ACHTUNG: Der folgende Text befindet sich in Vorbereitung und darf weder zu kommerziellen noch zu privaten Zwecken weiterverwendet, zitiert oder übermittelt werden.

PLEASE NOTE: The following text is in preparation and may not be used, cited or distributed for either commercial or private purposes.

Der Schlaf der Vernunft (München, Beck 2002) von Peter-André Alt

mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Autors übersetzt aus dem Deutschen von Devrim Karahasan als:


While reason is sleeping”
Literature and dreams in the cultural history of modern times



The dream is a riddle which has repeatedly fascinated literature and science in powerful ways. The secret, which it represents, seems to be undone in a dense net of cultural interpretative attempts which constantly change, particularly during the course of modernity. Since the Renaissance the dream has been perceived and described through incessantly changing perspectives: as the arena of the metaphysical demand for order, as a playground of dark, irrational forces, as a theatre stage for the interaction of body and soul, as an arsenal of an occult and natural-magical erudition, as a mirror for closed up bodily procedures and as a repository of sexually dominated powers of the unconscious. This vast architecture of the dream is indivisibly bound up with the imageries and the horizons of imagination of modern literature that tends to use a multitude of language forms, symbols and signs in order to illustrate the inner life of man at night. For the systematic and historical perspectives of the cultural history of literature the dream thus provides an ideal object, because it serves well the purpose of demonstrating, in an exemplary fashion, the meaningful combination of poetry and knowledge. (21. Juli 2010, 15h20 bis 15h35)

Against this background, the present book pursues the aim of treating three methodologically closely connected sets of questions. It is interested in exploring the problem of how far literature possesses a specific knowledge that changes according to a certain epoch, and which it deals with through its own means, namely the different orders of fiction (1). The time span between early modern times and modernity, that is at the centre of attention here, seems to be particularly apt to outline an exemplary field of inquiry. Within its remit a reorganisation of the orders of knowledge takes place which has serious consequences for the pre-modern conceptions of reason, emotions and the body-soul conditioning of man. During the entire period of modern times, literature is confronted with very different formations of erudite discourse to which it not only reacts, but from which it repeatedly also deviates in characteristic ways. Through this very “deviation” it clearly leaves its mark on its aesthetic possibilities of representation: it forms a knowledge which through the modelling of poetic imagination is not merely repeated, realized or modified, but above all created. Based on Wolfgang Iser´s basic methodological assumption that literature can not form a suitable object of cultural-anthropological inquiries unless the functional principles of its aesthetic structures have sufficiently been analysed, this book builds on the hypothesis that a literary knowledge of the dream can only be one which has been created through the orders of fiction, the forms of poetic realization and the inherent laws of its world images. For this very reason the present study can not stop short at reconstructing the - yet in detail very telling - forms of anthropological dream knowledge and the analysis of its influences on literature, but it has to reveal moreover the discursive logic of poetic knowledge production itself. (21. Juli 2010, 00h00 bis 00h30)

A second, thereof derived field of inquiry is the relation between imagination and fiction in the context of literary cultures of form (2). Up until the epoch of psychoanalysis, the dream is considered in all phases of modern history as a model of imagination whose causes, however, have been localised and interpreted in many different ways. Whenever the dream appears in the role of the motive, the topos or the narrative model within the realm of literature, it gains an imaginary structure of second degree, as it starts to fall under the law of fiction. Literature makes use of the narrative structural patterns of the dream in order to bring them in turn into different genre contexts whose spectrum reach from the dramatic setting on stage to the love poem up to the novel narrative and the autobiography. Thus, this book touches upon the central question of the connection between imagination (as a technique of creating alternative versions of reality) and fiction (as a procedure of poetic realization of possible worlds). By entering the social fabric of poetry, the dream takes on a form which can in turn be systematically observed and described. The modelling through language means at the same time a process of transferring the imaginary into a specific medium that makes it concrete and illustrative. The dream receives within the act of representation its own sense which guarantees its communicability and pushes it towards cultural forms of order that are based on the signs of language. Among the theoretical questions that this study wants to pursue are thus the relation between the dream as a material and its design through language in texts with different literary functions (drama, erotic lyric, letter novel, protocol, diary). Yet, one has to consider in principle whether the dream as an object of cultural observation beyond language can exist at all without the translation activity of the logos. (22. Juli 12h55 bis 13h20)

