TDB&TB Question #13 ~ The Dream

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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TDB&TB Question #13 ~ The Dream

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat May 17, 2008 10:50 am

Pg. 49 - The chapter entitled The Dream

Would anyone like to take a stab at interpreting it?
Why does this dream stand out for him?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sat May 17, 2008 12:27 pm

Okay, a stab...
Everything possible is wrong and against him in the dream. The weather is cold. He is stopped by a picket line. He is endangered by an electric shock. He is encumbered by an illness that requires a tracheotomy. He is drugged. The police are after him. He's out in the cold with no overcoat. He gets lost. He cannot walk. He is the "hostage of a mysterious cult." He is unable to speak and cannot warn his friends of this cult.
There are some familiar people and places in the dream to make it more real to him. Dreams always seem to have some element of reality; Jean-Do's dream also has the reality of portraying the completely helpless situation he's actually in. He may feel he's letting people down. It probably stands out to him as a very accurate fictional portrayal of how he feels.
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Unread postby Liz » Sat May 17, 2008 12:59 pm

Nice start, Betty Sue. :cool: Now I have to go back and re-read it. :blush:
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Unread postby gemini » Sat May 17, 2008 4:40 pm

I think the mind is a complicated thing that we really can't always understand. I know in extreme circumstances or when injured the mind plays tricks on us. I have seen people in those situations reliving their trauma, or confusing time. I think Jean Do's dream is a reaction to what happened with him mixing it up with pieces he's seen in the hospital and his mind is making up scenarios trying to compensate. Dreams can be bits of reality intertwined with old memories or fantasy. I think they may also be a way of letting us accept trauma without loosing our mind espeically in a situation like his.
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Unread postby suec » Sat May 17, 2008 6:54 pm

I think the dream stands out for him because it reflects his coma and the time when his subconscious mind was recording what was happening to him and interpreting it in its own way. Now the memory of the dream is is all he has of it once he has returned to consciousness.
These are my guesses about some of the elements of the dream.

The cold = his unconscious state of mind and that no man's land.
Being out of France = away from home - his conscious state
The car graveyard + picket-line stopping the train = the difficulty of the journey back to consciousness.
Wandering around lost = the mind unable to find its way back.
There are various things suggestive of hospital treatment at the time.
The tracheotomy - what was done to him
Maybe also the high voltage = enough to shock him back to life at least?
Various people doing things to him while he is helpless = the doctors
The hostage of a mysterious cult = the powerlessness and vulnerability of his situation, surrounded by strangers talking a load of medical jargon?
Radovan Karadjic? Maybe he just happened to be in the news the night before Jean-Do's accident and it was floating in his head somewhere. But certainly war imagery is a motif in the book. And in Jean-Do's case, he is battling with himself. And he is a leader connected with the separation of a nation state. Also war crimes. And what happened to Jean-Do was monstrous.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sat May 17, 2008 9:48 pm

Great answers! I came here this morning to read the question and like the coward that I am, I went back to my home page and let somebody else go first. :blush:

I am not sure what the snow means, except it is falling on an automobile graveyard. The last thing Jean-Do was doing was test-driving a fabulous car and now he will never drive again. And maybe he was actually physically cold during this dream. So many of the people in the dream seem to represent the doctors and nurses who talk to him and smile and give him drugs.... I am not sure why Karadzic is in the dream - maybe the TV was on and his name was mentioned. I have no idea why he hears Bolero. I think the Lebanese woman is related to Jean-Paul K's imprisonment in Beirut, which seemed to sit on his mind and bother him. Being unable to move to get away or to speak to give warning must relate to Jean-Do's frustration with his physical condition. What does he want to warn his friends - to take care of their health? to enjoy their lives to the fullest? to not waste time on petty things? Maybe all of this.

Jean-Do's dream reminds me of dreams I have sometimes, jumbles of reality, personal history, fear, desire, and absurd unrelated junk that makes no sense whatsoever!

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Unread postby suec » Sun May 18, 2008 4:30 am

I like your interpretation, nebraska!
I came here this morning to read the question and like the coward that I am, I went back to my home page and let somebody else go first.

Me too! I never rememember my dreams and consequently, have no idea how relevant or not they can be. I was wondering about the Bolero too, so I looked it up and found this on Wikipedia:
Boléro epitomises Ravel's preoccupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. It was also one of the last pieces he composed before illness forced him into retirement: the two piano concertos and the Don Quichotte à Dulcinée song cycle were the only compositions that followed Boléro.

So, I think it may well not be so random.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Unread postby nebraska » Sun May 18, 2008 8:59 am

suec wrote:I like your interpretation, nebraska!
I came here this morning to read the question and like the coward that I am, I went back to my home page and let somebody else go first.

