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Dream Cultures


Typologizing the Dream I

Workshop at the ICLA Congress in Macau (China), July 29 – August 2, 2019

Up to now there is nothing like a standard typology of dreams – and there probably will never be one as the systems which are used to classify dreams are based on very different taxonomic principles. Dreams are e.g. classified according
  •   to their content/dominating motifs (love-dreams/erotic dreams; nightmares; conscience dreams;       dreams of flying, death, birth, examination, shame; travels to heaven or hell, etc.)
  •   to their function and affiliated rituals (prophetic/divinatory dream, incubation dream, initiation       dream, lucid dreaming, etc.)
  •   to their semiotics (message dream, symbolical/allegorical dream, theorematic dream, etc.)
  •   to their narratological purpose (dream series, recapitulation dream, dream bracket, mise en
      abîme, etc.).
Of course this list of dream-types is far from complete and we are open for the suggestion of other types.

As always, we are looking for papers (20 minutes) with a close reading of two or three dreams of the same type by different authors, ideally (but not necessarily) from different periods and/or different national literatures. Examples can be dream reports or fictional dreams in literature and all other media.

Kongress Mulhouse


(1) Tuesday, July 30, 09:00–10:30, Room E3-4034 (Chair Bernard Dieterle)

1. Manfred Engel (Saarbrücken), Erotic Dreams in Western Narrative Literature

  •     Abstract

    We all know that erotic dreams exist and that they are far from rare. In the history of Western narrative literature, however, examples of them are not very frequent before the 20th century (with poems being, for quite a long time, the prime domain of erotic dreams). A first heyday of the erotic dream was the Enlightenment, especially in France (e.g. Diderot, Crébillon fils), a second one occurred in early Modernism (e.g. Huysmans, Schnitzler). My paper will discuss examples from these periods and try to point out common characteristics of the dream type as well as historical differences.

2. Laura Vordermayer (Saarbrücken), »Does sex have anything to do with sex?« Erotic experiences in Marguerite Yourcenar’s, William S. Burroughs’s and Andreas Okopenko’s dream reports
  •     Abstract

    The OED describes »erotic« as something »relating to or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement«. In a waking-world logic, both aspects of the definition seem to correspond, as excitement is commonly regarded as a reaction to sexually seductive actions or scenes – in fact, the success of the pornography industry depends on the connection between naked bodies and lust. Dream reports of the 20th century, however, suggest that erotic experiences are by far more complex once we fall asleep.
    In My Education: A Book of Dreams (1995), William Burroughs (1914–1997) defines a type of dreams in which he packs or unpacks suitcases and subsequently wakes up with an erection. The observation that sexual arousal can be evoked in a dream without being associated to its content leads him to »an interesting question […]: Does sex have anything to do with sex?« (Burroughs 1995, 10). In other dream reports, erotic scenes are deprived of their effect on the dreamer, who stands by indifferently. Marguerite Yourcenar (1903–1987) comments on the discrepancy between »vision« and »sensation« in Les Songes et les sorts (1938): »On y [i.e. in the dream] fait l’amour, mais à peu près comme doivent le faire les fantômes et les dieux« (Yourcenar 1938, 134). Finally, there are dream reports in which the dreamer experiences a strong sexual desire related to a manifest erotic scene; this is the case in Andreas Okopenko’s (1930–2010) Traumberichte (1998). Nonetheless, satisfaction is difficult to achieve as the events take unexpected turns, scenarios change all of a sudden, scenes are cut and the dreamer wakes up before sexual interaction takes place. A series of partly lucid dreams about a woman named Duna suggests that the dreamer practices his skills to finally approach Duna – fulfilment here is a result of repetitive attempts.

