The Occult Dream Detective -or- English Victorian Imagination

The Omniscient Camera -or- Planet Hollywood's Fringe Science

The dream below has all the conceptual ingredients of a Hollywood screenplay that focuses on the English Victorian period. As an aside, last week I watched, as they were filming a movie in Hamilton, Ontario and by the dress, cars, military trucks, it was a film set during WWII in Canada. Returning to the dream below, as a student I had taken an interest in all forms of detective work to help unlock the secrets of the dream and the nightmare both in its light, and its dark aspects. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes provides a role model for understanding the dynamics of detective work. Holmes uses observation, disguise and the tools of forensic science to solve difficult criminal cases. 

History informs us that it was Edgar Allan Poe who created the first modern literary detective story in his "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". Many of the literary devices used by Poe's detective "Dupin" where purloined and employed in the personifications of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. One of my own personal identifications is with the detectives found in Hollywood's "film noir", the other is the science fiction detective. However, there is a detective genre that I had known as a student, yet kept my distance from, namely the "occult detective". 

The occult works of Helena Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley were known to me. As a student, the esoteric work of P. D. Ouspensky and popular Shamanistic work of Carlos Castaneda seemed much more appealing. Crowley actually gave me the "creeps". Freud had called the occult, "the black tide of mud". The TV series "The X-Files" featured FBI agents investigating paranormal  cases, providing a mythological structure to help understand such phenomena from a Sci-Fi perspective. The X-Files influenced the development of other TV Sci-Fi detective shows like "Fringe" which features paranormal mythology and "fringe science". 

The dream below is a cinematic blend of picturesque scenes of "an old Victorian terraced townhouse", a newly married couple, time passages, arguments, and "strange things" happen in the house, "The young wife begins to have nightmares", lighting changes play a significant role in the scene and mood changes, as a matter of course the omnipresent camera is there much like in the film Citzen Kane to watch the "occult" story unfold. Here is the dream; 

James, 24 British 

i have over the past 13 years of my life had around 8 dreams which not only do i remember detail of but that seem to feel the same although they are very different.

i feel abnormal when i recall these to my family or friends as they seem not to have dreams as horrible as the ones i have. i try to find the symbols within the dreams and sometimes i do but most i am lost as to what they mean. 

i am a very sensitive person and choose not to watch negative things such as films, doctumentaries or the news even as they upset me. i have always been a very positive person and for this reason alone i find these dreams upsetting. i think the most memorable one is the one i'm about to write now, the reason being that i was not in this dream at all but the dream was shown as if i was watching through a camera. 

The dream starts with an old Victorian terraced town house within a suburb somewhere. The sun is shining but it's towards the rear end of the day, a removal van outside with men moving furniture into the house in two's. a car pulls up and a young man jumps out of the car laughing and rushes round to open the door for a young lady he picks her up and carries her towards the house up the front steps and both laughing and kissing enter the house. the shot then moves to the next morning and their daily activities start with showers, breakfast etc.. all the while they kiss and smile at each other showing obvious love for each other. They both leave the house and the camera lingers at the house a moment then goes dark. 

time seems to pass and the attitude of the couple changes slightly month by month.. they seem to start arguing about silly things and they forget to close curtains and leave lights off at night and just use candle light etc...the house and the people inside it become "darker" as this happens there are strange things happening within the house itself, the camera would linger on a telephone and it would move slightly of it's own accord.. then another evening the draw in the kitchen would open it's own and a knife would start to lift out of the draw then fall. i get the feeling that something has begun to happen to the house and somehow has an effect on the people within it. almost as if there's something living inside it too.

