Monday, November 10, 2008

'I had a very interesting dream last night...'


I thought I'd heard all of the best Oscar Wilde quotes, but in Saturday's Guardian, John Lanchester mentioned one I hadn't come across. Apparently, Wilde commented that the most frightening words in the English language are 'I had a very interesting dream last night.'

I couldn't agree more.

Few things bore me more than listening to people talking about their dreams. I have had the misfortune of knowing several individuals who possess a photographic memory of their nocturnal musings and insist on relating every single detail as if it's the most interesting thing in the world.

It isn't.

With a few exceptions, dreams are boring. I'm not convinced that they provide an insight into the subconscious mind and even if they do, that doesn't necessarily mean it's worth hearing about. I blame Freud.

If I had a quid for every time someone's told me that they had a 'really weird dream last night' followed by a long, drawn out description of uninteresting, random events, I'd be a rich man. Worst of all are those New Age types who think that their dreams constitute a profound insight into the spirit world and actually have a meaning.

The only dreams I have ever found interesting are Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled and this:

6 comments:

JRSM said...

I like Henry James' advice to writers: "Tell a dream, lose a reader."

Richard de pesando MA(RCA) said...

other peoples musings are often dreary and depressing.

There is a sign up in Retro Home in Old Town Hastings above the till, something along the lines of

"your memories of when you first saw this item, or that you used to have one just like it may be interesting to you, but bore us to tears"

C. B. James said...

I think dreams work well in movies on occasion, not so well in print.

But I would like to nominate Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as an intersting dream.

David said...

I used to think as you do, until I met my friend Joff Winterhart, who always had extraordinary dreams. My favourite of his ended with Lorne Green flinging open the back of a ford transit van, which contained the clearly terrified band Teenage Fanclub, and screaming "I'm Lorne Green, look at my laaaaaawn!"

Steerforth said...

JRSM - That's a superb quote and one that everyone should adhere to.

C.B.James - Yes, 'Alice in Wonderland' is a good example, although does it qualify as a dream or a trip?

David - is he a fellow cheese enthusiast?

Richard - I shall be visiting 'Retro Home' within the next few weeks. How wonderful to be able to display a notice like that!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Which reminds me, I had a really interesting dream about this very subject.

Alas I promptly forgot what subconscious wisdoms were revealed about five minutes after I woke up.

The world is all the poorer.