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Unformatted text preview: Dreaming and the Self SUNY series in Dream Studies Robert L. Van de Castle, editor Dreaming and the Self New Perspectives on Subjectivity, Identity, and Emotion 鵽鵾 ———————— ———————— Edited by Jeannette Marie Mageo STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK PRESS Published by State University of New York Press, Albany © 2003 State University of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. For information, address State University of New York Press, 90 State Street, Suite 700, Albany, NY 12207 Production by Marilyn P. Semerad Marketing by Anne M. Valentine Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Dreaming and the self : new perspectives on subjectivity, identity, and emotion / edited by Jeannette Marie Mageo. p. cm — (SUNY series in dream studies) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0–7914–5787–7 (alk. paper) — ISBN 0–7914–5788–5 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Dreams. 2. Dream interpretation. 3. Self. 4. Identity (Psychology) I. Mageo, Jeannette Marie. II. Series. BF1091 .D735 2003 154.6⬘3—dc21 2002030973 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 CONTENTS 鵽鵾 ———————— ———————— Part 1: Overview Chapter 1 Theorizing Dreaming and the Self Jeannette Marie Mageo 3 Chapter 2 Subjectivity and Identity in Dreams Jeannette Marie Mageo 23 Part 2: Revisioning the Self and Dreams Chapter 3 Diasporic Dreaming, Identity, and Self-Constitution Katherine Pratt Ewing 43 Chapter 4 Selfscape Dreams Douglas Hollan 61 Chapter 5 Race, Postcoloniality, and Identity in Samoan Dreams Jeannette Marie Mageo 75 Chapter 6 Memory, Emotion, and the Imaginal Mind Michele Stephen 97 Part 3: Self-Revelation and Dream Interpretation Chapter 7 Dreams That Speak: Experience and Interpretation Erika Bourguignon v 133 vi Contents Chapter 8 Dream: Ghost of a Tiger, A System of Human Words Waud H. Kracke 155 Chapter 9 The Anthropological Import of Blocked Access to Dream Associations Melford E. Spiro 165 Chapter 10 Concluding Reflections Vincent Crapanzano 175 References 199 Contributors 223 Index 227 PART 1 Overview This page intentionally left blank. CHAP TER 1 鵽鵾 ———————— ———————— Theorizing Dreaming and the Self JEANNETTE MARIE MAGEO I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake, or sometimes things which are even less plausible. . . . I realize so clearly that there are no conclusive indications by which waking life can be distinguished from sleep that I am quite astonished, and my bewilderment is such that it is almost able to convince me that I am sleeping. —Descartes, First Meditation I n Western intellectual history, René Descartes is the prototypical pro- ponent of the model of the person as the “I” who is identical with his reasoning capacity—a capacity carefully disarticulated from affect and embodiment. Descartes begins his first meditation with a reflection on the dream. The evidence that experience is real in dreams, Descartes insists, comes from the senses ([1637] 1952, 76–77). There the senses give false testimony about the physical situation of the dreamer and misreport on the world. This serves for Descartes as reason enough to retreat into a logic denuded of rather than enriched by other elements of the self. In retreating from these elements, Descartes must retreat from the dream. Indeed, he 3 4 Jeannette Marie Mageo poses it as his counterexample, recognizing the dream inevitably implies a more complex geography of the self and of the experienced world than can be inferred from conscious life. In this volume we seek a model of the self that includes embodiment and affect, as well as reflecting culturally and historically variable dimensions of being a person. We seek this inclusive model at the site of the original repudiation of embodiment and affect in Western thought—the dream. I begin with a brief overview of the history of dream studies in anthropology. I then ask how one might reconceptualize the self from the perspective of the dream and contextualize the volume’s chapters in relation to this question. This chapter also provides commentary on those to follow, relating them to the theme of the volume and offering critical reflections. The Dream in Anthropology Some early anthropologists tended to view dreams as a venue for the creation of culture. Tylor (1873), for example, believed that religions arose as a kind of dream interpretation—that is, as attempts to account for the events of dream life, which were looked upon as real experience. Lincoln (1935, 189) distinguished between ordinary dreams and “cultural pattern dreams.” From the latter, he believed, people took inspiration for religious cults, but also for rituals and the arts. Influenced by psychoanalysis, other early anthropologists tended to see dreams as involving “only a minor reworking of already existing [cultural] material” (D’Andrade 1961, 298–99) and as a