Friday, October 10, 2014

Thinking about Dreams, and Children's Stories

I often dream that I am running away, or rather, that I am being chased. Usually I am being chased by people with no faces or by people I don't actually see in my dreamscape, but only know are somewhere behind me, following. I've had this dream for years, and the scenery changes, but the element of being chased continues. Often when I wake up I wonder what I am running from. What is the metaphor? What do I run from in my real life? Occasionally, these dreams take on a more hopeful quality, where I'm still being chased, but I'm running towards something valuable as well. 

Last night, for instance, I was being chased but I fell into a river with colleague and we lost the people chasing us. Then we scaled a rock face and came out in a strange tunnel in the jungle. We followed the tunnel, among twisted tree roots, and emerged in a place that looked like a paradise. It was a youth hostel of sorts, but it was specifically for girls and the woman who ran it was extremely intuitive. She was maybe in her thirties, but she was wise like an old grandmother. I felt like she had something to teach me, but unfortunately I woke up before that happened, so all I was able to glean from her was some spicy shrimp soup, and not the kind with potatoes. There were two kinds, and I chose wrong. It was good anyways. 

Thinking back, I don't think I ever had dreams about being chased until I was a teenager. At least not by faceless people. Once I dreamed I was in the caves at Ainsworth hot springs with my father and when we turned the corner there was a door and when the door opened there was a wolf. Not a real wolf. Not quite a werewolf either. More like the personified wolf in the Three Little Pigs, who stands on his hind legs like a person. The wolf chased us. It was a short ordeal before I woke up, not long and epic like my chase dreams now. 

However, it gets me thinking about the story about the Three Little Pigs. I get the part about the houses made of straw, wood, and bricks, but why is it pigs, and why the big bad wolf? Why didn't they just use people? The animals in the story act like people anyways, and walk on their hind legs. There are lots of classic children's stories with animals. For example, Aesop's fables almost exclusively use animals, but the animals don't act like people. They are animals because they walk on all fours and have the characteristics you expect out of that animal, such as the fox being cunning. In Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Bears act somewhat human by living in a house and eating porridge and sleeping in beds. Yet, bears do actually stand on their hind legs so this is somewhat less startling. The Bears still act like bears. They get angry with goldilocks and act in the growls way you might imagine a bear to act. So why do the animals in the Three Little Pigs act so differently? One might argue that a wolf is scary and makes a good villain, but wolves usually hunt in packs and this story has only one. The wolf acts much more human than wolf. There is also the problem of the pigs. Pigs are smart, but most people think of pigs as fat, sloppy and lazy. You could say the pig who builds the house out of straw acts very much how you'd expect a pig to act. That does not explain the actions of the pig who builds the house out of bricks. It is this pig, who acts out of his own nature, who is rewarded for his actions. The whole story is very confusing. It is clear that the animals are actually meant to be human, so why use animals at all?!