“Do you think dreams could have meanings?” I asked my good friend T over Discord.
T had just finished explaining an odd dream that he had (this is an understatement), and joked that if dreams reflected one’s psyche, he would be worried. What he had said interested me; it reminded me of Sigmund Freud’s unconscious theory.
T suggested that dreams could perhaps tell people something about their psyches that they would probably not have known about through their normal consciousness. He commented that it is a shame people cannot remember their dreams so easily. Apparently dream journals are difficult to keep, though I have never tried keeping one.
I laughed. “Maybe there would be some kind of technology in the future that would be able to record our dreams.”
“Oh god,” said T, “then the Gedankenpolizei (thought police) would come and scrutinize those dreams.”
At that time, I did not realize that our seemingly arbitrary conversation about dreams, dream journals, and the thought police would become my main inspiration for this story. Not only that, but I also did not realize how well those concepts connected to the theories and ideas I was learning at university. My story outline wouldn’t have turned into such a melange of various concepts like surveillance capitalism, total surveillance, and Freud’s dream theory if it wasn’t for that conversation. That is why I am super grateful for it and for T!
My vision for Catalina was that she is a first-generation immigrant from East or Southeast Asia. Her battle with her mother about following her passion versus going for a career that is considered lucrative and safer, is a common struggle in many Asian households. There is, on the one hand, the aspect of obeying one’s parents out of respect and duty. However, on the other hand, there is also the desire to follow one’s own path.
The difficulty here is that both the parents and the child want the best for the child. The parents have their dreams for the child; the child has dreams for him/herself. Only, they have different perceptions of what this dream looks like. I tie this idea of a dream – of a strong desire – to Freud’s dream theory, which says that our dreams (I now mean those dreams when we are unconscious and sleeping) reflect our truest and most innermost desires. But which dream is correct? Which dream really reflects our true desires? Is it better to trust and follow our true desires that may seem riskier and less productive than other desires? In Asia and other parts of the world, this question may not be so easy to answer. This warped view of the dream makes me reflect on the oftentimes sad realities of dreams.
This sad reality of dreams is reflected on Catalina. She knows her mother is right in that she would have a more secure future if she studies hard and gets good grades; she has already personally seen the other side of the coin through her father. However, as a child who also grew up in Canada, where individualism is dominant, Catalina wants to follow her own path as well. Thus, she is pressured to purchase the Dreamcatcher to help her writing.
Although Catalina purchased the Dreamcatcher to launch her dreams of a prosperous writing career, she also bought it with the intent of proving her mother wrong; to prove her mother that it is her dreams that are correct, not her mother’s. However, the Dreamcatcher ends up backfiring and betraying her, revealing that her innermost desire was apparently to become a terrorist and causing her to be detained. The question is, was becoming an author actually her greatest desire? Or was that just her body’s way of hiding her innermost desire to protect her from getting into trouble with society, the same way a parent may instill upon a child a safer, more lucrative dream to strive for?
Catalina’s inner conflict and her conflict with her mother are, of course, not the central focus of the short story outline. The focus remains on the diegetic prototype itself and the implications it has on society. However, these “hidden conflicts” are what drive the story. These conflicts were what motivated Catalina to purchase the Dreamcatcher in the first place, after all.
[T]hese “hidden conflicts” are what drive the story. These conflicts were what motivated Catalina to purchase the Dreamcatcher in the first place, after all.
If I were to rewrite this story outline, I would provide more details regarding Freud’s dream theory. That means actually reading his book, Die Traumdeutung, and citing directly from there. Further cleaning up my grammar and language would also be a top priority, as well as removing sentences or scenes that seem unnecessary.
Overall, I would say that this assignment has been one of the most enjoyable assignments I have worked on in my undergraduate studies. I never thought that I would have an opportunity in university to combine creative writing and scholarly research in one assignment.