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"Dreamevent in Cyberspace" by Richard Wilkerson

DreamEvents  in Psyberspace

Walter Logeman     

 



A description of an online group approach to dream work that can give deep insight into the unconscious. Use of the Internet can add a dimension to dream work that was not possible without it. The Internet  presents us with features that enhance and reveal the psychological depth of the work.  The DreamEvents are private and confidential so publicly available and generalised material are used in this article.

Introduction
     Charles, HipBone Games, and Magister-L
    Walter, Psybernet and Psyber-L
    Confluence of Psybernet and HipBone
DreamEvents
     Invitations and Description of the Events
    Basics of the HipBone Game
     Psybernet Groups
Dream moves on a WaterBird Board.
My experience of the DreamEvents
Features of the DreamEvent
     Twin Aspects
     Imaginally Evocative
     Solitary Reflection in a Group
     Patterns and the Psyche
     Temenos
     Enactment
     Mediated
Acknowledments
Version History

 

Introduction

DreamEvents as I call this approach to online dream work has many streams of influence, I'll mention the two most important ones:

One influence is from group psychotherapy. I have learnt through many and workshops using Psychodrama and other modalities to have a thorough respect for the group as a window to the soul.  A group, when it is consciously shaped through shared purpose and commitment forms a container in which the alchemy of soul work can happen.

The second influence is Charles Cameron's Hipbone Games. The games can be used to inter-relate and comment on group members' dreams. The HipBone games are natural to the medium of the Net.  In 1996 I was fortunate to co-facilitate a Dream Event with Charles Cameron. 

The DreamEvent approach grew out of the affinity between Charles and my self. 

Charles, HipBone Games, and Magister-L
Charles, a poet and professional writer in the USA, developed the HipBone Games: a family of games inspired by the fictitious"Glass Bead Game" described in Hermann Hesse's Nobel Prize winning novel, *Magister Ludi*. In Charles' own words:

"These  games explore "associative" or "lateral" thinking -- a style of thinking which is of great importance in creativity-- and provide a number of boards which allow players to "map" ideas in such a way that the links between them can be seen and articulated. Purely verbal associative thinking has a long history within psychology: Sigmund Freud's system of psychoanalysis makes use of it, for instance, and Carl Jung wrote a book on Word Associations, while the "amplification" of dream symbols by chasing down their associations and noting symbolic parallels within such realms as mythology and alchemy is an important part of the Jungian approach to "dreaming the dream forward"... The HipBone Games offer a means for the notation of these associations and parallels,while focusing them down into a "tight" form -- and thus offer an innovative tool for dreamwork."
Charles  has an internet mailing list, MAGISTER-L, not just for the discussion of HipBone Games, but to address the wider issues of spirituality in games.

At about the time of our first Dream event there was an article in the Washington Post about the Glass bead Games and Charles describes his game and uses the beautiful phase:  "a virtual music of ideas."

Walter, Psybernet and Psyber-L
I have been working on the Psybernet project for some years, exploring the psyche and cyberspace. This has included providing psychological professional services on the net.

I am the host of a mailing list, Psyber-L .  The aim of the discussions in this group is to help us become conscious of the effects of cyberspaces on the psyche. The group is a starting point for professional depth psychological work on the Net. The explorations can be deeply personal and group membership is by application and has closed archives.


Confluence of Psybernet and HipBone
Charles and I first met as a result of a conference to which we both submitted papers, the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research, EMCSR , one theme in 1996 was "Theories and Metaphors of Cyberspace". Each of us submitted papers involving metaphor and the Internet. Coming from different backgrounds we had a similar feel for the psyche that enabled us to work together easily. Our projects formed the basis for the 1996 DreamEvent and for the development of this approach to dream work.

 

DreamEvents

There have been two full DreamEvents.  The first was in 1996 and another event took place at the turn of the millennium. We used an Internet mailing list for the group, and also made extensive use of the Web, especially in the second event. Each group had about sixteen participants each who had subscribed to the group via a listserver.

Listservers are computer programs located on computers scattered across the Internet, which take email sent to a "list address" by a "subscriber" and repost it automatically to all the other subscribers to that particular "list".  The second DreamEvent used a free service called eGroups, funded by ads on each posting.  Thus a dozen or five hundred people who share a common interest in a particular topic area can "post" messages to others who share their interests -- and when those others respond, the ensuing
dialogues can themselves spark further responses, and open up new topics within the list's area of interest.  Each new topic is called a "thread"...

The DreamEvent, then, "consists" of the hundreds of messages posted to a server which distributes these emails to the sixteen participants, over the course of a couple of months.

Individual threads include the members introducing themselves and making contact with each other, dreams and the participants' comments on them, the nature of dreams in general, discussions of the HipBone games which will be played on the list, the function of form in relation to dreams and the arts, and more...

Crucial to the success of any group is the "warm-up" created by the initial invitation.  Also important is the framework and guidelines for the group that participants agree to by joining.  For groups going deeply into the psyche the container for the unconscious processes is important.  The descriptions of the group are the foundation of the "space" for the dream work.