stage for the symbolic dramatization of universal psychological problems and cultural defense mechanisms. Rather than being mutually incompatible, a number of the authors in this volume propose that dreams are a venue in which people recreate culture precisely because the “psychological problematics” that people share in a culture are central to dreams. By this phrase, I mean that cultural psychologies are always to a degree problematic. People strive to organize and resolve recurrent but variable human problems (like incestuous feelings, sibling rivalries, identity, death, and so forth), but succeed only in partial ways. These ways are distinctly cultural and leave people with painful affective and embodied experiences with which they must struggle and out of which they continue to change their cultures. More narrowly, many early-twentieth-century anthropological dream studies were influenced by two psychoanalytic tenets.1 First, there were certain symbols that had a universal meaning, usually of a sexual nature. Second, dreams had a two-tiered structure. The surface stratum was the manifest content, which might be culturally variant; the deep stratum was the latent con- Theorizing Dreaming and the Self 5 tent, which was universally the same (Kluckhohn and Morgan 1951, 120). In psychoanalytic theory, the manifest content was the dream as dreamt and was borrowed from the shifting images and occurrences of daily life. It was the remains of the day—“day residues,” Freud called them (1963, 83–135, 213–177). These remains were enlisted to represent anxiety, guilt, and desires that were linked to the complexes of early childhood. These feelings were likely to be disguised in the manifest dream, for example through displacement (sign substitutions), condensation (sign combinations), or symbolization (multifarious use of a single sign). The disguise was necessary, according to Freud, because dreams operated to maintain sleep; desires could disturb it because they incited action toward satisfaction and anxiety. Desires might also incite anxiety and guilt because they were often in conflict with social mores or with the individual’s self-esteem. Just as the senses conveyed only illusions in Descartes’s view of the dream, the manifest content was a ruse in Freud’s view: its deformations and bizarre combinations were distractions from the dream’s real meaning. The mid-twentieth century saw the formation of the Culture and Personality school in anthropology. Revolving around figures such as Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, this school was interested in a range of personality theories and in how ethnography might contribute to and critique psychological theory. Mead’s Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1963), for example, spun off of Jung’s idea of psychological types (1963; 1972b, 217). Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa, ([1928] 1961) on the other hand, was both informed by and aimed as a critique of Freudian theory.2 I have argued elsewhere (2001a) that through her ethnographic work Mead was forging a “critical cultural relativism”—an anthropology that combined comparative psychological theory with critical theory. The Culture and Personality thinker who made the most significant contribution to dream studies was Dorothy Eggan.3 She, like Mead, saw her work on dreams as “a challenge to the social sciences” (1949, 469). I review several of what I regard as her major ideas about dreams here both because of their importance in shaping anthropological studies of the dream that followed and because these ideas are directly linked to many of the themes of this volume. Like Mead, Eggan began by using ethnography, specifically her studies of the Hopi, to critique Freudian theory and its usage in anthropology. Eggan criticized the “oversimplified procedure” of dream analysis that had been employed by psychoanalytic anthropologists who often made “equation-like interpretations of dreams” (1952, 473). In this endeavor, she quoted Freud to the effect that dreams “possess many and varied meanings; so that, as in Chinese script, only the context can furnish the correct mean- 6 Jeannette Marie Mageo ing” (1952, 474). For Eggan, of course, the context was a culture, or more precisely an interrelational setting within a culture (1952, 474)—an insight echoed in Vincent Crapanzano’s afterward (chapter 10). Freud used free association to analyze the dream ([1900]1953). For Eggan, “dreams in themselves are a from of projective phenomenon and represent a process of free association, both in sleep and after awakening” (1949, 197). The dream report, then, by continuing the projective processes of the dream itself, embeds dreams ever further in cultural modes of narration and cultural meaning systems. The manifest dream was composed of “culturally derived symbols” (Eggan 1949, 179). Variant cultural experiences would lead dreamers to symbolize events quite