A cultural historical perspective (3) finally opens up through a specific dealing with the historical material and its localisation within a social history, rich in tension, of erudite discourses. For the early modern period, it is mainly the reception of dream treatises and dream books of late Antiquity and the Middle Ages that has to be analysed, which in turn have influenced the literary knowledge - for instance Shakespeare or Gryphius - (while considering that at the time there existed a stronger malleability between scientific and poetic discourse than during the 18th century). In the case of the Enlightenment period, it is especially anthropological treatises with surprisingly original findings and observations next to philosophical texts (within a wide spectrum that reaches from Descartes to Kant) that become more and more central. Early modernity, whose starting point is the European Romantic period, likewise draws our attention on medical-psychological source materials which possess a significant importance for the knowledge of poetry and its understanding of the processes of the soul. For the period of the early 20th century, in turn, the role of psychoanalysis, which also triggers the pushing aside and expulsion of more dated dream theories, has to be made visible in all its ambivalence: as a productive impulse which inspires literature to start searching for the secret language of the soul; as a blocking system which prevents an independent aestheticizing of the dream and thus runs the danger to imprison poetry within a closed set of mechanical ascriptions. It, however, always remains visible that the literary dream represents a doubly ascribed cultural construction within the medium of language. Wherever it is a model of a specific knowledge outside theoretical discourses, it asks for an exemplary character beyond individual case studies; wherever it forms the element of fiction, it follows the rules of the aesthetic functions in the framework of historically changing genre and text understandings. (24. Juli 20h45 bis 21h10).

The cultural history of literature, if it is sufficiently understood in its complexity, is the history of interdependencies between the orders of knowledge and the patterns of design of poetic imaginative powers. In it the dense networks are reflected, the aesthetic and intellectual world models are bound up within a historically changeable set. The functional changes, which literature is going through since Antiquity, can at the same time be viewed also as the consequences of upheavals within the landscapes of knowledge; in reverse, the organisation of this knowledge remains influenced by external impulses that start from the assumption of aesthetic practice and its demand for validity. The fruitful relations that both fields thus build up are yet insufficiently analysed. That literature remains in considerable parts of its western history bound up with orders of erudition may not seem to be evident to the consciousness of modernity which itself is characterized by acts of selection. For Antiquity the Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment - just to name only three particularly typical periods - such a relationship was almost out of question. That the art of poetry was inspired by the erudite discourse of academies and universities, by the human knowledge on nature and reason, man and his history - even more: formed and marked in its versions of world views -, was at the same time the main basis for the socially defined role understandings of its originators. (25. Juli, 12h13 bis 12h45).

This influence is particularly strong where literature has to do, as in the case of the dream, with the theoretical premises of medicine and anthropology. Especially in the early modern period there exist synergies which create a tight, yet not regulated connection between the science of man and the art of poetry. Modernity which has set itself free from the ideal of the poeta doctus in order to autonomously describe its aesthetic practice, still conveys in its literary texts complex knowledges on the individual which equally nourishes itself through theoretical sources and a symbolic generalization of sets of experiences. That literature, self evidently at those points where it is concerned with the cultural construction of man, makes always its own knowledge valid which, however, is not accessible through common notions, forms a particular characteristic of its aesthetic profile. Wherever it illuminates forms of perception, patterns of memory, emotional structures, processes of imagination and sets of behaviour, it can demonstrate a specific competence in the fields of anthropology, psychology and medicine. Such a competence is based on strategies of poetic representation with the help of which the inner life of man in the medium of fictive texts can assume a model-like form. It is only the ratios of mixture that are historically changeable, in which erudite and literary knowledge appear together here. Their change derives from the fact that knowledge has been constantly ascribed new functional connections, demands for plausibility and acts of mediation in a since early modern times accelerated speed. Of the contours of each scientific system depends how independently or dependently literature can represent its imaginations of man within the space of aesthetic discourse. (25. Juli, 12h55 bis 13h18).

At this point, our inquiry of the orders of knowledge and their changeable social functions gains some instructive impulses through Niklas Luhmann´s systems theory that provides it with a, yet not dogmatically understood, methodological main orientation. Especially where the cultural historical transitions from Early Modernity to modern times come into focus, Luhmann´s discussion of processes of the forming of meaning within changing societal models and of the formation of erudite discourses and the demands of construction of anthropological knowledge provides us with leading methodological inspirations. At the point at which systems theory observes the laws, which determine the reconstruction from a feudal to a functional social order, its offers for solutions gain in importance also for a task which is concerned with the theory of literature. This is not about an explanatory model which would be apt to describe complicated problems of mediation which occur during the encounter of cultural with erudite knowledge. Rather Luhmann´s reconstruction of the evolution of social structures of meaning within the process of Early Modernity to modern times only provides a framework theory which allows us to explain any change in tasks within the areas of art and society on a secure conceptual basis without at the same time falling victim to the problematic evaluations and distortions of ideology critique. Especially Luhmann´s insistent reflection on the functions of knowledge and individuality in the context of the social history of Modernity touches upon one of the fundamental epistemological interests of the present inquiry. This is accompanied by a further field of inquiry that systems theory due to its sociological viewpoint cannot sufficiently grasp because it leaves it out in the wake of its operations of strict differentiation: the interference of theoretical and aesthetic world views as a characteristic of cultural orders. Wherever the interdependencies between literature and knowledge are analysed in case studies and have to be referred back to structural processes of mediation in texts, Luhmann´s wide observation spectre does not offer any further assistance.(25. Juli, 13h20 bis 13h50)