Me too! I never rememember my dreams and consequently, have no idea how relevant or not they can be. I was wondering about the Bolero too, so I looked it up and found this on Wikipedia:
Boléro epitomises Ravel's preoccupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. It was also one of the last pieces he composed before illness forced him into retirement: the two piano concertos and the Don Quichotte à Dulcinée song cycle were the only compositions that followed Boléro.

So, I think it may well not be so random.


Thanks for that, Sue C! Yes, that all puts a different slant on him hearing Bolero in his dream. It impresses me that Jean-Do incorporated things like that in his little book, there is so much more than meets the eye. Because of things like Bolero and Mithra Grandchamp, I suspect Jean-Do was well-educated and/or well-read and he slipped in a lot of gems like this for us to discover.

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sun May 18, 2008 9:22 am

nebraska wrote: Because of things like Bolero and Mithra Grandchamp, I suspect Jean-Do was well-educated and/or well-read and he slipped in a lot of gems like this for us to discover.

And my thanks to those of you who dig a little ( a lot?) deeper than I and discover them!! :bouquet:
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Unread postby Liz » Sun May 18, 2008 10:18 am

I'm impressed by everyone's analysis. :applause:

Here's my stab at certain elements of the dream:


Automobile Graveyard = It was in his new car that his life as he knew it died.

Numb with cold = He is paralyzed

He and Bernard are paralyzed by a general strike = He is paralyzed and unable to move

The entrance reminiscent of a garment-district outlet = the Fashion industry, a major part of his life prior to his stroke

Radovan Karadzic = As Nebraska said, Karadzic was probably on the news just prior to his falling asleep or even while he was asleep.

The Lebanese accent = What Nebraska said

Rows of plastic tubes dangle floorward like oxygen masks = the hospital and his condition

The barman motions him to put a tube in his mouth, and amber fluid begins to flow = his IV, but he'd rather be able to take in nourishment through his mouth, thus the tube going in his mouth.

He wants to stop drinking but can’t get down off of his stool = he can’t move now

The sound emerging in slow motion from his mouth is incomprehensible = he can’t talk now

Bolero = I go with what Suec said, but before I read her post my mind focused on Dudley Moore and his fate. But his illness began shortly after Jean-Do died. But it also seems like good background music for a fantasy (as in “10”) or a dream.

He longs to escape, but every time the chance arises, a leaden torpor prevents him from taking a single step = the diving bell
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Unread postby suec » Sun May 18, 2008 1:40 pm

my mind focused on Dudley Moore and his fate. But his illness began shortly after Jean-Do died. But it also seems like good background music for a fantasy (as in “10”) or a dream.


:lol: I had forgotten that scene. But, Liz, you have just reminded me of another time the music was used: by figure skating champions Torvill and Dean at the 1984 Olympics. I've just watched it again on YouTube, listening to the music and seeing the ice, and all of a sudden, the choice of music seems unbelievably appropriate.


I suspect Jean-Do was well-educated and/or well-read and he slipped in a lot of gems like this for us to discover.


I agree, nebraska. I think he probably felt he had quite a point to make.

Edit: BTW The Olympics with that routine in were held in Yugoslavia. Coincidence, maybe.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun May 18, 2008 8:45 pm

You all are good! I think dreams are a way for our subconscious mind to help our conscious mind bring things to the forefront to try and make sense of them or make us face them. By incorporating pieces of reality mixed with memories and fantasy it's not too much to deal with at once, although very confusing sometimes!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby fansmom » Sun May 18, 2008 9:46 pm

I suspect Jean-Do was well-educated and/or well-read
And yet, he had never heard of the brain stem. :-?

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Unread postby Liz » Sun May 18, 2008 10:03 pm

suec wrote:
my mind focused on Dudley Moore and his fate. But his illness began shortly after Jean-Do died. But it also seems like good background music for a fantasy (as in “10”) or a dream.


:lol: I had forgotten that scene. But, Liz, you have just reminded me of another time the music was used: by figure skating champions Torvill and Dean at the 1984 Olympics. I've just watched it again on YouTube, listening to the music and seeing the ice, and all of a sudden, the choice of music seems unbelievably appropriate.


I suspect Jean-Do was well-educated and/or well-read and he slipped in a lot of gems like this for us to discover.


I agree, nebraska. I think he probably felt he had quite a point to make.

Edit: BTW The Olympics with that routine in were held in Yugoslavia. Coincidence, maybe.


Oh Suec, I LOVED Torvill and Dean! They are my all-time favorite Olympians. And I do remember their doing a routine that piece. Off to YouTube....
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon May 19, 2008 7:43 am

I remember that too. It was fantastic! :bounce:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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