Sunday, January 10, 2010

Guest Dreamer: The Cement Men of Mars

The following dream was sent to me by my brother. He was very young when he dreamt it, during the era of the competition between the US and the USSR to conquer space (the 1960s).

The Dream: It started with me watching the first manned Mars landing on TV.  But as it progressed, I became one of the astronauts landing there.  (Note:  I had this dream at the height of the race to the moon.) In my dream Mars was perfectly habitable, and we found a nice little circular grove of trees to camp in for the night.  But in the middle of the night we were suddenly attacked by Martian Cement Men who would step out from behind trees and throw spears at us.  We, of course, were armed with submachine guns (I mean, what else would you take to Mars?) and started blasting away.

As our bullets struck them, the impacts looked exactly the way bullets hitting a cement wall look.  That is, there’d be a puff of smoke and dust and a shallow crater from the impact would be created: thus the name Cement Men.  Of course it also meant that it didn’t kill them, so we had a lengthy battle on our hands.

I remember being touched (in the dream) when I saw one cement man leaving the safety of the trees to grab a fallen comrade and drag him back to safety. These guys were big, built a lot like the comic book version of the Incredible Hulk. I’m still waiting for Spirit and Opportunity to find them!

Interpretation: One truism about dreams is that every character in them is us—or a part of us—no matter how alien the dream creatures sometime seem. A character we have a particularly bad reaction to is called our shadow; it shows us some part of ourselves that we need to come to terms with. This is similar to the ogre under the bridge or the wicked witch of fairy tale: a handy screen on which to project all we hate or fear.

You might notice that this dream reads something like a mythic adventure, and there’s a well documented relationship between dream and myth. Joseph Campbell analyzed the myth’s basic plotline as the hero’s journey: each stage parallels an important life passage. In this case, the passage is from childhood to young manhood.

An important part of dream interpretation that hasn’t yet come up in this blog is that the dreamer is the final authority on the meaning of his dream. When I put forth a comment about his—or anyone else’s—dream I am inevitably talking about what the dream would mean to me had I dreamt it. So I’ll discuss my brother’s dream as if it were my dream.

I am young and full of curiosity about the world. The news is full of an exciting global competition, and I’d like to take part in it. My dream takes me to Mars, where I encounter a planet that closely resembles the world I know.

And yet: there’s some interesting symbolism here. The circle, in Jungian terms, represents the integrated self. Jung felt that the circle expressed the totality of our being, containing all our sometimes disparate elements. Perhaps because I’m young and need to grow—both mentally and physically—I cannot bask in this bliss for too long, but must meet the next challenge. It’s symbolized by the confrontation with my shadow in the form of the Cement Men.

The fact that these cement men are attacking me with very primitive weapons (spears) makes me think that I’m doing battle with a primitive part of myself, a part that I feel I must conquer if I want to become a civilized adult. I’m well armed for this confrontation, maybe a little too well-armed (am I too defensive?) pitting my sub-machine gun against their spears. Nevertheless, these creatures, being made of cement, are not easy to kill. That I can be touched by the compassion of one of the Cement Men for his comrade is a very good sign that I’m on the way toward humanizing—therefore integrating—this tough and violent part of myself.

The dreamer always gets the last word, so here’s Bro’s Interpretation: Earlier that night I'd watched an episode of “The Untouchables” in which a machine gun had sprayed a cement wall. I believe this dream was inspired the space race and that evening’s episode of the Untouchables.

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