The present book follows the demand to explore the relation between dream theory and the literary representation of the dream in the framework of a dynamic history of the modern construction of man. Its methodological basis is the assumption that literary texts deal with a complex knowledge on the dramaturgy and the language, on the genesis and the logic of dreams which partly transforms, partly anticipates or even transgresses the knowledge gathered within traditions of oral transmission, dream books and erudite theories. In a still wider perspective the book seeks to look at the connection between epistemological orders and literature as an interdependency of different discursive formations. For several reasons the dream represents an ideal object for such an analysis. On the one hand, there exists a close relation between the language of literature and the sign composition of the dream, which in western cultural history has already been scientifically rendered valuable and productive even before Freud. On the other hand, the connection between dream theory and the poetic dream text illustrates in exemplary fashion the tense relationship between scientific and literary discourse. This relationship is not limited to a reproducing or imitating one; it rather points at literature as a medium of an intellectual consciousness which transforms, exceeds or undoes each existing system of order of the dream theory. It is not the dealing with unknown sources, but rather the discursive inherent power of literature that creates such a consciousness. The techniques of setting on stage and the narrative models of poetry - it is to be suspected - do not only form media functions, which serve the purpose to mediate alien material. They rather appear as a place of conservation of a knowledge which in this form can merely be represented aesthetically. The anthropological-psychological competence of literature is undone in its fictive patterns and their formal micro structures. Other factors such as the compared to science less intense systemic pressure of literature and her notorious interest in the conditio humana, however, remain secondary. (25. Juli, 14h05 bis 14h30)

Due to its methodological setting this book wants to provide an interdisciplinary contribution to the analysis of early modern cultural history, which next to literary historical questions also has to include the treatment of problems of philosophy, psychology, history and anthropology. The presentation of literary texts is guided by the assumption that the poetic representation of the dream never merely arranges “material”, but is rather always inspired by theoretical patterns of explanation, which, in turn, remain determined by the present order of knowledge that itself has to be considered, in turn, as its social environment. These patterns, however, penetrate literature only through detours, mediated by techniques of fiction, where they gain an independent form. All chapters of this book are thus designed to make visible the interplay, itself full of tensions, of erudite theory and poetic dream imagination, without, however, neglecting the (relative) autonomy of both fields. It considers itself obliged to provide an orientation along the historical order of the material which completely leaves out associative leaps and changes of perspective. Surprising anticipations of later theory models are seldom to be found in the aesthetic field: such “diagnoses” are often rather the result of interpretative habits of later generations (as remarkably shown in the widespread tendency to see the theory of Freud confirmed in the great texts of western civilization). (25. Juli, 14h35 bis 14h50)

If this book refers to the dream worlds of literature and its erudite backgrounds, but less so to its influence on the theory of speech, it is due to the fact that the poetic text loses its own way of speaking at the point where it is taken out of context and is turned into a proof for scientific patterns of argumentation. Theoretical texts from Melanchthon to Schopenhauer, and from Artemidor to Freud repeatedly refer to the literary representation of dreams. Homer, Shakespeare and Cervantes are among those authors which have above all been cited in modern times in order to document the authors´ knowledge on the dream of man. This, however, does not signify that literary understandings of the dream have indeed influenced the theory formation in different epochs. The poetic knowledge loses its fictional independence at the point where it is taken away from the reign of knowledge, and turns into an isolated textual witness within an alien system of representation. Only within the orders of fiction can there be a specific literary understanding of the dream which is able to compete with the erudite discourses. Quotations of literary dream topoi therefore demonstrate the traces of a cultural effect of aesthetic models and theories, yet not of the structural influence of erudite discourse through poetry. (25. Juli, 15h05 bis 15h18)

Historical and systematic aspects of inquiry alike determine the cultural-historical interest of this book. Especially the striking lack of widely conceptualized representations of the topic urges one to find a balance of the treated aspects. At the present state of research a purely source oriented work based on the historical material would be just as problematic as the theoretical reflection of the topic without taking a diachronic perspective. (25. Juli, 15h25 bis 15h27). (weiter um 16h17): Next to the concentration on a particularly interesting period of time, which as a threshold period in the transition to Modernity possesses an exemplary dimension, there had to be the as much as possible productive mediation of different methodological approaches, too (cultural anthropology, epistemological theory, history of mentalities). At the face of the width of the field of inquiry, a strict selection of literary texts and theoretical sources was necessary. The tendency to form main focal points within the field of German speaking literature did not allow to leave out the view on a pan-European constellation (while East European and Scandinavian examples, however, have been set aside for the sake of the manageability of the description). Certain fields of observation, which form their own profile beyond the epistemological historical considerations of this book, were left to the background such as the sector of religiously motivated (or biblical) dreams and the extensive field of ethnology. Antiquity, however, should be included at least briefly as the starting point of the old European history of theory; an analysis of the yet in detail undoubtedly instructive dream conceptions of the Middle Ages (including its poetic mirroring), however, would have burst the limits of the present book. Unanswered will remain the question of the multiple relations between dream representations in literature and those in paintings and films, which could only be touched open sporadically. Being conscious of the numerous gaps which have remained, the author trusts the evidence of the methodological guiding lines that, in turn, in the midst of a yet barely measured research field had to decide over the selection of the material. (bis 16h38)

