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June 15, 2024 38 mins

The wonders and terrors of the dreaming mind do not always flee completely with the dawn. At certain times and places in history, it seems that dreams suddenly ascend to new heights of cultural fascination. In this classic Stuff to Blow Your Mind series, Robert and Joe explore periods when the eye of culture fixes on the dream world. (originally published 06/22/2023)

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
Hello, and welcome to Stuff to Blow Your Mind. My
name is Joe McCormick and it is Saturday, so we
are going down into the vault for an older episode
of the show. This one originally published on June twenty second,
twenty twenty three, and it's part three of our series
called Dreamfall into the Dark. I hope you enjoy.

Speaker 2 (00:29):
Welcome to Stuff to Blow Your Mind production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 3 (00:39):
Hey, you welcome to Stuff to Blow Your Mind.

Speaker 1 (00:41):
My name is Robert Land and I'm Joe McCormick.

Speaker 3 (00:44):
This is the third episode and what I believe is
going to be a four part series about dream mystique,
dream culture. We're going to have one more episode that
is going to focus on Japanese dream.

Speaker 1 (00:58):
Culture and finally get to that monster that is the
reason we started looking at this.

Speaker 3 (01:02):
Yes, yeah, we've been chasing after that monster and ultimately
we will chase it across the sea and discuss its
form and function. In this one, we're going to get
more properly into the main focus of the Dreaming Mind
and the end of the Mean World by Lynn A. Struve,
which we've been referring to in these episodes. This was
published in twenty nineteen by the University of Hawaii Press. Naturally,

(01:27):
we're not going to cover everything in that, but rather
you know, highlight some of the key points, some interesting
bits that stand out, and leave you to explore the
book yourself if you want to go deeper in on it.
But in the previous episodes two episodes, we mostly discussed
other dream cultures from around the world, highlighted lighted by
Stroove as being sort of hot beds of focus on

(01:52):
the potential of dreams to impact our daily lives.

Speaker 1 (01:58):
Yeah, particularly times in places when a lot of dream
writing was produced, a lot of literature that that still
comes down to us, whether that's individual like from journals
and diaries and letters and stuff, or you know, published
works that concern dreams and often invest kind of some
some significance beyond just psychological curiosity in dreams.

Speaker 3 (02:21):
Yeah, because there's always going to be some sort of
dream culture in play. There's going to be you know,
dreams are a reality among all of us, you know,
I mean, it's just it's a human, universal, human experience.
You know, we're going to have these strange visions, mundane visions,
comforting visions, disturbing visions, or traumatizing visions come to us
in the night. It is the you know, we we

(02:43):
we talk so much, you know, on the show, but
in the culture in general about you know, visions brought
on by things that are less every day, you know that,
be it some sort of a you know, peculiar encounter
or the use of some sort of substance that creates
a vision. But the thing about dreams is the dreams

(03:06):
open up the door to visions pretty much every night,
like it's just with regular frequency, and something is always
going to be made of that in a given culture.
But these are those periods of times where they really
went all in, especially among like the literary, you know,
the upper echelon of the like the theological branch of

(03:29):
a given culture.

Speaker 1 (03:30):
Now, in the introduction to Struve's book about the dream
arc in the End of the Ming Dynasty in China,
she does talk about how, basically, like any time and
place she has examined, there seems to be a trichotomy
of explanations for dreams. There's always sort of in the
mix a way of saying, well, that dream is just

(03:52):
sort of a natural phenomenon. Maybe it's a result of
you digesting a bit of mustard or cheese. There is
a way of saying that the dream is given to
you by a demonic force or bad spiritual entity. And
there's a way of saying that a dream is given
to you by a by a heavenly force, or it's
some kind of inspiration, it's a positive supernatural gift, and

(04:14):
that kind of does permeate. You can find those three
explanations all around the world at basically all times in places.

