Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ideas: Flowing Backwards - The Journal of Nabokov's Dreams

Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov, by his own admission, hated sleeping, dubbing it "the most moronic fraternity".

A new book, Insomniac Dreams: Experiments with Time by Vladimir Nabokov, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of his death in 1977, re-explores a segment of Nabokov’s world that he could encounter only as he “betrayed reason, humanity, and genius.” Reportedly, in 1964, he set himself to do an experiment in which he recaptured his dreams as soon as he woke up in the morning. He did this for three months.
 Was he to challenge his stance on sleeping by doing the experiment? Probably not. Unimpressed by any of Freud’s theories to do with dreams, Nabokov read An Experiment with Time, a book penned by British soldier, engineer, and philosopher John W. Dunne. According to the book’s theories, dreams were not only the subconscious products of past events we have personally experienced but supposedly the products of future events too. In other words, events yet to come appear in a night’s dream.
Nabokov managed to record 64 dreams during the experiment in order to test Dunne’s theories and whether time could flow backward. Not all of the dreams are necessarily significant to his investigations, though. Some are also of an erotic and violent nature, including one where he dances with his beloved wife, Vera. In the dream she wears an open dress and as they dance, suddenly, a stranger approaches and kisses her, after which Nabokov describes his violent reaction of how he clutched the stranger by his head, only to bang his face against a wall.

-The Vintage News

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