Wednesday, May 16, 2007

All They Have to Do is Dream...

Damn, I keep forgetting to post something here. It's been (yet) another of those months.

But anyway, our topic today is dream sequences, eh?

I don't like 'em. People who talk all the time about their dreams and their significance are usually far more fascinating to themselves than anybody else.

Dreams are essentially mental farts, nothing more and nothing less. A sign of emotional indigestion. They're not some great spiritual revelation or psychic foreshadowing -- they're just your brain passing some excess gas.

And like farts of a more earthy origin, yours never smell quite as bad to yourself as they do to everyone else.

And dreams in books, particularly mysteries, are even worse.

I dunno. Unless they're an integral part of the character's emotions or psyche, dream sequences are more often just a wet fish in the face of narrative drive.

I just find most of them boring and hackneyed and pretentious, a short cut to cover up a lazy writer's expository sins of omission; a band-aid disguised as a hoary literary device.

In real life, dreams don't usually make much sense, yet they're tossed to the reader as the key to narrative enlightenment.

Like, "Let's summarize for readers what's happened so far -- or pave over a few parts I left out -- by having the character suddenly, out of the blue, dream up a recap."

Even worse are the dreams that help crack the case. Or the ones that foretell the future.

"Look! Look! She's driving away in a red car. Just like in the dream!!!!"


It may work for the suckers who line up like sheep to buy THE SECRET or whatever spiritual snake oil is popular this week, or devoutly "believe" in UFOs or crystals or astrology or werewolves or psychics or whatever, but it doesn't work for me.

Maybe I'm just too much a skeptic.

Or maybe I've just read too many dream sequences that stink up the joint..


Blogger Graham Powell said...

In general, I think you're right, but dream sequences can be done right. TWIN PEAKS, for example. Or THE BIG LEBOWSKI (or not). But my favority is AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Whatta classic.

6:34 AM, May 17, 2007  
Blogger Glen Davis said...

Most of the time dream sequences are pretty boring, and serve as literary shortcuts.

About the only place they belong is Giallo films, which never make much sense anyway.

10:50 AM, May 17, 2007  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Interesting all the exceptions seem to be from the world of film and television. I was thinking literature, in fact, where I think a dream sequence is definitely harder to pull off.

Makes me recall all those pretentious, portentious Vietnam flashback/dream sequences that fouled up the air during the eighties on those "very special episodes" of MAGNUM and SIMON AND SIMON.

12:23 PM, May 17, 2007  
Blogger Glen Davis said...

I've also never been a fan of those passages where someone ingest a controlled substance and the author goes on for pages about hallucinations.

They always remind me of the movie Skiddoo with Jackie Gleason.

9:58 AM, May 18, 2007  

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