In the 1950s, Howard Hughes and a close friend of his were both trying to impress a young woman who was sitting in the cabin of a jet plane that was flying out over the sea. Hughes thought that he was doing very well but, just to impress her even more, he turned off the engines and let the plane glide in silence for a while. She thought that that was pretty amazing, but didn't let on.
Not long afterwards, Hughes, who had stumbled and fallen into a rock pool, watched unhappily as his friend and the woman flew away in the plane.
Some years later, Ellen and I were at home, reading an encyclopaedia entry that said that Howard Hughes had spent the last decades of his life in seclusion because he was suffering from leprosy rather than, as had previously been thought, mental illness.
Notes for Freudian Analysis
This is the second dream I've had about Howard Hughes since I saw The Aviator. In the first, which I dreamed the night I watched the film, I was acting in a film that Howard Hughes was directing. The scene that we were filming involved me climbing through the frame of a dinner chair, which was very difficult as it was quite a tight squeeze. Hughes was shouting at me through a bullhorn even though he was only a couple of metres away. The night I had the second dream, I had caught sight of the trailer for the film a few times on the screens in the Filmhouse bar.
Howard Hughes isn't a particularly meaningful character to me, but Martin Scorsese is and the greatest pleasure I experienced when watching The Aviator was a feeling of relief that it wasn't as bad as Gangs of New York, his previous film. I'd have been depressed if it had turned out to have been evidence of further artistic decline.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that, although I definitely wasn't in the dream until the present-day part, I had the vague feeling that Howard Hughes was me. Freud would say that, the more a dream disguises something, the less comfortable the higher mind of the dreamer is with the content of the dream at that point. Why don't I want to identify myself in the first part of this dream?
He'd also say that when a dream shifts suddenly from one perspective to another or from one time to another, that should be read as a conjunction between two concepts or thoughts; in other words, the first situation in a dream involves certain concepts that are modified by the second situation. For example, the dream above could be rendered: "Howard Hughes thought he was pretty cool, even though his romances weren't always successful HOWEVER he died alone of a horrible illness." Or, given that I've identified Howard Hughes as being a stand-in for me, it might be: "I think I'm pretty cool but, unlike Howard Hughes, I'm quite likely to fall over and make a fool of myself HOWEVER at least I haven't died of leprosy."
I couldn't find the chapter of Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams" that deals with dream grammar, so it's possible that I am quite wrong, of course.