differently and this might lead to differences in cultural symbol systems (Eggan 1952, 479–480). Eggan’s interest in dreams anticipates the turn in anthropology toward a concern with cultures as meaning systems that became salient through the work of Lévi-Strauss. Eggan tells us that the dream is a “released image energy” that creates “a new inner world” (1952, 469). Similarly, several authors herein argue that dreams speak a different language than the conscious mind—the language of the imagination—and investigate the nature of that language as it bears upon dreaming and the self. Eggan believed that what transpires in dream narratives themselves “affords a deeper understanding of culturally conditioned affects, particularly as regards the disharmony between the cultural ideal” and what people actually experience in a culture (1952, 478). She saw the dream narrative as particularly useful in understanding culture change because of a “distinct lag” between people’s consciously held models of culture and their actual historical circumstances (1952, 478–79). Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 also argue that dreams are continually forging symbolic bridges between these two. According to Eggan, during the first half of the twentieth century “the concept of culture” had been “intentionally restricted to exclude material pertaining to the individual as such” (1952, 469). In more contemporary terminology, Eggan believed that dreams were a way toward person-centered ethnography and potentially offered insight as to the relation between culture and subjectivity. Dreams allowed informants to talk about themselves in what they assumed to be a “safely cryptic manner,” which was nonetheless revealing of intense concerns and feelings they might not otherwise be willing to share with an itinerant anthropologist (1952, 477–78). Hopi “tend to work out a personal delineation of their problems at the manifest level in dreams in surprisingly complete and honest detail” and these problems “are of more than passing concern to the individual” (Eggan 1949, 179–80). Anticipating Hall and Van de Castle’s method of content analysis (1966), Eggan held that people had a “pattern of dreaming” that was uniquely their own and that dream series evinced themes that were seldom finished in one dream (1949, 180). Theorizing Dreaming and the Self 7 By the mid-1970s, inspired by Geertz’s brilliant explorations of personhood and culture, anthropologists turned toward “local knowledge”— studying folk theories in culture as alternative knowledge systems.4 Local ways of dreaming, of narrating dreams, and of interpreting them became examples, both as forms of ethnopsychiatry and, more broadly, as alternative knowledge systems. This tack on dreaming and culture was wonderfully developed and illustrated in Tedlock’s collection on dreaming (1987). As anthropologists studied dreams as local knowledge, they became increasingly aware of the part dreams played in communicative processes in culture and as a social performance, of either a ritual or an informal nature.5 The essays in this volume share a commitment to perspectives on the dream grounded in long-term ethnography and a belief in the necessity of seeing culture form the local point of view. The renewed emphasis on cultural relativism manifest in studying local ways of knowing was significant in cracking open Western universalistic paradigms in preference for studying cultures as unique cases—unique instances of being human. Along with this emphasis, however, came a hesitancy among some researchers to read dreams as indicative of cultural psychology, particularly as indicative of psychological problems in cultures, which tended to be seen as disrespectful. But all cultures, I argue above, have psychological problematics; to suggest that these problematics exist is not to presume inferiority, but rather a dynamic and vital element in culture, which must be considered in person-centered ethnography. The present volume considers psychological problematics and how studying cultures can provide anthropologists and others with new perspectives on dreaming and the self. Theories of the Self and Dreams As in prior work (1995, 1998, 2002a), here I take self to be a domain term that refers to all aspects of being a person. Identity, on the other hand, is the cumulative result of affirming “That is me” and “That is not me”; it develops through acts of identification and disidentification with elements of internal experience and with persons, groups, and representations in the cultural world (Mageo 2001b; Mageo and Knauft 2002). Inasmuch as identity is that sense of self that derives from successive acts of identification, it is fluid and ever in transformation, and the transformations are effected in part, many of the authors in this volume argue, in dreams. Recent anthropological insights about spirit possession (Boddy 1989; Lambek 1981, 1996; Mageo 1996a)—that