What Knowledge Comes To Us From Dreams?

Arthur Conan Doyle’s sinister short story “The Leathern Funnel” deals with a phenomenon called psychometry:  the supposed ability of material objects associated with emotionally charged experiences to preserve and transmit a record of such events.  Published in 1900, the tale begins innocently enough with a meeting between friends, then slowly builds to an ominous crescendo of unease and sadistic malignancy.  Lionel Dacre, a wealthy owner of rare curiosities, owns a very old leather funnel from seventeenth-century France; the funnel has mysterious scratches, or bite-marks, on its neck.  Dacre persuades a friend (the unnamed narrator) to sleep with this funnel by his bedside.  In his dreams that night, the friend makes a horrifying discovery:  the funnel was actually used as a water-torture device during a pretrial procedure euphemistically called the “Extraordinary Question.”

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Dreams As Memories And Endowments


I was recently corresponding with a reader on the topic of finding inspiration for creative activity.  The conversation veered into the subject of dreams.  In what way, we wondered, do dreams inspire or retard development of the creative impulse?  And what is the source of dreams?  The subject is one of general interest, and seems to come up over and over again.

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What Is The Imagination?

What is the imagination?  We discuss some of its features:

1. The pervasive nature of ambiguity, and what it means for the imagination.

2. The bridge or isthmus between the physical and spiritual worlds.

3. The microcosm and the macrocosm.

4. Existence as being identical to imagination.

5. The importance of dreams.

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