by  Chris McHanon

Special to Paedeia Reviews

            Recently, I was asked to review a book about dream interpretation called NIGHT SYMBOLS, 11000 DREAMS AND INTERPRETATIONS by: R.M. SOCCOLICH.  

            Since I routinely review these kinds of titles, I thought to myself, "Ok, get ready for another collection of granny's folklore about dreams; you know what I mean, charming and adorable definitions such as... 1. Flowers mean Marriage 2. Cats mean Terrible Luck 3. Snakes mean Friends are Cheating Money from you... I think you can guess the rest." To say the least, I approached the whole assignment with a large helping of cynicism.

            To my surprise, author R.M. Soccolich's straight forward introduction to Night Symbols immediately shattered my admittedly light opinion of all so-called Dream Interpreters. It was that authoritative.

            Upon my first dissection of this book, I realized that Soccolich is no hack. He approaches the entire subject of dreams with scientific definitude and historical accuracy. It didn't take long to realize that no word in this book is superfluous. As a very serious author, an author who seems to bury himself in a voluminous stack of his own research, Soccolich goes to great pains to erase the flippant folklore and cultural bias found in other selections of this variety.

            The pages of Night Symbols reveal a man who understands the evolution of psychology as well as the continuous upheavals of an ever changing social determinism. Therefore, he is fully cognizant of the fact that dreams, concurrent with dreamers, are as fluid and changing as "all" individuals found in "all" societies. Nothing is predetermined and nothing is set in stone.

            Using this framework, Soccolich is able to examine and focus upon unique dreams as the virtual "keys" of an individual's perception of reality. Hence, in every example, dreams reveal the creativity of an individual existing in a social matrix.

            But the story digs far deeper than that. The author's study of archetypes, known as universal memories, centers around the prime universality of humanity's archaic symbols. In his intense perseverance, Soccolich seems to search for "every" connection inherent in human perception.

            He accomplishes this feat by removing all possible cultural and socio-political associations from each remembered image, or symbol. Next, he statistically catalogs the average reaction to each symbol obtained from diverse subjects from around the world. After this intense scrutiny, his research allows him to pinpoint a global cross-section of people who have consciously or unconsciously submitted remarkably analogous interpretations of a wide range of archetypal images.

            His research then, covering a vast terrain of feelings, or responses, elicits a universal graph of symbolic conceptualizations.

            When strung together, these conceptualizations expose Night Symbol's undeniable language of dreams.

            Time and time again, Soccolich shows the modern and archaic "verification" of Carl Gustav Jung's work on archetypes and the collective unconscious in his exhaustive, yet highly entertaining, cross-correlation of human perspectives.    

            Branching out from this initiative, we see how unique dream images symbolically "spell out" what an individual dreamer may be thinking and feeling in the present moment of his or her dream occurrence. More importantly, Soccolich demonstrates how many of these dreams are meant to fully "expose" thoughts and feelings which we, (as dreamers), simply refuse to face; truths so powerful, we choose to obscure them from our own waking awareness!

            In short, the author is demonstrating how dreams actually can help us confront our most difficult realities. Establishing the fact that the deepest level of our uncharted brain, reveals the highest truth about ourselves.

            Due to this depth of insight, it becomes plausible to the reader to view the dreaming mind as a kind of holographic mirror of truth which exposes an ever-changing individual who must interact with an ever changing environment. And that's one mouthful!

            Soccolich delves yet deeper and reminds us that this same personal holographic mirror resides in the infinite reaches of our human consciousness. Hence, dreams have the potential to elevate us to the highest levels of our singular rational human existence. In other words, our dreams have the ability to masterfully guide us, via the voices and images which they uncover each night.

            Soccolich's definition of BUTTERFLY demonstrates one such example:

"BUTTERFLY  In dreams, a Butterfly is significant of a fragile and elusive hope. In many traditions, it is the single metaphor of the human soul. Analogous to the world dream of the Buddha, the butterfly is so delicate it nearly defies existence. Hence, one can say the butterfly's existence is a gift, rather than a right. The dream of capturing a butterfly involves a child-like desire to 'capture' beauty (and its deeper counterpart, love). In adulthood, we learn to cherish and respect beauty, to hold it in our hands for a single moment and then watch it fly free; without remorse because of the joy which it has given us. We have learned to return the gift of our love back into the waiting and maternal arms of nature. For it is she, (the true nature of ourselves), who will dream silently on the long and translucent wings of the sole butterfly. And it is she who will travel faithfully on her timeless and sacred journey into night, and our eternal memory."

            Clearly, Soccolich has harnessed the potential of his subject matter. For him, a dream represents a virtual looking glass, which can gaze at the hard surface, or delve into the transforming spirit of a unique human being.

            To this reviewer, it seems quite possible, this cross-correlating and cross-referencing author has found a tiny, golden key which may unlock some of the doors within us all. Perhaps, as we continue to approach the diverse rooms, or perceptions, of our imaginative mind, this tiny, golden key may help us to journey further forward into the continuous new beginnings of our own self understanding.

            Having thought about that possibility, I decided to contact Mr. Soccolich himself by e-mail and subsequently by phone. In moments, he unassumingly pointed out a cross-section of his own thoughts and beliefs, (which I expected to hear and fully appreciated), but then, for nearly forty-five minutes, he listened very attentively to a barrage of MY OWN ideas, (which I did not expect him to do). I realized that in this shy and self-effacing manner, the author unabashedly internalized my own ideologies and unashamedly embraced my own uniqueness.

            I thought to myself, here is the noble prerogative of this man. It seems this man's mission is simply to see people enjoying their own unique humanity.

            Weeks later, I continue to marvel at this simple goal, the goal of a man who has looked into a vast and incredible catalog of dreams and nightmares for over two decades. In the end, I realize Soccolich has learned to learn from himself. And that I say, is no small achievement.

            I am pleased to relay Soccolich's message that he is speaking at various Barnes & Noble's stores across the east coast. If you would like to meet him, contact your local Barnes and Noble's store, or call one of his publisher: Seaburn Books. Lastly, if you have no spare time (as most of us don't), but do wish to learn what your dreams are telling you, I recommend you go have a look at this one title: Night Symbols, 11000 Dreams and Interpretations. It'll change your feeling about going to sleep at night, night, after night, after night, after night....

Copyright Paedeia Reviews, New York