"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Creativity and Dreams by Dennis Palumbo


Ideologies separate us.

Dreams and anguish bring us together.

---Eugene Ionesco

There are many anecdotes throughout history about writers, painters, musicians, and scientists from all fields whose ground-breaking artistic achievements or innovative ideas came to them in dreams.

As a therapist, I’m less interested in the idea of dreams as creative inspiration as I am in what the artifacts in the dream mean to the creative patient. What are the recurring themes, the images that keep showing up (often in different contexts), the emotional triggers that these dreams provide? Do your dreams inspire terror or offer solace? Are there similar psychological undercurrents that seem to be present in the dreams?

Rather than specific ideas or characters emerging from a writer’s dreaming mind, what I believe matters is how the emotional threads his/her unconscious is tugging at might lay bare the issues the writer is truly grappling with. Is he or she struggling with their work? Its importance or relevance? Grappling with feelings of lack of entitlement, fears of failure, painful fantasies of rejection or humiliation?

Bringing these kinds of themes into the light of consciousness can help guide a writer (for the sake of convenience, I’m just using writing as the example) to finally take ownership of the things he/she really wants to explore in their work. For example, for Faulkner, it was “the sin of slavery” that underlay his fiction. For Mary Oliver, it was her affinity for the natural world. For Camus, his writing was his way to exist authentically in a world he instinctively found absurd.

In other words, what are your dreams telling you about what’s at the core of your feelings? What enlivens or deadens your subjective experience? How do your dreams help illustrate your unique, personal mythology of how the world works?

Of course, this is just my (admittedly clinical) view on the subject. The therapist in me has always been more interested in how my patient interprets his/her dream than my own thoughts about it.

Then there’s the writer in me---particularly the one that writes thrillers--- who’s less interested in any clinical position on dreams. In fact, I find expounding on the subject to be about as valuable as someone asking, “Hey, where do you get your ideas?” The truth is, whether dreams are the source of creativity, its undefinable muse, or merely the psyche’s discharge of that day’s anxiety, these “movies in our sleep” resist our attempts to entrap them intellectually.

Or, in the words of St. John of the Cross, “I came into the Unknown, beyond all science.”

Hell, in my personal and professional experience, good writers do that all the time!

via DJ Adamson

Dennis is the author of the Daniel Rinaldi Mysteries. Check out his latest book in the series Panic Attack!  On amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1464213453

No comments: