The History of Last Night's Dream
Discovering the Hidden Path to the Soul
HarperOne: 272 pp., $24.95
IT'S palate-cleansing for readers: Rodger Kamenetz, author of "The Jew in the Lotus" and "Stalking Elijah," writes in this fascinating book that words, too many words, stand between us and our dreams. We must learn to think in images, the language of dreams. And if we overcome our obsession with interpreting dreams, we can access the truths they offer. ("The usual emphasis on interpretation overshadows the possibility of direct revelation.") But first we must accept what's revealed: "[O]ur dreams have a difficult job precisely because they come to remind us not only of what we have forgotten, but of what we have forgotten we have forgotten." Kamenetz takes us through the history of our attempts to understand our dreams, relying a great deal on purely Jewish texts, like the Zohar, but also on Genesis, the Gnostic Gospels and many others. His teachers -- among them an 87-year-old Algerian mystic called Colette and a postman/astrologer/dream-therapist named Marc Bregman -- show him ways to bring dreams to the surface, such as Freud's method of free association. Bregman teaches him how to focus on images in the dreamscape and feelings around the dream's events. A dream's ability to reveal the opposition in your life -- the person, pattern or thing that keeps you from being happy -- is, Kamenetz writes, "a strange miracle."
Los ANGELES TIMES