"Dreams represented a guarantee of work and the possibility of wealth and fame. Any children who showed an inclination - vivid dreaming, night terrors, a tendency to sleepwalk, were thought, by hopeful families, to have chance at the life."
A society where dreamers have the highest social status and are even better-paid than anyone else? this has to be fiction, right? Well, yes. The quote is from a most interesting young adult novel, Dreamhunter, by New Zealand author Elizabeth Knox. She creates an alternate reality where the most powerful, most respected - and most feared - citizens are the "dreamhunters" who are able to produce dreams that can be transferred to others. So far, so good. But there is a dark side to this situation. Any power can be abused, and when dreaming is recognized as the ultimate form of power, there are interests that will seek to control and misuse that power for their own agendas.
A provocative read, which challenges those of us who are seeking to midwife the rebirth of a dreaming society to think carefully about all the issues this will involve.
Elizabeth Knox is a vivid writer and an intelligent thinker on collateral matters. As a historian, I wanted to stand up and cheer when I read this: "History, unlike science, doesn't need repeatable proofs. A story can be true if its sources are sound." This is exactly why we need the historian's approach, more than the psychologist's, to understand the past and future nature of dreaming. While a certain type of scientist will dismiss case histories of dream precognition, or even the vast array of historical case studies in my Secret History of Dreaming as merely "anecdotal", any true historian knows better.