Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Dreamer: The Light and the Dark

This dream was donated by BostonBabe, who provides us with both a context and an interpretation for her dream. She has asked for my comments as well, so I’ll add them at the end of the post.

The Context: Nine months ago, I left my corporate job to devote time to my own creative work. Eight days ago, I held an open house in my home to show my recent work, the first public viewing of my art in five years. Two days ago, I spent the afternoon with an artist and his wife (a former colleague). I was introduced to artist friends of theirs, saw the husband’s recent work, and was given some guidance on the business of art. That night, I had some disturbing dreams.

Three Dream Fragments:
  1. A piece entitled Floor Lamp, the first piece in my show--to the left as you enter the gallery--lies in disarray. It has fallen off its shelf and lies on its side on the floor, damaged. The art books that were carefully arranged in a pyramiding stack under the shelf are also in disarray scattered about the floor. Needless to say, this was upsetting.
  2. Out of necessity, I have gathered up some essential belongings and am holed up in the back seat of my car, which is parked outside my house. My house is isolated on a dark, lonely street. As I look towards the end of the road (to the right as you face the house), I see the entrance to a dark woods. I am frightened.
  3. This dream is the most fragmentary: A man is dying very, very slowly.  Not painfully, or sadly, but in a very slow process. 
 BostonBabe’s Interpretation: On one level, the danger captured in these fragments is from my inner critic, who goes back to my father.  I think the stubborn persistence of the inner critic in my psyche is captured in dream  Fragment 3. The destruction in dream Fragment 1 may be my inner critic's response to the "audacity" of claiming to create work that is founded on centuries of art history (represented by the piled up art books) -- the "audacity" of claiming my place as an artist. As for dream Fragment 2, I think I am concerned, not only about managing my inner critic, but also about the couple I visited right before the dreams -- can I trust them? Do they have my best interests at heart? Do I need to protect my self? Will I lose control of my life? Anxiety about becoming more visible to the "serious" art community may have influenced this fragment, as well my concern to protect my creative core.

Carla:  Since interpretations of others’ dreams—as well as of their words or deeds, for that matter—are projections, I will take BostonBabe’s dream on as my own in these comments. My take on it may or may not be true for BB.

BB didn’t title her dream, so I’ve called it The Light and the Dark because I feel this is at the core in my
dream. I begin with a lamp (light) that has been damaged. The light symbolizes my own inner light, expressed in my art. Both my art (the piece called Floor Lamp) and my understanding of my own history as an artist (the fallen and scattered art books) are fragile and precarious, as seen by their tumble. By displaying my art in public in waking life I have experienced the vulnerability of exposing my inner self to the world. I am left unsettled and in disarray.

In Fragment 2 I face the dark. I retreat from this public event by gathering together what is essential (replenishing my core) and taking refuge in the back seat of my car. My dream allows me to take a little rest, but can’t resist pointing out that as long as I stay parked here (holed up: held up) I am clearly not in the driver’s seat (of my life). My house, another symbolic representation of me, is isolated. I feel the pain and isolation of the artist and visionary. I look toward my future (the end of the road), seeing an entrance to a dark wood. As I become aware of the difficulties I have undertaken by embracing life as an artist, I am afraid.

Remember the Floor Lamp in the first fragment? It’s on the left, pointing to an unconscious element. In Fragment 2 my path (the road) is to the right, that is, consciousness. As I face (bring to consciousness) my unconscious fear my transformation begins. My dark forest is also my place of growth, the mysterious--and yes, scary--generator of my creativity. Facing my fear of this mystery enables the death of the old me to begin. It may be dying slowly, but dying it is; and its death births my new life.


Robur d'Amour said...

Is there any connection between Floor Lamp, and falling to the floor? The floor refers to the unconscious. Possibly as a source of inspiration.

A man, in a woman's dream, sometimes represents the animus. The death of the animus, in a woman, could have something to do with a rejection of logicality and reasoning.

When the dreamer referred to art books, does that imply that the reader had studied art, and had a bookish, intellectual understanding. Maybe the dream is saying that art does not come out of books, but, rather out of the hidden world of the unconscious.

Carla Young said...

Robur: Dreams are so rich in associations and possibilities. Later I also thought of "floored," meaning stunned: as in "I was floored by the viewers' reactions to my exhibit." I think you are onto something with the connection between the floor lamp and falling to the floor.
As a woman I often think of the animus as being the part of me that deals with the outside world. As you suggest, in this dream I might be dealing with my animus' insistence that I deal with the world in a practical way.

Robur d'Amour said...

I do think that 'floor' is important, because the word is used twice. It's being emphasised.

The fear of the wood could represent the artist's own fear of the unconscious, and of losening up, and of revealing her own unconscious.

For example: A painting showing the first dream scene - a damaged painting on the floor with pile of books in disarray - would be far more interesting as art, than a painting of a floor lamp, that looks like something out of a furniture catalogue.

Now... this is not directly connected with the meaning of the artist's dream (although it could be), but I thought it was interesting...

