Hawthorne, Sleep and Dead Leaves

The mind is in a sad state when Sleep, the all-involving, cannot confine her spectres within the dim region of her sway, but suffers them to break forth, affrighting this actual life with secrets that perchance belong to a deeper one‘ (Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birthmark)

It’s a fair point, well-made. Personally speaking, sleep’s spectres have been breaking forth all over the shop, more than affrighting my sadly actual life. Last night, for instance, I dreamt that three doctors cut open my stomach with a miniature scimitar. At least four mailbags-worth of dead leaves (beech, I believe) spilled out upon the hospital floor. My wife, wearing my father’s old winter coat, promptly swept the leaves into one large pile upon which a small blond-haired boy duly leapt, singing as he did ‘Cornflakes, cornflakes, cor-or-ornflakes’ to the tune of the German National Anthem. If my wife’s word is to be trusted (and, bless her, it usually is) I called out ‘No! No! Hold on to the Branch! Hold on to the Branch!’ several times during the night.

This is just a hunch, of course, but it might have had something to do with this. Either that or I quaffed far too much spiced cider yesterday evening.


4 thoughts on “Hawthorne, Sleep and Dead Leaves

  1. Don’t get ideas about yourself, that’s a very common dream. So common it’s become a bit embarrassing at Freudian conventions when some enthusiastic fresh acolyte bursts forth with his account of the fabulous dream he had recently. The kind at heart lower their eyes, the more malicious egg him on while learned colleagues snigger.
    Its correct interpretation is that it is a pure physiological matter, stemming from a surfeit of carbohydrates and yeast, with a varying sub-current issue of the desire to intimidate and eat your neighbours.

  2. Do that many people really dream of my wife sweeping leaves in my father’s old winter coat? I should be concerned if they did, however learned or kind at heart they may be. And I thought at least the beech leaves might be unique!

  3. I should have been more specific, perhaps. The father and wife are archetypal figures, their particular form generally unique to the particular dreamer, though with one or two exceptions.
    Even the leaves are a vital recurring element, though not always beech- generally the exceptions to the beech rule are homosexual psychopaths- not that a link between the two is necessarily to be inferred.

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