Electric Dreams

Postmodern Dreaming Series

Delirium, Desire and Deleuzioguattarian Dreamwork 

Richard Catlett Wilkerson 

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

    Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1999 January). Delirium, Desire and Deleuzioguattarian Dreamwork: Part of the Postmodern Dreaming Series. Electric Dreams 6(1). Retrieved on July 11, 2000 on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Electric Dreamers: You may notice that this essay challenges some of the most precious assumptions in contemporary dreamwork. The primary one is that dreams "represent" something. I love representations and working with dreams and association. I don't plan to abandon this path either. But this process also needs to be challenged. I often get lost in my representations and forget about the thing itself. These essays in postmodern dreaming are an attempt to liberate habitual thinking and allow what is most essential in dreamwork to emerge and thrive. - Richard


A great deal of dream work involves notions of representation, analogy and identity. These conceptual frameworks often work in clinical situations to bring about much needed ego-strengths and emotional comfort, but may impede the breakthrough into the unknown, hinder the production of novel connections and impede the liberation of desire in radical forms. The Post Structural work of Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari may offer some new approaches that undermine the tendencies of representation to territorialize and dominate a particular organization or identity and create creative lines of escape. Applying to dreams forms of theory that avoid notions of similarity, representation and desire as "lack" may similarly expose repressive forms of identity structuring, open new avenues of behavior and allow for the radical transformations though productive connections with the world.

Delirium, Desire and Deleuzioguattarian Dreamwork

"Analysis is paralysis."
Martin Luther King

Richard's Dream: Several photojournalists, including myself, are given permission to visit at the prison. But the prison is in the desert and we have to go down an empty water well to get there. The prison below is well lite, and has the look of an excavated Minoan or maybe Mayan city. But the conditions are appalling. The prisoners in the adobe cells are underfed, starving, wearing rags. I secretly turn on the video camera to capture some of this. Soon we climb back up out of the well. As we exit, a large 30 foot diameter hoop or circle of glowing light around the perimeters rises out of the ground a few feet and hovers . We are frozen and terrified. Eventually it sinks back into the ground.

One of the ongoing concerns of those engaged in the practices of freedom and liberation is that the ideas, organizations (and plans to get there) continually become just exactly what they set out to overcome. It seems that where-ever there is a way to organize and represent something, there is soon to follow a pattern of that organization selfishly organizing itself, and selfishly representing all things in terms of itself. The thinking among many Postmodern theorists (and others) suggests that the culprits are organization and representation themselves. This has lead for many to a shift in world-view. The traditional view holds that there is a real world out there and we simply have to find the right representation of it to connect. Here reality is found or discovered. Another view is that reality is always a social construction and we connect by sharing in that construction. While the Kennedys studied and analyzed the problem of civil rights, the Kings took to the streets.

Another way we embrace this struggle is in the liberation of desire. Some seek to find ways for desire to fit into the narrow channels that culture offers it in limited expression, while others seek to re-assemble the whole notion of desire and create a proliferation of unheard-of alternative trajectories transecting both central and marginal cultural space.

There are a multitude of practices that engage these two concerns, how to get desire out of prison and how to stay out, and I will be using two somewhat obscure fish out of this multitude and allowing them to swim together. The first will be a few of the theories or suggested practices of Giles Deleuze and Folix Guattari and the second will be the theories and practices of dreamwork.

Dreamwork is the collection of practices and texts that involve forms of engaging dreams. It needs to be differentiated from Freud's dream-work. Dreamwork assembles both clinical and non-clinical practices, interpretive and non-interpretive approaches, cultural and anthropological treatments, dream inspired art and literature, and a host of other practices in normative and extraordinary dreaming. It is characterized better as a collage of pieces from many aspects of life than as a singly defined field. The dream-work of Freud refers to the wheels and gears that produce the disguised fulfilment of a latent thought, including visual representation, displacement, condensation, symbolization and secondary revision. Freud's dream-work may be considered a kind of subset of dreamwork, albeit an unconscious one.

Giles Deleuze and Folix Guattari (D&G) are most often represented as poststructural theorists who have collaborated in a mutual project of militant politics and philosophy seeking the liberation of desire through the overcoming of repressive forms of organization, from the smallest static partial identities to the largest authoritarian political organizations. Seeking to avoid totalizing practices themselves, they have not left a whole coherent theory but rather a collage of concepts which they suggest others may pick and choose from like tools from a carpenter's box. If an overall goal has to be stated, it might be said that D&G seek in applied radical theorizing-practice to liberate the ways that our desire has been programmed and to proliferate fields of freedom where we can cross over into the most fabulous and unexpected engagements of life.

