Electric Dreams

ASD Conference 99 - what you missed!

Richard Wilkerson

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Wilkerson, Richard (1999 August). ASD Conference 99 - what you missed! Electric Dreams 6(8). Retrieved July 14, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

During the Dream Ball on the last night I was chatting with our host Veronica Tonay and asked what time the buildings would be unlocked in the morning so I could get my computer equipment out of the Computer Cafe. Peggy Coats had already taken her equipment out and I had earlier helped Robert Bosnak mail his computers back. Veronica said the volunteers would be up late and so probably get up late. EEEEK. That decided it, I asked for the key and packed up during the Dream Ball. Just before I left I saw a huge turtle swimming across the Dream Ball floor. The turtle was complaining as it swam about being at a party and all the people talking to other people and doing things so fast and it wanted some attention, maybe someone would take the time to talk to a slow dream turtle? Thanks to Jill Gregory for that.

And thanks to Peggy Coats for the Computer Cafe and her persistence through all the difficulties. It was a comedy of errors as usual. The school was designated as one of top 10 wired schools just before we closed the contract with them. So they decided they wanted tons of money for what, just a few moments ago, was free. As you might guess, this quickly went beyond ASD's budget so the computer connections once again went from a non-problem to central issue.

After several months and a host of stories I could write a book about, the cafe opened! One of the more unique projects was Robert Bosnak's cyberdreamwork http://www.cyberdreamwork.com.

Since ASD doesn't allow dreamwork online, he decided to be his own subject. Robbie connected with three other people on the east coast via Internet voice conferencing and they asked him questions about a dream he had that morning. Robbie was connected also to a GSR, just like the old scientology e-meters, only much more sophisticated. We were able to watch his "inner" reactions to the dreamwork on a moving graph. This allowed us to watch not only Peaks and slumps in reaction, but also to watch over mood trends and patterns. I wasn't as convinced that there were discernable patterns, but its always fun to see an amplification of what I would call the "blush" factor.

Passing of the Crown. Patricia Garfield, who has been doing research lately on Universal Dreams (common dream themes taxonomy www.patriciagarfield.com) handed the presidency over to Alan Siegel. I'm personally happy about this as Alan is a big supporter of online activities. Patricia too has been very supportive of the online growth. I really feel this is a place ASD can get more bang for the buck in fulfilling its educational mission statement.

However, the BIG story, internally, is the vote to take George Degnon & assoc. on as the financial manager for ASD. George will be handling just about all the business office decisions and planning once the transition takes place. Rita Dwyer and the Vienna Crew will be closing up shop by the end of the summer. Fariba Bogzaran is about to open up the "heart" office of ASD at JFK University here in the Bay Area, pending some final meetings.

The conference itself was really fun for me. I had a bag full of agendas, like getting release forms for more articles online and recording voices of dream authors saying profound things. I didn't have time to do much selling of my Dream - Book on CD, A Brief History of Dream Sharing, and sold exactly 3 copies, one the way out of the conference!

Some predominate stage scenes for me were the campus itself. In the morning the fog lingered in the redwood forest. By the end of breakfast it had usually backed off an one could see from the courtyard down across the fields to the ocean. Nice temperatures all day, and then after sunset the fog would roll back in. On my walks to my dorm room I saw families of deer, skunks, raccoons and various other little critters.

Much of the conference for me took place in the Cafeteria. I got ten times the info and update and connection there than any of the lectures. I think I planned much of my next decade there.

Thursday was the peak cyber-day for me. Things really got global in the morning with the invited speaker Stephen Aizenstat. For those not familiar with Stephen, he runs the Pacifica Graduate Institute and teaches a form of dreamwork very akin to Hillman's archetypal psychology. Lately he has gone global with the promotion of the Earth Charter. This Charter recently failed to be ratified by the United Nations and Stephen was discussing with Gorbachov why this happened, why can't some simple notions about living together in a global village in an ecologically sound way be accepted? Can't the world be saved?

Stephen suggested, in true archetypal psychology fashion, that perhaps the ego notion of saving the world needed to be changed. Perhaps we need to listen to what the world wants and needs instead of imposing agendas. This appealed to Gorbachov and he suggested to Stephen to develop a community that could learn to listen to the world. Aizenstat suggested that ASD dreamworkers already had these skills and they could be brought to bear globally, to teach the world how to listen the world dreaming. He got a standing ovation.

This set things up nicely for our Dreams and Internet panel. We had twice the number of folks as the last panel (that is, about 20). Sadly, Linda Magallon ended the Fly by Night club research phase. Hopefully the fun will still continue. I will give a wider summary of this panel on Electric Dreams. This panel repeated the original optimism of the Berkeley Panel in 96 and expanded the notion of the Internet in its new transformations which will occur shortly and basically, make the whole world come alive and present.

