Social Dreaming Event

2nd December 5.00 #21


It is very cold. The tent is full with hanging blankets and sleeping bags. The facilitator wonders whether the hanging blankets are an attempt to provide the request by Mannie for a safer space, or more tenters have come and occupied the Events Tent. Later on, in the session people come and take them, so it is probably the latter.

Dream 1

Initially there is just one man who says he does not usually remember his dreams. He brings a dream of his father dying in a hospital from cancer. His family is around but he feels isolated. He associated the feeling of isolation with the way in which he and his family consciously isolate themselves to gain solitude – he does not like the connotation of ‘isolation’. It is about choosing not to engage. This is what the movement is about, in his view – not to engage with the social structures and processes. It is also about gaining a space to be with yourself and to think. Dreams are coming from a ‘higher self’ and he believes they have something to tell from this ‘higher self’ – this is why he comes – otherwise ‘we don’t spend enough time thinking’.

Dream 2

The man who we woke up in the morning session joins. He now recollects what was he dreaming when we woke him up. He hears the group talking of signs and he has a vision of a cat. But the cat doesn’t matter. He has heard that dreams last between 2 and 20 seconds even though you feel they are much longer. What matters is to have a dream and to act on it – there is a saying ‘Follow your dreams even if you have to die for them’. That is why he comes here from his country. But the dream has to follow from the heart – it is like betting. He was working in a casino and people asked him what is the right way to bet and he tells them: ‘You bet from the heart’.

Two young man who usually don’t remember their dreams join. Why do we call it ‘social dreaming’, it sounds more like a ‘collective dreaming’. ‘Social’ has a political connotation, like ‘socialism’- many people want to think that this is a socialist movement, but it is not. Also, the term “social” implies that people form a homogenous group while this is not the case.

Curiosity about the Tavistock Institute and the dreaming research

 One young man asks about who the Tavistock Institute are and if they are linked to the British Medical Council and then jokes that he is not paranoid or anything like that.  One of the facilitators explains that the Institute is a charity and is involved in a number of activities including research. The young man then asks about how the research works and if it is about finding the meaning to their dreams.   The joke about paranoia evokes thoughts about the conspiracy theories that exist about the Tavistock Institute and whether the encampment is paranoid (perhaps with good cause) and that maybe members of the group are more likely to be familiar with these theories.  This is coupled with a curiosity and confusion about the method being used in the session and what it will produce – there is a slight suspicion of the presence of the facilitators although it is quite playful and more curious than hostile – this may help explain people’s reticence to share dreams – what will they be used for?

A discussion how dreams operate and the types of dreams Part 1 ( a young woman joins in the middle of the discussion and leaves without saying anything)

A discussion about the ways in which dreams while you are asleep operate follows. There is a suggestion that it is only you in the dream and a reference to Freud. The facilitator suggests that that may not be the case.  Even Freud, when he was reading his own dreams in order to develop his methods, said there are links between his dreams with what was happening around him. This is dismissed, accusing Freud of cheating to justify and make plausible his method. Are we a group of non-dreamers? This, they think would be terrible! Day dreamers? They don’t dream (or remember their sleep dreams), but they have dreams during the day. They prefer to call them ‘lucid dreams’. ‘Day dreaming’ is dismissive, as if you are ‘work-shy’…

Throughout the discussions in this session there is confusion between ‘dreams’ meaning perceptual experiences during sleep and ‘dreams’ meaning aspirations.  The group switches between discussions of one to the other. 

Are we also interested in the dreams people have when they are under the influence of drugs and other states of the mind? These are also pipe dreams: when people dream of having a car, money, of becoming a president; people having material dreams like they see on TV and TV being a repository of images. But how do dreams work? Do they have a universal meaning? If you are dreaming of a rat, would the rat have the same meaning for everyone or is it an individual meaning? Dreams as images are not important, what matters is the experience in the dream: if you are falling in your dream, it doesn’t matter if you are falling from a chair or from the Empire State Building. 

Dream 3

A young man joins and introduces himself to the young man next to him. Then a young woman with green hair joins him and starts talking to him. He tells her a vivid dream of a statue with its legs being in pots, like a tree. It is difficult to hear and people don’t feel he is a part of the group, so no associations follow. One of the facilitators has an image of the US Statue of Liberty and gets distracted. Then she hears the young woman making a joke in a rhyme about her green hair and then the woman leaves. These brings associations to the facilitator about magical realism books (‘House of Spirits’ and ‘One hundred years of solitude’), but she doesn’t make the links, as the young man joins the circle and the discussion from before the ‘disruption’ continues.

The discussion about how dreams operate continues Part 2.

A young man observes that people think that if you see a dead body you will have nightmares. That is why people don’t want to see dead bodies. He has a friend who died and they had to see him; he put his hand on his chest and the friend was still warm as if he was waiting for them. The facilitator makes a link to the first dream being a dream about death – is it the fear of death as well as of the not-known (about yourself) that prevents us from thinking of real dreams which is the task of the group? Dreams of death are quiet dreams. There are dreams that are quiet and dreams that are loud. Are their dreams in Tent City quiet or loud?  They are surrounded by loud sounds, especially a diesel sound. When it is loud around you, you dream loud dreams – like after a rave party. But no, they don’t have loud dreams at the Tent City – they dream of flying, going to other planets, travelling in space or to different countries. They dream of people they have never seen in their lives but they end up being even more vivid.

Dream 4

One of the facilitators remembers a dream about people not seen before, but their faces are vivid after waking. It is a dream from 4 or 5 days ago (when she facilitated another SDE?). It is Halloween. She opens the door of her flat and there is a young Asian boy in a green track-suit.  It is a track-suit that a boy of that age would not be wearing in 2011, rather, the 1980s. The boy wants her to come with him around the neighborhood for the ‘trick or treat’. She is worried she cannot do this because people will think she is exploiting the child. This fear is made worse by the fact that the child does not have a costume (hence making it difficult to justify ‘trick or treating’) and is clearly not her child. 

The discussion about how dreams operate continues Part 3.

The other facilitator usually dreams of people who are not close to him. He thinks the characters in his dreams are often impressions from seeing so many people – in the tube, on the street, in Tent City. You don’t register their faces at the time, but you dream about them.

Facilitators: Milena Stateva, Giorgia Iacopini, Matt Gieve