After consulting the extensive text corpus and with reference to the temporariness of the presented panorama, one is tempted to think of what Walter Benjamin wrote in 1927 in his critique of surrealism with the characteristic pathos of the historical materialist: “The history of the dream remains to be written, and to open up insights into it would mean to decisively beat, through the historical illumination, the superstitious belief in a bias of nature.” An analysis on literature and the dream could hardly be taken for a contribution to the demystification of a myth. The lights that the “historical illumination” hoped to set on fire have long faded out. After this fading out the knowledge on the secrets of the human soul in its aesthetic mirroring gains ambivalent insights which cannot simply be inserted in any teleological construction. The history of the dream reveals itself no longer as an instrument to fight against superstition and the counter enlightenment, of mythology and unveiling. This, however, turns it into a central element of our cultural memory and to an object of theoretical curiosity, which guides the inquiry into this memory. (25. Juli, 16h40 bis 16h55)

The book originated on the basis of a project on Literature and Dream which is conducted at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum within the interdisciplinary research group Imagination and Culture. I have to thank the DFG (German Research Foundation) for their funding over many years, my colleague Rudolf Behrens - the speaker of the group - for the initiative with which he coordinated the entire project, the participating project leaders for their ongoing readiness to discussion, even beyond interdisciplinary boundaries. The participants of debates in Berlin, Göttingen, Konstanz, Wien and Würzburg, where I presented in the framework of talks to debate single aspects of my analysis, who through their objections, critique and informative additions opened up new fields of inquiry. The staff of my Chair - Ines Knippschild, Anke Neuhaus, Alwine Schön, Anja Strozyk, Mirko Wenzel - have through their great reliability provided the technical and organisational conditions for the writing down of the book. I am thankful to Christiane Leiteritz for her important hint at the dream narrative in French literature, to Ingo Stöckmann for productive critique in the framework of inspiring conversations at work, to Holger Bösmann and Carmen Dreier for an attentive final reading of the manuscript. My sons Moritz and Dorian have read together with me Lewis Carroll´s stories on Alice and confronted me repeatedly with the question on the sense of my doings: for which reason does one write books on dreams which appear in books? Alice herself offers an answer, which does not care too much about the difference between literature and real life: “(...) let´s consider who it was that dreamed it all”. (25. Juli, 16h55 bis 17h08)

Bochum, December 2001 P.-A. A.




The world theater of the soul

"We are such stuff As dreams are made of, and our little life Is rounded up with a sleep." (William Shakespeare)1



Doctrines for Insiders.

On dream and knowledge (Platon, Aristotle, Cicero)

The dream is a mirror of different self designs and expectations through which humans have looked for guidance throughout the course of the epochs. Plutarch names it in his Moralia (AD 1st century), presumably the most extensive compendium of antic erudition, its “most ancient oracle”.2 For numerous cultures in world history the dream lay at the crossroads between personal experience and metaphysical wisdom. It appeared as a medium with the help of which one could send to the sleepers holy messages of the godly powers. The attempt to decipher its dark news did thus very often touch upon those areas beyond what was tangible through reason. To deal with the dream meant to more closely outline the contours of the metaphysical systems of order and to better explain its space of social experience. The sense of the dream remained tied to the organisation of a horizon of signs that went beyond the world of visible perception. Whoever heard the gods (or God) speak to him in dreams, had to know what he was to expect. The knowledge on the dream was thus an ascriptive knowledge which started with metaphysical presuppositions. In the dream the psychological reality of the person was reflected as much as the significance of spiritual wisdom. Both areas, however, change throughout the process of Western history, thus forming no overtimely given (überhistorische Größe), but are rather culturally variable categories. The psyche of the dreamer and heaven which overarches him are themselves subject to historical moulding. They are similar to models in which the imaginations of order of erudite discourse and the basic patterns of its societal organisation are reflected.

The knowledge on the dream is a cultural asset which has grown over the centuries and has experienced numerous changes. Late Antiquity, Middle Ages and Renaissance have saved and have often transmitted it through extensive commentaries to later generations. Since the first century BC people are dealing with the dream in systematic ways. The oldest written testimony, which is known to us, derives from the twelfth Egyptian dynasty (1891-1786 BC). It is a papyrus role on dream analysis, the earliest preserved dream book in cultural history (which is today stored in the British Museum in London).3 The Egyptians considered the dream as a system of signs which one could compare to the order of hieroglyphs. To the extent that this order took on hermetic traits, the practice of dream analysis, too, took on an exclusive character.4 We know of Babylon-Assyrian writings of (Keil) around 1000 BC, which have conserved the secret knowledge of the priests - an indication for the fact that the science of dreams in early Antiquity was a privilege of literate erudites. Sigmund Freud made the following remark in an article written in 1913 on the connection between exegesis and dream interpretation, which was in itself a form of the building up of a cultural tradition: “Indeed, the analysis of the dream is, in fact, analogous to deciphering an old image writing as that of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.”5

