Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fantasy and Dream: The Supreme Tyrant and the Dreamers on the Street.

A re-post from June 22, 2009 I thought relevant to the piece below on Dorothea Lasky's Poetry is Not a Project.
Fadi Abou-Rihan  has been posting a running commentary on Winnicott's ideas on 'Found Things," on the trasitional quality of play,  dreaming and fantasy.  Go to his post, Structure and Process, to follow his ideas.
While I can't pretend to offer useful interpretation--I was struck by Winnicott's distinctions between fantasy and dreaming, on the comparative fixity of fantasy--which is tyrannically (I don't think that that overstates it) re-guided back to whatever has been identified as the desired object, as opposed to the poetic quality of the dream, whose "agility is the mark of a mucking about and a taking liberty with whatever it may encounter."
 How often I've experienced in my writing--particularly when the going gets rough, the words hard to come by--that I've become 'fixed' in just this way, to a goal, preconceived--even if one I'm as yet unable to articulate, that I'm trying to keep everything within bounds...coloring within the lines, not at all unlike fantasy daydreams in states of infatuation: securing the hand of the lover, of winning the prize, getting the book published. This is not, I think, a matter of releasing a bundle of unacknowledged desires pent up in some prison cell of the unconscious. It is not a turning inward, however much it involves unconscious and perhaps repressed forces; rather, it is a losening outward--a movement toward the world, a relaxation of the border police. Play brings new aspects of reality into view... into play, involves us in the world in ways we had missed, or avoided, or feared.
It is certainly possible to push ahead in that goal oriented mode, "purpose driven" writing; one can even learn to be quite good at it, which may be the worst thing that can happen--that one can get good at it; good at making it happen... which is really a way of not letting it happen. The mental Besiji may indeed succeed in striking fear in the hearts of the dreamers, chasing  them 'safely' indoors, shooting the Voice through the heart, letting it bleed to death on the street. We need to learn to say to the Voice, like the primal cry that it is... don't be afraid! Don't be afraid!

Here are exerts from the post.

By the early 1970’s, Winnicott elaborated further on the quality of this interaction when, with the help of one of his patients, he introduced a distinction between “fantasying” and “dreaming.” Fantasying is an isolated and isolating activity as with, for instance, the daydreaming of the perfect partner, perfect job, perfect home, or perfect finances, the daydreaming of, in sum, the perfect and perfectly satisfying life (the aeternitas) in the face of an intolerably disorganised, unmanageable, and fleeting reality (the tempus). Fantasying instigates no action; it at best runs parallel to and at worst substitutes for life and action; it is a fixity that distracts from and drains objects and relations; it inhibits and at times altogether paralyses them . Dreaming, on the other hand, corresponds to the agility typical of an excursion into an “imaginative planning of the future” (”Dreaming, Fantasying, and Living”, 35), an excursion that precipitates and looks forward to action as much as it is shaped by it (DFL, 26-33). Doctor and patient had come to see that fantasying about an action and dreaming about it belong to two separate orders; indeed, “fantasying was about a certain subject and it was a dead end. It had no poetic value. The corresponding dream, however, had poetry in it, that is to say, layer upon layer of meaning relating to past, present, and future, and to inner and outer, and always fundamentally about [the dreamer]” (DFL, 35; emphasis in the original).
Yet, and however distinct they may be, fantasying and dreaming remain inextricably implicated in one another. The fixity that is the trademark of fantasying speaks a strong attachment and a wish to revise and preserve as is, in other words, a fidelity to a particular object or situation, while dreaming’s agility is the mark of a mucking about and a taking liberty with whatever it may encounter

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