On Dream Sharing and Its Purpose

Matthew Spellberg at Cabinet Magazine:

And yet, despite this vision of dreams as paradigmatically distant, many of the world’s cultures—especially outside of the modern West—have developed elaborate protocols by which dreams can be shared. The complexity of these protocols is confirmation, in one sense, of the claim that dreams are especially private, even more so than other forms of thinking. A society must work very hard indeed to make them sharable; they must be wrestled into this life from that nighttime one. But these protocols are also somehow a rebuke to the philosophers’ skepticism: people build their own universes in dreams, except, as we’ll see, they then go to great lengths to reconstruct and combine them into a shared one while awake. This seems to raise at least two questions. Why go to such great lengths to share dreams? And what happens to a culture, like our own, that doesn’t practice dream sharing, that (a few isolated realms aside, perhaps the most important being psychoanalysis) has largely given up on it?

more here.