Speaker 3 (04:21):
Yeah, God, devil or potato, and I guess at times
that you know, you may lean more towards one or
the other, though I guess it seems to be the
case that you know, all three are going to be
in play to some degree, because I mean, how all
in can you go on say the devil or evil
spirit understanding of dreams without having to sort of release

(04:42):
the pressure a little bit and saying, you know, not
all of these are the devil, some of these are
just a potato, and you know, maybe some of these
are actually useful as well. Now, one thing I wanted
to touch on here at the start is coming back
to something we discussed towards the end of the last
episode is the idea that when you have a given
culture that really like opens the gates on dreaming. That

(05:05):
that says, in one way or another, dreams matter. Dreams
are important, and we all have access to them. You know,
this can open the floodgate, and this can perhaps require
some individuals to sort of move in and individuals and
positions of power, et cetera, to sort of say, well,

(05:26):
let's let's reconsider that, or let's let's maybe think about
what this particular dream means. And of course the main
candidate here would be anytime dreams are interpreted as being
the will or revelations of a God or God's or
dreams as revelations of the future.

Speaker 1 (05:45):
The main context in which this came up was our
discussion of the role of dreams in early Quakerism, where
a lot of meetings of the religious Society of Friends
and publications by this fledgling religious group would discuss dreams
people had as prophetic revelations from God. But of course

(06:06):
that gives any individual person a lot of power and
authority to say, like, I had a dream. This might
be from God, and the dream could say anything. It
might say something really destabilizing to your to your social group,
or it might give a kind of really destabilizing political exhortation.
Maybe we need to do something that could get us
into trouble with the authorities. So yeah, you had to

(06:28):
have a kind of dream police, as it were, Like
leaders of the early Quakers ended up kind of steering
dream interpretation and selective publication of dreams to rock the
boat less, essentially to to be like, oh, let's not
let's not do anything too crazy. Now, how about we
just interpret these dreams as you know, applying to individual

(06:50):
moral behavior rather than having any kind of radical, broader
social or political implications.

Speaker 3 (06:56):
Yeah. Yeah, So there are there are two examples from
Chinese history in Chinese considerations of dream that I want
to share here from her book The Tie into This.
The first is an example that far precedes the Ming dynasty.
Struve shares an account of one Xiao xi Lang, a
disciple of the great polymath Tao hong Jing of the

(07:20):
fifth and sixth centuries bcee. So, hong Jing insisted that
most of his disciples visions. This is the man that
had various visions and would write about these visions were
waking visions. These were visions he's having during the day,
you know, the kind of thing that we might think
of is being brought on by like meditation or something

(07:40):
of that nature. But Zhao's own dream records, it seems,
are just increasingly dream focused if you look at them
in chronological order, until all of his alleged visitations with
Dallas deities are conducted via dream as opposed to waking
visions of one sort or another, and he ultimately believes

(08:03):
himself summoned to the celestial realm, so he intentionally overdoses
on poison in order to obey those summons. So ultimately
kind of a haunting tale, but one of these where
you can see like this push and pull, one individual
pulled strongly into the dream visions, and this kind of
attempted course correction, either course correction or some attempt to

(08:27):
sort of alter the account a little bit and say, well,
you know, actually they weren't all dream visions. Most of
them were or are waking visions, and those are ultimately
more important. And this will become essential when we talk
a little bit more about this idea of what dreams
represent and what the waking world represents in sort of

(08:47):
the larger Chinese cosmology. Now, she also shares an interesting
situation concerning a prominent Jesuit missionary to China the name
of Guglio Alini who lived fifteen eighty two through sixteen
forty nine, and this individual enacted a strict policy of

(09:10):
rationalistic dream and sleep interpretation among Christian followers in China
at the time. In other words, the idea was no
divine dreams, even for the devout. And one reason for
this would seem to be that the people of Maritime
of Fujian Province were said to have a strong zeal

(09:30):
for the power of dream, very strong dream culture, and
that this particular missionary had to contend with quote a
virtual cult of sainthood concerning the dream accounts of a
convert to Christianity named zang Shi. It would seem that
Jesuit records of this time insisted that these dreams occurred

(09:51):
during periods of ill health, to further push them aside
into that dismissable realm of dreams as byproduct or residue,
the potato realm, as opposed to the divine realm. So
of course, this is of course, again a Jesuit missionary.
So this is an outsider with an outside faith that
has been introduced into China. It's contending with like a

(10:14):
with a local indigenous dream culture.

