Lesson No. 4: Suppressed Desires



In 1900 Sigmund Freud published Interpretation of Dreams, a study in which he attempted to demonstrate that there is a technique one could employ to interpret dreams, allowing the dream to function as a psychological structure loaded with significance. Freud believed in a symbolic language of the unconscious—a language of suppressed desires only accessible in the dream state. There is a language in dreams which is one of emotional, visual, and auditory images as well as one of puns and ambiguity. In the dream life, time and space are malleable, objects fuse awkwardly or seamlessly into one another, and the logic of daily reality is transformed into the hallucinatory and seductive logic of symbolic fantasy.

Dreaming that a goblet of champagne has shattered on the floor of a gymnasium crowded with pillows might be symbolic of one’s jealous hope that the new business of an acquaintance fail … or of the dreamer’s envy toward a friend’s sexual magnetism. At another level it might suggest anxiety that the dreamer cannot hold his liquor, and will have his world shattered by the revelation of this weakness.

There are of course many number of private meanings a drop champagne or pillows on the gymnasium floor might have meanings for, meanings only the dreamer will truly be able to decipher.

Because dreams bring into our tidy lives turbulent rivers of thought and feeling, they live beneath the surface of the unconscious with odd associative laws.



by Jeff Landon

Say we met, say we met in Virginia and it was snowing in the mountains, and we were standing at the top of a steep hill with a toboggan in my hands, a blue toboggan, and say we were laughing, a little high from your brother’s pot, holding on to each other with mittened hands. We could huddle around a tiny bonfire with hot chocolate in one thermos and hot buttered rum in the other, and puff the night air with our words and your cigarette smoke. We would be the tallest people on the top of the hill, the grown-ups, and behind us, over an iced ridge of pine trees, a Chevron sign would glow neon red and blue, and you’d shiver and take off your stocking cap to shake out the ice from your hair. We would face each other on the blue toboggan, side by side, and listen to the way a small town feels after the first real snow in years. And let’s say we’re laughing and new to each other—let’s forget about all the years and the quiet distance.

Our coats crinkle when we move, and right before takeoff you loop your arms around me and we’re flying, flying down a hill on a blue toboggan. Stars pour down on pine trees and snow, and I can feel your smile on my neck, a crooked smile, and we slide down that hill and near the end of our ride we kiss each other hard, kiss like teenagers in someone’s dark basement, with our bodies pressed together, and we look like one large person, a lumpy one, flying down a hill that is steeper than any hill we ever imagined, back then.


From Amish in Space, by Michael Martone


Crewman Yoder, J.: They disappear into the dark outside the ark. It is as if their plain suits absorb what little light there is. I see them as black shadows sliding through space. They blot out the spackle of stars in the background. The toolboxes they carry do flash and sparkle with light from several nearby suns. I can follow the glint whipping along the tether lines to the emptiness at the other ends. There are hundreds catching up light in a web in the dark darkness. They are raising the barn on the starboard nacelle. The framing is finished. I am to help in the making of the coffee. The shadows will be cold and thirsty when they come back inside after working so hard all through the night.

Crewman Yoder, M.: Most of us had never been in a car let alone an airplane when they loaded us on the jet that creates the weightlessness. The cattle were lowing in the corners of the cabin as we climbed. The chickens compressed in their nests. I looked at the children, puddles on the floor, clutching the little paper bags the English had given them to use if they got sick. I could not move as if the thumb of God pinned me there on the matted floor. Until. Until the moment we began to float. Lifted, drifting through the air. The English flying around us held us steady, shouted instructions in all the loud whooshing noise. The chickens were squawking clouds. The cows ballooned, bellowed, shat, and the shit spread lazily in long streaks in all directions. The children made sick, missing the bags that tumbled freely through space. I bounced off the padded walls. The air in my lungs all left. My skin slacked. My hair came undone. I couldn’t close my eyes. My arms and legs went their own ways. And then, like that, we all fell back down, collapsed to the floor in piles and heaps. Us and the English and the animals and the shit and the sick like rain and the straw all on the floor, now everything and all of us twice as heavy as before we fell.

Crewman Yoder, Z.: The rockets were larger than the largest silos we had ever seen. They were like silos on top of silos. And they were supported in the cages, the scaffolding of cantilevered gantries that we used to paint the rockets’ skin. The bishops argued with the English that the white and black design would not do, was not plain. The English said the scheme was best for the pictures they would take. And the bishops told them there would be no pictures anyway. So there I was in a breeches buoy suspended from an I-beam up near the top, brushing on the blackest paint you would ever never see on my part of the rocket. The smell of it made me miss the smell of the fermenting grain put-up back at the Goshen silo. The baking wood, the rust on the staves, the barn swallows and the purple martins circling overhead. I was weightless, floating in front of the curving metal plates as black now as the black of space.



“I Asked the Lord for a One Touch”



Begin by creating a series of vivid dream like landscape images with no particular purpose in mind. Put things together in the real world that are not found together. Color objects in ways that nature does not. Let the images conform to the endless possibilities of dream rather than to the laws of nature. This means allowing your intuitive sense of language to take over from the more rational and sequential aspect of your mind. Let desire and fear lead, as these urgent human qualities often do in dreams.