Only one of the logical relationships—that of similarity, identity, agreement—is found highly developed in the mechanism of dream formation. Dream work makes use of these cases as a starting-point for condensation, drawing together everything which shows such agreement to a fresh unity.
These short, crude observations naturally do not suffice as an estimate of the abundance of the dream’s formal means of presenting the logical relationships of the dream thoughts. In this respect, individual dreams are worked up more nicely or more carelessly, our text will have been followed more or less closely, auxiliaries of the dream work will have been taken more or less into consideration. In the latter case they appear obscure, intricate, incoherent. When the dream appears openly absurd, when it contains an obvious paradox in its content, it is so of purpose. Through its apparent disregard of all logical claims, it expresses a part of the intellectual content of the dream ideas. Absurdity in the dream denotes disagreement, scorn, disdain in the dream thoughts. As this explanation is in entire disagreement with the view that the dream owes its origin to dissociated, uncritical cerebral activity, I will emphasize my view by an example:
“One of my acquaintances, Mr. M____, has been attacked by no less a person than Goethe in an essay with, we all maintain, unwarrantable violence. Mr. M____ has naturally been ruined by this attack. He complains very bitterly of this at a dinner-party, but his respect for Goethe has not diminished through this personal experience. I now attempt to clear up the chronological relations which strike me as improbable. Goethe died in 1832. As his attack upon Mr. M____ must, of course, have taken place before, Mr. M____ must have been then a very young man. It seems to me plausible that he was eighteen. I am not certain, however, what year we are actually in, and the whole calculation falls into obscurity. The attack was, moreover, contained in Goethe’s well-known essay on ‘Nature.'”
The absurdity of the dream becomes the more glaring when I state that Mr. M____ is a young business man without any poetical or literary interests. My analysis of the dream will show what method there is in this madness. The dream has derived its material from three sources:
1. Mr. M____, to whom I was introduced at a dinner-party, begged me one day to examine his elder brother, who showed signs of mental trouble. In conversation with the patient, an unpleasant episode occurred. Without the slightest occasion he disclosed one of his brother’s youthful escapades. I had asked the patient the year of his birth (year of death in dream), and led him to various calculations which might show up his want of memory.