Image Credit: Good Bicycle, Bad Bicycle. Watercolour on Langton paper, 148 x 105 mm by Juliet Scott.

Part 2 Social Dreaming #6: Tuesday 28th February: Wellcome Collection Reading Room

Facilitation and write-up: Anne Benson and Rachel Kelly

The final matrix of this series. 22 people joined. A matrix of few dreams and many associations. The dreams were vivid and detailed.

The Matrix

The matrix opened – a short silence then first dream. A man, is being dressed by a woman for a wedding, the colours are bright and cloths too frilly for a man, too female. By the end he has adjusted to being more female and feels happy. He is looking at himself dressed for the wedding, staring in front – a scarf came forth, from its own will – it is dun coloured and has strands and webs, it comes out as a cloak. The dream ends: he is looking at a woman – looking her in the eye, one eye he can see clearly, the other has gossamer, is blurred.
An immediate association – it felt like a chrysalis transformation from male to female. Then the second dream – very vivid.

The dreamer, a young man, is on a boat in the city when a dolphin appears – he knows him well, it is good to see him. Then a jet black rhino emerges. He wants him to go away, he can see there is danger, he was having a good time with the dolphin. The rhino attacks the dolphin, just for the sake of it – rhinos are vegetarian, it doesn’t need to attack the dolphin. The dolphin isn’t killed but much wounded. The man is sobbing – he goes to get a flare to shoot the rhino but others say he shouldn’t, we need it, it is the only one. The face of his much loved dog appears.
Associations to The Life of Pi, the politics of the moment, who is the black rhino, it’s good to know there is a dolphin. And death. Coming to terms with what is happening in the world, what is being killed off globally or coming to an end.
Looking someone in the eye brings to mind really knowing someone.

A recurring theme of binaries first emerges – people inherently evil or inherently good – as if we can’t be both.
A further association of men covered in women’s clothing, the covering and silencing of women. Something is at risk. There was the chrysalis and therefore a butterfly – both life and death, hope and despondence. Women are able to be generative and integrate, men attack and split. An association to a book about Freud, Jung and Adler wanting to be separate and the women author wanting to bring them together. It was a woman who discovered DNA, can’t remember her name. It’s dreadful we can’t recall her name and then we do: Franklin – she didn’t get proper recognition until recently.

And now the third dream. She is in the bathroom at home running a bath. Suddenly a flood is coming around her, from above. She goes outside to investigate. There are two parallel lift shafts, she goes up and gets caught in another world, in a sewing room at the top – there is lots of activity. She’s trapped, they won’t let her go. All she can think is she’s got a flood building up.

People want more detail about the dreams. Associations to being thwarted – not able to do what you want – can’t leave, can’t kill the rhino. Maybe being thwarted by something necessary. I have to do my duty and not what I want. Choosing your battles, it is so overwhelming, it is easy to feel powerless as individuals and communities, more so than ever before.

Lost at sea calls to mind migrants who are lost at sea. It seems as if we only have two choices: to kill the rhino or not; to stay or leave. Actually we have multiple choices yet we have got stuck in the polarisation. A dreamer has multiple fragments – forgetting something with catastrophic consequences. The choices you make have different outcomes – the parallel lift shafts open a door to a common place, an integrated space, somewhere to contain our vulnerability. We want home – a safe place.

The fourth dream – at a festival, a hippy camp – but she’s in a posh hotel, it’s luxurious and safe. Then she comes out to where she’s meant to be – in a little caravan in an open area. It’s hers but others are in there. She can’t decide where she wants to be. She feel more comfortable here but has to assert the caravan is hers. There are different people she knows. She has to decide who she wants to be, who she wants to talk to.

Associations to Trump owning luxurious hotels – some stay there and others in caravans. Hippies from the 60s, have they sold out? How to hold onto principles as one matures. How can we survive in this world and how can we make a difference. What place for courage, pacifists and peace keepers comes to mind. And a connection to a play – a character declaiming throughout this is my spaghetti. Is this a refrain in the matrix?

The energy changes as a woman suddenly remembers she has a dream to bring. In her life, she has recently moved to a small cottage and at a local gallery she fell in love with a sculpture of two boxing hares. It was very expensive, much more than she would ever usually pay. She didn’t buy it the first time and then went back and did – feeling very guilty. In the dream, she sees her long dead and much loved mother’s face. Her mother has a slightly wicked look about her and says, ”I bought a purple Persian carpet!”, blows her a kiss and disappears. Awake, she feels relief and joy – she has her mother’s blessing. Later on in the matrix, she remarks that she thinks the hares are dancing rather than boxing (one is male, the other female).

More lightness comes to the matrix. Things that bring us joy can be powerful. A blessing from the past. The bright colours came in, the colourful drapes in the first dream, the purple carpet. Things can be nurturing, it doesn’t have to be women nurturing and men going to war. We can have all these parts. The waste bins in Liverpool are purple – integrative, not either the red or blue of the football teams. Goldilocks’ and the three bears: too much, too little, just right. The suffragette colours of purple, green and white – the significance can’t be recalled.

As the matrix came to a close there are fleeting thoughts, Where do I belong – 29 February doesn’t exist this year – it’s my mother’s birthday; an exhibit of a frog floating in zero gravity – it’s beautiful; anxiety about water and flooding; but water can be cleansing – unless you are a refugee on a boat. Floods in California and people being cut off and flown out.

A thoughtful review – amazing how people come together and talk about such things so quickly – courage to do this. It felt safe and good to do. Feelings of gratitude and closeness. Someone is holding the refugees much in mind, what choices do they have whilst we are living in a safe country worrying about our choices. The process is reminiscent of natural childbirth meetings – sharing intimate and important ideas with strangers. A final connection between the Tavistock Institute archive and the Natural Childbirth Trust archive. Both archives are held at the Wellcome.

There is a review of this series Wednesday 8 March at the Wellcome Collection Reading Room 15.00 – 16.15

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Events and engagement, Reflections and Practice