Speaker 1 (10:18):
Well right, yeah, so as a Catholic missionary, he would
want to be presenting a sort of a stable theology
to people. It's like, this is what comes from the
Bible and from the Church, and you can't like change
anything by having a dream and getting a new revelation
from God. It's all already here for you.

Speaker 3 (10:36):
Yeah, I mean very obviously, the Catholic Church is kind
of like the poster child of top down religion, top
down theology, and historically they have not reacted well to
new revelations among them, like the lower tiers. Now, to
move on to the Ming Dynasty period, the late Ming

(10:57):
Dynasty period in particular, that's the main focus of the book,
it's probably necessary to add just a little historical context.
So the Ming Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China
ruled by the Han people. They had overthrown the Mongol
led Yuan dynasty in thirteen sixty eight and would ultimately
succumb to the Manchu led Qing dynasty in sixteen forty four.

(11:19):
The Qing dynasty would be the last imperial dynasty of China,
and so Struve is dealing mostly with the late Ming Empire,
this period that she describes as a time of disintegration,
the empires in decline, it's threatened and ultimately overthrown by outsiders.
And then also she's dealing with the immediate period thereafter

(11:42):
the early Qing dynasty, in which you have all of
these people who have the Han people within this dynasty
who have gone through all this change and are dealing
at times with the trauma of that change. And incidentally,
she also gets we're not going to have time to
get in any of this, but she has a number
of mentions of the writings of pousong Ling, who wrote

(12:05):
the Strange Tales from the Chinese Studio. He's born shortly
after the fall of the Ming dynasty in that period
of transition, So if you're interested in pousong Ling, this
is also a book worth picking up.

Speaker 1 (12:19):
Referenced frequently on this show.

Speaker 3 (12:22):
Yeah, pousong Ling a lot of weird tales that he
shares concerning everything from ghosts and trolls and goblins to
you know, at times just kind of there's more than
one sort of body story thrown in there as well. Now,
other key factors during this time period, according to struve.
She says, there is a trend toward moral ethical subjectivity

(12:45):
in spiritual exploration. There was a mounting dysfunctionality of the
state system in political culture, which meant that you had
a lot of individuals that would you know, otherwise have
been focusing their energy on advancing themselves and applying themselves
in official state positions, but they're unable to, so they're
left to engage personal projects. They're left to indulge inward gazing,

(13:10):
in this pursuit of dream and fed by all of this,
there is also a general questioning of the rationalism and
emotional control that was part of sort of the dominant
mean philosophy and politics up to that point. And just
in general again, the decline of one dynasty and the
pending emergence of a new dynasty, there's this growing sense

(13:32):
of a loss of control for many, she says, a
sense of uncertainty that leads to an increased focus on
cosmic answers and inward reflections, both of which, as we've
been discussing, are universally sometimes sought out through the world
of dreams, and this is very much part of dream
culture in China of the day as well. Now Strepp

(13:54):
discusses the legacy of Chinese dream interpretation at length, going
back well before this period, of course, to shamanistic traditions
of old, similar to some of what we discussed concerning
the Ottoman dream culture, but she explains that the understanding
of dreaming at its most basic and Chinese tradition was
considered in terms of course of yin and yang, and

(14:16):
in two sort of broad ways of looking at it. So,
in one school of thought, which she calls the Partheid model,
wakefulness is the yang state and sleep or dream is
the yin state. So it's in the yin state that
one's two souls, the terrestrial soul and the aerial soul,
become disconnected, allowing the yen state of the souls to

(14:38):
explore without anchor of the yang. And if these two
souls don't recouple upon waking, well, then you die. And
thus there's this long standing connection between sleep and death
in Chinese thought, I guess I'm assuming, also coupled with
the with the obvious observation that when we sleep it's

(14:58):
kind of like we're dead. Also in dream, it's said
via this model, the drifting soul might encounter quote avatars
of the forces of justice and fate that one would
not normally encounter in the mundane world, but you might
encounter them in dream and therefore you might suffer ill
dreams and nightmares as punishments.

