Electric Dreams

Electric Dreams Interviews Richard Wilkerson 

about his new CD-Rom, A Brief History of Dream Sharing

Lars Spivock 

(Electric Dreams)  (Article Index)  (Search for Topic)  (View Article Options)

  Spivock, Lars (1999 December). Electric Dreams Interviews Richard Wilkerson about his new CD-Rom, _A Brief History of Dream Sharing_. Electric Dreams 6(12). Retrieved July 13, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Richard Wilkerson is an Bay Area dream educator and a pioneer & leader of the now extensive online Dream Movement. His online work includes bringing the Association for the Study of Dreams online, developing the Electric Dreams community and the online magazine of the same name, and running dream education classes on the Net in conjunction with online dream groups via DreamGate.com and other educational institutions, for which he has become internationally recognized. Richard has written hundreds of articles on dreams and regularly writes for Electric Dreams, the ASD Dream Time, Self Help and Psychology and other forums. He contributed the chapter "Dreaming In Cyberspace" to the Mark Waldman and Stanley Krippner Anthology _Dreamscaping_. His most recent project is a CD that brings together his years of experience with dreamwork and computer mediated communications. The 1999 CD, _A Brief History of Dream Sharing: Theory, Techniques and Cyberspace_ is available through DreamGate.com at http://www.dreamgate.com/books

Lars Spivock for Electric Dreams [LS]: Hello Richard, good to see you again. Having worked with you on the CD I'll be asking questions mainly for the benefit of our readers.

Richard Catlett Wilkerson [RCW]: That's fine Lars, go ahead.

[LS]: Richard, before I ask you about the content of your CD I want to clarify what kind of multimedia it is. [Teasingly] That is, just what *is* your CD, a book, a computer program or a web site on CD?

[RCW]: I would say all three. I wanted to provide a lot of information as well as a lot of illustrations and I wanted these to all be easily useable any linked together. The problem with books these days is that if you want to use any of the information, you have to copy it or retype it. Putting the information online is fine if the illustrations are kept to a minimum, but very taxing for larger pictures. With a CD approach, the information can easily be copied and pasted into any format, and appears very rapidly on the screen.

[LS]: How does someone start up the CD on their computer?

[RCW]: As simple as opening any program. The CD will automatically open your browser on most computers and away you go! The options immediately appear.

[LS]: What are the main areas covered by the CD?

[RCW]: The core of the CD is course on dreamwork. I've also included an enormous bibliography of thousands of dream books and article titles, as well as special essay collections, including several years of the Cyberphile column, an Internet and Dreams column for the Association for the Study of Dreams, a collection of Postmodern Dreaming Essays, resources on dreams and dreaming and a History of Dream Sharing in Cyberspace collection.

[LS]: [Overwhelmed] There are so many different sections to your CD, let me ask you about them individually! What is this core course?

[RCW]: The course is a 12 module section on dreamwork from a historical perspective. This course has been developing over the years online from the "History of Dream Sharing" Course, which got rave reviews from some dream titans such as Robert Van de Castle, author of Our Dreaming Mind, Rita Dwyer one of ASD most active presidents, and Roberta Ossana, who has been the editor of the DreamNetwork for many years.

[LS]: What makes this course unique?

[RCW]: Besides the historical overview, I look at each approach and give the dreamer a way to use that perspective for personal growth and insight. So with Freud, we look at how free association and the dream-work can be used outside of a clinical setting to explore our hidden desires. With Gestalt, I explore how dream drama can be an effective way of developing inner potentials hidden in sub-personalities. That is, with every perspective there are useful exercises which bring the theory to life and empower the dreamer to use these insights in everyday life.

[LS]: I noticed that there are topics you offer that are not often included in dreamwork courses, such as dream science and dream anthropology -- and also a guide to lucid dreaming by yours truly!

[RCW]: Right, I feel that every field of study has something to offer dreams and the dreamer. Dream science offers new approaches to dream recall as well as challenging theoretical assumptions. Dream anthropology give us whole new vistas of dreamwork and dream worlds that have generally been cut off in our culture. Now the Internet is offering dreamwork a whole new field to play with.

[LS]: You mentioned that Cyberspace was also a resource on the CD and there are other essays included?

[RCW]: [Thoughtfully] My focus for the last 5 years has been dreamwork in Cyberspace, though I prefer to call it "dream sharing" to get rid of the Protestant Work Ethic, move the dream from the couch to culture, and emphasis the social aspects of dreaming. Linda Magallon and the Fly- by-Night club have helped me a great deal to voice this change in attitude. My major vehicle for this exploration has been the Electric Dreams community, though lately other groups have been showing a growing interest in dream sharing and cyberspace outside of clinical practice. In 1997 I also began managing the Web site for The Association for the Study of Dreams, and had been developing the Cyberphile Column for their magazine since 1995. I took the resources I have been gathering, as well as many of the ongoing articles related to this topic and included them with a very large set of annotated dream links.

