Monday, January 24, 2005

Dreaming a tsunami

Paul Broks writes (Prospect, Feb 2005) that the night before the tsunami he dreamt of finding himself in a turbulent sea being tossed through the spray by waves as steep and grey as church roofs. For years, he says, he's had an archtypal tusnami nightmare in which he'd be standing on the beach and rolling swell would surge from the horizon, rising up to a sheer wall of water. He would run frantically as the wave overtook him, but in his dream he never survived.

Great waves, Broks writes, are a universal dream theme, "like flying or finding oneself naked in a public place. These dreams resonante with primordial emotion - joy, fear, shame".

Is Broks right? And can these dreams in some sense - even if only as a useful metaphor - be described as part of a collective unconscious? I can't at the time of writing recall dreaming about a tsunami myself, but is it there in some memory that lies below the level of identity?

I liked Broks's book Into the Silent Land (and cited it in an article on seashores here), and think his understanding is mostly good.

Another point in his latest Prospect article is certainly well made. Speaking of followers of Christianity (though it applies just as well to a follower of any of the Abrahaminic triplets) who try to justify the catastrophe he writes: "their surreal logic...[is] beyond indignation".


Anonymous said...

The night before the tsunami I also dreamt about being caught amongst huge waves in the sea. It is not something I had dreamt often - maybe only once before. I mentioned it in the office and someone else said their sister had too. I wonder if many people had a similar dream.

Caspar Henderson said...

Paul Broks writes that such dreams are quite common. Since I wrote this post nearly three years have passed, and returning to it to respond to your comment of 17 Jan 2008, I'd like to add that I have recently had a tsunami-type, or more accurately a giant wave dream -- specifically a torrential wall of water from a melting glacier coming down a large but steep sided valley. I only just escaped the waves in time. I had this dream the night before we heard that someone in my family had gone into a coma. He died a few days later