April 12, 2004

Into the image world of the soul

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at April 12, 2004 12:56 PM

I actually enjoy certain kinds of nightmares, at least upon waking up; I find the experience somewhat akin to having just viewed a very immersive horror movie. A dream I had last night was of this type.

In the dream, a grad student in my department had been found murdered, and I had somehow taken it upon myself to investigate. Naturally my questions attracted the wrong kind of attention, and I soon found myself abducted off a dark street by some conspiratorial men in black. And this is where the dream started to get weird.

I was taken to a church service for a secret religious sect. The church itself was windowless (maybe underground), and the sides of the pews were painted with the major arcana of the tarot. As I entered an usher handed me a tarot card: Moon. I sat down in one of the pews at the back, but an elderly man next to me saw my card and indicated, wordlessly, that I should move to a different spot. I gathered that the symbol on the card was incompatible in some way with the one on the pew I had chosen (though I don't remember what the latter was). There was a sense of panic behind the man's eyes and I realized that he was not here of his own free will either.

During the service, the preacher would call newcomers up to the front, one-by-one, and engage them in some sort of role-playing exercise (the details fled my mind upon awakening) to demonstrate the danger to one's soul of not being fully committed to this particular cult. There was a clear subtext here that, hellfire aside, insufficient loyalty would be punished in this life through violent reprisals. I realized that this is what had happened to the grad student whose death I had been investigating. But before I could contemplate this further, it was my turn to go to the front of the church.

I don't remember what happened in this part of the dream, just the feeling of it -- the fear that my hostility to the organization would somehow be drawn from my mind by the preacher. I had to bluff my way through the encounter, pretend that I had been scared into obedience, even though I was already trying to think of ways to fight these guys once I got out of the lion's den. Somehow I passed muster and returned to my seat. A choir began to sing. I was wondering what else I would have to endure before I could make my escape, when my alarm went off and brought me back to reality.

It's overanalysis time. Some interpretations that come to mind:

A: (Null interpretation) It's meaningless subconscious debris.
B: (Obvious) I dislike religion, and find it rather creepy at times.
C: The cult in the dream isn't a religion at all, but represents academia. The ill-fated grad student embodies my observation that a lot of people in the pre-tenure stages of their academic careers are made unhappy by the extreme pressures involved, and I am looking for an escape from this.
D: The dream expresses a subconscious need for individuality. The persona of the lone investigator that I found myself in contrasts starkly with the cultist's demand for conformity.
E: (Gratuitous political interpretation) The dream expresses my fears about the increasing power of right-wing religious elements in our country, and especially their anti-science agenda.

Or, suggest your own. I have no idea about the significance of the tarot cards, although reading the description of Moon about doubled the creepiness.


Good grief, what are you eating before bedtime??

Posted by: Tracy | April 12, 2004 2:01 PM

I think this is your inner screenwriter asserting himself.

Posted by: Dad | April 12, 2004 2:04 PM

I'll take options #E, D and B, though not necessarily in that order. And wow you have some strange dreams... :)

Posted by: Zifnab | April 12, 2004 2:47 PM

Wow! That was a very impressive analysis. Doctor Phil and I are impressed.

However, there is a very simple explanation. It is simply a vague memory of Buffy's going to hell and you have superimposed yourself over her cute little body...Hey, wait! That is a whole other analysis and your mother doesn't want any part of it!!!

Posted by: mama-san | April 12, 2004 4:31 PM

you have the most amazing dreams .. i still remember the one with the woman in the red dress and the river styx. the moon is an interesting card. ... but i could go off on tarot forever. email me if curious.

Posted by: phi | April 14, 2004 1:53 PM
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