Dreams, Desire and Delirium

Like desire (and madness) dreams have followed a similar history in overflowing the dominate reality structures, side stepping cultural expectations and opening new paths. They also share in the process of continually being re-pressed, re-coded an re-presented in ways that conflict less with the current power structures. Like desire, finding systems that can contain dreams is not easy. All the axis religions began with dream sharing and ended up repressing the sharing of dreams when these night brood began conflicting with the orthodoxy. Jerome's mistranslation in the Vulgate bible of "witchcraft" as "dream interpretation" sent more than a few women during the Inquisition to a flaming death. But perhaps the more insidious interpretation is mother's whisper in our ear, "Its just a dream...".

Opening the door and stepping out

Though dreaming takes up a quarter of our life we generally, as a culture, remember very few of our dreams. However, access is a fairly easily learned skill that involves a few easy steps in preparation and recording. This training applies to hearing any marginally located dialogue.

The habitual mind hears the same thing every morning beginning with its first amnesia creating shock treatment, the alarm. We immediately begin to salivate, excuse me, I mean focus on our tasks; shower, breakfast, clothes, meeting, tasks for the day, where are my keys? And away we go. Preparing to hear something different requires a break in this flow. The desire to hear something different already supplies the break, and in a way, it is the break. The first break needs to occur as close to awakening as possible. Micro-seconds count here. Seconds count less, minutes and its all over and too late. Keep the mind as empty as possible. Bergson has noted about time that the more experiences we have, the faster time seems to go. People who deal with the issue of not having enough time by accumulating experiences are simply turning the faucet on high and causing the condition they seek to escape. Come close to the abyss, the void is full.

Having the desire or intention to not lose your dream, and making space in the micro-seconds upon awakening are usually not enough to keep the dream doors open. Some form of recording, usually vocal or writing, allow us to access the dream images at a later time. But note that the re-called dream and the re-corded dream are already doubly interpreted or filtered experiences. Still, these recordings and rememberings help us to bring forward a host of new emotional and other connections. They are the placenta of new experience. Experimentation with recording methods; notepads, lovers whispering in each others ears and tape recorders will each produce different kinds of results and connections.

Networked computer systems now offer alternatives to traditional recording. Dreams as texts move in cyberspace at odd angles and produce new social connections.

Boundaries of the dream.

I may have already ruined my project of liberation in even suggesting a D&G dreamwork. Using the word "dream" is itself a highly representational move marking off various boundaries and closing down other potentials. Like a multitude of other states, that dream is an endless weaving together of other singular states, each of which is itself a collision of other impulses, each with their own levels of intensity, motives, becomings. Much that we do before going to sleep alters the dream. Has the dream already begun? With the discovery of REM sleep in the 1950's, it was thought that all dreams occurred during REM. Now dreams reports have been elicited from all levels of sleep.

And all dreams are not the same. Some seem to be mere snippets of thought, some titanic nightmares, some common place. Some dreams have characters that know it is a dream, and take volitional control of the dream. Upon awakening, the pictorial imagery fades first, but often the heart continues to rapidly beat, and feelings extend over a lifetime. What is the limit of the dream? Like desire, dreams continually rise up and distribute themselves over the world. Mechanisms in the lower brain stem inhibit this distribution to a paralyzed body during REM, and culture overcodes the left overs, to the point in our culture of paralyzing nearly a quarter of our life into oblivion.

Yet I feel the project can continue as dreams also form their own plane of consistency between two large attractors - the deep dreamless sleep and the waking world. The dream as a system tends towards both of these almost by chance, lives within a various margin of deviation and eventually ends in disorder. Each dream is its own world and defines it own existence and has its own local and global resonance. It is a kind of singularity, it is an assemblage. It functions to connect things.

Transition: Filiation to Alliance

Ron's Dream: We are driving in the country, there are several orchards. We come to a tree that Asher wants to show me on one of the dirt road corners. Its a large leaved tree with dozens of shrunken heads hanging from the branches. I have the feeling the tree is being used by some local cult involved with primitive occult practices. A swarm of butterflies pass by. I panic about the cult returning and begin flying away.

