There can be overlap. In the last-night’s dream I was indeed a participant but
there seemed to be little periods where I was also an observer, for example
when I realized that I had left my motorcycle in the center of the street and
went back looking for it and couldn’t find it, it wasn’t acceptable that it
would have just disappeared; so a coworker popped up to explain where it was –
although his explanation wasn’t very good – as though its location wasn’t as
important as the segueing into the sequence with the woman, for when the woman
showed up the need to find my motorcycle fell away.
And in regard to the reverse situation, in my recent marathon reading of J.A.
Jance novels I notice that on occasion I was feeling depressed for no good
reason until I realized that my feeling was a result of the protagonist’s being
in serious trouble and feeling depressed about it.
But be those elements as they may, if we do need to dream, and we do, maybe we
do need, or at least have a desire for stories for a similar reason. Needing
to dream means that dreaming must be good for us, but I haven’t heard that we
really know why. I have heard that the reduction of REM sleep is bad for us.
We know some of the effects, when we don’t dream, but we don’t know (or at
least didn’t the last time I read about this) why the dream mechanism is
Another thing, if REM is an indication of dreaming, then my dogs do dream.
Maybe because our brains are more complex than dog’s brains, we need more
dream-like activities than nightly dreams and so have learned to tell each
“Wait a minute,” the anthropologist will say, stories originated around the
camp fire so that everyone would be reminded of important events in their
history and as time went on the equivalent of scribal errors occurred and the
heroes of old became gods (cf Joseph Campbell). Also, stories are important so
that young people can learn from old people how to function in their society.
Yes, but perhaps as our brains developed slightly to enable us to better live
on farms and in towns, perhaps town-dwellers and herders modified the nature of
these stories without giving them up. We know their form has been modified.
It seems like young people since the early 1900s have been getting their
stories from the cinema which has morphed in more recent times into Netflix,
Showtime and HBO which can be watched on a teen-ager’s cellphone whenever he
feels the need of a dream-fix. :)
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Omar Kusturica
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2018 3:33 PM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Stories
Of course, dreams are a lot like stories or movies, except that in dreams you
are always a character / actor yourself. It does not seem possible to have a
dream in which you are not a participant but only a reader / viewer. At least
in my dreams this does not seem to occur.
On Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 10:25 PM, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
<mailto:lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> > wrote:
You wrote, “I’ll roll with the idea that story telling and dreams may serve
some of the same ends but your example seems to work against the idea that only
pleasant dreams and stories succeed.”
I really didn’t intend to say that only pleasant dreams and stories succeed,”
just that we hope for “pleasant dreams,” for our spouse if we happen to have
one, and we hope the same thing for ourselves. But as we know we don’t always
receive them. Sometimes we receive nightmares.
Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles wrote tragedies and Aristotle claimed they
provided a cleansing benefit, but after these playwrights came Aristophanes who
We hope for the pleasant dream, but it is well within the order of things that
we sometimes receive a nightmare.
I had written, “A good story will make us feel as good as a pleasant (or at
least not unpleasant) dream.” I didn’t intend to say that bad stories and
unpleasant dreams don’t “work.” We have dreams whether they are good or bad,
so no doubt it is in our DNA to have them and they must work to some purpose.
But what I am suggesting is that hearing, reading or seeing a “pleasant story”
is like the “pleasant dream” we hope for. Having a story during the day to go
with our dream during the night may be something we need. Whether it is better
to have a good story is my conjecture. It may be better for us to watch Anne
of Green Gables than Friday the 13th. . . not that I’ve followed my own advice
and chosen to watch Anne of Green Gables – although Susan coaxed me into
watching it with her.
I had also written, “I frankly don’t think the novels that win awards, novels
about college professors and their angst (not that I’ve read many of them) fit
that mold. Think of the stories that people buy by the billions: detective
stories, westerns, science fiction, and romance. The good guys win (normally)
and there is a happy ending (mostly) – just like a pleasant dream.”
And maybe what I’ve said in the above paragraph is wrong. Maybe the
professors’ angst is in the category of an unpleasant dream or a nightmare.
Maybe we wish for something pleasant but are forced (because we are taking a
class that requires it or are doing some graduate reviewing) to read a
professor’s dreary tragedy. But since it is a “story,” perhaps there is a
benefit along the lines of what a Greek Tragedy itself might entail.
You wrote, “A large blue wall in California? ‘strawdinry idea. And a siren
arriving after the incident too. Lash yourself to some handy mast is my best
Yes, now that you mention it a “blue wall” does sound like what the police have
been called. And also the wall to keep aliens south of the border could be
called a blue wall since the Border Patrol is Law Enforcement, but that seems
to excessively overburden the image when all I’m doing is looking for my
Telling the woman behind the blue wall that I am married is interesting because
maybe subconsciously in some sense I still am.