NIGHT LIFE: The Interpretation of Dreams by Liam Hudson

NIGHT LIFE: The Interpretation of Dreams

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An imaginative new interpretation of dream theory, seeking to forge a synthesis between the Freudians and the Skinnerites. Dream theory didn't start with Freud. As far back as the ancient Greeks, Artemidorus was analyzing dreams in his Oneirocritica. But through these couple of millenia, attitudes have differed. Hudson, author of Contrary Imaginations, Frames of Mind, and The Cult of the Fact, among others, outlines these differences broadly before launching into his own synthesis. The Greeks viewed dreams as propositions about the future. Judging by Hudson's examples, the people of those days dreamed exciting adventures in vivid surround-sound Technicolor. From this fact, Hudson asserts that ""the dream is not a discrete fragment of experience. . . it is complementary to. . .life."" Thus, the brutal daily life of the Holy Roman Empire was transposed into violent dreams. Hudson knocks this ""porthole"" theory, saying that ""dreams can only be seen as portents if the dreamer is in a position. . .to influence"" his future. Freud, however, reversed the porthole, claiming that the dream gave us a look back to our past. Then carae the scientific attitude which blasts both theories, saying, in effect, that dreams are the waste products of the mind. Enter Hudson, who compares dreams to poetry, but one in which the ""artist and audience are one and the same."" He demonstrates the futility of encoding dream symbols, since each person's dream is as unique as each person, and ""the interpretive context is the experience of the dreamer."" Subsequently, Hudson believes, dreams ultimately can be interpreted if they are analyzed in the same way as poems, but only if we attend to their waking context, ever aware of the uniqueness of each individual. A valuable addition to dream theory, one which should serve as a jumping-off point for a renewed debate over this age-old subject.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's