Speaker 1 (15:18):
But basically the idea that when the material like the
grounded soul and the aerial soul separate during sleep, the
aerial soul can kind of wander and have encounters with
other ghosts or ancestors or other beings.

Speaker 3 (15:33):
Yeah, and also just more broadly, that the waking world
is the yang world and the dream world is the
yen world. But then this other model, which she calls
the phasic model, it takes a different approach to yin
and yang and dreams and wakefulness. In this one, the
idea is that a sleeping individual will cycle in and

(15:55):
out of different phases of yin and yang throughout one's
sleep at night, and this would be in the form
of dreamlessness and dreaming. So in this what goes on
in our sleep mirror mirrors just all the other patterns
in our life, just a pattern of yin and yang
and know and ultimately you want these to be in
balance with each other. This school of thoughts, she writes,

(16:18):
stress natural causes of dreams and nightmares rather than the supernatural,
So not saying that it was just all potato, but
leaned more potato than the other model.

Speaker 1 (16:29):
That's interesting because obviously it mirrors the true fact that
we don't dream the entire time we're asleep, that there
are specific phases of sleep during which we dream or
during which streaming is heightened.

Speaker 3 (16:42):
Yeah, it's also interesting concerning some other things that come
up in the book about just thinking about different ways
that a night's sleep may go. And indeed this sort
of idea that some positive that you could have an
entire night's sleep that is completely dream free, that you
can avoid dreams entirely, or you can avoid all sorts

(17:03):
of one type of dream in favor of another.

Speaker 1 (17:07):
Oh yeah, well, that brings up another way of thinking
about dreams that is different than I think anything we've
discussed in this series so far. We've focused a lot
on people attaching various kinds of supernatural, revelatory or prophetic
power to the contents of their dreams. But you know,
another thing that seems to be fairly common in the
world is just having beliefs about ways to have a

(17:30):
good dream, Like when you want to have a good
dream as opposed to a bad one.

Speaker 3 (17:35):
Yeah, And I think this is like a lot of
what's going on, particularly in the Chinese example, is occurring
again among the elites, among the intellectual elites and theological
elites of the day, and it gets, you know, it
gets rather complex. But I think like when you get
down to some of the more like shamanistic roots of
all of this and sort of like the average individuals

(17:56):
like sort of base understanding of dreams, you kind of
come down to those some of the like the really
key questions. Obviously, one question is is this real or
is it not? And if it's not real, where does
it come from? If it is real, where does it
come from? And what does it mean? That sort of thing.
But then also like coming down if you ask the
average individual just on the street, hey, what do you
think about dreams? Even today? They might be like, I

(18:18):
don't know, you know, dreams or dreams whatever. But if
you ask them what do you think about what is
your opinion on nightmares? Most people are going to say
I don't care for them. I would prefer not to
have them. And so there's I think there's always going
to be that level of the dream culture as well,
like can we do something about these nightmares? I mean,
this is nice that you have all these thoughts about
like where these are coming from, But I would tell

(18:40):
me how to not have the nightmare.

Speaker 1 (18:42):
Whether Scrooge is being tortured by the actual ghost of
Jacob Marley or it is just the bit of mustard
or the crust of bread that is causing it. Either way,
it is unpleasant.