I have a book, written by a Jungian analyst, that I have not read (I have a lot of books waiting to be read!). Anyway, yesterday morning I just flicked through a few pages of this book. One page caught my eye. It has a photo of the analyst's bookshelf, and he described an incident where - a book fell on the floor! This particular book was a book by Jung that the analyst had never read. His inference was that book was drawing itself to his attention. I have the same book by Jung, and, surprise, I haven't read it either! So, I decided that I should. And I started yesterday afternoon. Within the first 100 pages Jung explains a very detailed piece of symbolism, which happens to be part of an answer to a question that I myself had just asked!

Carla Young said...

Love your last paragraph! That's what Jung would have called "synchronicity." I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.

BostonBabe said...

I think there's some merit in the notion of the death of the animus representing a turning away from everyday logic and reason to intuition and, well, synchronicity. That change in guiding principle, if you will, is certainly part of my ongoing transformation.

"Floor Lamp" is actually a quite playful little sculpture made from found materials, including a "light fixture" that looks rather like a brain. When the shelf it was sitting on failed, I decided to support the shelf with the art books and consciously thought about the "meaning" of that. Perhaps that colored my interpretation of the dream.

The floor is covered with wall-to-wall carpeting. Is that significant to the interpretation?

Robur d'Amour said...

Correction on the animus thing!

The clue to the meaning of that comes from a man, and he's a real man!!!

When I woke this morning, I realised that I know of a 'man who is slowly dieing'.

He appeared on a very impressive TV program about Himalayan tigers which was shown in England a couple of days ago. This is the man:

The 'message' is that we are all running out of time.

So the message to the artist is - go for it.

Robur d'Amour said...

PS It's not clear from that article in National Geographic, but Alan Rabinowitz has luekemia.

On the TV program he explained how his leukemia had made him realise the issue about running out of time - for himself, and the endangered species he was trying to save.

Carla Young said...

Another good example of synchronicity.

Robur d'Amour said...

Would you mind if I speculate a bit further on Boston Babe's dream? And then I'll leave you alone!

In the first synchronicity, involving things falling to the floor, the book that I was looking at has 'Synchronicity' in the title, and the book that fell to the floor in the analyst's office was a book by Jung, which has something about synchronicity in it. I think that synchronicites that involve books referring to synchronicity, must be especially interesting.

Marie-Louise van Franz tells us that dreams often have 3 phases. The first phase introduces the setting and the problem. In Boston Babe's dream, this could be the scene of the Floor Lamp falling to the floor. This seems to have the sense of something drawing attention to itself. Then there is the action phase, which could be compared to the scene in the car wondering about the wood. And the third and final phase is the Lysis, which is the solution. The solution here seems to have the sense of imbuing something with a sense of urgency, even if we're not clear what the problem is.

The majority of dreams come from the personal unconscious. They may be reflections on the previous day's events. However, in Boston's dream, the second synchronicity involves a film, that had recently been shown, or was about to be shown, on TV 3000 miles away. So this dream seems to be a deeper sort of dream, coming from the collective unconscious.

There are some issues about whether I was right to make the connection between Boston's dream and the TV program. But the connection happened, and Jung says we must not ignore it.

And the message of the dream doesn't necessarily apply to the dreamer. In primitive societies, if one of the community experiences what they call a 'big dream', then they are obliged to tell the dream to the whole community, because a big dream affects other people. It is interesting that, in this particular instance, Boston seems to have experienced a need to tell other people about her dream, and took action to do so.

So is this dream about saving the world's endangered animals? Well, it might be something along those lines. There is a sense of urgency about something, and there is a synchronistic link to the wildlife film. Though Boston's dream could be about something else.

Finally, just a word about how the meanings of dreams have to be unlocked. Marie-Louise von Franz talks about this in The Way of the Dream (p222 or p340 depending on the edition). She says that the unconscious often has to help us in getting at the meaning. This can happen if the analyst gets a hunch. Or it could be some kind of coincidence that happens. Every single instance is unique. But there is often some kind of 'strange' help, given by the unconscious. And in this particular instance, there are two synchronicities, that might be shedding light on the meaning of the dream.

PS I was intending to write a post myself, about some other things in the tiger film, and so I might mention this synchronicity.

Carla Young said...

Robur, Your experience with Boston Babe's dream is similar to what happens when a dream is shared in a dream group. We all take on the dream as if it were our own. We can be sure that what we feel and express about the dream is true for us--but only the dreamer will know if it is true for her. By our projecting onto her dream we present her with possibilities she might not have thought of, and often she will have an "aha!" experience as a result. I thank you, and I am sure Boston Babe does as well, for the careful attention you have paid to her dream. We have learned new possibilities. Your thoughtful observations are always welcome!

Robur d'Amour said...

I've written a little post, which mentions Boston's dream, here:

BostonBabe said...

Apologies to you both for my tardy thanks! I thought I had posted the other day but must have pressed the wrong button! I've enjoyed all the connections, especially Carla's take on Fragment #2. The deep, dark woods don't look so scary now!

Carla Young said...

Thank you, Boston Babe, for allowing me to post your dream. I enjoyed working with it, and it has clearly resonated with many.

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