psyche. This is confirmed by the words of Macbeth (ACT 2 SCENE 5) REF
‘Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep”the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.’ REF
The killing a man by Macbeth is the killing of dream, his own conscience. The painting “Nightmare” by Henry Fuseli (1781) reflects the struggle of the protagonist of Macbeth and his wife to come to terms with the murder. The woman lying on the bed perfectly reflects their mental state. Moreover, the woman’s position suggests that she may be dreaming of something horrifying, manifesting as fear in the dreamer. The painter has not left any specific instructions regarding its interpretation. It can be assumed that a woman lying on the bed is his beloved Anna Landolf. This would allow the discovery of an additional intimate sense. REF
‘The Nightmare simultaneously offers both the image of a dream’by indicating the effect of the nightmare on the woman’and a dream image’in symbolically portraying the sleeping vision.’ REF It is also unclear whether the woman is immersed in a dream or whether she is trying to catch her last breath. The symbolism and imagery of the painting is very much exposed. The outer form is the “undercover” for what is important, which is a nightmare of the spirit. Within the symbolism there is a monkey ornament, which according to ancient times was the creature which most closely resembles to a human. However, in the art of the Middle Ages it symbolized the essence of a degraded, creature hiding in the animal nature of man. REF Similar symbols associated with the character of the horse. Additional evidence may be darkness, from which it emerges.
‘Sleep, the Cousin of Death’ – Charles Sackville REF
Indeed the woman lying on the bed could be dead or just sleeping.
During the Renaissance poets developed an awareness, not only of the importance od dreams but of unlimited imagination. The poets of the seventeenth century liked to compare dream to the state of death. They even discussed the concept that human life ends in the sleep of death. – Miko??aj S??p Szarzy??ski (1550 ‘ 1581) REF
In European literature Romanticism emphasized the value of emotions and inspirations coming from the irrational. Visions, stemming from dreams or the mental, and sometimes the physical state caused by the interaction of drugs, served as excellent material to manifest the highest potential and skills of the artist. Onirism which is an art form directly based on material from dreams, or which employs dream-like imagery, often embraces the entire composition of the artist’s work, especially the construction of the person and his relationship with the real, fantastic and spiritual world. (Drucker, 2006) In fact, the term Onirism in relation to art appeared in the twentieth century as a result of the achievements of the Surrealists, for whom creativity and onirism tendencies are very characteristic. The Surrealists were fascinated by hypnosis, myths and tales, tearing down the logical order of reality and investigating absurdity, dreams and mediumship which was thriving at the time of psychoanalysis. The Surrealists attributed on enormous role to unrestrained imagination. Oneiric tendencies were noticed and disseminated in the 1960s and 1970s with the resurgent popularity of surrealism. (Jurewicz, 2014)
The epithet “oneiric” is most commonly used to characterize the artistic techniques, rather than the overall concept of the dream. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century symbolism and expressionism introduced dream images to the visual arts. Expressionism was also a literary movement and embraced later work. (Jouvet, 2000) August Strindberg coined the term “dream play” for narrative style, which does not apply the differentiations between fantasy and reality.
Whereas others believed that sleep is a kind of escape from the world. ‘The Wedding’ (1901) defining work of Polish drama written at the turn of the 20th century by Stanis??aw Wyspia??ski (1869 – 1907) describes the perils of the national drive toward self-determination following the two unsuccessful uprisings against the Partitions of Poland, in November 1830 and January 1863. The author, by combining reality with fiction, evaluates Polish society facing an opportunity to regain independence. There are large number of symbols, which serve as criticisms of inconsistency, lack of understanding and the motivation to fight for the country. Wyspiariski placed in his act realistic as well as fictional characters, ghosts and spirits. There is no doubt that the whole of the second act of the drama is constructed from oneiric conventions. Ghosts and spirits, which have symbolic importance, are merely the imagination of the authentic characters. Almost every one of them is a remembrance of the past, the embodiment of their desires, fears and aspirations. Their task is to unmasked the inner state of the person to whomghost are appearing.