Speaker 3 (18:53):
Yeah, I mean, this is I'm sure preaching to the
choir universally among our listeners here. But you know, nightmares suck.
They disrupt your night's sleep, and by disrupting your night's sleep,
you're gonna inevitably disrupt your waking day to follow, not
only like on a physiological level, but also a potentially

(19:14):
on a mental or emotional level. And we have to
bear in mind that like bad dreams and nightmares can
also be intensified via stress and trauma in life. So
you know, it's like this boulder rolling down a hill,
and I think we can all, you know, understand that
that desire to want to stop that boulder or to

(19:39):
diminish it somehow before it slends into us. And that's
without even getting into some of the more extreme examples
of parasomnia, night terrors, and so forth, like just sort
of like normal nightmares can be horrible. They're horrible for us,
and then certainly as parents, you know they're horrible when
you're having to deal with someone, especially a young child,

(19:59):
but also other loved ones when they're experiencing them, because
there's this kind kind of helplessness to it, right, like
you can't protect them in their dreams. So we'll get
back to this general topic of like traditions and customs

(20:22):
regarding the prevention of bad dreams and sort of opening
the door for more positive dreams. But this also brings
up something that I'm sure a number of you have
been thinking about listening to these episodes, and you've probably
been wondering why it hasn't come up yet, and that
is the topic of so called lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is,

(20:45):
of course, you know, the idea that you can take
the wheel of your dreams, that within your dream you
can realize you are dreaming and say, hey, I'm going
to flip the script here, I'm going to do whatever
I want.

Speaker 1 (20:56):
Essentially, it's interesting because it often seems to hinge on
the question of whether you can realize when you are dreaming.

Speaker 3 (21:04):
Yeah, and you know, it's something that my understanding from
having you discussed it on their show in the bast
is that it's something you got to work at. People
do apply themselves to it, and people do report results.
I've never applied myself to it, and therefore the few
times that I do have lucid moments in my dreams
where I realize that I am dreaming, I immediately fall

(21:26):
out of it. So I'll have a dream where I'm like, Hey,
this is a dream, and then I'll be like, what
did I just think? I don't remember, and then I'm
back under the spell of the dream, and this will happen.
The times that it's happened like this, It'll just happen
like several times in a row, and I'm unable to
shake the delusion of the dream.

Speaker 1 (21:44):
I think I've shared this on the show before, but
my experience is every time in a dream I start
to wonder if I'm dreaming or not, I think, no,
this is definitely real. It seems to imply I don't know.
I wonder if that means I'm a specially prone to delusions.
I'm not sure.

Speaker 3 (22:03):
Yeah, it's hard for me to like in the dream.
I'm always like, I bring my own like waking sort
of cautiousness to the dream. So I was thinking earlier
about like substances within dreams, drugs within dreams, for example,
which I've read some wonderful fictional treatments of this before.
But the times where I've been offered, say, a drug

(22:25):
within a dream, I'm always like, no, thank you, I
don't know what's in that will I will politely decline,
And then afterwards I'm like, well that, why didn't It's
a dream like that, this is the place to try
strange substances the dream world. But no, I don't realize
it's a dream, so I don't give it a go.

Speaker 1 (22:42):
Dream cocaine can't hurt you.

Speaker 3 (22:45):
So, as we've discussed on the show before, the term itself,
lucid dreaming originates in nineteen thirteen with Dutch psychiatrist Frederick
van Eaton, but he was hardly the first person to
recognize that the dreamer can become aware that they are
in a dream and then influence the shape of that dream.
That this basic idea had been written about in Europe

(23:07):
for centuries and in ancient times. You have the likes
of Saint Augustine, Galen, Aristotle. They all wrote about it
in Asia of The concept was also understood among ancient
Hindus and early Buddhists, and so this was certainly recognized
in the dream culture of the late Ming period as well. Interestingly,
Streve only mentions lucid dreaming once in the book, but

(23:29):
it's still notable. In one section, she is discussing Juan
ying Ming, an important Neo Confucian thinker of the Ming dynasty.
He is said to have followed a Taoist practice of
deep meditation that minimized both sleep and dream And I
suppose in this we see a reflection of that idea

(23:49):
that there is a threat posed by the irrational dreams.
You know, this is these are to be avoided because
this is where I do not have like intellectual and
emotional control.