the camera moves to night time and the couple who would once be sitting close together talking or watching tv, embracing each other do not look like the same couple. they are sitting upright only touching by holding hands and seem to be staring at the tv but with no expressions on their face, showing no emotion. the camera then moves to the corner of the room and you see the light of a candle reflecting up into the corner of the room towards the ceiling, then suddenly a human like shadow crawls up the room from the darkness through the light and into the darkness again....time then passes again and the couple stop going to work they stay in the house apart from getting food. The young wife begins to have nightmares at night but these are flashbacks of what she was like before this started, she'd often wake whilst her husband stayed sleeping and would go downstairs to get a drink and would find herself crying as if she's fighting something. one day her husband leaves the house and she watches him go via the upstairs window, she then goes upstairs into the attic and walks around the room which i must say is quite big she's almost looking for something and behind a hanging carpet she finds a door, which she opened to see another larger room with nothing but beams and floorboards but in one corner there is an old metal bed with a stripy mattress on it there is a distinct smell of urea, faeces and something else she can't put her finger on. lying on the mattress is an old woman (or what's left of one) with iv tubes coming out of her arms neck and legs. 

These iv's seem to be going into the walls of the house and are pumping blood into the walls of the house, there is a monitor next to the woman with the sound of a slow heart beat beeping which gets slower, and slower the camera moves back from the wife so it's looking from behind the young wife and i see the husband quietly enter the room watching his wife. the beeps become one single noise and we assume the lady in the bed dies, the wife turns around to see her husband walk past her and begins to take out the iv's from the old woman and roll her off the bed, then he starts to walk towards his wife and i get the feeling that she is to replace the old woman, she starts to cry and trys to reason with her husband but he shows no emotion and moves her onto the bed, she screams and the camera moves back to the door so the whole room is in sight now and in the corner of the room a shadow is becoming stronger and watching them. i don't know where it comes into the dream but the back ground to the old woman is that she and her husband once owned the house and lost their son and so turned to the occult and such things to try to bring him back and this was the way. 

i swear this is as much as i can remember. 

Thank you for reading. 

Making Darkness Visible -or- The Private Eye, The Camera and Observing Machines

Your dream features all sorts of modern technology with the camera taking centre stage. In "Making Darkness Visible", Ronald R. Thomas (1) tells his readers; "Together, camera and literary detective developed a practical procedure to accomplish what the new discipline of criminal anthropology attempted more theoretically: to make darkness visible-giving us a means to recognize the criminal in our midst by changing the way we see and by redefining what is important for us to notice." 

It is more than just a coincidence that the camera and the modern literary detective were invented at about the same time. Thomas states; "The detective appears in the Victorian popular imagination, that is, looking like a camera." The camera as an eye had become an "observing machine", and the detective, the "private eye". In the 20th century, the camera was increasingly used as a political weapon for national security surveillance and espionage

The "Cuban Missile Crisis" ignited and fueled the apocalyptic imagination of the possible prelude to WW III, because surveillance photographs showed middle range and ICBM's being stationed in Cuba. That such high tech surveillance of the planet continues unimpeded is illustrated by the dream interpretation "The American Military-Industrial Complex" (2). 

Marshall McLuhan in "Understanding Media" reports that; "A press photo of battered (football) players in a 1905 game between Pennsylvania and Swarthmore came to the attention of President Teddy Roosevelt. He was so angered at the picture of Swarthmore's mangled Bob Maxwell that he issued an immediate ultimatum-that if the rough play continued, he would abolish the game by executive edict." Over 100 years later, sports leagues use video replay to police and enforce the rules and discipline on their playing fields of combat. 

The psychological horror film "1408" stars John Cusack as Matt Enslin who is an author and skeptic about supernatural phenomena. Another such film is, "The Others" where light and darkness and play an important role. If as the mythological idiom says, "seeing is believing", then your X-Files like dream vision hallucination says; "I Want to Believe." The X-Files episode that uses the plot device of a "haunted house" similar to that in your own dream is; "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas". 

Further Reading:

  1. In; Carol T. Christ and John O. Jordan (eds), "Victorian Literature and the Victorian Visual Imagination".
  2. W. Adam Mandelbaum, "The Psychic Battlefield: A History of the Military-Occult Complex".



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