dreams and the experience of sacred time

Shoshana Feldman directs our attention to the "new ways of reading" that Freudian psychoanalysis has made possible. The first chapter leaves the reader, the person reading the book, you and me, hanging as to what it is that is being read in new ways. From what I can tell, Freud read how patients read their own dreams. In doing so Freud also read his own dreams. To read the analysand through their dreams Freud had to engage in his own dream world. And this led to an insight that Lacan wishes to make possible. Does Lacan read Freud as if he were a dream? Is this the insight that Feldman, through the reading of Lacan, wishes to convey, wishes to engage her reader?

"...never purely cognitive; it is to some extent always performative (incorporated in an act, a doing) and to that extent precisely it is not transparent to itself" (Felman 1987, 15).
"...always partially unconscious, partially partaking of a practice. And since there can never be a simultaneous, full coincidence between practice and awareness, what one understands in doing and through doing appears in retrospect: nachtraglich, apres coup" (Felman 1987, 15).

"Central to [the rich diversity of Native American ritual expression] is a common perspective that particularly deserves our attention: a concept of time manifest in all real myths and continually expressed in profound ritual enactments of mythic themes and sacred events--time outside of time, that is the sacred time of the hierophany of the now. The recitation of a myth defining creation, for example, is not experienced in terms of an event of linear time past, but rather of a happening of eternal reality, true and real now and forever, a time on the 'knife edge between the past and the future'" (Brown 1995, 84-85).

Dreams are so important that in one tribe, the Sioux I believe, that if one has a bad dream the dream is ritualistically acted out to ensure that the ritual was the real manifestation of the dream.

The psychoanalytical insight from the interpretation of dreams comes from the capacity of the dream to compress time and intermix subjects and entities construed as separate in waking life. And especially, it is time and entities that are meaningful to the dreamer. Thus the dream is a mode of exploration and discovery. Through the dream one is able, from the perspective of Native American philosophy at least, to experience the hierophany of the now. And it is this capacity that was the insight of Freud. But Freud too, understood the capacity of other's dreams to establish an important connection between the analyst and the analysand. A dream, something that, arguably, occurs naturally is a sort of natural resource setting through which individuals can gain insight into their own subconscious. And this process can be made more salient through a structural repetition of the setting. It is here where Felman's and Lacan's analysis of Poe's story "the purloined letter" enters, "the allegory of psychoanalysis" (Felman, 43).

In Poe's story the structural repetitions consists of, in one display of the structure, A) the superego, B) the ego, and C) the unconscious linguistic id. The superego is represented by the unseeing King and the unseeing Police. In a dream the superego is the outside world, reality; the ego is the knowing self, the actor in the dream that is self-conscious, has a sense of self, and imports things from the outside world into the setting of the dream; the unconscious is the reality of the dream, the action and setting of the dream, that pushes back on the ego and the superego. For the analysand there is a tension between the unconscious and that outside world. The purloined letter is a symbol of that tension and the interaction that transpires on account of it. The insight of Freud and Lacan is that the psychoanalyst does not take the role of Dupin in the story but rather the psychoanalyst's job is to create the second setting; a setting in which Dupin emerges as a product of the analyst and the analysand. This realization, that the analyst and the analysand create a shared unconscious, is the thesis of Feldman's work. Freud's discovery and work was in the creation of a setting between two people. For Lacan it is in the creation of a setting in a discourse, among many people.

Since they were gifts, harmonica.doc and 'she was the apocalypse', were particularly effective in sparking a chain of memories concerning, ironically enough, a set of stories I wrote in the early months of 2000 on the process of changing. One was on a particular dream I had. It happened during a time in my life when dreams came every night. I slept little and dreamt vividly then. Now I just sleep and forget my dreams, if I remember them at all once awake, in the matter of minutes. I am not fortunate enough to have the .doc of the original but the dreams. However the ones that are probably the best for psychoanalysis are the ones that endure--at least, that is what I would guess--so it comes easily to recount it. But I remember this one because it marked the transition in my life from a loose sense of import to a clear understanding of what ought to drive me. This was the change I wanted to talk about.

First Hogan (Home)
At the same time
We were children
We were grown
My younger sister Kelly
My younger brother Alex
(where was my older brother Phillip?)

We followed my dad

walking along the side of a plateau
the sun was rising and setting
it was late afternoon
it was morning
night never came

We reached the top
In the afternoon
yellow sun light on the landscape around us
My dad spoke about the mesas
We listen carefully to him
And we knew
knowledge was just given to us
concerning the future of the earth
concerning the future of humans

None of the words could be remembered specifically
my dream self
knew all the words deeply
my waking self
only the words "first hogan"

We followed my dad back down
It was morning
white sun light on the landscape around us
Once at the bottom
Next my dad's truck
a sign
newly made

I began to read this large Forest Service sign

the familiar Forest Service font
the familiar Forest Service colors
yellow letters
brown relief
It was entitled
"First Hogan"

And all the things that were said

on that mesa that day
were written
in perfect grammar
with clear sentence transitions
concerning the future of the earth
concerning the future of humans