Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dream on

Two respondents challenge assertions I've made in my
last two blogs. Sanctuary says it's a complete myth that
the British guns in Singapore were pointed the wrong
way in 1942: preparations had been made for repulsing
an attack from the north, albeit inadequate ones.
Thanks, Sanks. I just repeated the old story uncritically.
And Deborah says she's unimpressed with the idea that
everything we've ever experienced is lodged somewhere
in our minds. Well, it wasn't my idea so much as another
Denis's, but happily none of us can prove it either way.
I do agree with Deborah that our conscious brains seek
to impose some kind of order on the apparently random
events in our dreams – and, as she says, our ideas of
order do probably spring from what we're most familiar
with. I love it, though, that we can make whatever we
wish of these extraordinary scenarios that unwind in our
heads when we sleep. According to the Talmud, for
instance, a dream is one-sixtieth prophecy. How did they
work that out?


Giovanni said...

According to the Talmud, for instance, a dream is one-sixtieth prophecy. How did they work that out?

I don't know, but it doesn't strike me as any less believable than the idea that we make up our dreams retrospectively in the instant we wake up. What tosh. And what's wrong with the idea that our brain in semi-repose might fantasise narratively, dredging up old memories and making up stories?

The Talmud is part of a millennia-long and not completely dishonourable tradition of attempting to reach the truth through poetry. Why else "one sixtieth" indeed. Aristotle built a whole physics around notions that had more of an aesthetic than an actual import. And we should strive to go past that, no question, but not at the cost of coming up with impoverished theories that don't really account for what the mind does.

Sanctuary said...

Jumping up and down about a metaphor is I suppose a bit pedantic, but at the moment we seem to be in the grip of moving target, shallow myths being propagated to a lazy media to justify all sorts of stuff, and I cracked...