English 391W: Dreams

Woodpecker Treat

March 1, 2010 · 2 Comments

In the dream, I was going about my business–cleaning the house, stoking the fire, etc. I looked out the window and saw that the birds had eaten the entire suet cake I’d put out for them a few hours earlier. The metal cage it sits in, next to the bird feeder, was empty. Somehow I knew the birds had eaten it and that a bear hadn’t gotten to it. This was part of a larger dream, but this is all I remember.


I’m at our place upstate, and I did put out a new suet cake (flavor: “Woodpecker Treat”) yesterday. To do it, I had to trudge through very deep snow and balance a ladder carefully so it wouldn’t tumble into the snow when I climbed it. I love watching the birds go crazy at the bird feeder when it’s snowing (as it was much of yesterday). When I awoke, I was pleased to see the birds had hardly made a dent in the suet.


The fact that I can only remember this single image reminds of of Ernest Hartmann’s point that dreams are not clearly “delimited.” It’s nearly impossible to trace their beginnings and endings. We talk about individual dreams as though they are texts, but in fact our dreams stream in and out of each other, and we only know about the details we happen to remember–or take pains to remember.

There’s something interesting about the image itself: the empty little cage. It wouldn’t be hard to turn it into a symbol, but is it? I’m tending to think it’s not.

But, it does represent an emotion. I was pleased with myself for trudging through the snow to put that suet out. It was a minor accomplishment. That empty basket–or little cage–represents hard work that seems to be wasted. This is how Hartmann would see it, I think.

But when I woke up, I was reassured. Indirectly, my dream gave me that reassurance. Is this Jungian compensation?

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2 responses so far ↓

  •   grusha // Mar 7th 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I think this dreams can be seen through the Freudian lens if the reassurance it gave you is understood as a form of wish-fulfillment. You wanted the reassurance and your dream gave it to you. Wish fulfillment is a piece of Jungian compensation, so I would say that the answer is probably! As Jung writes in his thesis, “This compensatory function is concerned only to a limited extent with the sleeping state; its chief significance is rather in relation to conscious life. Your reflection upholds this thesis.

  •   grusha // Mar 7th 2010 at 3:53 pm

    (PS: Please excuse my grammatical errors!)

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