DREAM ABOUT CRAIG AT WANAMAKER’S -- January 1992
The following is an interpretation of a dream I had in January 1992. The document is appended to a letter dated January 18, 1993 that I submitted to my then treating psychiatrist, Suzanne M. Pitts, M.D. at the George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry.
I worked with an individual named Craig W. Dye at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson from October 1986 to February 1988. After I left Hogan, Craig and I continued to be friends. Ironically, the last time I got together for lunch with Craig was in early February 1992, just a few weeks after I had the following dream. Craig and I spoke by telephone for the last time on July 14, 1993 -- ironically, Bastille Day in France, the French national holiday. I had telephoned Craig; so my choice of date may have been unconsciously determined.
[See The Dream of Murder in the Lobby and its discussion of France and French themes:
Craig and I are inside the department store, Wanamaker’s [now Macy's] in downtown Philadelphia. I ask him where in California he is moving. He evades my question. I have the feeling he is thinking, “Now I am finally rid of him.” I am overcome with a crushing sense of time, as if time itself were weighing down on me. I think this is the last time I will see Craig.
The Wanamaker Department store inner courtyard, the Wanamaker organ playing Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma Variations:
Armistice Day (Remembrance Sunday) Memorial in London, the band playing Nimrod, which is traditionally played on this holiday:
I walk outside. A vast construction project is underway; the Philadelphia City Hall is being enlarged to encompass an entire adjoining city block. There are huge blocks of granite everywhere. A large team of workmen is engaged in the project. I have the thought: "This is what it must have looked like in ancient Egypt when the great pyramids were being built. It is as if history itself were coming alive before my eyes.” I am filled with a sense of wonder. I no longer feel as if I were being crushed by time, although I’m still concerned that Craig is moving away. Being outside watching this construction project I feel as if both time and space have expanded.
I go back to the store. Once inside the store I can’t find Craig. He is gone, although I’m sure he is still somewhere in the store and it is simply a matter of finding him. I think, “I have to get him a gift, something he can remember me by.” At first I think I will get him a book, but reject that idea. Then I decide to buy him a necktie. I search all over the store but I can’t find the necktie department. The sense of time once more crowds in in me.
1. The Philadelphia City Hall is the seat of municipal government, symbolic of the superego. Also, the Philadelphia City Hall features a high (phallic) tower topped by a statue of William Penn (founder of Philadelphia). (My former place of employment, the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, is still managed by its founders.)
Video of Philadelphia City Hall (not Independence Hall as stated by the narrator). The building is French Second Empire in design, and vaguely resembles the Louvre in Paris. Note the high phallic tower.
The Dream of the Four Miltons features associations to the city of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, the state capital, or seat of state government:
Ironically, as of January 2009, a large construction project was being contemplated in the very space in front of Philadelphia City Hall that I dreamed about. Glass structures, like the glass pyramid at the Louvre (see below), were envisioned for the space.
2. The construction site resembles symbolically a grave site, with the hole in the ground representing the open grave and the granite blocks representing grave stones.
3. The scene at the construction site can be compared with the antepenultimate scene of Goethe’s Faust, Part II, in which Faust, present at the his huge land reclamation project, wishes that the moment could last forever. He hears the sound of the shovels digging the earth, which delights him, but, unknown to Faust, the workmen are really digging his grave. He is struck dead at the instant he states his wish that time stop forever at this moment. Faust’s sense of awe and delight upon hearing the sound of the shovels digging the earth parallels my feeling of delight at the scene of the Philadelphia construction site. Faust’s wish that the moment last forever parallels my sense that time has slowed down.
[At my consultation with my current treating psychiatrist Abbas Jama, M.D., on Thursday June 10, 2010, I told him that my book Significant Moments is meant to represent a "life review" in which the totality of a person's life flashes before his eyes in a moment, the Faustian "augenblick." The book is meant to recreate the sensation of all of life's experiences, thoughts, and conversations crowding in on the individual in an instant of time. I had this dream in January 1992. I started work on my book Significant Moments in April 1993. Apparently the "life review" is a phenomenon that had interested me for some time.
