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This report is taken from PN Review 76, Volume 17 Number 2, November - December 1990.

A last letter from the two Germanies Iain Galbraith

The world is determined by the facts, and by their being all the facts.
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN


A friend who once attended a lecture on Bakthin's theory of language descibed to me a problem put by the lecturer. A dream, later remembered by the dreamer, ends with a pistol shot; the events of the dream lead up to this shot with a certain logic (the pistol had appeared in the dream long before the shot was fired), and if the shot were removed from this sequence, the preceding events would make little sense. But the dreamer also remembers having woken precisely at the moment when the shot went off, and discovering that the sound of the shot had in fact been caused by the slamming of his bedroom door - by something outside the logic of his dream. How then can the events which preceded the gunshot have led up to it logically, if the gunshot can be traced to arbitrary interference from the outside world?

There are undoubtedly a number of possible explanations for this phenomenon. However, as my purpose is analogy rather than scientific enquiry, allow me to suggest only one. The events of the dream contain not 'a certain logic leading up to' the gunshot (slamming door), but a pre-tension demanding a resolution of some kind. The gunshot is arbitrary; the tension could have been resolved in any number of different ways, including one invented by the dreamer without external ...


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