[LS]: How do the dream links work on the CD?

[RCW]: The links to other dream sites that are on the CD will work as long as the reader is online or connected with their internet service provider [ISP], such as AOL or Microsoft Network [MSN] or a local ISP.

[LS]: What can people get from these Cyber-dream articles and resources besides your many years of experience?

[RCW]: These articles really provide the tools to understand and explore the world of dreaming online. For those just curious about what is going on, I feel that the fabulous stories of the dream Web sites and Net Dreamwork projects make for great reading. For those who want to go online and share dreams, I explain where and how this is done. Some people like to share dreams in via e-mail, and for them I talk about the Electric Dreams DreamWheels and John Herbert's SeniorNet projects. For those who like real-time-chat or IRC, I guide them on how to get connected and where the resources are. Others are ready to begin developing their own Web sites as an expression of their dreams, and I give many suggestions for this and a tour of the many forms that this has occurred, such as dream journals, dream art galleries, dream book sites and lucid dream clubs and organizations. And of course, I always encourage people to join Electric Dreams.

[LS]: And people can actually join an online dream course via the CD?

[RCW]: Yes, I recommend that people start out with the Electric Dreams DreamWheels. This gives them a grounding in the popular "If this were my dream..." approach as well as giving as kind of cultural ethic of caring about the dream and the dreamer that goes along with it. From the DreamWheels, there are many other dream groups available.

[LS]: The bibliography you have provided on the CD is like no other I have seen. It's really huge! Do you have every dream book and article on this Bibliography?

[RCW]: [Laughs], No, hardly. What I have done is collected together articles and books on dreams that I feel would compliment dreamwork theory and practice. Since my approach is that just about anything can support dreamwork if seen from the right perspective, the list *is* quite long.

[LS]: What I find really nice about the bibliography is that I can quickly copy and paste whole titles of articles that I'm quoting, and this saves me tons of time when I am writing. I notices as well that the dream and anthropology section is fantastic!

[RCW]: Right. Also, the Bibliography is searchable, either by bringing it up in a word processor, or by using a Web Browser and selecting FILE/FIND.

[LS]: How does that work with the AOL browser?

[RCW]: Its a little different. Just select the EDIT drop do menu and select "Find in Top Window"

[LS]: As I recall the bibliography is available on the CD in three useful formats -- plain text, Microsoft Word, and as a web page. That should make it easy for anyone.

[RCW]: Right, Lars.

[LS]: Why do you have so much information on this CD? Wouldn't just presenting one simple technique be more effective in learning dreamwork?

[RCW]: It's true that mastering one technique will give a depth to one's dreamwork that may be missed with a spectral approach. I spent hundreds of hours with Jungians and wouldn't trade that experience for the world, but I eventually felt left out of the rest of the dreamwork world. There was always a particular course of study of dreams I wanted and couldn't find. That was an overview of the whole game. While several good books have come out in the past few years, there was really nothing online for cyber-dreamers. I developed this CD and course to satisfy that need and blur the boundaries between book and practice. To have a full spectrum of dream education and ground cyber-dream sharing in the developing grassroots dreamwork movement online provides people with the fullest range of self expression and discovery reasonably possible at this time with multimedia. And since the course connects with active groups online, dreamers get the added advantage of exploring dreamwork on the Internet as well.

[LS]: Isn't there some controversy about doing dreamwork online?

[RCW]: Originally there was. When I proposed a cyber-dreamwork exhibition at the 1996 ASD Berkeley Conference, the Board of Directors were very concerned. To address this, I asked Dr. Sarah Richards to set up a discussion panel and invited dreamworkers who were well known and had been experimenting with online dreamwork, including Jeremy Taylor, Jayne Gackenbach, John Herbert and myself. The unanimous feeling was that dreamwork was not only safe online, but in many cases preferable to face-to-face dreamwork.

[LS]: I remember. That was right after Jeremy Taylor reluctantly agreed to facilitate dreamsharing for AOL -- and within 30 days was completely convinced of its value. Has there been much discussion since then?

[RCW]: This year, at the 1999 ASD conference at UCSC Santa Cruz, Peggy Coats brought these people back and the enthusiasm for online dreamwork has only grown.

[LS]: Why do you feel this is so?

[RCW]: There are several reasons we have identified. The first is anonymity. People feel free to express and share personal material when there is less fear of these group members gossiping around town.

In face-to-face dreamgroups, emotion is the dominate factor. Feelings are important online as well, but they are tempered by time, distance and insightful interventions.

[LS]: Do people try to substitute dreamwork for psychotherapy?