I quote from the antepenultimate scene of Goethe's Faust in the Dream of the Four Miltons:
4. The construction site might be interpreted as representing the oral cavity: the hole in the ground symbolizing the mouth (or perhaps pharynx [pharaoh + sphinx], gateway to the esophagus), the granite blocks representing the teeth, and the workmen engaged in their labor symbolizing mastication. The combined images of grave and mouth suggest a cannibalistic fantasy.
Cannibalism is a theme in Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness. The theme has been interpreted psychoanalytically as a derivative of Conrad's loss of both his parents in childhood. My psychological profile contains the following observations:
"Subject is struggling with the consequences of the defensive withdrawal of his emotional investment in his mother, beginning in late latency. Subject's defensive withdrawal of emotional investment occurred in the face of his mother's failure (inability) to defend him against the aggression of family members who suffered from "extreme narcissistic disturbance" and who used subject as an essential component of their shame-regulation needs. See Brody, W. M. "On the Dynamics of Narcissism. I. Externalization and Early Ego Development." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 20: 165-193 at 166 (New York: International Universities Press, 1965).
Subject's unconscious struggle is identical to that found in patients who lost a parent in childhood, prior to completing the task of individuation. Subject's defensive withdrawal of libidinal investment in his mother, occurring as it did prior to the completion of the work of adolescence, impaired the reworking of the Oedipal struggle, the painful and gradual decathexis of the beloved parent, and the establishment of an identity matrix. Hamilton, J. W. "Joseph Conrad: His Development as an Artist, 1889-1910." The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Vol. 8: 277-329 at 278-79 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979).
Subject's struggles as an adult center on feelings of betrayal, abandonment and rage (and the concomitant need for protection against these threats) that properly attached to a mother who is hypercathected, internalized (cannibalized), but whose loss was never effectively mourned. Hamilton at 278-79.
Subject has introjected (cannibalized) the hypercathected parent (who is now lost), which contributes towards a marked denial of the loss and the formation of a fantasy that someday magically the lost parent will be regained. Subject's fantasy life reflects the desire to regain a lost idealized nurturing object as opposed to a fantasy life centered on retaining the support of an uninternalized idealized nurturing object. Hamilton at 279.
Subject's self-image reflects his sense of having lost (and his need to regain through rescue) a now internalized idealized object and his identification with a dead, injured, or incurable idealized object (as opposed to a self-image that is dependent on the subject retaining the support of an uninternalized idealized nurturing object, including its derivative, the social system). Hamilton at 279."
Sigmund Freud and Karl Abraham wrote about the relationship between mourning and melancholia. For melancholia to occur, the object relationship must be ambivalent such that hate and love must be in contention. This confrontation always ends in exhaustion, whether the unrelenting struggle with the lost object stops on its own, or the object is abandoned because it is without value.
In Melancholia and Obsessional Neurosis, Abraham investigated the relation between manic-depressive states and the pre-genital stages of libidinal organization. After clarifying the connection between sadism and anal eroticism, he divided the anal-sadistic phase into two periods.
In the earliest period, the drives obtain satisfaction by rejecting and destroying the object. During this first period the libido of the melancholic individual begins to regress. The libidinal regression leads to the second stage, the oral-cannibalistic stage, where the lost object (or loved one) is introjected. This is accompanied by a refusal to eat, which is a key indicator of melancholic depression.
5. A biography of Groucho Marx records a joke that the comedian told to family members as they were riding home from the interment of one of Marx’s brothers. “A dying man lies in bed. He can smell the aroma of a cake that his wife is baking. The aroma delights him. He says to his wife, ‘Can I have a piece of that cake?' His wife says, 'But Sam, that’s for after the funeral.’” The joke seems related to the Faust scene recounted at paragraph 3, which suggests the possible oral symbolism that underlies the scene of Faust’s death.
6. On November 14, 1989 Craig and I had lunch. A co-worker at Akin Gump, Jesse Raben (see paragraph 12), was supposed to have joined us, but had to decline at the last minute. I told Craig, in anger, “Jesse weaseled out.” Note the issue of oral sadism to discharge anger associated with what was probably experienced as oral frustration [and narcissistic injury]. Also, the phrase “weaseled out” could be interpreted as “Wieseled out,” thereby linking my oral frustration with a concentration camp survivor, and implicitly linking my oral frustration with survivor guilt.
[See paragraph 4, above. Also, Elie Wiesel wrote a book about his concentration camp experience titled Night, which I read when I was a senior in college.]
