A Dream Not Remembered, a Thought Impressed Regardless

I had a dream last night, and I can not remember it, and yet the character of my day was deeply affected by this experience.

What is a dream bereft of all content, but a dream in its purest form? According to Zizek the manifest content, those things in our dreams that strike us plainly for what they are in a very literal sense, and the latent dream material, which is erected from an interpretation of the manifest content, are all conscious psychical material. Meaning, despite the common misconception that our unconscious somehow betrays itself in one or the other of these psychical materials, the manifest or latent content, these very formulations make a concession that these materials are nonetheless all the while conscious to us. Indeed, the very fact that we can articulate this material concedes the notion that this material always belonged to consciousness. For Zizek, the unconscious is precisely that which resists signification. Indeed, the unconscious precedes language acquisition, precedes the construction of the signifier, and yet its ideas are fully constructed and articulated by its own mechanisms before it enters our consciousness, but hides itself once arriving there. In this way, the unconscious does not lie beyond, or “deeper” than the manifest or latent content of the dream, but in between these spaces. The unconscious gains expression through the mechanisms of the dream work, and through the form of the dream work itself.

Nevertheless, the dream work, like consciousness, is merely a particular way of thinking. In this way, the residuals of the dream,bereft of content, left me deeply affected. These residuals were the passage of one mode of thinking into another, which resonated as a kind of possession of myself that felt foreign, and at once deeply engrossing, fulfilling — immediately embodied. I felt whole, and yet very much disturbed?

This inability to identify what could arouse such a state left me feeling powerless to myself, and impressed upon me a feeling of ambivalence. How could this feeling of wholeness register so deeply, and yet when I asked questions about its content the figure sat antagonistically mum. Perhaps more to the point, how could I have a sense of pleasure from something I experienced but can not recall?

If it is true that the world, and all its form, are only an externality of our being, then is not the unconscious present there always? If it is true that the unconscious is circulating in paths outside of our conscious self, in these forms, then are we to expect the unconscious to reveal itself to us perpetually, through each passage we make in life, through each experience? And yet, like a dream forgotten but experienced, will we ever be able to recall how it is the unconscious revealed itself to us? Like entering a dream involuntarily, and inhabiting a dream, but awakening and forgetting, but nonetheless unmistakably changed, what if our recognition of the world around us, even at its most tangible and palpable moments, is but a partial recognition. If this is true how then can I amend my partialities, and our collective partialities, with everything that I feel I know myself to be? In this way a mastery of the self, and of the unconscious, is but an attempt to hold mastery over, and be content with, the absolute and definite knowledge of forgetting. In crossing these thresholds we awake in a daze again and again, but anew, and with that we should be content.

Graduate Student at CUNY Queens College

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