With the history of dream sharing comes the history of dream interpretation. We might say that when one shares with us something odd, there is reactive need to contain it. Generally these practices look at the dream as a message that needs to be de-coded, or re-coded in a system of understanding. Studies in anthropology note that dream interpretations tend to follow the pattern of re-orienting the dreamer back into the culture. This is true from the Hopi who need keep a close eye on all resources in the desert, to the psychoanalytic milieu that needs to bring the neurotic back into filiation with the modern family, city, nation. All of these require the dream to be a representation. Once this move is made, the only question becomes the filiation, to what class or group does the dream belong? By movements of association and similarity, the dream and its elements are shuffled into various categories, each category with its own branch, each branch its own trunk and each family its own tree.

Surrounding each of these movements towards representative capture are alternative paths, and cooperation and alliance with them lead us into difference rather than similarity. Freud felt that through free association we would arrive at something unheard of, completely unknown. Slightly better than representation is symptom. Still, the symptom's value is in what it refers to, and shades of representation color the process. Free association turns out to not be very free at all. Free association would be where the associations of words could cross over into actions and move off the couch and into the world. If you stand up in a psychoanalytic office, you will be asked to lie right back down. It becomes quickly clear where the libido is really being channeled.

There is a form of association practiced in Jungian therapy that is similar, yet different. At one level it appears even more insipid. Instead of freely associating, wandering where-ever, there is a circling around a particular dream image. " I have a blue bird in my dream. Birds, birds, well, flight, feather, spirit, soaring, freedom, laying eggs. Blue, blue, ah yes, expansive, sad, deep. How it this all a metaphor for my own life? I am like a spirit that wants to find expansive yet deep freedom, and I want to pass on this to succeeding generations and I'm sad this isn't working out...". Again, when the dream image is a representation for other things, the movements tend towards the know and the similar. Archetypal psychology can degenerate into stereotypical psychology. Images get put into specimen symbol boxes, symbols placed in categories of mythic stories, mythic stories in families of universal truths. But this isn't what Jung intended, even if the fantasy of future wholeness looms on all this horizons. To the degree that we are able to stay with the unfamiliar tensions (in this case, of the dream), is the degree to which something very different and unique can occur. And so, continue circling around the dream image as if it were a representation, and keep spewing out more representations, just keep doing it until it gets very, very intense. Every representation contains the seeds of its own destruction and the birth of something real. The alchemists noted that in order to reach the goal, heat must be applied. Archetypal psychologist James Hillman has (somewhat humorously) suggested that the very moment we go "Ah, ha - so that's what it means!" we need our Zen Master to be there to slap us in the face and say, "Keep going!"

Much of what follows are suggestions for setting up an alliance with the unfamiliar movements of the dream rather than finding abstract categories that they may represent. But both directions are part of the infinity of processes that envelope the liberation of the dream. Every content and its expression is being organized at a distance by one abstract machine or another.

Becoming Other: Mutant Trajectories

Like desire (and madness) dreams seem to be the most powerful when they bring us into contact with radical otherness. Daniel brings Nebruchanezer into contact with a dream that transforms the religions of Babylon. Joseph brings Pharaoh into contact with a dream that alters the state of Egypt. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is written after a Robert Lewis Stevenson encounters his own Hyde in a dream. Freud and Jung encounter desire and madness in dreams and create and alter the course of psychotherapy.

This radical otherness is better characterized as a continual process of becoming other, which begins in the desire to escape bodily limitations. These limitations can be both cultural as well as natural. To regress back to representations for a moment, in dreams we often find ourselves up against our own cultural and psychophysical limit-expectations. We stop at red lights in our car in a dream. We open dream doors. We walk upstairs and eat meals. Yet in other dreams we fly, we breath water, we walk through walls, men become women, we can be several identities at once, we become animals and crooks, we have sex with taboo people and inanimate objects.

Let me say this another way. Suppose for a moment you were granted freedom from all the forces that repress you, with one stipulation: no one told you about this gift. There are a myriad of forces that keep this from being so, even in a dream, but the tendency in dreaming is towards this supposition. And so in dreams we begin to see what we are holding in place despite our freedom, plus we begin to form in a more malleable medium a myriad of other becomings. Intense struggles envelop every process. The difference between content and expression is the that one force dominates (expression) and one force is dominated (content). The struggle for freedom involves constraints and the desire to leave them behind.

