Not many people have seen Banksy, the infamous street artist who’s works are sold for millions at Sotheraby, bricks and all. Just as his piece above suggests there is a large segment of human beings who go through life devoid of one of our natural senses or claiming that they don’t experience it. Like the walking dead or the zombies that seem to captivate Hollywood they move around us everyday unaware of what we take for granted, namely insight and self awareness that we get through interpreting our dreams.
This denial takes on two forms. “I don’t dream” is the flat total denial like the silly answer one of the Three Stooges would say when Curly blurted out “I can’t see!” Moe responds with “Open your eyes!” The second form is “I don’t remember my dreams.” This may be a scientific fact. Don’t try and your conscious mind will make sure you don’t upset your Ego.
Stepansky et al (1998), studied dream recall in a sample of 1000 adult Austrians. They reported that 31 percent of this sample report dreaming 10 times per month or more, 37 percent report dreaming 1 – 9 times per month, and 32 percent report dreaming less than once per month.
Although this study may appear to be scientific it is based on the subjective reports of the participants. To be scientificly correct the participants would have to be follow every night, waking them up during REM sleep to see if they actually were not dreaming. This is the difference between science and what philosophers call reality. By that the best philosophical definition for what really took place is an agreed supposition between all those concerned. Since dream interpretation involves you yourself and no one else this is a skewed perspective in which anyone is right. The basis is that there is nothing tangible in dreams, other than insight and awareness which is only recognized by the beholder, i.e., the dreamer.
Anthropologists have noted that there are tribal groups who made dream sharing a central part of their culture. It is not far to suppose the antithesis which would be groups of individuals who never recall their dreams and claim they do not dream. Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, wrote in book 4 of his Histories of just such a group living many thousands of years ago in North Africa near the Atlas Mountains. “The natives call this mountain, the pillar of heaven, and they themselves take their name from it, being called Atlantean’s or the Atlantean’s. They are reported not to eat any living thing and never have any dreams.”
Plato, in his Critas and Timaeus confirmed that such a great civilization existed at that point in the Atlantic. Some 10,000 years ago. The Atlantean’s showed significant spiritual, scientific, artistic, and technical awareness. Their civilization ended in catastrophe and refugees fled to North Africa and Persia. In Persia, the Atlantean’s were led by the spiritual leader Zoroaster who initiated a religious tradition that lives on to this day. It remains puzzling however, that such an advanced civilization did not report dreams. Perhaps they were a part of a culture that did not consider dreams part of their reality.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. You can wake up each day, putting all disturbing thoughts behind you, or you can see what Sigmund Freud called, “the Royal road to the unconscious” you happen to have traveled on the night before. Hopefully you have decided, as Plato did that the unexamined life is not worthwhile.
Blgraove, M (2007) Dreaming and personality. In: Barrett, D., & McNamara, P. (Eds.). (2007). The new science of dreaming (3 volumes). Westport, CT and London: Praeger Perspectives.
Stepansky, R., Holzinger, B., Schmeiser-Rieder, A., Saletu, B., Kunze, M., & Zeitlhofer, J. (1998). Austrian dream behavior: Results of a representative population survey. Dreaming, 8, 23-30.