From the library of King Assurbanipal in Ninive who reigned in the 7th century (until 627 before Christ) as the last representative of a powerful dynasty stem the clay boards whose signs explain the art of dream analysis. The doctor and translator Jacon Huggelin from Basel remarked in 1563 that the Assyrians belonged to those who “were the first beginners of the godly art of prophecy (...)”.6 The Assyrian dream knowledge was later transmitted further by the Chaldians who were the founders of the new Babylonic Empire. In the 4th century first models develop, mediated by the wise man Tschuang-Tse, as the first buddhistic dream doctrines which hold that the sleeper is in a state of a lower level of consciousness where he encounters in simplified images the basic forms of his outer being. (14h30 bis 15h42). Even the old-Indian Hindu religion of the Vedic tradition and the Upanishades already had its own tradition of dream analysis. It is guided by the idea that the soul wanders through the outer world (according to the Veds) and the human body (according to the Upanishades) and in this way generates impressions which make up the dream.7 The core elements of these doctrines were transmitted orally; they formed an exclusive caste knowledge of priests which was accessible only to privileged persons. As late as between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC written sources on the dream pop up in ancient Greece which refer to its physiological conditions, general medical aspects and spiritual background, but also more basic questions of interpretation (Oneirocritique) with regards to symbolicism and an imagery language. At this time the standards of an erudite knowledge are created which guides, up until the Early Modern epoch, the European dream doctrine and determines its cultural profile.8

The Greeks already outline the fields of order of this knowledge by delimiting themselves from the oneirocritique of the medical-dietic and philosophical dream doctrine.9 The oneirocritique was practiced by professional mediums for an according remuneration; they were ordered by the state, used to refer to themselves as acting on a godly mission and were considered as chosen wise men. Dream exegesis was a field that was also tried out by bird observers, the auguri (Auguren), as described in Theophrasts Ethikoi charakteres (around 319 BC), who were said to have the capacity to interpret the signs of nature with regards to its inherent godly will.10 Medical scientists and philosophers, in contrast, only dealt with the dream when it touched upon life practical or anthropological questions. Because dreams were considered to be mirrorings of bodily and soul dispositions they offered insights into the conditio humana in a particular and even general sense. For the doctors the occupation with the dream since Hippocrates meant an opportunity to gain insights into the juicy fabric (Säftehaushalt?) of man, his bodily condition, his congestion activity and his determining psychic constitution. The dream was considered to be far-reaching whose elements gave hints at the hidden landscape of the body. The private doctor of Marc Aurel, Claudius Galenus (Galen), the most influential medic of late Antiquity (AD 2nd century), describes in his short tractate De dignotione ex insomniis the physical trigger for the dream activity under which the juices (humores) possess a particular significance. One can deduce from the dream images of man in which condition his physiological system is. Dreams of water or humidity, of fire and steam, of dryness and heat offer hints at the concentration of humores within the body, and thus also at possible disease viruses (Krankheitserreger) as well as at the necessary therapy.11

The occupation with the medical causes of the dream did not exclude the belief in its prophetic significance. The difference between “somnia” - prophetic dreams - and “insomnia” - natural dreams - grasps very well, yet only at a hard to transmit verbal level of significance, the pluralistic perspective which is typical of the sort of medical thinking during Antiquity. In numerous of his writings Galen describes cases of ill patient healing after those had received respective dream messages that gave hints at the necessary therapy. Yet, Galen does not discuss the origins of the godly dream. For the pragmatically thinking medic the possibility of a metaphysical dream genesis is completely out of question, although he directs all his attention on the physiological (particularly (humoral?)pathological) background of the dream. The rhetoric Aelius Aristeides, too, who lived in the Roman province and was a contemporary of Galen, wrote numerous patient reports in which he sought to prove with a range of well-known examples the possibility of healing through dream analysis.12 The dream, according to Freud, was a “guardian of the sleep” (Ernst Bloch used the same formula).13 It alludes to the fact that it also serves the function of a physiological purification by helping to relax the body and to “open up” the soul. Such cathartic effects were already well known in Antiquity, as shown in the example of the healing sleep.

This belief in superordinate healing powers took on an institutional form already back in the Asklepios worship places (Kultstätten), which existed since the 5th century BC in Epidauros. These were temples, in which ill patients sought sleep, because they were hoping to receive during their sleep - through way of “incubation” - messages from the healing god Asklepios (Äskulap), which in turn would show them the road to recovery. Only pregnant women and terminally ill patients had no access to these temples, which soon were also erected in Pergamon and Kos. According to a widely held belief, it was thought that birth and death would damage the process of healing. Whoever was liberated from his ills had to, according to a ritual obligation, write down his case study. In AD second century Pausanias mentions six existing plates on which were written down the names of the healed ones and the sort of disease they had had (today three of these “Stelen” from the second half of the 4th century BC remain preserved).14 Old oriental culture, too, knows of this therapeutic device (Therapeutikum) of the healing sleep on holy ground, to which is ascribed the expectation of a healing process initiated by the dream. The Schnittstelle (crossroads) between metaphysics, auto-suggestion and psychosomatic diseases is at times rarely discernible in such widespread convictions on the art of healing. The enlightenment writer Johann Gottlob Krüger mentions the “feast of dreams” in 1754, which were celebrated, according to him, by the “savage” cultures of Antiquity. By this he means the ritual dealing with the belief in a therapeutic and at the same time prophetic power of the dream through dance and magic. “Bachanalien and Saturnalien” were formed, Krüger reminds his readers, of a meditative dealing with the realm of dreams which was to be invoked through symbolic orders and was to be plastically realized.15 The rationally minded author may no longer believe in such symbolic mediation means; yet he considers the rituals of Antiquity to be “Spurenelemente” (?) of a cultural practice which is in any case worthy of remembrance.

