What is the relation between waking experience and dreams, and between dreams and literary creativity? In this book Bert States explores the nature of dream imagery, the metaphorical processes in dreaming, and the nature and sources of dream narrative. Challenging the classical psychoanalytic view that dreams represent censored wishes, he argues instead that dreams are nonrepressive, unplanned constructions that unfold one image at a time with no other end than making the most integral use of the images at hand. Dreams are a phenomenon of mind and, like art, are manifestations of a biological need to convert experience into structure, says States.
If we acknowledge that dreaming is a biological activity (because virtually all mammals are known to dream), then we may profitably study dreams as instances of an evolutionary process in which images survive by a form of natural selection to influence the remainder of the dream, States contends. And if dreams have any meaning, it is no different in kind from the meaning that may be given to waking experience.
In addition to evolutionary biology, States draws on cognitive psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, literary and rhetorical theory, and philosophy, as well as poetry, literature, and drama. His provocative and lively investigation of dreams will appeal to any reader curious about the mind's activity during sleep.