(2) Tuesday, July 30, 11:00–12:30, Room E3-4034 (Chair Manfred Engel)

3. Franz Hintereder-Emde (Yamaguchi), Ghost Dreams: Tales of Moonlight and Rain (Ugetsu Monogatari) by Ueda Akinari (1776) and Kenji Mizoguchi (1953)
  •     Abstract

    Dream is an important feature in Japanese Literature as seen in the Mugen Noh, well known for representing dream on stage. In my paper, I will present Ugetsu monogatari (1776) by Ueda Akinari (1734–1809) as dream stories. This collection of tales, based on traditional ghost stories as well as on Noh, enrols a dense network of literary and historical intertextual relations. One of the most influential works of the Edo period, it also inspired Mizoguchi Kenjis (1898–1956) film adaption of the same title from 1953. The tales show a broad variety of dreams: the wish-fulfilling, the purifying, the dream as a telepathic medium. The comparison of the original tales and the cinematographic interpretation will give a view on the cultural understanding and representation of dream in Japanese narration.

4. Tumba Shango Lokoho (Paris), Du cauchemar au génocide, du génocide au cauchemar (Gilbert Gatore, Monique Ilboudo, Immaculée Ilibagiza)
  •     Abstract

    Trois auteures face au génocide rwandais, trois types de rêve selon qu’il s’agit de fictions du génocide rwandais (Gilbert Gatore et Monique Ilboudo) ou de témoignage d’une survivante de ce génocide (Immaculée Ilibagiza). Le génocide est en soi métaphoriquement le cauchemar personnifié. En même temps en tant que tel il suscite des cauchemars chez les personnes (Immaculée Ilibagiza) qui l’ont vécu ou les personnages qui le vivent (Murekatete et Niko). Je tenterais de modéliser ce lien entre cauchemar et génocide et génocide et cauchemar dans la mesure où le rêve pénible précède le génocide chez Niko dans Le Passé devant soi (Figures de la vie impossible, T.1), survient après le génocide chez Murekatete dans Murekatete de Monique Ilboudo ou s’actualise pendant le génocide chez Immaculée Ilibagiza dans son récit (auto-)biographique Left to Tell : Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. De même que je m’interrogerais sur les possibles différences ou frontières entre les rêves de fiction (Murekatete, Niko) et les rêves à l’intérieur du génocide (Immaculée Ilibagiza), de même je m’efforcerais de questionner la pertinence et la validité de la distinction entre les rêves selon la position de l’auteur, en extériorité ou en intériorité au génocide.

(3) Wednesday, July 31, 09:00–10:30, Room E3-4034 (Chair Bernard Dieterle)

5. Adrian Froschauer (Saarbrücken), The Nightmare in Digital Games (Batman: Arkham Asylum, Max Payne, and the Silent Hill series)
  •     Abstract

    Dream sequences are a recurring element of many story-driven digital games. They come in all shapes and forms, and serve a multitude of aesthetic, narrative, or gameplay-mechanic functions, but no type of dream seems to appear as often as the nightmare.
    Nightmares naturally provide conflict, danger, and obstacles – fundamental elements of many modern digital games that primarily rely on offering players challenges to overcome. To point out the specifics of nightmares in digital games in contrast to other media, I will look at nightmare sequences from two successful, influential mainstream games: Batman: Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady Studios 2009) and Max Payne (Remedy Entertainment 2001).
    To understand the media-specific nature of nightmares in digital games, it is important to ask: Do players have any kind of agency inside the dream sequences? And does their mode of interaction with the game world differ compared to sequences taking place in the waking world? Both Batman and Max Payne, in traditional action game fashion, satisfy players’ power fantasies by allowing them to take on the role of mighty heroes who fight armies of enemies and overcome the toughest challenges. But inside their nightmares, those heroes are robbed of their power, just as players are robbed of most of their agency. The games try to evoke their protagonists’ feelings of fear, confusion, and helplessness within the players by letting them partake in their nightmare experience.
    This style of game design lends itself particularly to a certain genre: so-called survival horror – games that try to offer a traditional horror experience by consciously avoiding giving players too much agency or control. Not surprisingly, nightmares are a prominent theme in one of the most influential and long-running survival horror series: Silent Hill. In nearly every single Silent Hill game, the protagonists dream of things to come, suffer from horrifying nightmares, or are not entirely sure if they are actually awake or not.

