social dreaming illustration

Social Dreaming Matrix #2: Thursday 30 June, 2016, 2pm-3.15pm: Wellcome Collection Reading Room

Facilitation and write-up: Elizabeth Cory-Pearce, Mannie Sher

25 people attended

13 dreams were presented to the matrix

20+ associations were made

Several dreams were about being out of control, rising up or falling down. Because emotions seem to be out of control in the dreams, it was said that it is difficult to achieve a balance between feelings of optimism and pessimism.

References were made to the perseveration of dreams into everyday life – and dreams influencing relationships. On the other hand, it was thought that dreams could provide ‘warnings’ of negative feelings towards people thus enabling one to control feelings in waking life – a thought connected with knowledge being a basis for hope.

The matrix discussed the tension between events we do not have control over and those things we can do something about. On balance though, the emphasis was on falling, loss of control and learning to control emotions. A dream of floating in a bedroom, going up to the ceiling and getting more out of control; rising above my house, seeing London and then the UK, and then being up in space floating; having no arms or hands, only a pair of floating eyeballs – being lost in the abyss of space, exploring the different planets and managing to contact other beings telepathically; thinking about an imagined future; believing in aliens.

The matrix associated dreams to the social context of the complex politics after the Referendum, referring to the back-stabbing by Michael Gove, the symbolism of not being able to ask a son for a slice of pizza and a cousin being kept out of the room as the dreamer said she was dying – a reference to Brexit, described as the cry of the oppressed. A dream of blood on the carpet turns into ‘Rivers of Blood’ and the matrix associates to Biblical images of the plague of blood, the medieval politics of Donald Trump, his views on immigration and his attempts to keep them out with a wall.

By contrast, a dream contains a statue of two people holding swords, standing back-to-back pointing their swords in opposite directions, as if saying we will not fight with each other. A house is going into the water and that seems quite ordinary – is this an anxiety that the European enterprise or even our entire society is slipping into the water unremarked and will the swordsmen turn and face each other; another dream is a search for brothers through centuries of time and eras of civilization and not finding them.

Some dreams contained references to the venue of the matrix – an old building, defunct with a mossy roof, not used any more; rebirth and renewal; omnipotence and death; clever people’s names written on the gallery of the Reading Room, who for all their brilliance could not stop world conflict or environmental destruction – a reference to the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme – statues around us of great people and here we are again a century later still in a world conflict and blood being spilled: it is frightening and yet in our coming together and sharing hopeful.

The matrix discussed intense personal and physical sensations of wanting a voice but coming up against bodily limits, and holding in mind that we as dreamers might also be expressing social concerns, which associate to two exhibitions held at the venue of the matrix, one on states of mind and altered consciousness including dreams, and one on the physical, social and geographical nature of human voice. The tension between privacy and shared social experiences was referred to as unusual – we are sharing private thoughts and feelings which are not normally shared, even with ourselves. . The matrix is situated in a room where artefacts and paintings on display depict ways of accessing the human interior and bringing it out into the social realm (an x-ray machine, paintings of anatomical dissection, plastinated vivisection, objects for ritual divination, etc).

In that sense the matrix is a moment of security – we are listened to and heard, despite the physical problems of the acoustics, which makes some people feel excluded. This enables a participant to ask where she directs her furies – towards people individually or towards the collective. A connection is made to making safe spaces for children and those who are vulnerable – having space to speak and be listened to in order to stop the freefalling and the crash, following a dream about a children falling down ladders and concrete steps into a basement and the fearful anticipation of discovering whether they are injured or dead.

People spoke about guilt feelings at not being able to do anything to protect others – the fallen and fractured in society. There were several dreams with houses, having a home, going back to one’s childhood home, connecting to the environment, moss (mess), sitting around the fire in family groups. Also a view that nothing much happened in the dreams until reminded by another participant that actually a lot happened in the dreams – a strong presence of being at home, safe and with familiar people.

The next social dreaming matrix will take place on Thursday 7 July, 7.00-8.15pm. We hope to see you there.

 

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