English 391W: Dreams

Skipping on Pink Ribbon (A Resonant Dream)

January 25, 2010 · No Comments

I’m skipping on a road made of pink ribbon winding through outer space, in the body of the kid in a painting that hangs in my grandma’s house. My hair is long, thin, and green like hers.

I skip along the ribbon at a clumsy glide, wearing the smock-dress, purple in the painting but green in the dream. I have her skinny legs and expressively still face. I’m fragile but tenacious. I’m Christopher Robin. I’m the Little Prince.

I’m skipping in pure, calm terror. I know I can’t keep this up. It feels like my body might shatter into shards of atom and become floating debris. So I change my pace, to a frantic run. The running is chaos and feels almost like spinning, but less graceful, more agitated, like I’ve lost my footing, permanently. It’s excruciating but preferable to the calm terror of the skipping.

I start to realize that I know what scares me. It’s something like God, more remote than Satan but no less powerful or frightening, an omnipresent but disembodied male figure somewhere in space. He has in his hands a large nuclear bomb and is planning to drop it on me. The force of the threat propels me. I can’t shake it. I can’t outrun it. All I can do is alternate between the skipping and running, hoping the combination will keep my fear from killing me before he can. Skip, run.

The pink ribbon road has no surface, so I never feel it when my feet hit the ground. There is no ground. I skip, for minutes at a time, then run, slow to a skip, and break out running. I will do this eternally, as long as sleep persists. Skip, run. Skip, run, skip.

I had this dream a lot when I was a kid–starting at about 5. In fact, it was a big part of my life. I had it so often that I attached a particular feeling to it. I called it “the dream feeling.” When I was older, I realized this feeling was basically panic. It’s almost like I was having panic attacks in my sleep.

As Freud observes, the potential meanings of a dream far exceed its surface content, so I’ll limit myself to one observation. The dream is full of condensation, as are so many dreams. Condensation is the term Freud used to desribe the fact that any given image in a dream condenses multiple references and meanings. Composite figures are probably the most common form of condensation. For example, I am simultaneously myself, the kid from the painting, AND Christopher Robin, AND the Little Prince. Other examples of condensation include the fact that the pink ribbon is also a road and that I’m both a boy and a girl. Freud also describes the condensation of psychological or emotional concerns into dream fragments or images. For example, the God figure in my dream seems to represent several emotional concerns: a common childhood awe (and terror) of religion and the metaphysical questions it suggests; my childhood anxiety about authority figures; a more general social/poltical anxiety about the cold war and the potential for nuclear war; and a personal fear of my father, whom I didn’t know. The dream condenses all these concerns into a single figure (at least that’s how Freud sees it).

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Categories: Dreams



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