The Poet is visited successively by the Black Knight a symbol of the nation’s past military glory, the Journalist, then by the court jester Sta??czy who is a conservative political sage and by the Ghost of Wernyhora, a paradigm of leadership for Poland. Wernyhora presents the Host with a golden horn symbolizing the national mission, and calls the Polish people to revolt. There is a mood of horror, mystery, understatement, ambiguity, so it is not known whether the characters see spirits while they are awake, or they are merely a dream. Painting “B’?dne ko??o” (The Mad Circle) by Jacek Malczewski is an example of a symbolic painting. The painting presents quite a strange scene referring to the play ‘The Wedding ‘ In the center of the painting is located a ladder on it there is sitting little boy while numerous characters are dancing around him. Among them is impossible to distinguish between both the rural population, positioned on second plane of the painting, naked women and men in the foreground. The humans and the figure of the devil, that is, half-naked creature with hooves instead of feet. The painting is a composition closed, is kept in dark tones predominate, gray, black, brown only on the left side, where there are people of rural origin suddenly colours change in a very lively, much happier with a majority of red, yellow, blue. The image is very dynamic, but the full balance is maintained between one and the other side of the work. Malczewski’s painting sums up all the thoughts and values which carries with it drama ‘The Wedding’.
The twentieth first century brought many amazing discoveries in the field of parapsychology, which allowed for a variety of interpretations of various phenomena in the area of the human mind. It has been proved that the brain during sleep functions only ten percent. REF
What is happening with the rest? It is still a mystery to be solve. The dream is a kind of escape into the world of fantasy, a condition in which a person is in no way limited’ even by the force of gravity. Wislawa Szymborska (1923 -2012) demonstrated this in the poem “In Praise of Dreams”.
In praise of dreams
In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.
I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.
I drive a car
that does what I want it to.
I am gifted
and write mighty epics.
I hear voices
as clearly as any venerable saint.
My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.
I fly the way we ought to,
i.e., on my own.
Falling from the roof,
I tumble gently to the grass.
I’ve got no problem
breathing under water.
I can’t complain:
I’ve been able to locate Atlantis.
It’s gratifying that I can always
wake up before dying.
As soon as war breaks out,
I roll over on my other side.
I’m a child of my age,
but I don’t have to be.
A few years ago
I saw two suns.
And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.
The poem’s title makes the subject matter obvious. The subject shows the reader that during sleep, nothing is impossible. . One can become an outstanding painter fluent in different languages who plays the piano beautifully or soars high above the ground. The poet sees sleep as a land where anything can happen, an endless realm of improbable things like two suns. In the dream, death does not need to be feared. Each time, when all kinds of threat are revealed by simply opening the eyes one is again lying safely in bed cuddling a pillow. Unknown corners of the earth can be explored; it is possible or to breathe underwater, we become better, we blur the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead. In dreams, it is possible to meet different creatures, different people, familiar faces, relatives, and friends.. people who died a long time ago who appear to be alive. Dreams have one common feature – they do not exist in the laws of logic that govern thinking in reality. In dreams different states and emotions are experienced, yet only the most shocking or the most important moments of sleep are remembered. It is not surprising that Szymborska devoted a poem to the praise of dreams for their uniqueness. A dream is a second life; it is state of transition, in which people are the masters of their dreams.