Jim's Dream: I walk down a hill in the neighborhood and cross a dirt field. It begins to rain and I have a harder and harder time crossing.

We begin moving into a becoming of the scene by diagraming the other. This is not an imitation or acting, but a mapping that moves into the function of the other: I begin struggling against the resistant muck. The muck was just in my dream, so how can I really struggle against it without being mere imitator of the scene? By finding the closest muck that is possible. Fritz Perls would have a person struggling against a group of people forming, in this case, the muck. The dreamer might push against other people helping to create a resistance, or a piece of furniture. The key at this point is to keep making it really mucky. Less representation, more direct contact. The dreamer tries to diagram the man in the muck, to step into his shoes without acting, but beginning with a drama none the less. Perls would say one needs to get past the game-playing and bullshit to the real. We want to go past play acting and really get the feel of the muck crossing. Other parts of the dream are brought into this becoming. The muck that resists Jim is a force that can also be diagramed as well. If this were Gestalt session, a dialogue between the two might occur, Jim would be the man in the muck, but then switch and speak as the muddy field itself. That's fine, but the diagraming here is less interested in the dialogue than a third force that can emerge in the struggle, a hybrid man-field as the applied logistics of ways the body can connect with itself and the world. We are seeking a transformation rather than a resolution.

In ancient Delphi, people would sleep on the steps of the temple of Apollo, seeking (incubating) the dream that would allow them access to the oracle inside. Mythically, this access to the truth was a later imposition of Apollo on a pre-Greek people who practiced dance and rites that were assigned by the Greeks to Dionysis. Pan is one of his entourage and was said to have taught Apollo dream work at Delphi. In the Dionysian groups, the questions or problems, if that is what they really were, were danced along the hillsides and meadows and involved transformations in ecstasy. This moving-into may be distinguished from Apollo's seeing-from afar. With the dominance of Apollo, the dramas were all contained in the amphitheater and the ecstasies relocated to the dream (and the one oracle, who was imprisoned in the center of the temple and surrounded by the priests who did all the interpreting of visions and dreams). This same set-up was found in the cult of Asklepios (Aesculapius in Latin). At these popular dream healing sanctuaries the amphitheater was ever near the spa. The patients would be cured when they encountered Asklepios or one of his family or animals in a dream. The becoming other, so to speak, was limited to particular containing vessels. Still, Dionysis is seen as Apollo's dark brother and has his own months where he is still the god at Delphi.

Remaking Interpretation: from Meaning to Function Trajectories

"Their are no data, only interpretations"
Friedrich Nietzsche

The most intense and important movements of freedom emerge continually from the prisons that unceasingly form around each act. I recall as a kid reading a series of stories in the pulp Sci-Fi Magazine Analog about a culture who set their criminals outside the city wall in a land where they were free to do whatever they wanted. The only restriction was that they had to keep moving. If they sat down for more than a few minutes, a small ceiling would form above the head. This ceiling would disappear after some waking. Stay in place for hours and soon walls would began form as well. Finally, the floor would form and that was it, no way to walk it off and one would starve, trapped in the box.

Though the focus of a D&G dreamwork will not be on the meaning of the prison, the way the prison functions may lead to new concepts and tools to undermine its structures. The meaning of a dream is too often the dominating force. The expression of the dream is the force that wins the struggle, the content is the becoming of the dream that is molded. By shifting to the functions of the dream, interpretation becomes not so much a forcing of life into a perspective as a revealing or unfolding of the many perspectives that are currently in play. Tracking these trajectories we can find, diagram and play with them to determine which can serve as indicators that are capable of becoming intense enough to change the direction of a situation. In other words, what parts of the dream function to boost our freedom, our humor, or willingness to jump from one frame of reference to another?

Prisons: Incorporeal Transformations. Abstract machines are at work everywhere, and no where are they more apparent than in magical ceremonies where a person is passed over from one category to another. Let's look at the natural process where a child is born. "It's a girl!" Only words have been spoken here, no real corporeal change. But these words indicate what has really happened, and much of the child's future has already been decided, the status of the child permanently altered, its legal and sexual avenues and rights, the force of cultural beliefs and opinions, the attitudes of the siblings and bosses and workers. The transformation almost goes unnoticed because gosh, all we were really doing is looking to see if it was a girl or a boy. Yet chances are this supple being has now irrevocably been inscribed with tattoos so deep they will probably never be removed nor transcended. Incorporeal transformations. Notice how the legal and other forms of status change with the words "I Do." as well. One abstract machine produces little girls and boys, the another husband and wives.