Speaker 1 (24:00):
Hmmm.

Speaker 3 (24:00):
So I take it to mean he was just maybe
not a big fan of dreams anyway. He wrote very
little about dreams himself, but he was a big proponent
of something known as the lung shi, which Struve describes
as the infant mind, an innate sense of right and
wrong that you can think of this as a kind

(24:22):
of innate conscious. This is, in fact it if you
put it into like translators, this is how it'll be
translated in the modern sense. It's kind of a it's
your conscious. It's you know, this innate sense of right
and wrong, and it's said to be present even when
we are infants. So it's something that is not you
don't learn in books or school. It is something sort

(24:44):
of innate and pure within the human.

Speaker 1 (24:47):
Psyche conscience without the law.

Speaker 3 (24:50):
Yeah, which and where it gets interesting with concerning dreams
is that young Meing insists that the Langxi is active
all the time in both waking and sleeping, making sure
that any dreams you have are going to be prescient
rather than mere delusions of dream sleep. I guess you
would maybe agree that the reason I'm turning down the

(25:12):
dream cocaine is because of my lang Gie or some
semblance of my lang Gi, I don't know. But more
importantly to his teachings, specifically, it was meant that the
core of spiritual truth was not something limited to intellectuals,
but something available to everyone from birth, and therefore, you know,
it had wide popularity and would be the kind of

(25:33):
thing the idea that you know, non intellectuals would also
gravitate towards. But here's where the lucid dreaming comes in.
One of his contemporaries, lu hongs Shin wrote of a
dream he had as a young boy to demonstrate the
importance of Langxi, and in particular, this account involves his

(25:53):
five year old self channeling the lang Ghi in order
to overcome the delusions of dream and instead lucid dream
his way out of it. And Struve also says that
this was a way to illustrate the importance of Budeau
Dallas thought even among less radical followers. There's a full

(26:16):
account of the dream in the book, and the dream
itself is pretty simple. It's not you know, it's not crazy.
He dreams himself in a wide, busy street full of
carts and people, and there, I guess the one implied
dream world aspect of it is that the mansions towering
overhead are kind of dizzying, so I'm imagining something more
like Times Square as opposed to something that would actually

(26:37):
be appropriate for the time period. But then he realizes
it's all a dream, and he starts shouting at all
the people, saying something along the lines of hay, dummies,
don't you know this is a dream, and they don't listen.
They just kind of shrug it off and keep doing
their things. So he laughs at them, he claps his hands,
and he wakes up, and then as an adult, he
goes out. You know. In retelling this, he also uses

(26:59):
this to sort of compare it to the waking world
as well, which is of course, is a common motif.

Speaker 1 (27:04):
This reminds me of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes,
when we talked about in a Halloween show we did
a few years back, where there is a character who
keeps insisting to everyone around him that he is dreaming
and they only exist right now because they are in
his dream, and whenever he wakes up, they're going to
cease to be, so it's in their interest for him

(27:26):
to keep dreaming. And it turns out he's like on
death row about to be executed for a crime. He's like,
don't execute me, because then you will no longer exist.

Speaker 3 (27:35):
Oh yeah, that was a good one. Yeah, we discussed
that in one of the anthology of Horror episodes, I believe.

Speaker 1 (27:42):
But Hang Han doesn't make that case to the people
around him. He's just like you don't know you're in
a dream right now.

Speaker 3 (28:00):
To bring things back into a less sort of wider
consideration of dreams. During the ming period, again there's this
idea that waking as yang and dream as yin only
in the waking state do you have like true clarity
and penetration, though with a number of caveats, you know,
we get into this idea, like we say in the
Three Varieties of Dreams, and I saw these discussed elsewhere

(28:22):
in Strew's book with the confusion take on everything, the
idea of true dreams or dreamless dreams, those non delusional
dreams which are said to arise spontaneously versus strange dreams
or nightmares, which I think we can compare to the
you know, the infernal interpretation, and then stirrings which arise
in response to life experiences, which of course is clearly

