On current theory of dreams...
Inspired by Lucid dream...
The three registers of human reality
, the symbolic
, and the real
, according to Lacan
. I take this terminology
The "imaginary" register is the domain of images and ideals. This is
the domain of the ego, which is an essentially falsifying agency
that gives a sense of unity to a body that is, in reality, fragmented
and uncoordinated. The ego provides an image that is a unified, ideal, glossed over/false reality. This image is part of the so-called imaginary domain.
The "symbolic" register is that of semiotics. Symbolism gives
"meaning" to the world. (By definition, the definition of meaning
is signification.) The symbolic is composed of signifiers and signifieds. One's relation to the image is structured by the symbolic. Language belongs to the symbolic register. The texture of our world is symbolic.
The "real" register is that which resists signification, that which we
cannot situate or explore.
Now, the interesting thing about dreams is that symbolic register is
totally missing while the dream is occurring. Only afterwards, when
one wakes up, is symbolism imposed upon dreams. This is not to say that
dreams have no substance. Merely that their substance is "meaningless",
in the literal sense of the word. Everything is immediate.
While dreaming, I see someone whom I know without any equivocation
is my father. This person's form is unclear but unneccessary to
the dream. Without any sort of signification, I immediately,
directly know that the person is my father. Hence, the substance
of the dream (that the person is my father) is immediate.
But when I am awake, I may remember the person as my father (perhaps with
difficulty), but only through association and signification of my memory
of the form of my father. My memory is subject to the symbolic order.
It also appears that dreaming's lack of symbolism is intimately connected
with forming/restructing/playing out signification according to some
Symbol-blindness is what gives one the strange sense of tunnel-vision
One could insert an interesting tangent about the different psychoactive
mechanisms of LSD and Ketamine here. LSD causes attention to detail
and texture, and is thus in the analytic domain of the symbolic. Ketamine
is at the opposite end of the spectrum: it causes disassociation
(i.e. mutes the symbolic), increased attention to archetype (which is
the domain of the imaginary), and thus a feeling of tunnel-vision.