Yet it is at these very spots that a myriad of alternatives exist. Where-ever there is prison, there is marked around it an open field. Besides being boys and girls we can be green eyes and blue eyes and brown eyes. "Its a Green eyes!" Where ever there is monogamy we have all the alternative outside of this practice.

Dreams can help us not only practice locating these false transformations, but offer alternatives as well. These shifts can happen in both life and dreams at religious rituals, ceremonies, life transition stages, job interviews, school tests, and the most personal and intimate of moments. Manipulative people know how to use these, ("Oh yes, I love you") and so should the dream traveler. At each of these magical moments, desire is overcoded. That is, the coding of desire is re-arranged or decoded from one channel and re-coded into another.

Let us look for a moment at an American beer commercial. To re-code desire, one must first turn up the heat. Desire is typically coded in the targeted commercial viewer to flow at the sight of a beer maid who could be from a Playboy magazine. We might say it has been pre-territorialized by the culture. But the Beer company would like a little of that desire to flow towards their product. So they turn up the heat. Desires are allowed to flow, and desire always overflows its boundaries, so there is some that is deterritorialized. In other words, the targeted viewers get goofy and juiced. This extra desire is then re-coded in the beer, or that is the attempt, anyway. Classical behaviorism at one level, but something else occurs in the process. This all occurs within the realm of capital society. The medium of exchange itself tends to deterritorialize all other values and re-code them along lines of capital. Old alliances and affiliations to tribe, totem, or deity are decoded and reterritorialized on capital. As tragic as this is for aboriginal people and medieval society, it give us the chance to enter into this game and begin to do our own recoding.

Sarah's Dream: An old family of vampires lives in a dusty house in the country. But now the serenity of their existence is over as smugglers that run the Micronesia channels have invented a kind of electric box that when stepped on captures vampires and sends them into an eternal hell. I see the vampire dog they have caught, they keep it in a small cage. The scene changes as a vampire is being prepared to be sent into eternal hell. They have him tied to a mining cart and are about to roll the cart down a dark shaft.

The Theater of Cruelty. Content analysis reveals that more than half of our dreams are unpleasant. From the viewpoint of liberation, this is a hopeful statistic that gives credence to the notion that dreams are already engaged in the practices I am suggesting we might enhance with dreamwork. While we may in general be seeking a life that is more pleasurable and fulfilling, moving into rather than away from pain has many benefits. If we continually follow only what is tried and true to get us off, then the channel becomes more and more rigid and constricted. By mapping what is wretched we can begin to get alternatives to the dominant libidinal investments.

Productive Unconscious. I thought I might finish this essay on dreams without ever using the word "Unconscious". It has come to mean about as much as the word "American", that is, so much that it becomes a hindrance rather than a facilitator. But for a moment, I'd like to bring out the notion of D&G of the unconscious in the same way we have been talking about desire and dreams. Not as a repository of representations which they are referring to something other than themselves, nor a lack of some object which they are seeking, but as productive assemblages of desire. If there has to be any one thing that they produce, then let's call it connections.

How to attune the ear to productions so we can enter in, diagram them and begin to experiment? There is the production of all processes of selection, elimination, generation. There is the producing of the new, of artistic, scientific, and technical connections. There is the production of relations. There is the composition of rhythms and the production of the duration and enduring of moments. There is the production of the enlargement of the scope of perception and complexity, the production of the immune response, the production of ecological caretaking.
What is being produced by the dream?

The Dream Subjectivities. While dreaming we say we are in the dream, but when we awake we forget this and talk about the dream being in us. It seems we could remember that there is always some perspective or another mediating our experience. In a dream I may be myself, or myself at another age. But I can also be other people altogether, other things. One direction we can go is to say that the ego, the I that tells me who I am in the morning, is simply one of many structures that envelop the process of becoming and its nature of feeling it is the central structure of any becoming it (I) participate in is its (my) charm and its (my) illusion. Rather than becoming so concerned about who and what we are identified with in the dream, perhaps an acceptance of the I as one of the many processes will allow us to have more time to diagram and become these others, or to look at how we sustain relationships. What is our attitude in the dream to time, to rhythm, to colors, to space, to body, to sexuality? Jung and Perls like to see the dream itself as a subjectivity. As mentioned, in this stance, all parts of the dream become lost aspect the "I". Perls would even have people put the phrase "part of me" after each part of the dream. The window (part of me) is open (part of me) at the end of the hall (part of me). However, as James Hillman has noted, this tends to allow the ego the "I" part of me to gobble up the whole dream. He would rather see the dream has having its own destiny and the (willful) ego in this scheme needs to learn how to meet these other dream figures on their own ground. Sticking with them becomes intense and leads to their unknown. Sticking them to our already formed identity strengthens that identity.
Sometimes we need to accept our room as ours, other times we need to find the key and open the door to the cell.

