A Strange Dream | In the Dark


From time to time on this blog I’ve written about dreams that I’ve had (e.g. here and here). I find dreams rather fascinating but most times when I wake up I don’t remember enough about them to write coherently about. This week, though, I’ve been troubled by a dream I had a few days ago the memory of which has stayed in my brain.

For background, I have had a bit of a cold recently. It’s been nothing serious but has disturbed my sleep a bit and I have dreamt more than usual. One dream, of which I remember only a small part, involved my house being invaded by giant tortoises. Bizarre as that sounds, The Invasion of the Giant Tortoises, didn’t bother me as much as the one I will try to describe now…

In this dream I am at an academic conference of some sort. I am recognized by other people there, attend some talks in lecture theatres, socialize at coffee breaks, join a social dinner, and even go on an excursion by coach with other attendees through a beautiful landscape of mountains, forests and castles.

Nothing particularly weird about that, I suppose. The strange thing is that everywhere I go at this event I have a companion in the form of a young man who is blind. This boy is about twenty to twenty-five years old, with light blond hair, shorter than me, well built and pleasant-looking. His eyes are partly closed and permanently cast to one side. I don’t know his name.

I arrive at the conference with this boy’s arm linked through mine. I sit next to him at talks, sometimes whispering a description of what’s shown on the slides. I get him coffee. When we go to another lecture room we go arm in arm. During the excursion I sit next to him and describe what I can see. He smiles and nods in response. I notice other people looking at us with somewhat patronizing expressions.

Eventually, as dreams do, this all dissolves into some other sequence which I don’t remember. That’s it.

So why do I find this apparently rather innocuous dream so troubling?

The first reason is the identity of the young man. Although I would recognize him if I saw him, as far as I can recall, his face is not one that I’ve ever seen before. Perhaps he is someone I knew a long time ago, or perhaps my subconscious has created a fictional character! His age suggests he might be a student. I have taught blind students before, but I remember them all and he doesn’t resemble any of them. The last time I had a blind student in my class was at Sussex, and I did walk around with him sometimes holding my right arm, e.g. when there were tricky stairs, and was happy to be helpful in that way, but he looked nothing like the boy in the dreams.

More disturbing (to me) than the identity of my sightless companion, however, is what on Earth this dream actually means? Why do I have this boy with me all the time? What does his presence signify? Is it some sort of reference to my sexuality? Nothing at all obviously sexual happens in the dream, by the way, in case you were wondering. I really have no idea how to interpret this!

At this risk of eliciting some strange responses, anyone who has any ideas is welcome to suggest them through the comments box!

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