The therapeutic interest of doctors was complemented by the Greeks through the latter´s theoretical considerations on the part of philosophers which were discussing, with the help of the instructive case of the dream, such questions as the psychology of perception, the relationship between body and soul, the systematics of affections and ethics. They, too, saw the dream images as circumstantial evidence for a description of man in the framework of his physical, psychic and moral determination. Philosophy here was forming storages of knowledge which came to be distributed only later in modernity (Neuzeit), during the stronger diversification of the disciplines into distinct fields such as psychology, physiology and anthropology. Their strict approach allowed for the dream to be considered under more homogeneous aspects than did later epochs. The distinction between the kinds of dreams - according to its godly or natural origin - was systemically retained, yet not considered to be a reflex of a deeper logical contradiction. Theory was transferred to deal with the observation and description of deviant interpretative models which, in turn, were brought together by the idea that unity through diversity was prime. The dream thus formed due to its over-abundance of its appearances a mirror of a higher wisdom.

In Antic Greece, the doctrines of the dream were surrounded by a tangle of specific knowledges, the single disciplines not being strictly divided, however.

If one were to grasp the peculiar characteristics of the dream knowledge piled up since Antiquity, one would have to analyse more closely its organisational structures. The conditions to which the interpretation of the dream is subjected can be thus named within a systematic framework, without, however, initially taking into consideration a deepening historical systematization according to single aspects of the history of knowledge.

Central fields of inquiry of such a systematization form the communication on the dream, its messaging within the orders of language, its relation of individual experience and social norm, the formations of dream knowledge which are undone through a cultural fabric, and its constantly commented transmittance through (oral and written) instruction. Each of these fields opens the view on processes of mediation, which occur with an inner consequence. They refer to the transfer from the particular to the general, from the subject to the public, from the experience to understanding and communication, from the individual case to the social norm, from darkness to rationality, from contingency to the cultural memory, from the insight into the societal dimension of the dream knowledge follows the necessity to gain a methodological basis for the description of its underlying principles of organisation. This has to grasp the inner economy of the doctrine of the dream, yet at the same time offer connecting points for the analysis of its historical changeability.

Niklas Luhmann has repeatedly pointed in his thematically wide spectrum of studies at the fact that knowledge in history is subject to changes in meaning which are not guided, as was assumed in the old school of sociology (as represented by Max Weber or Karl Mannheim), by class interests or processes of ideology formation, but rather depend on complex techniques of social constellations. Because every societal system invariably tends towards forming structural complexity by delimiting itself from its environment and by forming internal mechanisms of selection which guarantees its functioning, it has to organize its knowledge in a way that it enables social stability. (16)

As the forms of structural complexity historically change, the knowledge on the processes of societal reconstruction, too, have to be adjusted. Luhmann describes the organisation of knowledge in connection with its social determination under the aspect of the creation of meaning. According to him, meaning can only be created where it is realized through the actual doing through adventures, deeds and forms of communication; it remains tied to a present state through which it realizes itself and comes to be valid.

In the case of the knowledge it is communication which represents the decisive conditions for the production of meaning. Without communication the social system of knowledge may not function; it thus represents a central mode of operation and is at the same time the centre of a functional fabric. (17)

The forming of meaning happens within the prevalent orders of knowledge by referring to introduced semantic standards, which historically change. With a view to their sociological observation and historical grasping Luhmann introduces the (however not very suitable) notion of “elegant semantics”. He thus points at a meaning on a third level, namely the “dealing of forms of dealing of actual meaning”. (18) The sociological observation of knowledge has to do with objects which occur out of a societal production of meaning. The organisation models of knowledge – archive, magazine, encyclopedia, lexicon – derive from the attempt to store systematic connections; “elegant semantics” derives from the striving for ascribing categories of creating order to such patterns of treatment on a yet theoretical level which, in turn, can be analysed scientifically. In this way notions can be ascribed to expectations by way of “moulded forms” which are transmitted through language and are thus subject to a historically, in turn, changeable medium.

(28.08.2010, 14h45) With a view to the question of the inner organisation and historical evolution of cultural dream knowledge Luhmann´s approach seems more productive than the discourse analytical strategies of inquiring which Michel Foucault theoretically outlined in his "L´archéologie du savoir“ (1969), a kind of methodological self reflection and interim conclusion. As his main target Foucault outlines the grasping of discursive rules, forms, functions and descriptive habits of scientific practices, while delimiting his approach against the assumptions of developmental drafts as proposed by the history of ideas, by obliging it to preserve the „irregularities“ within the forms of organization of knowledge instead of putting them to rest monocausally. (20) The problematic nature of this approach lies where it ignores the historical yet different interconnectedness between scientific thinking and society, in order to be able to accept the immanent "rules of contradiction" which generally determine the argumentative habits and explanatory systems. In contrast, Luhmann´s practiced inquiry gives preference to a social semantic of knowledge, to describe to synchronic structures and diachronic changes of erudite thinking with reference to its functional character which means: in delimitation to its environment, with a view to its provided deeds of concentration. The societal structure of knowledge itself determines its semantic which is not constant, but changeable through adaptation processes according to an evolution of its outer conditions in a framing system.

