For the past few weeks, I’ve awakened most mornings aware that during the previous night I had had vivid and intense dreams. I can think of several reasons why my dreams have become so vivid and intense: our new rental is in a much quieter and darker neighborhood and I’m probably sleeping more deeply; my sabbatical has led me to turn inwards in a way that I usually don’t have time for; in the weeks leading up to the winter solstice when days are getting increasingly shorter I usually sleep more, and dream more.
I don’t have any interest in remembering my dreams, and then analyzing them while I’m awake. Nor do I have any interest in dismissing dreams as mere effluvia produced as the brain consolidates its memories from the day. The first approach takes the subjective content of dreams and objectifies it; the second approach ignores the subjective reality of dreams and dreaming. Each of these approaches is a product of the hyper-rationalism which turns everything into an object, and then takes those objects and carefully places them into categories, even though these categories may be divorced from the subjective reality in which we live our lives.
Some three thousand years ago, the oracle at Delphi gave this advice: “Know thyself.” In some ways, we haven’t made any progress from this; we have more technology, and less hunger and famine and disease, and more liberty for more people; but I’m not convinced we know ourselves any better. Mind you, the simple fact that, compared to three thousand years ago, more people are well-fed and reasonably healthy and not enslaved means that more people have enough time in their lives to take the time to know themselves. But objectifying and analyzing pieces of your self does not lead to knowing yourself as a whole.
Hyper-rationalism has given me lots of knowledge, but hasn’t led me any closer to self knowledge. I awakened this morning knowing that I had vivid and intense dreams. Then I got up, and ate breakfast, and went shopping, and did some housecleaning, and stood for a moment just looking out the window. Now I’m writing this. Tonight I will likely dream more vivid dreams that I don’t remember. All this seems to be a better way to follow the advice of the oracle at Delphi.