Social Dreaming Event

28th November 2011 (5.00)  #15

Attended by four people, presenting 5 dreams.

Some Tent City protesters speak of ‘terrible dreams, which you won’t want to hear or think about’. ‘Horrible dreams can be hard to talk or think about’. Fear surrounds their dreams throughout this SDE.

A visitor wishes to describe the Occupy site in New York – the heavy police and surveillance presence; it is illegal to sleep in the square because the protest is deemed illegal there. Dreams in Occupy, New York, have become criminalised. If anyone even falls asleep by accident in the day time they are liable to arrest. There is no safe space to dream in the square so protesters find safe space in the churches. How is this affecting their dreams?


1.         A dream which began in the 1980’s, at a time when he was involved in activitism and when the Brixton riots were taking place. His recurring dream is of him being an outsider looking in on the riots. He likes looking inside as he can be objective, observing life.  The recurring dream breaks/changes in 1991 when he is ‘grown up’. His dream is about not liking being an outsider. He wants to be inside to make changes. His realises that to make change you have to be inside and belong. My dreams generally are overwhelming and emotional, so I force myself not to dream anymore. I have grown up and ‘stopped dreaming’.

My dreams have made me reflect on my image and sense of self, who I am and where I come from.  I want to explore my identity as an ethnic minority and a first generation migrant living in the north of England. I would like to close the circle and visit Africa where my family originally comes from.  I believe that to understand the protest and political issues, one needs to first understand oneself. To understand wider conflict, one has to reflect on the conflicts within oneself, one’s family and friends. 


  • Being inside/outside of the Occupy camp sites
  • Fear of: (i) entering dreams and (ii) entering the Occupy London camp site
  • Dreams are as overwhelming and emotional as the protest
  • Wanting to belong to the movement but also stopping oneself from fully belonging/dreaming, due to fear.
  • Dreaming as immature
  • Parallel – tensions in dreams and tensions in the protest movement
  • Dreams as a tool to help make sense of who one is in the world. To explore common humanity.


2.         The American man explained that since growing up, he no longer dreams. ‘I had vivid colourful dreams; now I just have lucid day dreams – fantasises’. 

In one day-dream, I dream of putting the ‘V’ for Vendetta/Guy Fakes mask on.  I then feel like I belong more to the protest. This makes me realise I need to do more (protest).


  • The trauma of protesters being called criminal and useless
  • Dreaming is immature
  • When you are travelling (not in the camp site), it is socially acceptable to dream.
  • Wanting to belong – inside/outsider.  Link to the first dream.


Both dreamers speak of injustices in the world due to competition. To make sense of competition in the world, one has to make sense of competition in one’s family (localised competition). Foreign policy is competition between nations like siblings.

Both dreamers reflect on ‘how can I get global change if I don’t understand and sort out my own conflict? This will equip you. But the fact is that injustices exist in the world objectively – so one needs to look outside one’s localised world/head/circles’.   A link to the inside/outside theme.


3.         A man says at first I liked the idea of camping in Finsbury Square, as one is not supposed to be here (it is a green space surrounded by buildings). He feels naughty, like breaking a law – there are so many laws in society like not smoking, taking drugs.  Has the world become too expensive with too many laws and less freedom? Camping was fun at first as it was breaking a law, but when it became wet and cold I needed to have a greater reason/purpose for being here.

I have dreams of opposites and I do not agree that conflicts necessarily come from competitions in one’s private life. Can conflict be creative? Things can work in opposites. Feminism came out of opposites. Opposites can lead to new arguments where new meanings can emerge.  Why are we (protesters) here?  What are the larger objectives?  ‘I know about Occupy London, but we need greater ‘opposites’.  There needs to be more of an action plan and to make recommendations to Government, etc. Social dreaming can be a form of action.

We are the way we are because we are shaped by culture and language. Our mothers teach us and then institutions shape/discipline and control us. Our mothers and then companies set rules. We are never free. We are disciplined and commodified. Our birth certificate is our receipt. We are shaped again and again and repeat history. We do not question our mothers.


  • To camp is like regressing into childhood; to a dream-state again.
  • Association was made again to criminality
  • ‘We are all condemned. We are slaves – it is the way the world is organised from birth. We are objects from birth when we are given birth certificates.


4.         A young man slowly enters looking sad. He listens to the third man talking. When invited to share a dream, he explains that he doesn’t feel he can speak as well as the third man. He is worried that he will not be as articulate and that his dreams will not make a difference. He says his dreams are not as important. ‘If I tell you my dreams, you will think I am a criminal’.


  • The ‘have and have not’s’, feelings of not belonging
  • Dreams being too scary/or a crime to share.
  • To dream is to be a criminal


One of the group invites the young man to share his dreams and explains the benefits of sharing dreams with strangers; ‘we are not individuals here, we are a group’. ‘You can feel better sharing dreams. It can help’.  The man speaks of Joseph and his Techni-coloured Dream Coat as a man who was seen as a criminal because of dreaming. But his dreams unlocked him as he was freed when he interpreted a dream about the thin cows and the fat cows. He speaks of sharing resources – the need for nations to share.

The young man speaks about his feelings of looking ‘outside’ to the people walking by with brief cases. He asks: do they care? What is the point of us being here? He speaks about so many people being ‘outside’ – would the few here make a difference?  A link here is made to a previous SDE when protesters spoke about feeling like ‘a bad joke’ and ‘gone-off bread’.  Will people listen or will this just go down as a point in history as a joke? This links to a theme from the first SDE theme – lack of direction.

This association to inside/outside also links to the SDE tent which people look into throughout the event, but do not come in and belong. The group asks: ‘are we making people outside think? Is the protest in their dreams?’

The young man asks what would happen if we don’t vote? This linked to the dreams about the difficulties of representation. Who is making choices on our behalf? Who are the politicians and what is the common good?

5.         The last dream is quietly said to the facilitator by the young man after the session was closed. He says he dreams of riding a horse bareback whilst smoking a spliff. He rides the horse into Spain without a passport. This is associated with the desire for freedom and having fewer borders between the ‘have’s and the have not’s’. The young man then asks ‘am I going home to a warm house?’

Facilitators: Olivia Joyner, Milena Stateva and Giorgia Iacopini.