(28:45):
the potato category. But by the seventeenth century there is
also this idea that in sleep, some part of the
dream is allowed to wander like an unbridled horse, a
horse that is still tame, though, and may report back
to the body with wisdom. Again touching into some these
ideas we've discussed already about half the soul wandering and
having these encounters, opening the possibility for divine visions and

(29:07):
so forth. Struve summarizes that all of this begins with
a general trend towards subjectivity and neo Confucianism, but then
it gains more momentum through Dallist and Buddhist thought and
Ming intellectual circles. These are, of course, the three major teachings.
And then the dream culture permeates the literary and visual

(29:28):
arts of the time period, producing apparently more dream related
works of art and literature in China than any other period.
And everything is then sort of wrapped up in the
vortex of a dynasty at its end, and then ultimately
the aftermath of that end. And she says that while
all cultures have their dream cultures, dreams are not considered
with equal seriousness across all of them, especially among the

(29:51):
educated elite. But one of her core arguments is that
the Late Ming period is the most radical period of
Chinese dream culture, given that one could make a good
case for it being the most radical period of dream
culture in recorded human history. And here's one more interesting tidbit.
Strew argues the quote the total effect of these changes

(30:12):
was to weaken the distinction that people normally drew between
waking and non waking awareness and to make doubts about
parsing reality and unreality emblematic of the age.

Speaker 1 (30:25):
Is this real life?

Speaker 3 (30:26):
Yeah? So yeah, just such a fascinating look at this
time period, which again check out the book if you
want to really go go and deep on it. It's
very readable, very interesting stuff. But just the take home, yeah,
is that perhaps arguably like this may be the period
certainly in Chinese tradition, in Chinese history, but maybe even larger,

(30:49):
maybe within human culture or recorded human history entirely, like
this is the period of time where the focus on
dreams becomes like so pronounced that that you're like weakening
our popular understanding of the day between reality and unreality.
It's it's fascinating to think about it.

Speaker 1 (31:10):
And ultimately, what is the argument Struve makes about why
the literature and art of this period is so dream focused?

Speaker 3 (31:19):
You know, I think it comes down to those converging elements.
You know that we we we touched on earlier. You
know that you have a dynasty at its end, you
have you have the intellectual circle within the intellectual circle,
you have all these individuals who aren't able to apply
themselves to state craft and state function, and then these
various sort of theological and intellectual trends that are converging

(31:43):
as well. So it's, uh, you know, it's you know,
comparable to some of the other examples we've pointed out,
where it's like you have a mix of sort of
things that are going on within within the zeitgeist and
then within the intellectual circle, and then things going on
in the external world that are kind of forcing this
narrowing thought or focusing a thought on dreams and the

(32:05):
power of dreams.

Speaker 1 (32:07):
I was thinking about ways to compare and contrast with
the features of the Quaker example that we talked about
in the previous episode, and if this makes any sense
to you, let me know. I was kind of noticing
an interesting difference, which is that both seem to be
very dream focused cultures that arise when there is a
lot of political and social change. Again, the founding of

(32:31):
the Quakers coming out of the period of the English
Civil War and the interregnum period, and then everything you
just discussed about the late Ming example. But one difference
seems to me that at least the way Struve characterizes
a lot of the dream obsession of the Late Ming period,
it seems to be kind of a retreat. It's like

(32:53):
avenues of earthly material focus might be kind of closed off,
so there is a retrial tree to looking for significance
and purpose in the dream world. Whereas for the Quakers,
it almost seems like the focus on dreams is more
of an advance mode or an attack mode, rather than
a retreat. You know. It's like there is intense focus

(33:14):
on dreams as a way of getting guidance for the
next step forward for a growing and very exuberant, enthusiastic
religious group. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (33:25):
Yeah, I think a strong case could be made for that.
I mean, I guess in both cases it does seem
like people are turning to dreams, at least in part
for answers and understanding for either self reflection or like
a cosmic understanding of what's going on in the world.
But yeah, there's something about or at least in these writings,

(33:46):
we've looked at the way that the Quaker approach does
feel like dream tonight, act tomorrow, Whereas a lot of
the way it's discussed by Streuve concerning the Late Ming dynasty,
it's like dream tonight and maybe dream the next several
nights less focus on like what is the immediate action,

(34:07):
or so it seems to me.