Apnea material began to be used as an inspiration for comics in the 1980s. For instance the popular comic strips of Winsor McCay. Artists began to illustrate their own dreams. In’ The Committee of Sleep’ the Harvard psychologist Deirdre explored material for media provided by dreams among many modernist works inspired by dreams she included paintings such as ‘Flag’ (1954’55) by Jasper Johns, most of the work of Jim Dine and Salvador Dali, novels ranging from ‘Sophie Choice’ directed by Alan J. Pakula, who adapted William Styron’s novel of the same name. Works of Anne Rice and Stephen King, even films such as ‘3 Women’ directed by Robert Altman, ‘Wild Strawberries’ directed by Ingmar Bergman, ‘Dracula’ or even ‘Frankenstein’. Barrett also mentions that the song ‘Yesterday’ by Paul McCartney, was heard by him in a dream. (Belanger, 2005)
Content coming from the dreams is still used for different purposes by many contemporary artists. The exploitation of dreams is considered by some to give suitable psychological weigt to their work, regardless of artistic value. (Pells, 1973)
CHAPTER THREE ‘ SURREALISM: THE DREAM MOVEMENT
Dreams have been an inseparable part of everyone’s life since time immemorial, and this is reflected in the fields of literature and art where the use of dreams as theme.
Simultaneously, the discussion regarding dreams reached a new level of awareness in the western world due to the work of Sigmund Freud who introduced the concept of the unconscious as a field of research. Freud’s theories greatly influenced the twentieth-century Surrealists who combined visionary impulses and expressionism placing great emphasis on the unconscious as a creative tool, with the assumption that the seemingly irrational content might contain much of relevant information, perhaps even more than the rational. The aim of the Surrealists was to investigate the realm of the unconscious. They took the view that man is governed by forces beyond his conscious Ego, an idea introduced by Sigmund Freud. Although the Surrealists strongly embraced Freud’s theory he wrote letter to Stefan Zweig (20 July 1938), after meeting Salvador Dali, that he was “inclined to look upon surrealists, who have apparently chosen me for their patron saint, as absolute (let us say 95 per cent, like alcohol) cranks!” (Pontalis, Frontiers in Psychoanalysis, p.49) Films, particularly those of Bunuel have, to a large extent been responsible for spreading the concept of the dream. Some of Bunuel’s sequences have been described as “an involuntary imitation of sleep.” (Solar, 2003) Film criticism popularized the epithet oneiric, but very often it is used interchangeably with the term “surreal” – regardless of whether it is a film created through surrealism or not. Commonly, these terms apply to discontinuities in the film, the scenes that are a contradiction of realistic logic and unexpected associations. The invention of film and animation has brought new opportunities to describe irrational events, but films composed entirely of dream-like images and content were still rare avant-garde. (Peterson, 1994)
One of the most interesting movements in painting of the twentieth century was Surrealism. Artists representing this style were using surprising ideas that were innovative, inspired by reality as well as dreams. Antonin Artaud states that, ‘Surrealism is not a style. It is the cry of a mind turning back on itself.’ (1997, p.3) Surrealism was founded in France and quickly gained followers. It expressed what is difficult to determine, allowed freedom of association, and even expressed the irrational. The style was a revolt against classicism, realism, empiricism, rationalism, utilitarianism and previous conventions in art. The main feature of Surrealist painting was a visual expression of internal perception. Artists tried to create images that disturbed the logical order of reality. Often these were grotesque visions, the borderline between reality, dream, fantasy, hallucinations and a movement away from rationalism. (Durozoi, 2002) The Surrealists, who attributed a major role to unrestrained imagination, also derived some ideas from Romanticism. They wanted to dramatize even seemingly ordinary events. Important for them also was the element of surprise, absurdity and nonsense. The Surreal images are shreds of disordered and illogical thoughts. Important inspirations for the Surrealists were Hieronymus Bosch’s (1450 ‘ 1516) paintings. Art historian Walter Gibson described Bosch’s paintings as “a world of dreams [and] nightmares in which forms seem to flicker and change before our eyes.” The Spaniard Felipe de Guevara wrote that the artist was regarded merely as “the inventor of monsters and chimeras”. Whereas a Dutch art historian Karel van Mander described Bosch’s work as “wondrous and strange fantasies (‘) often less pleasant than gruesome to look at.”
