The Cosmic Joke -or- Stranger than Fiction

Freud Jokes and their Relation to the Unconsciousjoke-work takes centre stage for the dramatic plotting of dream-work and dream interpretation. The enigmatic nature of humor provides the philosophy of mind with a riddle and a hermeneutic pronouncement of humanities plight of ongoing language games. Freud, believed that jokes have the ability to bypass the censorship imposed upon the dreamwork and provide access to underlying memories, experiences, thoughts and feelings.

In Christopher Fry's Comedy: Meaning and Form, we hear about the story of a tragi-comic dream:

"A friend once told me that when he was under the influence of ether he dreamed he was turning over the pages of a great book, in which he knew he would find, on the last page, the meaning of life. The pages of the book were alternately tragic and comic, and he turned page after page, his excitement growing, not only because he was approaching the answer but because he couldn't know, until he arrived, on which side of the book the final page would be. At last it came: the universe opened up to him in a hundred words: and they were uproariously funny. He came back to consciousness crying with laughter, remembering everything. He opened his eyes to speak. It was then that the great and comic answer plunged back out of his reach."

From a literary perspective one of the best examples of such a book is Honore de Balzac's The Human Comedy in which inter-linking stories of a variety of genres such as the historical novel, fantasy, melodrama, gothic and theological are explored thematically. However, the reason that the great comic answer plunged back out of reach in the dream (above) is that, the book that the dream refers to is the archetypal book of dreams that Freud Interpretation of Dreams refers to as the "Dream-book". This Dream Vision thematic book of life and death, is being written on the planet as we speak and it truly is a human Divine Comedy

From a popular culture perspective the film Stranger Than Fiction has similarities to the dramatic dream above. A disembodied woman's voice (played by Emma Thompson) mysteriously narrates the life of an everyday American man (played by Will Ferrell), who works for the IRS. Knowing that he is not schizophrenic, he solicits the help of a literary professor who begins to search for the literary structure of the woman narrator's voice. Analysing the writer's voice the literary professor (played by Dustin Hoffman) searches for the archetypes, genre, plot and character of the story in hopes of narrowing down whether the story is a tragedy or a comedy.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.