Invitations and Description of the Events
The invitation to the first event, cooperatively written by Charles and myself, formed the basis for this way of working.  It described our roles as facilitator, the place and purpose of the HipBone Game and the three main phases of the group; preparation, linking dreams and closure. It concluded with a statement of intent as well as a disclaimer:

"We intend to use this process as a vehicle for honoring the dreams and the dreamers. We look to making this event a celebration. There will be a place to attend to feelings as they arise in the work. These are our aims -- this dream event is the first of its kind, and we are in the hands of the gods as to how things will turn out."

The invitation to the second event , which I facilitated on my own, is based on the first.   It has a new way of looking at the overall duration of the group based less on chronological time, but more on the group reaching of certain mileposts.

"As facilitator, I will structure the phases according to the group's life and the completion of each phase and not according to chronological time.  Bearing in mind that times are a rough guide, three months is offered for the three phases. The times to guide the phases are 3, 6 and 3 weeks, respectively.

It is important that there is no rush and also that we do not have unhelpful pauses. Some periods of silence may well be part of the natural flow of the group."

We used the Web to record the game, and this involved the role of an editor:

"The discussions will be in a mailing list using plain text and here will also be a place to post graphics or other multimedia files. A hypertext "Dreamevent Document" will be created as part of the group's work."

Psybernet Groups
The Net is a vast interlinking not only of machines, but of people. It has become a cliche to note that the net is not about "information" but about people, knowledge, relationships and conversations. When people link and connect in any group, psychological dynamics manifest.  The Psybernet Groups make that aspect a conscious feature and we consistently address the art and science of approaching the collective psyche in cyberspace.

Basics of the HipBone Game
Early on in these games we describe how the game works. Instructions describing how to play the game and make moves are posted to the list by the facilitator. Important in this process are the resources on the HipBone website and the game that Charles wrote to demonstrate the game to the Psyber-L group; the Bear Madonna Game.

Each game uses a board on which to place the moves.  In both the DreamEvents we used the WaterBird Board.  I see a similarity between the Hipbone games, using a board such as the Waterbird board and the Psychodrama stage as developed by J. L. Moreno. Both the empty board and the empty stage give impetus to our creative drive, and provide a medium, a form for a performance of the groups underlying hidden cohesion.

            


Fig.1  WaterBird Board

 

Dream moves on a WaterBird Board.

The HipBone game can be used to link dreams. Here is an example of some moves in a DreamEvent.  I will show just two moves here, though the game can be seen on the Web where it will be played on to completion. 

Imagine I am in a DreamEvent with all the writers who ever lived. We will use a dream for the content of each move and then the next move, also a dream, will describe the associations to the moves that it links to.  A writer or I can make a move any time, it is a cooperative game, we use the WaterBird board.  I make the first move, and use the format that is used in the DreamEvents:


 Position 1

Move One: Hanging Ladders


Position: One

Moved By: Walter Logeman

Content:

A Dream: Thu, 22 Jul 1999
I make my way up to the fourth or fifth level of an old building, a hotel. There is a conference, of elite people, some in tuxedos, others in hi-tech mountain fashion clothes - beards.  I am being chased, or simply wanting to get out of the room and climb out of a window into the night, the window then shuts, so it can't be opened again.  I don't want to get back in anyway. 

I am on an iron ladder of a fire escape, two or three lengths are folded together and impossible to untangle while I am on them, but even if they were unfolded, they lead nowhere, there is only a 5 story drop.  I am content enough on the ladder, but also unable to go anywhere.

Comment:

This dream was important to me at the time.  I felt stuck.  It also has a part to play in the story of the Dreamevent that was to follow the following December.

Links to other positions:

None, as this is the first move on the board.

Top

Added: Sunday, April 02, 2000


Position 8

Move Two: Tempted to die, Isabel Allende

 Position: Eight

Content:

Isabel Allende describes a dream her mother had, and how she later also had that dream.

"She would dream that she was in a boat in the middle of the ocean and there was a tempest. The boat sank and she had to save the kids. She could only save one. And she had three. She would be swimming from one kid to the other trying to keep them above the water. But she knew that she would have to make up her mind and save only one. That was her recurrent dream.

"I had a similar dream for a while that I had to save one of my two kids. Fortunately the dream is gone. The worst year in my life was probably 1978. I usually say that it was I973, because that was the year of the military coup but the consequences of that event were apparent to me only in 1978. In I978 I realized that all my life had been destroyed. I thought at that time that I wouldn't have another opportunity. I'd been struggling all those years to survive and then, in 1978, I gave up.

"I wanted to die. And so I started having that dream my mother's dream the dream that I had to save one of my kids. I had to make a choice. And in the dream I was tempted to die in order not to make that choice. I would rather drown myself and let everybody drown so that I wouldn't be forced to make the choice of saving one of them.

 

Comment:

This dream is from the marvelous book of interviews by Naomi Epel, Writers Dreaming.  Bookman Press 1993, Melbourne.  Pages 17 - 18.

