Friday Program
Imagination and the Adapted Mind 
Saturday Program
 

Dreams: The Royal Road to Metaphor

Bert O. States

Metaphor, as treated here, is not a rhetorical device or strategy but the primary means by which dreams and artistic images arise and give rise in turn to further narrative developments. The paper is chiefly concerned with dreams and the possibility that dream coherence--i.e., meaning, making sense--as we recognize it in the waking state may be  largely irrelevant to the organization and function of dreams which obviously have no artistic mission to be shared with others (readers, auditors) as forms of communcation.  I examine an experiment in dream-splicing conducted by Allan Hobson and his Harvard colleagues with a view to illustrating that bizarreness and discontinuity in dreams are not necessarily, as Hobson claims, signs of incoherence but may be the natural consequence of dreams exercising  the power of association while the body is off-line.  If dream images arise from a lifetime of associations it is possible that dreams couldn't perform their function--whatever it may be--by offering coherent narratives of the sort that interest waking readers.  In other words, the content of dreams--coherent or otherwise from the waking standpoint--may be less important than the act of dreaming itself.  Additionally, I briefly discuss two leading theories of dream function--the recorrelation of memory and the vigilance theories--and suggest, briefly, how they might apply not only to dreams but to artistic works as well.

 
Bert States is professor emeritus of Dramatic Art, UC Santa Barbara. In addition to five books on literary and dramatic theory, he has written a dozen articles and three books on dreams: The Rhetoric of Dreams (Cornell, 1988), Dreaming and Storytelling (Cornell, 1993), and Seeing in the Dark: Reflections on Dreams and Dreaming (Yale, 1997). He is a Consulting Editor
for Dreaming, the official journal of The Association for the Study of Dreams.
 
 
 
 

Friday Program
Imagination and the Adapted Mind 
Saturday Program