Facilitated by Richard Allen and Dr Sadie King

Notes from the first of four Social Dreaming Matrices to be held at the Wellcome Library this November where dreams, archive and the wider social context meet together to make sense of the world around us.

The dreams were hard to come by in this matrix of 7. There was a declaration of not dreaming, and some interest in the dreams of young people, of whom there were none in the group. There was some offers of dreams of the past which were more theorised rather than described, or dreams of a relative whose dreams may have been prophetic. There were claims of controlling dreams and theoretical ponderings of lucid dreaming and mindful dreaming; perhaps a fantasy that we are now the master of our dreams?

One of us offered a dream in the absence of others. It was a description of coming to work in a taxi with a colleague and passing through beautiful terrible dystopias of burning woodland, punctuated with scenes of urban environmental disaster aftermath. “My daughter and my dog were on the journey too. I was annoyed by the fact that scenes we were passing through were not my preoccupation, but the mundane car conversation and the fact that the dog when it arrived at the work destination was picking up cotton, needles and pens in its tail.” There were other dreams then of interiors, one where a flatmate built an impractical trolley for bins and one of a corridor being filled up with people and a slope being difficult to ascend. There were associations of claustrophobia and frantic efforts to escape in the last dream.

Another dream was offered of a parent returning to his children’s younger years whist still in the present. A sad and difficult place associated with fears for our children’s futures, in a world that is changing in a way we might not have anticipated. We wondered if there was an unwillingness to confront the unspectacular in dreams, that they may mean nothing or something ordinary and sociological rather than some hidden mystical secret. We saw a dichotomy between the mundane and highly anxiety provoking dystopias and flying dreams.

Somebody landed late with a super-ordinary dream of repeating ordinary things in his job in the dream, “Is the mind at night just running through the day time?”.

We linked the dream of bins with a dream of toilets and recycling urine in the garden and food waste for compost. This inspired associations of recycling in three ways: 1. recycling as a practical task; and 2. recycling as reliving history and human arrogance and feeling that as we have coped with disaster before, we will cope again, and 3. destruction and reclamation.

In the review of the matrix, relief was expressed that dreams can be discussed without referring to the sub-conscious. There was a recognition that much of what was shared was about controlling dreams and that dreams themselves could be a way of recycling experiences. Could dreams be purposeful?

The next session will take place on Friday 16th November 3 – 4.15 pm at the Reading Room in Wellcome Collection.

Address:

183 Euston Road

London NW1 2BE

UK