As a theory of observation Luhmann´s approach despite its undeniable imprecisions gains momentum also for a description of cultural orders (a notion which he himself avoids). (23) The lack of terminological precision as complained by Clifford Geertz, which up until today still determines numerous cultural historical works, can be undone, if one follows a sufficiently wide reference theory which at the same time leaves room for a flexible issue oriented detail analyses. (22) Luhmann´s concept of social semantics provides such a theory not the least because it is designed for description of wide historical and societal contexts although it is extendable (and ponctually also correctable) especially in the area of examplary inquiries. (23) Meaning, such went the definition, is given through actualities of potentials of meaning through communication. Among the social conditions under which knowledge is formed are that it has to be communicable. Knowledge may, in consequence, only form a societal meaning, where it is communicated on the basis of plausibility, understandability and conformity to norms. (24) If one were to transfer Luhmann´s ascription to the problem of the dream, one is left with a range of connecting points, which permit to formulate our question more precisely.

If meaning is thinkable only in the actual doings of processes of communication, it means that the dream receives its meaning only through verbal representation. Only the oral or written narrative lifts the dream from the status of an object of experience into a semantic structure – it realizes a meaning potential through a communicative act. The observation of this structure, in turn, obeys the knowledge standards which depend on the social orders in which they have been developed. Their function is to delimit a societal system against other such systems which turns out to be its environment. The questions which derive from this abstract determination for the present inquiry, refer mainly to the hard to grasp level of mediation between material of experience and knowledge as well as the discursive character of historical formation of meaning, i.e. The changeability of dream knowledge within the cultural process.

Dreams have to be transferred into language, if they are to become objects of observation (while the question whether they do function themselves like languages, is a separate problem of dream theory which can remain unanswered here). (25) One may consider this transfer as the expression of "Verdrängung“ like Foucault did, who speaks in his "Histoire de la folie“ (1961) of a "ridiculousness of dream interpretation", which is caused by the fact that man seeks to demystify this secret of dreams through the logos. (26)

Against the grounded suspicion of the historian trained in Nietzsche, who almost mechanically identifies in all orders of knowledge the process of exclusion, Abscheidung and Verdrängung, it has to be stressed that the dream only becomes an object of communication where it enters the space of language. Foucault´s Unterstellung that each interpretation in itself already undoes the separations which delimit the dream from the conscious world, overlooks almost automatically the impossibility to think these separations without prior having grasped them by means of speech. Whoever wants to grasp the meaning of the dream, has to speak of it. Therefore, one cannot unlike Foucault assume the existence of an ontology of the dream next to the system of languages. The dream forms no cultural invariant phenomenon, but changes with the change of languages, social norms and structures of knowledge of history. (15h28)

Only within the field of language does the dream turn into a communicative event beyond the self-referentiality of direct experience. For Antiquity, dream interpretation thus means that images at night are transmitted orally. Whoever wants to understand the dream, has to hear it (like the psychoanalyst who later lends his ear to his patients in order to hear the voice which comes from the depths of the dream events.) At the same time, the development of the written cultures of the West makes it possible to store insights on the dream and to transmit them to a mostly chosen circle. The dreamer usually does not know that he is dreaming. Cases, in which a virtually intervening consciousness makes the dream situation visible, are exceptions within the phases of transition between sleeping and waking. In order to grasp it, the dream has to gain the status of an object to be reflected. It only achives such a status through the orders of language. Only once it leaves the protective zone of individual intimacy and enters the space of language, it becomes observable. This also means that the dream as an object of insight acquires the character of a generally accessible object. The act of transmission which precedes its interpretation is redeemed from the dreamer. Individuality and intimacy play a secondary role for the public knowledge on the dream; even psychoanalysis transforms the personal experience range of man into a goal-oriented storage of insights, whenever it declares the enquiry of the dream in the framework of the therapeutic conversation as a scientific procedure of an archeological detection of traces. In principle, one has to take into account that there were societies in Western history which did not consider individuality and intimacy as basic forms of their cultural systems anyway. For them, from its inception the dream was not a room of experience of the single individual, but a symbol of a social order and of its - bound up - higher godly authorities. The entire European Antic period, but also the Asian doctrine of wisdom reads the dream in this understanding when it interprets it as a messenger of metaphysical powers and a mirror of godly wisdom. Egytians, Chaldeans, Greeks and Romans were all convinced that within the dream a spiritual knowledge could be hidden which became visible only to the initiated experts. Arabic and Byzantine oracle mediums of late Antiquity and the Middle Ages such as Achmet or Nicephorus of Constantinople stick to this kind of opinion when they ascribe prophetical powers to the dream. Within their writings even the erudite dream experts of the Renaissance stress the moment of the general, overarching experience beyond the single individual as a characteristic of the apparitions at night beyond reason and consciousness.