6. Patricia Oster-Stierle (Saarbrücken), Rêver la ville : « Fourmillante Cité. Cité pleine de
rêves »
  •     Abstract

    La grande ville est chargée d’énergie sémiotique. Pour Italo Calvino « les villes comme les rêves sont faites de désirs et de peurs, même si le fil de leur discours est secret, leurs règles absurdes, leurs perspectives trompeuses ; et toute chose en cache une autre ». La sémiosphère de la ville est un générateur de l’imaginaire dont une littérature abondante fait preuve. L’expérience de cet espace sémiotique où aucune matérialité ne reste non sémiotisée se trouve intensifiée et densifiée dans l’état de rêve. L’expérience de l’inattendu, de l’étrange, du déconcertant et du surprenant de la grande ville y atteint son comble. Le rêve sert donc de modèle d’imagination pour plonger la ville dans une ambiance surréaliste et fantastique. La contribution se propose d’étudier Le Rêve parisien de Baudelaire (1861) ainsi que Les Villes de Rimbaud (1875), Les Villes invisibles d’Italo Calvino (1972) et le film Inception de Christopher Nolan (2010) dont les images urbaines restent les plus spectaculaires en mêlant des plans réels à des effets oniriques.

(4) Wednesday, July 31, 11:00–12:30, Room E3-4034 (Chair Manfred Engel)

7. Nicole Häffner (Saarbrücken), Initiation Dreams in the Argentine Novel Jardines del Origen (2014) and the Marvel Movie Black Panther (2018)
  •     Abstract

    What do a contemporary philosophical novel from Latin America and a Hollywood mainstream Superhero movie have in common? My answer will be: the concept of the dream as a privileged space for accessing a more profound truth and knowledge. In different varieties of ritual initiations, protagonists are enabled to perform accordingly in waking life and act responsibly.
    In Black Panther, this is realized in the Central African cultural setting of a hallucinogenic plant and the burying alive of the future king. In the ensuing dream, the dead predecessor appears as a guide giving advice. A particular and critical case is presented when a rebel king comes in as an intruder.
    Jardines del Origen has a more individual focus with a setting of hypnotic dream sessions between therapist and patient. In long chapters, the protagonists undergo different adventures and meet different guiding figures in a step-by-step initiation to a spiritual attitude. The responsibility in waking life is thus not that of a ruler, but a general one for everybody (in the sense of Ottmar Ette’s theory of life-knowledge in literature; cf. O. Ette, TransArea, 2012).
    My paper will present a close reading of these two initiation dreams in different media, different cultural and geographic contexts and languages, with different aesthetic concepts and audiences addressed, but with strong similarities in dream-type, ritual environment and theoretical concepts.

8. Bernard Dieterle (Mulhouse) : Le rêve humoristique
  •     Abstract

    Tout rêveur a tendance à classer ses rêves, il y en a des agréables, des saugrenus sans dimension émotionnelle, des cauchemardesques etc. Les chercheurs, eux, ont établi depuis l’Antiquité des classifications plus précises suivant les thématiques, que l’on réduit généralement à un motif dominant, et d’Artémidore jusqu’aux ‹ rêves typiques › de Freud et au-delà, la classification des productions oniriques fait partie intégrantes des tentatives d’explicitation de leur fonction et de leur sens. L’humour n’étant pas une catégorie thématique, il n’apparaît que de manière fortuite comme ‹ classe ›. Et pourtant, il est indéniable que parmi les rêves, il y en a des drôles (comme il y en a des tristes, des angoissants, etc.), et souvent c’est à cause de leur drôlerie que l’on se plaît à noter et raconter ses rêves. D’où l’intérêt qu’il y a à examiner l’humour dans les productions oniriques. Je compte le faire à partir de textes de Baudelaire et d’Arno Schmidt.