From the couch to culture.

Seeking the functions of a dream, diagraming new becomings and cooperating with the new and weird may work well in a private setting or improvisational drama class, but how does the production connect in the politics of the everyday? My suggestion will seem absurd, but it is a preferable social-political stance to be laughable than to be hopeful: a new dream each night may be an assemblage through which one finds the novel mutant becoming of the following day.

Sarah (vampire dream) might spend the day coming into contact with as many aspects of the vampire in her life as possible, or some assemblage of damned-vampire-dog-smugglers. In a traditional dreamwork, this would all remain metaphorical. How is getting up like a vampire, the day sucking the blood of the night? How is my boss like a vampire, how am I like a vampire on the bus, and so on. But a dreamwork of becoming is not just about metaphors but connections that transform. Here Sarah might seek connection of the vampire assemblage in bringing her intensity to break directly into the normal flow of her life. There will be embarrassment, humiliation and failure. There will be the places at which the vampire assemblage comes up against its connective limits. What are these and how do these limits react to the new assemblage? How might she bite directly into the veins of her life and smuggle the marginal desires into the sectors that warehouse and bind all that makes her vibrate? The vampire assemblage may or may not find sufficient enough consistency to stand the light of day nor change the direction of any significant direction. But each becoming gives us more humor and ability to jump again and to withstand more creative tension. The process needn't be eternal. For every vampire there is a wooden stake and each becoming a coming and going. The question for us here is not how to establish new dictators, but rather how we as vampire assemblages can endure the wooden stake.

Dreamwork in Cyberspace: The Swarm.

The nomadic subject: the free autonomous subject which exists momentarily in an ever shifting array of possibilities as desiring machines distribute flows across the body without organs.

A contraption conjures the notion of something taped together with heterogeneous found objects, clunking, churning, improvising, working through bricolage..

Metaphors of space, even virtual cyberspace, tend towards representations that drain desire. Time may be a better metaphor for becoming. Cyberspace may be more intensely lived in the new connections and breaks in old connections that need to be endured rather than distancing spaces it creates between people and institutions. I've noticed that people who use the Internet to gather information are less interested in this new field than those who enter to connect with others. In this sense, the Internet is a becoming. Temporarily, digitally mediated fields attract various contraptions which distribute the flow of desire in an array of short lived connected flows. Desire breaks into old flows and creates new connections. It was only a short time before dreams began to enter into the play and create their own connections.

Dreamwork online began in dream sharing through e-mail. Sometimes this was a simple as the kind of dream sharing that occurs at the water-cooler at the office, "Hey, I had the weirdest dream last night...", and sometimes the dream would be shared in a group discussion mail list producing new connections among variety of e-mail routes. Just as the Internet itself formed a pragmatic case of a D&G subject group (free autonomous subjects that connect momentarily in a ever shifting array of virtual-potentials), so to did the online dream group.

The offline struggle between what is clinical and what is non-clinical dream work continued online. Even as late as 1995, the Internet was still a word that had to be carefully explained to most clinicians. Though my proposal to bring the Internet to the 1996 Association for the Study of Dreams meeting in Berkeley met with great support from the board of directors, the idea that actual sharing of dreams might take place divided the organization and sent the idea into meetings, ethic committees and panel discussions. The boundaries of what might be considered clinical and non-clinical dreamsharing are still in contention. When is the approach to a dream a clinical intervention and when is it something altogether different? And where can some of the altogether different forms of dreamwork be utilized in clinical settings? Meanwhile, online experimentation continued.

Dreams on Usenet began as an experiment by Jack Campin in 1990 to collect images from the unconscious of late 20th Century Anglo Culture. However, it soon became a meeting place for those who wanted more than to post their dreams in a public arena. Grass roots dream groups began forming and experimenting with the new connections the Net allowed. One of these groups, The Electric Dreams Community, devoted itself in particular to computer mediated dream communications. Two of the more interesting experiments included the Swarms, modeled on the notions of D&G rhizomatic connectivity and the Dreamwheels, an email offshoot of the work of John Herbert.

