Menu for Dream Vision -or- Divine Comedy and the Western Canon

According to the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye, literature projects an organized myth of human experience configuring and reconfiguring the world and one's self according to the desires and anxieties the individual and the community are faced with. Frye gave fiction an anatomical form and associated it with a compendium or encyclopedia for the satirical analysis of human behavior, attitudes and beliefs. Similarly, the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) has developed "The Anatomy of the Dream" as a narrative form to analyze human behavior, attitudes and beliefs, providing the basis for a dream vision dictionary or lexicon of the cultural stage of the global village. The creative life writing successes and failures of individuals, institutions, and popular cultures are revealed. The IIDR's Global Village Voice is dedicated to helping the population of the earth to see and understand the cultural mythopoetic process of dreaming on our planet.

The Anatomy of the Dreams found within Western culture is reflected in the mythopoetic labyrinth called the Western Canon. Fryes' concept of human nature and culture as they relate to literature sees literature and literary canon not as an imitation of the world but rather the expression of the total dream of being human. In the interpretations section you are invited to observe the makings of this total dream.

If Dante's Divine Comedy stands at the centre of this mythopoetic labyrinthine road we call the Western Canon, then the oneiric (dream) journey into the darkness in search of the light is the central guiding metaphor of all western literature, life writing and dreaming. The quest for the centre is analogous to entering into a labyrinthe. The literary centre represents the need to find ones' way back to the spirit and the garden. In all three great monotheistic religions we find the quest for the centre. Following this train of thought one finds in Christian mythology the labyrinthe can be decerned in the narrative of Percival's search for the grail. We find this labyrinthe way in the Hebrew kaballah and halalkah. In Islam we find Mohammed's magic carpet (Miraj) spiritual dream journey. (Read IIDR article The Holy Land).

The IIDR has attempted to trace the outlines of this poetic labyrinthe and human journey from darkness to light. Life-writing (and creative writing) enables the writer to present life in all its states as, in Ernest Hemingway's phrase, "a moveable feast." We are all diners at the feast, and the dream is our menu. This total dream can be viewed as a sociological frame story categorized by a menu of literary genres. Each literary genre or narrative form has been linked to a dream interpretation, often a dream can be mixture of numerous genres.

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