Whenever dreams are to be perceived as signs, they have to enter an interpretative world in which they can be observed under the aspect of their cultural semantics. These semantics, which bring the dream into forms and renders it messageable, are part and parcel of a collective memory. It is characterized by the construction of social frameworks (Maurice Halbwachs) which permit it to store single facts and to forget others. (27) To the extent that - as Jan Assman held - memory is "communicatively endangered", it gains the traits of cultural solidification. (28) What the individual fears to get slipped through his hands because it overburdens his personal memory, gets stored through forms of rituals, of collective consciousness-making, of conventionalization or symbol-creation. This mechanism possesses a vital importance for our subject as it touches upon the transmission from the personal to the collective level, without which no dream can develop a communicable sense. The dream can only be understood, interpreted and translated within a framework of tradition contexts. Traditions are formed of the oral or written manifestation of memory contents, i.e. they are graspable results of the cultural programming of the capacity for memorizing. (29) Through this very graspability they are vital for the social explanation and reassurance of the dream knowledge, as they provide reliable strategies, which guarantee their accessibility. To them applies what Hegel has said about the forms of antic techniques of memorizing, the "mnemonic of the old ones": they allow to read from the tableau of imagination what has been enshrined into memory, without having to "digg it out of the deep tunnel of the ego". (30) Here, too, the tension between the person and the collective is reproduced that the dream is carrying out on the level of its double - individual as well as metaphysical - meaning. The difference between personal and collective knowledge is undone each in the area of cultural storage through oral tradition or written transfer. To the written word applies the deep antagonism that already Plato has illuminated in Phaidros: what is being transferred into the order of letters finds a form of storage which represents at the same time an act of (personal) forgetting. (31) In this dialectic which Derrida has laid down in Grammatology as the initial scene of logocentric metaphysics of the Western world, (32) participates necessarily every process of fixation of knowledge through the written word; she is the precondition of the forming of a collective memory and its functional security based on selection. Applied to the dream this dialectic means that the undoing of personal experience and the cultural memorizing act together in order to enable a systematic construction of tradition knowledge. We can find example narratives within the dream books of antiquity and early modernity without finding out the names of the dreamers. The forgetting of the identity of the dreamer is the precondition of the historical transmitting of the dream; only the deleting of the subject turns the object into something culturally valuable.

The knowledge on the dream is always determined by the orders of its culture and the tradition lines of its history. Thus, we have to take into account that "tradition" as a form of collective memory does not only mean storage, but at the same time forgetting through selection. (33) In the various stations of its cultural transmission - initially through oral transmission, than through the medium of the written word - the knowledge of the dream can only be preserved if at the same time other knowledge is being ejected within the historical process. Those dream theories which are accessible through the present scientific observation because they have been transmitted through the history of culture rest on older rudiments which - like palimpsests - are merely visible in single contours and lines. That the assertion of a new paradigm of knowledge pushes aside with force, covers and thus in the long run leads into oblivion other systems most vividly shows the history of influence of Freuds dream interpretation. The place at which new knowledge on the dream is being gathered is not merely a topic "memory point" (Pierre Nora), but also an arena for the replacement of old theory modules. (34) The erudite conflict with older insights and theories always means a particular variation of its "abolishment" in Hegel´s sense of threefold meaning of elevation, conservation and destruction. If culture as a  medium of collective knowledge represents "the memory of social systems", its function world also entails the operations of storage and selection respectively. (35)

Beyond the transmitted dream experience which has been gained from the person lies the collective determination of its general conditions in the realm of society. To this realm belong metaphysics, culture and a consciousness for history as variables which form the meaning of the dream, give it contour and make it accessible within social conventions. If one analyses the historical development between Antiquity and Early Modernity, one can see that despite great discrepancies in detail in the description of the dream certain semantic ascriptions do appear continously. Among them are the supposition that within the dream there lies an individual or godly knowledge which can´t be charged with the daily knowledge of experience. The medical scientist Jacob Huggelin declares in 1563: "´Cause every dream is a memory (...)"- (36) The dream is considered to be a reservoir for the micronutrients of the soul and the gods; it is an arsenal of memory in which comes up what has been forgotten during the waking period or which was inaccessible to the consciousness during the day. It is for this reason that it would be wrong to see in the dream an allegory for extinction, redemption and forgetting (or the other way around to see in the lack of sleep a "metaphor of memory"). (37) The dream is a medium of association, a dramaturgist of the soul which arranges anew the material of our experiences. To interpret it means to participate in the work of association and to make its results accessible through communication. Every interpretation of dreams is therefore a social act which tries to unveil the truth behind the images of the sleep for a smaller or greater public. It goes without saying that such truths do not merely have a single face or language, but that they come into their own as a multiple phenomenon in the abundance of cultural norms, traditions and meanings. It transforms itself incessantly within the discursive process of history in whose current also the dreams do move. (38)