Our lives end up as stories we or others tell of us, and so part of the reason for our neglect of dreams may lie in storytelling. The narrative form that dreams take, if we bother to write them down, is typically lean and understated. If the dream récit is a genre unto itself, this is its distinctive feature, one that must in great measure be attributed to the fragility of dream material and our poor recollection of it. Yet dreams themselves also moderate prose narrative excess, as if to offset their own poetic extravagance. When we decide they are worth preserving, we do not feel compelled to mine their minutiae, fill in gaps, and embellish our imaginings, as we do automatically when recounting something that really happened to us, more often than not to compensate for its ordinariness. When they are elaborated (especially when elaborate to begin with), dreams tend to drag on. They lose their eccentricity. Interest wanes as soon as they ring false. Storytelling takes its toll. Only the economy of the fragment, in which the symbolic draws on the figurative and every word counts, sustains dreams’ enigma and singular charm.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor