English Cultural Idioms -or- Oral Culture and Satire

The Oral Tradition -or- Verbal Abuse in the Global Village

Satire is a time honored literary tadition. Many of our dreams reflect the verbal expression of the cultural idioms circulating in our oral culture. The English idiomatic expression "snake in the grass" also finds oral satirical and vitriolic expression in our dreams. Here is one such dream; 

Joe, 47 

I'm in an outdoor classroom sitting in a well manicured lawn next to a field of tall wheat-like grass. I have a bright multi-colored snake crawling up my right leg going up my pant leg. I'm fearful of it and trying to get it off me. I'm shaking my pant leg and knock it off. It goes off into the field. I hope it didn't bite and wasn't poisonous. 

Mr Hagen's Response: The Snake in the Grass -or- Learning to Say "Bite Me" 

The facial expressions such as sneer, snarl, smirk, are all part and parcel, of what we call sarcasm. When via English language learning (the dream takes place in an outdoor "classroom") sarcasm becomes refined, it becomes what is known as "satire". Many English authors such as Swift, Defoe, George Orwell "Animal Farm" and Aldous Huxley have used satire as a literary vehicle for social criticism. A common literary feature of both sarcasm and satire is irony

The literary tools of satire can range from the irony, parody, burlesque, and black comedy. One of the classical satirical tools is "Socratic irony", this psychological modus operandi was sublimely employed in modern times by the American TV character Detective Lt. "Columbo". In Columbo's formulaic game of wits with the murderer, we find in the end, that the murderer is duped and outwitted. Winston Churchill's biting wit still is found circulating in a modern dream (read dream interpretation "Anecdotes of History") 

It could be argued that satire is one of the oldest verbal tools for the study of social order and its social problems. Dream vision has always provided satirical insight into the ongoing formation of social order and the archetypal literary structures in the collective unconscious (read dreaming). Dream vision reflects the history of oral cultures, their knowledge, values, roles, sentiments and tastes, which all are parts of the everyday oral cultural production of our collective nightly literary field of dreams. 

Satire is generally a refined verbal form of instrumental aggression. The word aggression, derives from a Latin word which means "attack". We can see these psychological and verbal attacks in the everyday "war of words", which can become insulting, vitriolic, scathing, cautic, cutting, name calling, painful and psychologically poisonous. Thus for example the poetic idea of attack found in the English idiom, "he stabbed me in the back". 

These psychological and verbal war games are not only played out on the stage of everyday life, these "attacks" also find expression in our nightly dreams. The "Cold War" propaganda was marked from a literary perspective by such a "war of words", which has also been called "rhetorical violence". Such attacks and acts of violence, in its essence is "verbally abusive". The psychological war of words often resorts to personal attacks, such interpersonal attacks can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Homer's "Iliad".

As the dream above shows us the idea of "a snake in the grass", the two dreams below illustrate that Joe is not alone in his psychological fear of being attacked and bitten. There are many such dreams sent to the International Institute for Dream Research. From a therapeutic perspective, I have always argued that "verbal abuse" can very often be more detrimental and psychologically poisonous than physical abuse. Physical wounds will heal almost all the time. I have seen psychological wounds and injuries fester in the unconscious and dreams of many people, for many years. This usually is the psychological stuff recurring dreams are made of. 

Here are a few more snake in the grass type dreams;

Lisa, 29 

I had a dream that I was being bitten over and over again by a snake. I would try and pick it up and it'd bite me every time. I could feel the teeth and everything. 

Barry, 25 

I'm not real sure how it started but i opened something up.  I can't remember if i was moving a bolder out of the way of a cave hole or i opened a container of some sort. What i do remember is that hundreds of snakes popped out of the opening.  I fell backwards onto my back.  I kick most of the snakes away with my boots but one made it around my boots and sprung forward towards my face or my neck to try to bite me. When it bit me I woke up.


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