On Nachträglichkeit, or Last Night in Tokyo
Talking about dreams I had/have and that I can remember, I spent my life, so far, having three dreams over and over again. Of course I’ve dreamed a little bit of everything, but I speak of the same dreams that come back during my nocturnal rest time, not every day, alternating between them, but always the same. Two of these dreams (involving a woman dressed all in black in a dream and a vampire seller of sweets in another — typical for a child) stopped from occurring a few years ago already, and I thought the same would have happened with the third dream, which I haven’t had for quite some time now. To my astonishment, this third dream appeared to me last night while in my sleep. It was quite unexpected, I did not lie down thinking of something that could pull from the depths of the memories of my cerebral cortex this momentarily forgotten dream.
It is a very plain dream, and I can explain how it started to come about in my sleep. It always starts with me walking slowly in a torrential rain in a suburban area of Shinjuku, Tokyo. Then you ask me: why the hell Shinjuku, Tokyo? The answer is simple: of the many things that distracted me and enchanted me as a child, the Japanese geography was one of them — I believe it was because of the passion for Japan itself; I was gifted, at the time, from my mother’s ex-boyfriend, in a clear attempt to conquer her through pleasing her eldest daughter, with a book that described in details the municipality in question. As far as I know, it’s a very large collection, talking about all of the geography of Tokyo, but I got only this one book. Shinjuku did not leave my mind ever since, and it was at this time that the dream appeared. Returning to it, I find myself walking and walking in the rain, in this region whose image came directly from a photograph of the above-mentioned book, until I stop walking and become inert, with my eyes closed, feeling the rain. After a few minutes, a little old lady appeared with an umbrella, offering it to protect me from the rain. I accept it, but I stand still in the same place, now watching the old lady walk away. The dream goes on a little longer this way, and then it ends.
To speak of dreams and their senses is to speak of Freud, inevitably. Among his conclusions drawn from studies on the subject, Freud, simply put, believed that dreams protect our sleep. Dreams possess and express meanings through hidden symbolisms and desires; they are compared to theater in Freudian psychoanalysis, full of dramatizations and representations essential for the deepening of the personal understanding of each individual. Explained here in an extremely vulgar way, these conceptions of the psychoanalyst about dreams are responsible for making people constantly seek to interpret these quasi-reveries of sleep. There are those who do it mystically, and there are those who seek such an interpretation in pure science. All right — if dreams are representations of veiled desires, I could try to interpret mine.
It was raining here yesterday in my city. Maybe this is what brought this dream back. Anything that relates to Japan is an extremely personal passion and only my family ties can explain it. Maybe dreaming that I’m in Shinjuku just represents the desire to be there. But what about the old lady with the umbrella? I wonder what it would mean in this dream. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I just have no idea what it is. In fact, I do not think I care much how and why this lady appears in my dreams. Seeing her always brings me a sense of hermetic empathy that the possibility of never feeling it again if I investigate its meaning too deeply scares me. I drew her so I would not forget her face, or this dream. This makes me wish that Freud was right about dreams and that, consequently, this dream will become a memory that will complete its cycle through its live-reproduction in the not too distant future; so that this to-be-lived experience becomes the real representation of this hidden desire. And I hope that this won’t happen in a traumatic way, since according to the psychoanalyst’s Nachträglichkeit theory, it is mainly through trauma that the memory expressed in dreams can materialize itself, in a sort of two-timed vector — the factual reality that goes foward and the fantastic dreams that goes backwards, meeting somewhere in between to organize our ego. Because the dream in question is bittersweet, it brings me an initial bitterness of being alone in the rain, finding myself, at the same time, calmed by the rain, and this sense of tranquility only increases with the kindness that is offered to me, to be replaced by bitterness again as I watch the sympathy move slowly away in the rainfall. Perhaps this dream is a very pure dramatization of what life is all about — this pleasant and mischievous roller coaster, sometimes reminding me of the possibility of escape from reality through the land of dreamy wonders, sometimes making me realize that not every dream can become true.