Draw a little dream

Julie Doucet explores sex and the subconscious in her new book, My Most Secret Desire

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Photo courtesy of bedeka.org

It’s difficult to get through My Most Secret Desire in one sitting. Montreal-based cartoonist Julie Doucet is best known for the details of her drawings, and her new book delivers on this front. In My Most Secret Desire, Doucet draws detailed and vivid images of her dreams, exploring her subconscious and interrogating her sexuality.

Presented in an honest, first-person narrative, Doucet opens up to readers about her experiences with masturbation, dating and becoming a well-known figure in the cartooning industry.

As the title suggests, My Most Secret Desire exposes Doucet’s secret thoughts. The graphic novel is a series of dreams that Julie recorded in her diary in the late-’80s to mid-’90s. It isn’t meant to give readers an easy-to-digest story with typical plot devices of conflict, climax and resolution. Instead, the writer showcases her dreams as open for interpretation.

This isn’t the first time Doucet has allowed her readers to explore her id. In her first graphic novel, Dirty Plotte, Doucet explored her dreams as well, although not in the context of a full-blown collection.

The first story sets the theme for the rest of the book. In her dream, dated December 1988, Doucet wakes up in the middle of the night to find that she is bleeding (though it isn’t clear if she’s menstruating or not). As she makes her way to the bathroom, her teeth start to fall out. Supposedly, when you dream about your teeth falling out, your subconcious is trying to tell you that you’re being too insecure or anxious in your waking life. This is probably the case for Doucet, whose dreams concern her conflicted identity.

Doucet’s stories delve into her struggles with gender, and question what it would be like if she were male. Many of the dreams involve Doucet as a male, or with male organs, which examines what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man. Are genitals the only difference?

A memorable story from My Most Secret Desire involves Doucet after her sex change operation. She wakes up in a hospital bed to find herself with a brand new penis. Eager to try out her new sex organ, Doucet makes her way to a local bar and finds a girlfriend. Her ambitions to enjoy sex as a male fade when she thinks about what she has lost: “What if I ... I ... miss my vagina?!”

Doucet also tackles male violence when she dreams a friend stabs her hand in 1992. In 1990, she dreamt that another male friend stabbed her in the eye with a dirty syringe.

In addition to providing an account of her dreams, My Most Secret Desire also tracks the progress of Doucet’s drawing style. Each of the drawings was produced after the dreams occurred, so the book documents her work over a decade.

Publishing her dreams in this way gives Doucet an outlet to vent her frustration and confusion about the state of her life. Her clarity and honesty help make interpreting her dreams enjoyable. Her drawings capture every detail, while her writing expresses her emotions with precision.

Every time you read My Most Secret Desire, you find a new way to interpret the writer’s dreams, which in turn can help us interpret our own.

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