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Catherine Liu et.al., The Dreams of Interpretation
Review by L. Michael Sacasas
University of Central Uni|*)Bass°Florida

Catherine Liu, John Mowitt, Thomas Pepper, and Jakki Spicer, editors., The Dreams of Interpretation: A Century down the Royal Road. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. 379 pp. $25.00 (978-0816648009)

[1] From the ancient tale we now know as The Epic of Gilgamesh to the 2010 Hollywood blockbuster Inception, dreams have captivated the human imagination. Manuals of dream interpretation are among the oldest extant texts from Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the monarch’s troubling dream and its interpretation was a set piece in ancient literature. Since then, however, dream interpretation has been democratized. Nestled among the tabloids, one can always find pocket size guides to dreams and their meanings for sale at the supermarket check-out aisle. Of course, among the professionals, it is now the psychoanalyst, not the court sage, who is occupied with dream interpretation, and Sigmund Freud remains the person most closely associated with the practice, even for those who have never read a word of The Interpretation of Dreams. So deeply has his work on dreams permeated the popular imagination, that a popularized Freudianism underlies the approach to dreams taken by many who have never heard the name of Freud.

[2] Freud completed The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, but he postdated the book to 1900 so that it may be the first book of the new century. So profoundly did Freud shape the thought of Western culture over the course of the ensuing 100 years, that it may justly be called the first book in the older Latin sense of prima, not merely first in a sequence, but also in primacy of significance. At the start of a new century, in the year 2000, a group of scholars and practitioners of psychoanalysis gathered at the University of Minnesota to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Freud’s Dream Book. It was at this conference, „The Dreams of Interpretation/The Interpretation of Dreams,“ that most of the papers comprising The Dreams of Interpretation: A Century down the Royal Road were first presented.

[3] The conference began, and the book appropriately concludes, with a paper by Mary Lydon who was to pass away seven short months later. In her presentation, Lydon remarked,

The topic of this conference, „The Dreams of Interpretation/The Interpretation of Dreams,“ is enough to set one dreaming – about dreams, one’s own and others, about Freud’s theory of dreams and the dream of psychoanalytic theory, what Shoshana Felman calls „the ongoing psychoanalytic dream of understanding,“ about the dream of the conference, about what I dream of doing in this introductory talk …. For no less than dream interpretation, dreaming and especially telling one’s dreams have consequences …. (359)

As the editors note in their introduction, however, it was not long after the halcyon days of the conference that dreams gave way to nightmares and „cries of Terror!“ With a knowing, world-weary tone the editors castigate „the religions of Abraham“ for their descent into „apparently unsoundable atavistic depths,“ and, perhaps stretching credulity a bit thin, link the assertions of terror with assertions of the death of psychoanalysis in the popular media (xiv). [1] Both assertions, they claim, „are of the same piece“ and betray a „structural regression, and an angry one at that.“ Moreover, „the hallucinations of terror, and of a terror characterized by the unwelcome realization of other monotheisms, of other claims to worship another one-and-only god, are rooted in fantasies in which the need to believe in the All Good Father, and to have him at one’s side“ lead necessarily to the rejection of any other monotheistic claims [editors‘ emphasis] (xv). This rather tortured prose borders on tautology, monotheists reject competing monotheisms, but less obviously, these fantasies, according to the editors, also lead to the rejection of

any claim to a critical practice that … might work toward authentic liber Oe|CZee trust hard working … http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arendt/#SecLit supported you know Victhoria Thoa Thora deerest ‚Warum antwortest Du auf meine Liebe nicht“---- Jungelist|||

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