I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Pigeons, of all things. It was preposterous. What kind of person goes around punching pigeons? In the face, no less! Repeatedly! One pigeon after the other! “And I kept trying to save them,” she said, “jumping into the water” where, apparently, the helpless creatures floundered. Her husband, my son-in-law, punching pigeons. It was incomprehensible! Infuriating! I registered strong disapproval.
Realizing she had a runaway train on her hands, “Dad!” she interrupted, fully applying the brakes, “You’re not listening! It was a Dream I had! A Dream! Do you really think my husband goes around punching pigeons in the face when you’re not around?”
Dreams can be fascinating subjects for appraisal, or they can be downright disturbing, and something you might want to forget. Mostly I find them weird. Weird in the sense that they can be asinine, making little or no sense. It’s why I consider “dream interpretation” one of the weird sciences, right along with parapsychology — the study of psychic phenomena — and any kind of animal whispering. I’m not doubting them; I just find them weird.
The source, function and formation of dreams, has been kicked around since the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, took on the first comprehensive study 100-plus years ago, “content analysis” the accepted method of study. But my interest here is in the “source” of dreams, nightmarish dreams. Where do these shadowy episodes of anxiety come from? Do they pop up in our heads the way mushrooms sprout in complete darkness, or is the theater of our dreamworld, our subconscious mind, influenced by outside events? In other words, are dreams inherent to our character, or are they the result of an accumulation of things assimilated into our heads from an ever-intruding world?
I propose the latter, that the source of our dreams — disturbing dreams, e.g., punching pigeons in the face — is the hypermanic world we live in? Could the world be so elevated in unreasonable enthusiasm that it encroaches upon our lives the way pounding waves intrude upon the seashore, shaping and reshaping our thinking with no regard for the individual? More disturbingly, have we become completely intimidated by a world gone cuckoo? Books we read, magazines, movies and music, TV, media and all the horrific images spoon-fed to us in the course of a day; do they provide a steady stream of input to the part of our brain that acts as a 24/7 clearinghouse for information, the process of retrieval not always orderly or pleasant? And let’s not beat around the bush; when we question the world’s temperament, we’re really questioning the temperament of its inhabitants, its people, us, you and me.
East to west, I think the cuckoos are encroaching upon our nest, intruding upon our space, our independence. As in the 1975 American comedy-drama, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” we’re being increasingly cowed by system abuse, our tendency to medicate to treat disease becoming the disease. More than ever before, we’re cuddling up to crackbrained fantasies the way the truly blissful embrace ignorance.
A social support system that would trap us into dependency and rob us of our dignity and individuality, is drawing cheers from an insufficiently schooled peanut gallery; politics has taken on all the charm of electroconvulsive therapy. It’s enough to give us nightmares.
Cuckoo birds seldom take on the responsibility of building their own nests. They’d rather bilk the system, lay their eggs in nests built and occupied by other birds and other eggs. To defend your nest from cuckoos is to get yourself a good head pecking. Under what amounts to authoritarian tyranny, the eggs, foreign and domestic, will hatch in one common nest, and the nest-builder will be cowed into mothering them all — as if she didn’t have enough to do. “Mama” cuckoo, long since flown the coop, has disavowed all responsibility, maternal and otherwise. I know, it’s cuckoo.
Donald E. Melville, author and regular contributor to Messenger Post, resides in Honeoye. He welcomes your comments at email@example.com.