The History of Last Night's Dream: Discovering the Hidden Path to the Soul. By Rodger Kamenetz. Oct. 2007. 272p. HarperOne, $24.95 (9780060575830). 154.6.
After delineating connections between Judaism and Buddhism in The Jew and the Lotus (1994) and reporting on contemporary Jewish mysticism in Stalking Elijah (1997), Kamenetz continues his heady and unusual spiritual chronicle by examining the role dreams play in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in psychoanalysis. Kamenetz keenly investigates the interpretation of dreams from Jacob and Joseph to Freud and Jung and neatly elucidates relevant aspects of gnosticism and kabbalah. In some of the book's most probing passages, Kamenetz analyzes the triumph of the word over the image and the elevation of sacred texts over direct experience in monotheism (a fascinating corollary to Leonard Shlain's Alphabet and the Goddess, 1998). Then there are Kamenetz's dramatic adventures in dream work. He first consults with Colette Aboulker-Muscat, an 87-year-old Algerian practitioner of "kitchen kabbalah" in Jerusalem, then finds his true dream teacher in Marc Bregman, a Vermont postman turned shaman. Kamenetz's hard-won and provocative insights into "how exquisitely made" dreams are, and how dreams "reveal us to ourselves," profoundly alter our perception of what goes on while we sleep.--Donna Seaman