John Herbert's approach online has been to create short, temporary groups that focus first on the non-interpretive aspects of dream image description and then move on to allow members of the group to wildly project their meanings within a play fantasy that the dream is really their own. All statements made about the dream have the implied "In my dream...". Instead of restricting interpretations, they are multiplied and proliferated. This technique was borrowed from a portion of Montegue Ullman's dream group techniques he developed for non-clinical dream support groups. The Electric Dreams community switched the groups from the public bulletin board style and tried a varied of email boundaries. Both of these Internet venues challenged the notions of singular identities, public and private, interpretive authority, and other ideas of location, space, time and connection.

The Swarm began as an Electric Dreams invitation to the Internet community to have an Online Halloween dream sharing excursion. The idea was to start enough movement through the pre-set channels by propelling engaged Halloween beasts to create a critical mass sufficient enough to sustain new channels and fields of play. Dream texts, dream inspired art, dream interpretations and dream chat were to be the beginning connections that would hyperlink the swarm. The project drew participation from dream oriented web site, cyber-psychologists and groups such as the Fly-By-Night club, an organization devoted to the idea the dreaming can be fun.

The results were less interesting than we had planned, probably due to the still nascent technology of the Internet. That is, many people were restricted to just e-mail, others to IRC, others to Usenet and their own Web sites. Many were unclear as to how to create multiple and anonymous identities with e-mail and other Net vessels. There was just not sufficient critical mass.

Still, something stronger than possibilities were entertained and the experimentation continues everywhere online. Dreams continues to produce new connections and break into the older restrictions that surround them. There are projects in the works, for example, to connect all the dreams that get typed into the computer in the morning. These dreams can begin creating global and regional fields of connectivity as new assemblages become accessible in collective diagraming.

Out the text and into the world

Using the Net to break into the flow of normative textual channels is a large part of the Electric Dreams project. That is, you read this article, the text enters flows into your body, codes shift into new channels or harden into arteries. The e-mail list dream-flow receives dreams, comments on dreams and these are assembled, reassembled, published, distributed and allow the dreamer to transverse the flow of his or her own inscriptions. Some people set up web sites and spawn new connections. Over time, the site too may become just another brick in the wall, and join the hyperlinked rot system of lost URLs, but for now it may create a 90 degree break in our patterns. If you are not sure what to come and say, bring a dream.

While the dream will never lose all its representational aspects, nor desire, we can begin to make room for the dream that plays with everything it comes into contact with. It plays with all kinds of authority, it plays with all kinds of taboos and boundaries, it plays with itself. When it begins to play with itself and its own boundaries, something new can happen. In this sense the dream is something that gets put into play, something that carries us away, that breaks into the territorialized flows of repressive authority and creates new connections and flows, turns us into nomads wandering the field of desire. It is said of Eros that he sleeps barefoot in the doorway. Desire breaks into the flows, creates new connections and them abandons them. It always overflows any boundaries culture imposes and produces more connections than any social structure can allow. We wake up in the morning with a dream in our eyes. Is this something to brush away or a doorway into the marvelous?

Richard C. Wilkerson


Bib Notes:

A. I have chosen in this essay to leave off the references in the text as a statement of the need to move into a kind of connectivity that avoids referring and referencing out. I recognize the need to save time by having some linking addresses and so I have included this Bibliography.

B. Original French versions indicated by second date (1998/1984)

C. Dreams have been reprinted with the permission of the dreamers, though their names are anonymous. See the publication Electric Dreams volume 1-5, 1994-1998. issn 1089 4284

Bogue, Ronald (1989). Deleuze and Guattari. New York: Routledge

Campin, Jack & Herbert, John (1990). The founding of alt.dreams. San Francisco, CA: DreamGate publications. http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/history/drmhx03.htm

Deleuze and Guatarri Online: http://www.dreamgate.com/pomo/

Deleuze, Gilles. (1989/1985). Cinema II: The Time-Image. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

-------- . (1986/1983). Cinema I: The Movement-Image. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

--------. (1994/1968 ). Difference and Repetition. Paul Patton (Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press

Deleuze, Giles & Guattari, Felix (1983/1972). Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Rovert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. lane (Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

-------- . ( 1988/1980). A Thousand Plateuas: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Brian Massumi (Trans.). London, Athone Press.