it is a venue in which to think through waking experience of a cultural and historical nature—can also be applied to the dream. Dreams progressively work through our experience as cultural beings and as 8 Jeannette Marie Mageo such contribute, however subtly, to how people construct identity in daily cultural life. How does dreaming, cross-culturally considered, reflect on prior theories of the self? Take, for example, George Herbert Mead’s (1934) idea that the self is composed of an “I” and a “me.” Mead’s “I” is the individual who feels, desires, wills, and acts. The “me” is the presence of social others within the self. The “me” endlessly offers its opinion about the “I” and dialogues with it. Who, then, is the self that acts in dreams? Is it the “I”? Are all other dream figures the “me”? This seems likely from L. S. Vygotsky’s viewpoint. For Vygotsky, the child’s internal life is an introjection of its social life: “Every function in the child’s development appears twice . . . first, between people . . . and then inside the child” (1978, 57). The people we meet in dreams would then be doubles or combinations of those we have related to first in social life (some remembered, some forgotten in surface consciousness). It is unlikely, however, that dream figures are all actual people (although they have relations to actual people); they are also the characters who populate the world of stories in which we develop (Mageo 2002c). This world of stories is interiorized in childhood, just as are social relations, and establishes the fundaments of our imaginations and our dreams (Mageo 1998, 76–79; Miller, Fury, and Mintz 1996). If Mead’s concept of the “me” recognizes the presence of society in the constitution of the self, it nonetheless locates that self within—in internal events like feeling and thinking and in internal dialogues, rather than in social transactions. Similarly, in Western cultures we place the dream within a person’s head. Many of the peoples who anthropologists study, however, see dreams as an alternative social world, as much outside the person as a convivial party, even if what goes on there is often far from convivial. For them, dreams are the gate to a sphere inhabited, like our own, by powers and people with which and with whom they live and cope—as is the dream world for Erika Bourguignon’s Haitians (chapter 7). These peoples also locate the self in social role-playing rather than inside the person. In Samoa, for example, aga¯ga refers to the constitutive self believed to survive death and to travel in dreams.6 Aga¯ga, however, is a doubling of the word aga, which means “persona” (Mageo 1998, 10). A persona is a face we show to others. Deriving from the masks of Roman theater, this word also refers to the role that goes with a particular mask. Like Samoans, the Quiché Maya have a concept of the constitutive self as a non-corporal being that inhabits the body at birth and leaves in dreams or visions and at death. This self is said to be one of twenty possible “faces” (Tedlock 1987, 110, 115; cf. Mauss 1990, 39). The divergence reflected by variant folk models of the self was much discussed in late-twentieth-century anthropology and cross-cultural psychol- Theorizing Dreaming and the Self 9 ogy. Folk models of the person as a context-transcendent individual have been called egocentric; folk models of the person as an ensemble of social roles or personae have been called sociocentric.7 These terms represent hypothetical extremes—north and south poles of a map where the ground is always to one degree or another intermediate and more complex than any map can show. Carl Jung mapped the self in a manner that at first glance resembles more sociocentric folk models—that is, as multiple (1963). For Jung, at birth people were a vast sea of potentiality. The work of the first half of life was to make portions of that potentiality into an actual self (Jung 1971). This was accomplished by cultivating stronger aspects of self at the expense of others—splitting off aspects less well favored by temperament, society, or family relations and coming to regard them as “not me.”8 Jung (1963, 8–22; 1967, 29–38) believed that we often construct our vision of others by projecting onto them unacceptable aspects of the self. Men split off an anima and women an animus, for example, when forming their gender identity. Despite disidentification, these “archetypes” remained important aspects of the self, although they operated independently of consciousness. Similarly, current constructionist theories suggest that the self is a complex system, composed of conscious subsystems that are integrated to a degree, but also of less conscious subsystems that “may or may not remain separate from other parts of self-organization and function relatively . . . autonomously” (Hollan 2000, 539). Jung (1968, 3–41) and Perls after him (1971), thou...
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