On November 14, 1989, when Craig and I had lunch, it was just before Craig was going away to Paris for a few weeks to visit his girlfriend who was studying there. I said to Craig, “I’m afraid that when you go to France, you might decide to stay over there.” Craig said, “Listen, if I decide to stay in France I’ll send for you.” Note the feelings of abandonment.
7. At the end of December 1989, just after Christmas, I bought Craig a necktie, went to his apartment and left it on his doorstep. (I was on vacation from work that week.) Later that afternoon, I telephone Craig at his office. I told him to watch his step when he got home that night; he knew what I meant.
[My father worked as a cutter in a necktie factory. See The Dream of the Four Miltons:
He said that he would call me the next day, that maybe we could stop over his place for dinner. I asked him about his trip to Paris. I could recall that in about November 1985 I had read an article in the New York Times about plans to build a giant glass pyramid, designed by I.M. Pei (the architect who, coincidentally, also designed Columbia Square, where Craig worked, and where I used to work before my termination from Hogan & Hartson), in the courtyard of the Louvre, and asked Craig about that.
[The Wanamaker Department store in Philadelphia features a large inner courtyard (see video, above). Columbia Square--designed by I.M. Pei--the site of Hogan & Hartson's Washington, D.C. office, also features a large inner courtyard.]
The next day I telephoned Craig to find out if he wanted to get together. He told me that his supervisor, Dennis Payne, wanted him to work late that night, so we couldn’t get together for dinner. [Literally, a case of oral frustration caused by Payne (oral frustration caused by pain?); also compare the names Dennis Payne and Dennis Race, two frustrating figures. Of possible significance is the fact that the name “Dennis” spelled backwards is “sinned,” suggestive of guilt. See Freud, S. “The Metathetical Transposition of Primal Words” (discussing repression-induced word reversal).] [The foregoing material was bracketed in the original.]
8. The Louvre, currently an art museum, was formerly a royal palace--like the Philadelphia City Hall, the seat of government. Apparently the construction of I.M. Pei’s Louvre pyramid had some special psychological meaning for me as evidenced by my ability to recall the 1985 newspaper article four years later in 1989. If I recall correctly, the newspaper article discussed the strong negative reaction of many Frenchmen to the modern design, which was viewed as an affront to French culture: an out-of-place, foreign element in the midst of a French cultural icon. The pyramid may have served, in my mind, as a metaphor for my feelings of alienation among the “French,” that is, someone whom, as Dennis Race would say, appeared to have a “lack of fit” with his environment.
9. The Handbook of the Central High School of Philadelphia, prepared for distribution to students of the high school that I attended, includes the following historical discussion. “A site was purchased on the east side if Juniper Street below Market Street, just north of the present west entrance to the Wanamaker store. It therefore faced the Centre Square, on which City Hall now stands. On September 19, 1837, the cornerstone was laid with appropriate exercises. The building was of brick with a marble front and a handsome Ionic portico. Contemporary writers speak of it as one of the notable structures of that day.” The Handbook includes a sketch of the building, captioned “The original school on the site of the John Wanamaker Store.” The Handbook includes a photograph of the a plaque affixed to a wall of the Wanamaker store. The plaque reads: “Near this site originally stood the Central High School of Philadelphia, 1838-1854. Established by law for the full education of its pupils with power by act of Assembly to confer degrees. This tablet has been erected by the Associated Alumni of the Central High School by permission of John Wanamaker, Philadelphia, 1930.”
10. During a six month period in the first half of 1984 while enrolled in the LL.M. program at American University, I worked as a legal intern in the Office of General Counsel at the United States International Trade Commission (USITC). At that time the USITC occupied a building located at 7th & E Streets in Washington, constructed during the period 1839-1866, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. While employed at the USITC I obtained a brochure, prepared for distribution to visitors, titled: “The United States International Trade Commission Building.” The brochure details the history of the building and contains numerous photographs, including photos of the building as it appeared during construction. The building is described in the following terms: “The architecture of the building is Roman Corinthian. Only four stories high, not a large structure, the proportions of the building approach perfection.  The south portion of the upper stories is faced with New York marble. In the center of each of the facades is a recessed portico supported by light delicate columns.” “Until 1897 the Post Office Department and City Post Office were located in the building. John Wanamaker, the famous Philadelphia merchant and civic leader, occupied the southeast corner suite on the second floor while Postmaster General.” I vaguely recall that a plaque was affixed to a wall on the second floor of the building -- the floor on which my office was located -- stating that the adjacent suite was once occupied by John Wanamaker while Postmaster General.