Electric Dreams Online Community: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Ellman, Steven J. & Antrobus, John S. (Eds). (1991). The Mind in Sleep: Psychology and Psychophysiology. 2nd editon. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Freud, Sigmund. (1900/1953). The Interpretation of Dreams. Standard Edition, 4&5 London:Hogarth Press.

. (1965; first published 1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. James Strachey (Trans.). New York: Avon Books.

. (1956). Delusion and Dream. Philip Rieff (Ed.). Boston: The Becon Press.

--------. (1933/32). Revision of the theory of the dream. In New Introductory Lectures to Psychoanalysis. Standard Edition, 22, 5-183 .London: Hogarth Press.

--------. (1925) Some additional notes upon dream-interpretation as a whole. Standard Edition, 19, 127-138. London: Hogarth Press.

--------. (1923/1922). Remarks upon the theory and practice of dream- interpretation. Standard Edition, 19, 72-105. London: Hogarth Press.

. (1914 1917). A metapsychological supplement to the theory of dreams. In Vol. 14, The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (Standard Edition, pp. 222 235). London: Hogarth Press.

--------.(1912/1924). The employment of dream-interpretation in psycho-analysis. In Collected Papers, II. London: Hogarth Press.

--------. (1911). The handling of dream interpretation in psycho-analysis. Standard Edition, 12, 91-96. London: Hogarth Press.

. (1901 1904). On Dreams. In Vol. 5, The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Standard Edition. London: Hogarth Press. 633 686.

. (1963). Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. New York: Collier Books.

Guattari, FELIX (1995). Chaosophy. New York, NY: Semiotext[e].

--------. (1996). The Guattari Reader. Gary Genosko (ed). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Herbert, John .W. (1991) "Human science research methods in studying dreamwork: qualitative
and quantitative analysis of face to face and computer dream work groups" Unpublished Manuscript, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco. http://users.aol.com/john0417/HuSci/Greet.html

Hillman, James (1979). Dreams and the Underworld. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.

. (1979). Image Sense. Spring, 130 143.

. (1978). Further notes on images. Spring, 152 182.

. (1977). An inquiry into image. Spring, pp. 62 88. Hillman, James (1973). The dream and the underworld. Eranos, 42 237 319

Hunt, Harry T. (1993). Dreams as literature/ Science of dreams: An essay Dreaming, 1(3), 235 242.

. (1991). Dreams of Freud and Jung: Reciprocal relationships between social relations and archetypal/transpersonal imagination. Psychiatry, 55, Feb., 28 47.

. (1989a). The Multiplicity of Dreams: Memory, Imagination and Consciousness. New Haven: Yale University Press.

. (1989b). The relevance of ordinary and non ordinary states of consciousness for the cognitive psychology of meaning. The Journal of Mind and Behaviour, 10(4), 347 360.

.(1986).Some relations between the cognitive psychology of dreams and dream phenomenology.(1986). The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 7(2&3), 213 228.

.(1982). Forms of dreaming. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 54, 559 633.

Jung, C. G. (1984). The Collected Works. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Massumi, Brian (1993). A Users's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rheingold, Howard (1993). The Virtual Community. Menlo Park: CA Addison Wesley Publishing.

Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1997). Postmodern dreaming: An introduction. Electric Dreams 4(5),
www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed backissues/ed4 5.htm (May 28, 1997)

--------. (1997). From Ancient Thrace to Cyberspace: The History of Dream Sharing. San Francisco, CA : DreamGate Publications.

--------. (1996). Dreams, Censorship and the new Telecommunications Act . Electric Dreams 3(2), www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed backissues/ed3 2.htm (Feb, 1996)

--------. (1996).Dangerous Dreams The risks of online dream sharing. Electric Dreams 3(6), www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed backissues/ed3 6.htm (July, 1996)

--------. (1996). Dream Sharing in Cyberspace. San Francisco: DreamGate Publications. http://www.dreamgate.com

--------. (1995). On the Tips our Tongues: Clues from Dreaming Research to Enhancing our Control and Understanding of Dream Recall. Electric Dreams 2(6), www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed backissues/ed2 6.htm

Wilkerson, R. & Herbert, J. (1995). John Herbert and the Internet Group Dreamwork . Electric Dreams 2(6), www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed backissues/ed2 6.htm