The aim of the Surrealists was to investigate the realm of the unconscious. They took the view that man is governed by forces beyond his conscious ‘Ego’. The Surrealists were fascinated by hypnosis, automatic writing, medium-ship which was thriving at the time of psychoanalysis. The most prominent psychoanalysis’s were Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Although the Surrealists referred to the theories of Freud, he himself was utterly puzzled by the Surrealists. They Surrealists wanted to dramatize even seemingly ordinary events. Their images are shreds of disordered and illogical thoughts. Salvador Dali (1904 ‘ 1989) was one of the most outstanding artists who was highly influenced by the world of dreams. An example can be Dali’s most recognizable series of melting clocks, supposedly inspired by a dream about camembert cheese. ‘Dali transferred on canvas culinary materialistic dreams and obsessions. Symbolism is part of the inherited culture of human nature. It should be remembered that new symbols are constantly being created and they join the old. Each symbol has its counterpart which is its translation or example. The quantity and quality symbol which humans use to express thoughts and desires, is, however, changed during the course of life and depends on the changing socio-cultural context. Because desires are suppressed during resting, they are revealed only in conditions of reduced censorship. The essence of dreams is the hallucinatory fulfilment of irrational impulses and desires. The formation of dreams involving two types of mental processes: one that creates thoughts of sleep and the other encodes these thoughts in such a way that they are irrational. Encoding is designed to conceal infantile desires, as well as those that are contrary to the principles of pleasure, but which are thought about in everyday life.’ (Jurewicz, 2014 p.7)
The 1929 silent film ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (An Andalusian Dog) by Salvador Dali and Luis Bu??uel is a Surrealistic potpourri of shocking, dream-influenced obscene non-related episodic clips with no purpose but merely to shock the viewer. The chronology of the films is chaotic and disjointed, there are no central characters to follow, it jumps from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘eight years later’ without any explanation whatsoever.
‘It uses dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of the then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes.’ (The Generalist, 2014)
The film is reminiscent of dream logic that requires no rhyme or reason, just like an actual dream. For centuries, people have been having dreams. Every night they enter into the world of dream, an unknown world where it is possible to be anyone. In dreams, it is possible to meet different creatures, different people, familiar faces, relatives, and friends… people who died a long time ago who appear to be alive. Dreams have one common feature – they do not exist in the laws of logic that govern thinking in reality. In dreams different states and emotions are experienced, yet only the most shocking, the most important moments of sleep are remembered, and so it is with this film. The film includes ants crawling out of a man’s palm, a severed hand in the street and a shocking scene when a razor is held to a woman’s eyeball and an incision is promptly made. Bu??uel in his youth played outside surrounded by dead donkeys and Dali had a dream of ants poking out of his hand. The film is a patchwork of scenes inspired by Dali’s and Bu??uel’s dreams.
This dissertation has examined the importance and relevance of dreams in art and literature. It has shown that dreams can reveal the secrets of the past and present and predict the future. Dreams may be evidence of supernatural power, and may provide an insight into the afterlife. Dreaming is a state of the union of body, mind and soul. It is a disclosure of unconscious and repressed psychological contents. Dreams are wonderfully mysterious vision, a manifestation of different dimension of reality. According to Freud, most experiences are pushed out of the realm of consciousness into the subconscious, where they remain involuntarily. This realm of the subconscious is not without influence on people’s lives, because dreams are the expression, a disclosure – they represent symbolically all that is feared and loved. What people yearn for often a matter of great surprise themselves. Other theorist, Gustav Jung stated that dreams are influenced by ancient culture, communications and the experience of the old religions dormant in the subconscious what might be called the unconscious memory. Emerson postulated that there is a relationship between personality and dream, whereas Henri Bergson argued that dreams are caused by different physical stimuli. Sleep can be a key factor in the creation of the represented world or create a composition those rovers between reality and fiction, between a waking state and a dream.