[RCW]: No, and this is a key point. Grassroots dreamwork really tries to move from couch to culture. That is, there is a growing push to see dreamwork as something that may be used by psychotherapy, but has much broader and wider goals. Healing and Wholeness are still part of dreamwork, but not all dreamwork is about healing and wholeness.

[LS]: This comes out very clearly in the CD. I noticed that while you are comfortable talking about various kinds of dreamwork in psychotherapies, the emphasis is always on what the dreamer can gain from these theories outside of psychotherapy.

[RCW]: That's right. I teach people to not be afraid of theory and to use it to their own advantage and for the development of their own dreamwork. This is the end-goal of any good therapy as well, to have people empowered enough to be the final authority on the interpretation of meaning and value in their own lives.

[LS]: You also talk about dream sharing that is rooted in spirituality and creativity and other forms of expression outside of therapeutic dreamwork.

[RCW]: There are so many new wonderful forms of dreams sharing that are taking place. Our culture is just at the beginning of recovering these forms, such as dream inspired art, dream inspired writing, mutual dreaming, lucid dreaming, dream psi and various forms of shamanic dreaming. To try and lock dreamwork into therapy would be a step backwards. I do feel we are deeply indebted to Freud, Jung and many other psychotherapists for returning value and meaning to dreamwork. And dreamwork will continue to be a major tool of therapies aimed as wholeness where imagination is part of the process. However, therapeutic dreamwork now takes its lead from grassroots dreamwork, not the other way around.

[LS]: What do you feel is the most important value that dreamers will get from your CD?

[RCW]: Creative experimentation as the best way to relate to dreams and the world at large. I develop the notion of the "Improverse" or the improvisational universe, as a platform from which to develop one's dreamwork. The model comes from playing music. In improvisational music, the musician has to learn to listen and respond in a unique but relevant and related way rather than playing pre-described patterns. Its important to know and use the pre-described patterns, but as the event-song develops, it takes on a temporary structure & life of its own. The individual musician can add to this newly synthesized event-song, but it quickly begins to transcend his/her individual contribution while relying upon it at the same time. Dream sharing is much the same. We can learn the chords or structures passed to us from our teachers and in this way participate relevantly in a sphere of cultural reality. Then as we begin to use these dream work techniques, a door opens to a whole new realm unfolds. The old techniques can quickly become repressive if used at the wrong time. The event-dream now has a life and flow of its own. We are free to contribute or distract from this event-dream.

[LS]: I see, and so that's why you offer such a variety of dream work techniques, they are the chords of dream sharing?

[RCW]: Right. With lucid dreaming, the chords we initially learn have to do with awareness of one's life space (Am I dreaming?). Later, we learn more sophisticated chords (can I spin and thereby maintain my lucidity?) but the dream-event takes on a life of its own. In one lucid dream I may best participate by running with a pack of wilder beasts, while in another I may feel called to enter into a mirror.

When interpreting dreams for life-enhancement, I learn the game of functional association, and how this dream-car is my psychological vehicle or that burglar is really me, stealing from my own life. But once we actually start using these techniques, there emerges a special event-dream which may call for something quite different than having the dream used to explore one's own psyche or how to be a better person.

[LS]: And so there is more than one dream-event for every dream?

[RCW]: Yes, and this really becomes clear once people start sharing their dreams with others. In the old model, there was one dream, one dream journal, one therapist, one interpretation. With the advent of the Dream Movement, people began sharing the same dream in a variety of situations, at the office water-cooler, at a local dream support group, with a friend over the telephone and at breakfast with the family. Now, with the advent of the Internet, one can post and send dreams in a variety of new venues. In fact, the Net has become a kind of dream journal, and many people send their dreams into the Net each morning to be distributed throughout cyberspace.

[LS]: Then does the dream become something different in each venue and with each sharing?

[RCW]: Kind of. Like a song that improvisational musicians play over and over, the dream maintains some kind of internal consistency while at the same time participating in a unique dream-event.

[LS]: With so much information online, why would someone buy your CD?

[RCW]: There is just so much going on in Cyberspace, that a collected guide is essential. Imagine a library that gets sixty-thousand books - and hour. Now imagine that this library has no staff! Or better, that this library has millions of volunteers, each with his or her own agenda about how this material is to be organized. What is needed is a bridge between the classic book and the new Net-text. This CD provides that bridge, a kind of hired guide to the Cyber-Jungle.

[LS]: As always its been a pleasure hearing your thoughts on Dreamsharing.

[RCW]: Thanks Lars, I'm looking forward to working with you during the coming millennium.

Lars Spivock is an international technology consultant and an original member of the DreamGate team. http://www.dreamgate.com/lars He has been a lucid dreamer since early childhood. He freelances for The Wisdom Channel, Electric Dreams, and America Online's Alternative Medicine Forum. Lars has contributed to outreach and education projects for the Intuition Network, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Association for the Study of Dreams, Bay Area Dreamworkers, and the Dream Library and Archive.