National Treasure Puzzler

During a break in my contracts class the other week I told the students about a strange dream I had. Here’s what I said:

I don’t know whether it’s because we just read a case about the War of 1812, but I dreamed a kind of screenplay that begins with a tight close up with two identical faces of Andrew Jackson. As the camera pulls back, we see that the Jacksons are struggling to break free from being inside a cramped triangle. To make matters worse, we see that their bodies are jerking about because they are holding between them an electrified neon equation blinking “2+3=5”. The equation is encased in some kind of phosphorescent circle.

They aren’t willing to drop the circle, because on closer inspection one can make out a miniature Andrew Jackson who is trapped inside the circle.  To make matters worse, out of nowhere an airplane swoops in and hooks the top of the triangle so that the Jacksons and the rest of the triangle’s contents are suddenly dangling in midair behind the aircraft.  Cut to the cockpit interior and we encounter the demented mastermind who mutters moo-ha-ha while strangely flipping odd cards 1, 3, 5 from a deck.

Suddenly, Nicholas Cage bursts into the cockpit.  He looks around and sees a 7 x 7 pallet of containers. Cage opens up a container takes out a big bottle of ketchup and squirts ketchup on the demented mastermind, saving the day. In my dream, I called the incomplete movie, National Treasure, 2.7.

 Can you help me interpret the dream?  I’ve blogged about my bizarre nightmares before. Should I be worried?


u certainly should be- ive read research which shows that watching a nicholas cage movie kills off a median of 3000 functional neurons, as well as leading to near unacceptable dreams- watching more Eva Mendes movies seems to cure the dreaming pathology

Joshua Northey

For whatever reason I frequently remember dreams (almost every day), maybe it has to do with how I wake up, who knows.

Anyway a huge number of them are very cinematic, involving a complicated plot a narrative with a protagonist (me) and several different scenes. As dreams they often have some discontinuities/logical/physics holes, but they also almost always involve me running from authorities, or fighting in a war. Occasionally I will be chasing someone. Most of the time they end badly for me and I die or fail to protect something or someone I care about.

I don't place much stock in analyzing their meaning. They seem tangentially related to the media I consume and experiences I have. I guess they might make me suspect that I have some deep distrust of authority issues, but I already knew that, and a guilty conscience for past "transgressions", but I knew that as well.

Andrew Polkinghorn

I believe dreaming is a part of the brain's structuring and ordering process that happens in sleep. Memories and experiences and compared, sorted and stored, and images may be put together from the day's experiences, thoughts and beliefs. In some way, whatever is on your mind may become a feature of your dreams.
What is the consequence, if one's conscious thoughts are largely about the weird dreams you keep getting? Is there a danger of recursion? Look what happens to a computer when it does that!

Morgaine Swann

You shouldn't be worried because the dream isn't about you. You're only a spectator, which appears to stress you out. The multiple Jacksons are money which is being used in at least 3 deceptive or inappropriate ways that are all high risk with no way to recover if they aren't corrected. You're watching it all play out as if watching a movie and nothing you can do where you are right now can fix the problem. The question is who do you think has the power to fix it? You need a hero, represented by Cage, so you need to figure out who that is. I think you probably know who that is.


"Cage opens up a container takes out a big bottle of ketchup and squirts ketchup on the demented mastermind, saving the day....

Should I be worried?"

Depends. Was the mastermind's clothes dry-clean only?


Your dream is a fascinating look into your psyche:

The numbers in your dream are only prime numbers (with the possible exception of "1"). 2, 3, 5. Pallets that are 7 x 7. And inside a triangle (with 3 sides) exist 3 versions of Andrew Jackson (our 7th president). Prime numbers in literature have been used to represent loneliness or isolation. You are feeling isolated - perhaps due to money - and are trying to break free.

The fact that the mastermind was thwarted with ketchup means that you believe John Kerry would have been better at fighting terrorism than George W. Bush.

You're inclusion of Nic Cage just means that you're a weird dude.

Sarah C.

I read an article years ago in National Geographic about the science of dreams. Esentially there are two schools of thought:
1.) Dreams are significant expressions of the subconscious mind
2.) Dreams are random electrical signals that have nothing to do with reality
Both sides agree that the important thing is WHY you remember a particular portion of the dream.
As for dream interpretationI had a therapist tell me that every person in a dream represents yourself. It is not an exact science but I think it is the emotion you associate with the dream is the telling part. Hope this helps...


I don't know what it means, but I think you should get Werner Herzog on board to direct it.


No-one likes it when someone relays some dream they had.

The only exception is dreams which feature Nic Cage, in which case, everyone loves hearing about them.

If, as some believe, consciousness is an epiphenomenon, then the only thing we can really learn about dream analysis, is that consciousness is an epiphenomenon.


Sounds like a common theme is duality. Sounds like the 2 Jacksons could represent different perspectives within the same person as they attempt to reconcile an idea (the equation) from two equally perspectives equally important to Jackson.

I see the plane as a sense of urgency moving the psuedo-conflicting Jacksons forward. Nic Cage seems to take on a hero role that allows the conflict an outside object to focus on and ultimately permission to resolve the conflict.

robin marlowe

Dear Ian, So- No, you should not be worried- And Hassan, you should be relatively `happy' in the sense that there are no ultimate truths here. But as far as needing permission from a friend who understands my predicament, you have a point. Thanks.


I once blew 14 minutes of my 15 minute interview with Joe Biden discussing a "mustard-shaped can opener."

And you think YOUR dreams are weird? :-)