One of an Occasional Series of Intellectual Salons, wherein a scientist of note hijacks this blog for the purposes of in-Gail’s-world discourse.
I received a very interesting calling card, Gentle Reader, from Dr. Kelly (she has a PhD, my readers are smart!). She graciously gave me permission to pose her question to you (slightly modified by me).
Dear Miss Carriger,
I am a new fan of your tales of Alexia Tarabotti and her feats of supernatural derring-do in Victorian London. I have read Soulless and Changeless so far, and I look forward to your further volumes.
Perhaps you speak to this question in a later story, but my professional interests urge me to make the inquiry directly to you:
Does Alexia dream?
As a scientific matter, the answer would seem to be no. Primitive peoples from the dawn of history have explained dreaming as the night journeys of the soul, temporarily liberated during sleep from the shackles of the body. (This idea was proposed by famed British anthropologist E.B. Tylor in the 1870?s, perhaps Alexia knew him?) If Alexia has no soul, then she could not dream, and sleep for her would simply be a state of quiet physical inactivity.
I find that a dissatisfying conclusion. The first piece of counter-evidence would be Alexia?s enthusiastic responsiveness to her husband?s amorous solicitations. As Dr. Freud of Vienna would begin to theorize in the 1890?s, the energies of dreaming can be intimately intertwined with the energies of erotic arousal and desire. I find it hard to imagine, as a purely professional matter of course, that a woman with so much libidinal vitality would never have dreams that express her instinctual familiarity with those deep yearnings and timeless pleasures.
A second piece of counter-evidence is Alexia?s admirable resourcefulness, which I believe should count as a species of creativity, indeed as one of the noblest forms of creativity. She may not know how to wield a brush or pluck at a harp, but she knows how to navigate through the most trying circumstances with good grace and proper decorum. That is an art form in itself, one at which Alexia is a grand master. Numerous scientific studies have suggested connections between dreaming and creative thinking, so again I have to wonder if a person with such an abundance of this type of creativity would never experience dreams reflecting the nocturnal activation of the same cerebral mechanisms that underlie creativity in the waking state.
I could adduce further evidence, but then I would have to begin using footnotes, and that would become unwieldy. Suffice it to say there are sound reasons to doubt?on purely theoretical grounds?the Tylorian hypothesis that a soulless person, a preternatural, is incapable of dreaming.
Please let me know if you possess any information that might help to cast the clear light of scientific understanding on this intriguing (to me, in any case) question.
Thank you for your consideration,
Dr. Kelly, Scientist in Good Standing
P.S. Scholarly experience has taught me that people who say they never dream often find themselves surprised when they awaken one morning and, lo and behold, a dream has rather rudely invited itself into their conscious minds and made irritatingly permanent residence there. One never knows….
Dr. Kelly adds this website for your perusal.
So, my dear, Gentle Reader, I pose this same question to you. Do preternaturals dream? For that matter, do supernaturals? How much of dreaming is a matter for the soul? How much is sourced in the the creative part of human make up?
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
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Quote of the Day:
“Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually produced themselves, had they not been invented.”
~ A.J. EstherParasol Protectorate, SOULLESS, Special Extras