11. During my first semester of law school I submitted a legal memorandum for a course in legal writing and research. The legal issues analyzed in the memorandum concerned the nonrenewal of a school principal’s contract. The memorandum included the citations of two court opinions that named the party Wanamaker as defendants: State ex. Rel. Bohanon v. Wanamaker and State ex re. Mary M. Knight School Dist. No. 311, Mason County v. Wanamaker.
12. Compare “Dream about Greensboro."
I wrote the following notes some time in the late 1990s.
DREAM OF CRAIG AT WANAMAKERS (virtually identical structure as "Dream of the Four Miltons")
PART I. Manifest distress conceals unc. sexual surge (sex)
1. distress / panic
3. object loss
4. sense of being crushed by a sense of time (possible referent: test taking situation in which performance is timed).
5. note that the word "tie" (as in "necktie") is a play on words. The manifest content reference relates "tie" to an article of clothing to be given as a gift (denoting a positive affective "bond" or "tie.") But the word "tie" also denotes "stalemate," "draw," or "deadlock," suggesting Oedipal rivalry or competition. Consistent with this is the similarity of a necktie to a noose: in this sense, the necktie encapsulates both love and its opposite: murderous hatred (compare the phrase "neck-and-neck" competition).
SUMMARY OF PART I. all of the above distressing images or ideations negate a latent, or unconscious, body-ego experience of a surge in sexual energy (denoted in the manifest dream content as being crushed by a sense of time).
PART II. Manifest pleasure conceals unc. loss (death)
1. awe (ref: Masson article on "Freud and Recollection at the Acropolis") -- awe negates rage
3. creation of a new object ("like the pyramids in ancient Egypt"); act of building is symbolic of writing, use of language to create "new things," i.e., intellectual mastery. ("With an architect's structural acumen, a talmudist's thoroughness, and a brilliant talent for investigative thinking, he pieces together. . ."). Significant indicator of psychic structural development: the use of intellectual processes to master loss, but more, here, the symbolic representation of the use of intellectual processes to master loss. [overdetermined symbol: statue of William Penn atop city Hall: play on words Penn = Pen (writing implement)] (predicate thinking: running out of ink, blood ("bleeding to death"), time, semen, food (starvation): all substances in limited supply).
reality referent: my elementary school was located immediately adjacent to a cemetary. Concrete representation of the association of intellectual mastery (learning) and death (object loss). In reality, the Egyptian pyramids were tombs; again, a building project (mastery) negates death. Also the pyramids are symbols of immortality--they have survived the ages.
4. image of clock atop City Hall tower: (reality referent: act of repeatedly looking up at clock on wall in a classroom during a test.) (Classic thought during a stressful test: "What's the purpose of tests, in the end you die anyway." "I wish my life were already over; then I wouldn't have to take any more tests." -- All simply an expression of conscious thoughts of death to negate the unconscious association of test taking with sexual performance.)
SUMMARY OF PART II. all of the above pleasurable images or ideations negate the latent, or unconscious, sense of rage associated with starvation and death (object loss or failure of oral incorporation).
Depicts orally-regressed phallic libido. Also, compare the "Parable of the Starving Hindu." Conscious verbal (phallic) mastery negates unconsciously experienced feelings of rage associated with starvation and object loss.
Depicts performance anxiety. The dream is a complex variant of the classic test anxiety dream. This interpretation links this dream with the dream "Jews Don't Eat Prosciutto," which I had on a successive night. In that dream Dr. Palombo stops me with the words: "Our time is up." Here a reality referent is the inability to complete an academic exam within the assigned time. Dr. Palombo represents the "Proctor" during a test (the proctor marks time like a clock; thus, "City Hall" in the "Dream of Craig at Wanamaker's" symbolizes Dr. Palombo as both a time keeper and a superego figure ["seat of government"]). 9th Grade French teacher was named Miss Proctor (also taught Latin); possible relation of associations: speaking Italian and speaking French. Associations to Nobel prizes: symbolizes doing well on a test and getting recognition.