What is it about?

Ernest Hartmann observed a close similarity between the central image in dreams (an image that can effectively represent the emotional content of a dream) and the objective correlative in poetry (defined by T.S. Eliot as "a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion"). This paper argues that Hartmann's equation between central image and objective correlative is amply valid and can shed new light on the relationship between the esthetic experience and the dreaming experience. Among the numerous instances offered by cultures that are widely separated by space and time, the article considers examples taken from T.S. Eliot's “Ash Wednesday”, Guido Cavalcanti's Sonnet XVIII, Dante's “Vita Nova”, the Book of Genesis, Lucretius's “De Rerum Natura”, a waka on the theme “Spring” by Fujiwara no Teika, and the lyrics of a song by Franco Battiato.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

In this paper, three points are underlined. First, the objective correlative in poems is characterized by features that correspond in detail to features of dreams: Eliot's "Ash Wednesday" and the sonnet by Cavalcanti that begins "We are those sedulous quills, the keening knife” can offer useful clear examples of this marked correspondence. Secondly, a "big" dream (reported by Dante in the "Vita Nova") played a central role in the poetics of the “Dolce Stil Nuovo”, a basic historical reference for the developments of the objective correlative. Thirdly, the terms of the relationship between dream and objective correlative can assume different but interesting features: Instances are offered by cultures that are widely separated by space and time.

Perspectives

The validity of Hartmann's equation suggests that the reference to dreaming, being common to both the art creator and the art receiver, plays a latent but basic role in the esthetic experience. This equation offers a powerful tool for studying the complex, certainly fundamental, relationship between the esthetic experience and the dreaming experience.

Umberto Barcaro
Institute for Information Science and Technologies, CNR, Pisa, Italy

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A reflection on Ernest Hartmann’s equation between the central image in dreams and the objective correlative in poetry., Dreaming, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/drm0000204.
You can read the full text:

Read

Contributors

The following have contributed to this page