Synopses & Reviews
A third of our time on earth is spent sleeping, yet our dreams, if we remember them at all, have been relegated to nothing more than curious anecdotes. When Sigmund Freud awakened modern interest in the dream a century ago, his theory of interpretation undermined the potential insights dreams had to offer. For Freud, dreams were little more than fragmented puzzle parts made up of events from our waking lives. Most of us today still live under Freud's far-reaching influence. When we wake up after experiencing a powerful series of images, we too readily explain them away or simply ignore them all together. Whatever emotion or insight the dream evokes slowly fades. But what if Freud was wrong? Unless we challenge his deeply-ingrained assumptions, we will forever lose the gift of our dreams.
International bestselling author Rodger Kamenetz believes it is not too late to reclaim the lost power of our nightly visions. Kamenetz's exploration of the world of dreams reopens all the questions scientists and psychologists claimed to have settled long ago. The culmination of decades of research, The History of Last Night's Dream is a riveting intellectual and cultural investigation of dreams and what they have to teach us. We discover how the age-old struggle between what we dream and how we interpret our dreams has shaped Western culture from biblical times to today. Kamenetz introduces us to an eighty-seven-year-old female kabbalist in Jerusalem, a suave Tibetan Buddhist dream teacher in Copenhagen, and a crusty intuitive postman-turned-dream master in northern Vermont. He fearlessly delves into this mysterious inner realm and shows us that dreams are not only intensely meaningful but that they hold essential truths about who we are. In the end, each of us has the choice to embark on this illuminating path to the soul. But one thing is certain: our dreams will never be the same again.
"'Kamenetz's newest work continues his exploration of the Jewish tradition down yet another path: that of dreams. Like Jacob, who wrestles with God in the famous biblical dream, a leitmotif in the book, the author of the bestselling The Jew in the Lotus wrestles with personal, religious and cultural history in an ambitious quest to revivify the language of dreams. Kamenetz offers a psychological-cum-mystical version of Susan Sontag's watershed Against Interpretation. Don't 'interpret' dreams, he cautions, as he lays out another way to meet and greet the nightly messages of human brains. Kamenetz offers a post-Jungian, semiarchetypal, image-centered view of dream meaning. He does so in the context of a historical overview of dream interpretation that also locates dreams in the realm of Jewish mysticism. Narratives of encounters with spiritual teachers are also part of this amalgam of a book that seems to have changed shape over time and through personal discovery. This is a disarming, hard-to-summarize, well-written and idiosyncratic book that will find a distinct audience that appreciates its reflective quirkiness. Readers who have enjoyed Kamenetz's other journeys through Judaism will follow with surprise and pleasure his next steps along a winding spiritual path.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Rodger Kamenetzs vividly honest and well-reswearched book on dreams in Western culture is extraordinary-- in part for its defiance of genre...Before I read it had heard Kamenetz refer to it as a memoir, but it as much an argument for a paradigm shift in dream interpretation.” The Christian Century
“The History of Last Nights Dream is at once affable and audacious; Kamenetz is a reliable narrator in unreliable territory.... Kamenetzs poetic eye is alive and well.” The Forward
“A profound, affecting and deeply rewarding book from a charismatic teacher.” Jonathan Kirsch, author of A History of the End of the World
“Kamenetz has written a manual for living the dream of life through the real dreams of an individual.” Andrei Codrescu, NPR Commentator
“Rodger Kamenetz writes in this fascinating book that words, too many words, stand between us and our dreams.” Los Angeles Times
“[A] powerful and beautifully written book.” Stephen J. Dubner, bestelling co-author of Freakanomics
“An enchanting and provocative book exploring a subject with profound implications about our very humanity.” Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize Winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“Kamenetzs new book brilliantly combines dream and soul and offers an accessible understanding of both. I highly recommend it.” Brian L. Weiss, M.D., author of Many Lives, Many Masters
“Kamenetzs fierce honesty and unflinching self-revelation inspire both admiration and awe [...] [A] smart, funny, and revolutionary book...” Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune
A third of our time on earth is spent sleeping. Yet our dreams, if remembered at all, have been relegated to nothing more than curious anecdotes. When Freud, a century ago, awakened modern interest in the dream, his theory of interpretation undermined the potential insights dreams had to offer. For Freud, dreams are nothing more than fragmented puzzle parts made up of events from our waking life. Most of us today still live under Freud's farandndash;reaching influence. When we wake up from a disturbing series of images, the first thing we do is explain it away or ignore it. We take away little to nothing and move on with our lives. In this way, we have lost the gift of our dreams.
This is the legacy of Freud's dream theory. But what if he is wrong?
Rodger Kamenetz's exploration of the world of dreams reopens all the questions we thought were settled. We soon learn how the struggle between what we dream and how we interpret our dreams has shaped Western thought. Learning from an 87 year old female kabbalist in Jerusalem, a suave Tibetan tulku in Copenhagen, and a crusty intuitive postman/dream master in northern Vermont, Kamenetz recovers for us the lost power of our nightly visions.
Dreams are intensely meaningful and reveal essential truths about our inner lives. With Kamenetz as our guide, we move down into this mysterious inner realm and hear the messages waiting for us at the heart of our dreams. In the end you will think about your dreams in an entirely new light and finally understand their potential to lead us on the path to the soul.
About the Author
Roger Kamenetz wrote the landmark international bestseller, The Jew in the Lotus, and the winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Stalking Eljah. He is a Louisiana State University Distinguished Professor of English and Religious Studies and a certified dream therapist. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, fiction writer Moira Crone.