I was walking back to my flat on a sunny afternoon when I noticed my friend, Colin, sitting in a cafe. I waved, and he quickly finished his cup of tea and came out. He'd been in Edinburgh for a work meeting that morning and was just about to go to the train station to go back to his office in Bath. I said I'd walk him to the station if we went via my flat, as I had to pick up some stuff for work.
I left him on the pavement while I rushed up the stairs. On the way up, it occurred to me that I should thank him for sending me a collection of Ivan Brunetti's Schizo for my birthday, which I'd incredibly rudely forgotten to do last time I saw him.
Notes for Freudian Interpretation
I'm always coming across people who are fiercely resistant to even the most simple and, to me, uncontroversial of Freud's theories about dreams. Perhaps it's the way I explain them. This dream shouldn't cause anyone any difficulty, though, as it's a fairly literal realisation of something I was thinking about earlier in the day.
After work, I went down to the printmakers workshop to keep on working on a large screenprint of 50 or so mugshot drawings that I've been doing for a while. The print is, basically, a grid of small portraits. The various layers of colour and the grid fit together quite precisely, so it takes some time to register each layer before printing it. Here's a rough summary of what went through my mind as I was carefully adjusting the first layer I was printing that night:
"It's tricky, this, but the grid will look great, so it's worth it. Didn't I read an interview with Ivan Brunetti where he was saying how he liked to arrange wee graphical elements into grids? Yes, it was him, in that book of interviews with comic guys that I bought.
Yes, Ivan Brunetti. Colin gave me that book of his collected comics. That was really good, wasn't it?
Yes. But did I mention to Colin that I'd liked it?
No. Hmm, that's bad. I meant to. But I didn't. I should have.
Could I thank him now, after all these months?
Yes. Better call him, I suppose.
I'm always saying that I should call people, but I never do. Bad. Why do I never call people when I know that I should? Because I'm a terrible person, that's why! Very bad!
Oh, that's all very depressing. Concentrate on the print, Diarmid, instead of all this self-indulgent recrimination. Work! Work!"
So I put it all out of my mind and forgot all about it. Now you know the context, it should be obvious why, later that night, my subconscious created a fantasy wherein not only did I not have to call Colin, because I actually met him, but I remembered to thank him for his present. Obvious, I tell you! How could anyone have any difficulty with that?
I should note that the first two prints were very badly registered, due to a small, idiotic mistake I'd made when setting up the press (I hadn't tightened a couple of clamps). In his Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud interprets similar "mistakes" as being punishments that people subconsciously inflict on themselves to atone for sins that they know they've committed but shrink from facing up to, like being such an appallingly dreadful friend that you never phone people you ought to phone. In that light, the two ruined prints become a sort of sacrificial offering that enabled me to clear my conscience.
Now, that's the kind of theory I can understand people fiercely resisting.
PS -- Colin, if you're reading this, thanks for the Ivan Brunetti book, which was great. Also, sorry for not phoning more often...