Speaker 1 (34:08):
Though, to bring up another example we talked about you
in the first episode on this in the series focused
on like the Romantic period in English literature, like the
Romantic the British Romantic poets and so forth, which I
think are largely interpreted in some ways is a reaction
to the Industrial Revolution and to modernity. Like the literature

(34:31):
of the English language Romantic period is often interpreted as
an attempt to escape the realities of the modern world
and especially industrialization.

Speaker 3 (34:42):
Yeah, so dream dream tonight, write poetry tomorrow, or create
visual art tomorrow, and that, of course we see that
reflected in the main example as well, the creation of
all of this dream literature and also dream visionary arts
as well. Yeah, and I can't help but come back to,
you know, wondering about you know where we are now,
I mean we, as we've discussed, you know, our modern

(35:03):
understanding of dreams is largely potato based, you know, with
some forays into these other worlds, but also today.

Speaker 1 (35:12):
I'm sorry to interrupt you, but just to clarify, if
you happen to tune in late on this series. We're
using potato as a shorthand just for naturalistic explanations of
dreams based on a passage and Scrooge. We're not literally
saying that everybody thinks it's caused by digestive issues, though
that has been one of the naturalistic explanations people have
used over the years. I think today a lot of

(35:33):
people would say the contents of dreams are just I
don't know, kind of obscure psychological causes. It's things you've
been thinking about and so forth.

Speaker 3 (35:41):
Though I am brought back once again to our beans
episode talking about like the link between beans and I
remember us getting into that a little bit, like perhaps
like beans digestion, beans association with the spirit world and ghosts.

Speaker 1 (35:54):
I don't know, Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3 (35:56):
But I mean today not only do we have being
still and certainly we still have dreams, but we also
have all of these technological means of throwing ourselves down
the chasm of other worlds, you know, I mean, we
have virtual worlds, we have various you know, video game
worlds and so forth. So I don't know how we

(36:18):
would factor all of that into it as well. M Yeah,
like to what extent is the creation and the not
only the creation of, but the yearning for digital virtual
world's a yearning for like a dream world of our
own design, a sort of a lucid or semi lucid creation.

Speaker 1 (36:38):
Sold's a dream realized as a nightmare.

Speaker 3 (36:42):
Yeah, I mean, it's this like straight up matrix stuff
right here. I guess, like, yeah, but so it's not
a wholly original thought. But yeah, I can't help but
wonder about it.

Speaker 1 (36:53):
Well, Fortunately, if you are stuck in an Internet bad dream,
you can log off. Always remember that you can. You
can detach from the device.

Speaker 3 (37:01):
That's right. All right, Well, we're going to go ahead
and close out this episode, but join us Tuesday, I believe,
for the final episode in this series. In the meantime,
if you want to go back and listen to any
other episodes of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, you'll find
them in the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast feed
Core episodes published on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Mondays, we
do a listener mail episode where we'll inevitably be discussing

(37:23):
everybody's dreams some more, as we've done in the past
and we'll continue to do in the future. On Wednesdays,
we do a short form artifact or monster fact episode.
In fact, the monster then inspired this series was originally
going to be a monster fact episode, but it just
got too big, and then on Fridays we set aside
most serious concerns to just talk about a weird film
on Weird House.

Speaker 1 (37:43):
SEMA huge thanks to our excellent audio producer JJ Posway.
If you would like to get in touch with us
with feedback on this episode or any other, to suggest
a topic for the future, or just to say hello,
you can email us at contact at stuff to Blow
your Mind dot com.

Speaker 2 (38:06):
Stuff to Blow Your Mind is production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts from iHeart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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