Once in a while–a great while–I write about my dreams on this blog. I don’t do it very often, but my “dream posts” have often turned out to be some of my personal favorites, such as the time I dreamt, in April 2014, of drinking wine with former President George W. Bush, or my terrifying “Alfred Hitchcock dreams.” While I find New Agey claims of dream interpretation to be a little thick, I do think that a person’s dreams are an interesting window into what’s on their mind and, to a large extent, what their anxieties are.
It’s been a few weeks now since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Since that troubling event, my dreams have begun to change. Trump has never appeared directly in a dream I’ve had, either before January 20 (2017) or since, but a few times in the past weeks I’ve had dreams that are obviously derivative of anxieties caused by the new age of Trump. They may not “mean” anything, but they’re worth thinking about.
Last week I had a dream that involved Russians. Like, a lot of Russians. In my dream, there was a sudden huge influx of Russian people into our neighborhood, and they began showing up at my apartment. My next-door neighbors were suddenly Russians. The plumber who came to fix the pipes was Russian. My co-workers were suddenly all Russians. Non-Russian people in my neighborhood were expressing concern that we were being “overrun” with Russians.
In my dream, a bunch of Russians came over to my apartment and suddenly started doing this. It was kind of cool, but they were uninvited.
In this dream I recall a party at my apartment, which I didn’t plan–one evening suddenly a bunch of Russians showed up and within an hour they were dancing raucously to traditional Russian music and shouting “No zdarovye!” and pounding vodka shots in my living room. When I expressed some unease to my husband, he responded, “Well, we have to live with them now.” I felt ambivalent, but there was a certain wisdom in what he said; and, as there was nothing threatening or hostile about my uninvited guests’ behavior, I decided to grin and bear it.
I’ve been reading a lot about Russia lately, in part because of the series I’m working on for the Second Decade podcast, involving Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia. But this dream, I think, reflects Trump-era anxieties too. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Russians. I am, however, deeply concerned by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin‘s meddling in the 2016 election process, and I think there’s reason to believe that Trump himself, whether wittingly or not, is a de facto agent of Putin. There’s simply too much evidence of Trump-Russian connections to ignore. Putin may be the most dangerous man on planet Earth, but, as they have so often been to autocratic rulers from Ivan the Terrible to Stalin, the Russian people themselves are victims of his machinations. Now, unfortunately, we Americans are as well. Perhaps the true meaning of the dream is not (itself a very Trumpian) anxiety at an influx of foreigners, but a call to leverage our commonalities and work together against the sort of oppression that both Putin and Trump represent. My “Russians” dream was a dream, I think, of resistance.
Trump’s xenophobia, and his insistence on building a “wall” on the U.S.-Mexican border, has many people thinking of ways to circumvent the politics of division in favor of inclusion.
The dream I had last night was explicitly about resistance. In real life my husband is becoming quite active in various political organizations championing progressive values and a strong liberal alternative to Trump. In my dream, those efforts had led to us joining some sort of collective, never really clear in my dream, which was headquartered in a beautiful old converted brick building that was in the process of being fitted out with lots of high-tech computer equipment. In the dream I was talking to some sort of investigator who was doing background checks on some people I knew. It wasn’t an interrogation or confrontation; I was just sitting with the investigator at a table in this strange building, while people were hauling in computers and setting up electronic equipment.
When the investigator–an imaginary person I’ve never seen in real life–asked me what was going on, I told him, “We’re moving into this place because of my husband’s work. The resistance against Trump is going to heavily involve social media, computers and online information, so I guess that’s what they’re getting ready for.” I wasn’t entirely familiar with all the technical stuff going on in the background, but I knew it had something to do with some kind of political activity in opposition to Trump–in other words, resistance.
People, like these at San Francisco Airport, outraged at Trump’s ban on Muslim immigration have turned out in force to protest and resist.
These are the dreams I remember. I know specifically that, since January 20, I’ve also dreamed about Nazis, though in what context or what they were doing I can’t quite recall.
There are millions of people, in this country and around the world, who are quite understandably anxious and outraged about the values, intentions and actions of the new Trump administration. From the unconscionable Muslim ban to the irresponsible ratcheting-up of international tensions by our untried and incompetent new President, we have plenty to be worried about–and plenty to resist. I’m not a political activist. Excepting the mainstream Democratic Party, I belong to no political organizations; the resistance I can offer is through my academic history work, my fiction writing and especially my attention to the urgent issue of climate change. Yet I find it fascinating how the theme of resistance has trickled down into my subconscious and has begun playing out in my dreams, in oblique and subtle ways.
Maybe my unconscious mind is trying to tell me something.