II. " I was aiming at a target. It was placed high up. I had a nice rifle, well-made save in one respect. The sights were not properly adjusted. I could only see the bull's-eye along one sight. Neither of the sights was properly shaped, but seemed lumps of metal clumsily fastened on the barrel. After several attempts I grew irritable and took a chance shot at a bird flying overhead. I hit it and it fell. It was a very bright-eyed bird not yet full-grown, and I felt sorry."
The essential plot or theme in this dream seems to he in the matter of the unadjusted sights. The dreamer can see along only one sight; and both sights are not clearly cut pieces of metal, but lumps clumsily attached to the barrel. A fine fashioning of the sights, which is necessary to accurate shooting, and a fine adjustment of them in proper alignment, constitute the only deficiencies of the rifle. In a way, this might be regarded as a small matter, and one capable of remedy without much expense or difficulty, but at the same time they render the rifle unsuitable for aiming at a target. Only blind shooting is possible. When the dreamer indulges in this, he brings down a curious kind of bird.
If the substance of the dream were to be cast into a single phrase, it might be legitimate to put it in this manner : " You cannot hit the bull's-eye of the target because your sights are not finely enough fashioned, and they are unadjusted." If the phrase is compared with the remark of the cook in the previous example—" You must always mix the clear with the muddy "—a certain similarity is seen. In the one an adjustment of two things is suggested ; in the other a mingling of two things. The second dream gives no indication of the nature of the two things, but it contains a hint that with the rifle in that condition, only fledglings can be hit, and not bull's-eyes. The first dream, though suggesting that the society of old-world philosophers impedes the figure at the writing-table, deals in a more elaborate manner with the nature of the two things that must be mingled. And it concludes with a dramatic mingling of the clear medium of intellectual theory with the muddier medium of vulgar humanity, which follows on the mixing of the clear beer with the muddy stout. Stout, by the way, is perhaps naturally associated with fat cooks.
It must be remembered that the patient was suffering from an inability to achieve a task he had set himself, and was unable to understand why he failed in so notable a manner. I will now develop the anamnesis and reference to the material in the first dream. The patient stated he had attributed, in a minor degree, his failure to a lack of scholarship, and had been re-reading the early philosophers, particularly those of ancient Greece and Rome. He did not derive much help from this, and was forced to go over the matter several times before it made any lasting impression. Experience may be put in terms of the question of inward appeal, which was touched on in the first chapter. The ancient philosophies made no real appeal to him. They linked up with nothing behind consciousness ; they dwelt momentarily in consciousness unrein forced. Some reading has this effect, lying barren and swiftly withering in consciousness; while other reading acts as a powerful fertilizer, and brings up to the surface a multitude of ideas. This, I think, will be granted ; that such events must depend on the elements that he beyond consciousness—in the under-soil of the mind—and belong to the category of inward appeal. The patient, acting on the belief that lack of scholarship was partly behind his inability to make headway with his work, did what he could to focus attention on the philosophical systems of a bygone age. In the dream, in the opening scene, he is depicted as being in a room containing ancient philosophers—that is, a pictorial presentation of his actual situation is given —but a touch of ridicule is suggested by the way these are represented; there is a hint more of the cartoon than of the picture. He is then transported to the lower room, where he has his singular encounter with the cook, and receives her cryptic advice. In passing, it may be noted that the dreamer made a spontaneous association between the cook and Socrates.
Association suggests, among other things, similarity ; there is something in common between the cook and Socrates ; in this case it seems to be the quality of ugliness. That is the superficial link of association ; it may contain a deeper significance. Socrates, it must be remembered, was not a mere intellectual theorist dwelling in an upper room. He taught in the streets, in the mud, in the heart of the crowd, in the arena of human experience. A cook of the type depicted approaches life in the Socratic spirit in that she gains whatever sagacity and wisdom is hers by the process of actual contact with life, and not by theorizing in an upper chamber. Is it legitimate, then, to conclude that some advice, of value to the dreamer, is contained in these dreams ? The patient could not control his interest. He strove to force it in certain directions and failed. There was some internal check, the nature of which was a mystery to him. That force, which reveals itself as interest, was not vitalizing the elements represented in his consciousness, so that they could produce an adequate effect in reality. It would be possible to say that the force that reveals itself as interest was exhausted, and the patient's condition was comparable to that of an accumulator that has run down and can give only a brief, and rapidly failing, current at intervals. In that case we should be reverting to an old-fashioned view, and prescribe tonics, rest, the electric battery, massage, and even radium, and think no more about it. It is a view that has something to be said for it. It saves an immense amount of trouble. It saves the physician trouble as well as the patient. But the tendency to-day is to presume that vital force, like all force, must manifest itself somewhere, though it may change its point of application. A person may be extremely interested in athletics, and spend his days enthusiastically in the fields ; a change may suddenly occur, and he shuts himself up in his study and reads from morning to night. His interest has shifted. His old companions may say he has lost all interest and does nothing. But that is surely wrong ; the force that reveals itself as interest has gone elsewhere ; its point of application has shifted inwards. It is the same force. But a savage, who did not know that writing and reading were possible, while watching him in his new phase might think his interest had gone and that he was exhausted as he sat in his chair motionless and absorbed. Before it can be concluded that the patient R.'s interest was exhausted, an exploration beyond the realm of the immediately obvious must be made, lest unwittingly a point of view is taken up like that of the inexperienced savage.