The next presentation I went to that day was a paper session with Jayne Gackenback and others who didn't show up. So Robert Bosnak filled in. Only a few people came. Then Stephen Aisenstat and Gayle Delaney came in and it became one of those special events where it felt like the future of the world was being planned. We got very creative in exploring what the Internet penetrated world would look like in the next decade or so. Some of the main concerns were about the next generation, what are they going to be like growing up with the Net compared to us growing up with TV or our grandparents growing up with Radio? We discussed how young boys like video games and are (thereby?) very interested and adept at lucid dreaming. Young women tend to like chat rooms over video games. But again, the key feeling seemed to be the notion that the screen interface we use now will soon collapse and the Net will be everywhere, the world will be quite alive. (eeeek!) My own feeling is that dreamwork online tends to slow the pace of accelerated selections along integrated circuits nervous system and open soulful moments of time/space in the body electric. I'm looking forward to the dream journals that will automatically generate a movie of my dream.

Alan Flagg, heir to the Kilton Stewart collection was there and I got to see the docu-drama for the first time. I hear it was aired in Hawaii last year and is now available for general purchase. The film focused on the current folks in the area doing dreamwork and on a kind of collage of Stewart and Noone's journey. It seems clear there are people doing dreamwork there, but just what it all means is very unclear to me as a Westerner. They had a case, for example, of a tribes person who had a dream of crossing a river. They had cut down a tree to cross, then panicked as they were crossing due to water bubbling up and the dreamer went back to the shore. The dreamer told the dream to the shamen---(I was told at the conference that native people's around the world *hate* the world "shaman" that we use, as it implies a kind of doctor with hierarchical status, when in fact ~everyone~ in the tribe is considered to have some special gift to give the group) - to a group of elders who interpreted the dream. After much deliberation and after calling more powerful Jaguar shaman in to confer, they decided that the dream meant it was going to rain.

I suppose there was a mythic union moment for the group as this interpretation came about, but I was a little disappointed. I suppose it is my western prejudice and I am so detached from the simple rhythms of life that I need to see more in a dream than the weather, or no longer find soul in weather.

A person in the film directly asked one of the respondents about the way they dreamed, in the Senoi fashion, and they were very hesitant to talk about it. They said there dreaming is so developed that it would be like a person who knows quantum physics talking to someone who can't add. (my metaphor). They said that they develop dreaming into something quite advanced, while Westerners dream child's dreams their whole life.

Change all the Dream Science Books!

For some time, many dreamworkers have know intuitively that Hobson's activation-synthesis model was somewhat lacking, but there hasn't been much science to dispute it.

Briefly, and with limited understanding on my part, the activation-synthesis theory held that random firing in the pontine brain stem into the neocortex caused dreaming. The cyclic REM activation was received in the neo-cortex and attempted to synthesize the input as best it could. The research has mostly been based on some skimpy chemistry, studies with cats and a case or two about lesions in the pontine brain stem. But no one who refuted it had much say in the world of science.

Mark Solms (brain surgeon) , who wrote the recent book The Neuropsychology of Dreams explored a huge spectrum of brain lesion information and has proposed a compatible, but much more expanded theory.

Generally, Solms feels that we need to let go of REM as having anything significant to do with dreams and dreaming. Yes, REM seems to activate the brain and it is easier to recall dreams from REM, but for Solms, this is confusing one of several ignition switches for the whole engine. Dreams are started by many things, such as sleep onset before REM takes place, in some epileptic brain events and at sleep offset at places where REM does not figure in. The key is that dreams are a higher brain thing, having little to nothing to do with pontine brain stem rem cycles.

It appears to Solms that the dream begins (biologically) in the mid-foreground of the brain and heads backwards. Its is interesting to note that it is absent in the most outer tips, both frontal neo-cortex and the furthest back visual structures where direct seeing would occur. It does locate itself in more complex visual structures, in places in the brain were sensory-locomotion-spacial crossroads exist and in emotional associated parts of the brain.

Anyway, I'm just spewing this off the top of my head from memory and giving some impressions of the new directions that physiological/biology research will be taking in this regards.

Hobson himself is now working with Solms and has given in to most of Solms research speculations.

What does this mean for dreamworkers? Probably very little. We already know that dreams are more about feeling than thinking, that they create worlds (spaces), tend to be imagistically oriented and find it nearly useless to see dreams as random.

What now does get confusing is how to teach about dreaming without referring to REM. All those nice statistics about how many dreams we have and for how long are dust in the wind.

Row, row, you boat!


Hey, we are considering a cyber-dream connection to the Conference 2000 and need to do a test run - anyone interested in experimenting, drop me a line. We will have folks from Italy, France, Australia, Mexico and more.