Isabel Allende goes on to say: 

"By thinking about the dream and writing about the dream I realized that I was escaping from them and from everything. It helped me a lot. I could start again. I got a job and I started working because I'd decided that my only goal was to educate my children."

 

Links to other positions:

Move One, Hanging Ladders:While the Hanging Ladders dream does not have the life and death choices of the Isabel Allende's dream it also a dream about a dead end, about having nowhere to go.  Death is an option in both dreams.

 

Top

Added: Monday, April 03, 2000 


Position 2

    

 

Move Three:  Sophie's Choice, William Styron

 

Position: Two

Content:

The obvious move to link with Isabel Allende's dream is this dream or vision from William Styron.  The dream is from the same book of interviews by Naomi Epel, pages 272 -273.

I'd been working on a book that was not coming together for me at all. I had been slaving away at it and was getting very upset over the fact that it wasn't proceeding well. And one morning I woke up with this lingering vision. I don't like to characterize it as a dream, although I think it had the aspects of the remnant of a dream. I think there was a merging from the dream to a conscious vision and memory of this girl named Sophie. And it was powerful because I lay there in bed with the abrupt knowledge that I was going to deal with this as a work of fiction. That I had to abandon the other book I was trying to do and, because of her, because of all of the resonance surrounding her story, I was suddenly going to have to write the book which later became Sophie's Choice. That very morning, I remember I walked over to my studio and wrote down the first words just as they are in the book, and went from there to the end without any deviation to speak of. So, in a sense, you could say that the whole concept of the book was, if not the product of a dream itself, the product of some resonance that a dream had given me.

 

Links to other positions:

Move One, Hanging Ladders: The dead end of the book that was being written at the time of the dream, the abandoned project has a similar feel to the dead end at the end of the chase.

Move Two: Tempted to die, Isabel Allende: Isabel Allede and her mother before her dreamt she had a Sophie's Choice.

Top

Added:
Monday, April 03, 2000

  


     Position 3

  Move Four : A Glass in Each Hand

Position: Three

Moved by: Walter Logeman

Content:

A dream:  Tue, 21 Sep 1999

I've not had dreams I'd call prescient.  I sometimes have dreams that I seem to give me advance notice of my own direction and where I am at in myself.  For example I had a lot of dreams for a while where I was hanging in a stuck place.  No way out except for a big drop.  Then I dreamt:

I slipped on a wet, natural, rounded stone floor, landed on my side, quite gently, and was holding a glass in each hand.  I looked at the glasses with surprise; I had not dropped them in the fall, or used my hands to break the fall.

Comment:

I had no idea what the dream was about, until I realised it was on river bed rock.  I was no longer hanging.  I'd made a shift. I felt the shift then in many ways in my life.  One of the results of that dream was to set up the DreamEvent! 

 

Links to other positions:

Move One, Hanging Ladders: This dream was in my mind the resolution of the earlier dream.  What seemed an impossible state in the other dream has an almost miraculous outcome. 

Move Two: Tempted to die, Isabel Allende: I saved both the glasses.  They represent two of my creations, if not my children. In both dreams there is an emphasis on the number two. I have a sense of saving the two offspring in my dream and no longer being stuck. Isabel Allende also moves in a flash from being in the impossible situation, to "educating her children"... which again relates to nurturing the creations I associated with my two glasses.

Move Three:  Sophie's Choice, William Styron:  My sense of clarity and creativity as a result of my dream is well summed up in William Styron's words:

So, in a sense, you could say that the whole concept of the book was, if not the product of a dream itself, the product of some resonance that a dream had given me.

Top

Added: Tuesday, April 04, 2000


 

These four moves are by way of example of the Moves on the board.  The example, though it alludes to my process in deciding to conduct the DreamEvent later that year, can only show us the Game aspect of the DreamEvent not the actual life of a group.  In the privacy of the group the process can be intense, complex, personal and immediate.  Those dramas should remain private.  It is only in the privacy of a group that they can actually occur in their fullness.

My experience of the DreamEvents  


It was a delight to meet the other "dreamers and players", knowing that even as we met we were sharing thoughts feelings and images that might return in our descent into the dream world. The dreams flowed in, major archetypal dreams with glowing biblical association as well as single humble images.  Rapidly we learnt to make links. The groups were lively and spontaneous.  On each occasion more than a hundred dreams were posted and as many poems, some original and some chosen because they amplified our themes.

In both events the group life, as group life does, became more complex.  Difficult for most of us at times, and almost impossible for some.  The complexities in our histories and our psyches made a potent mix!  I noticed that the drama enacted on the board as moves were made in the HipBone game spoke directly to the dynamics of the group.  If the group was slow and heavy, the dreams shared with the group had slow and heavy images, and the game's progress itself was slow and heavy. Or it could be that floods of email mirrored by dreams of floods.

From the first event I learnt that the process takes more time than the six weeks we allocated.  The group closed after a full and thoughtful sharing, six months or so after we started. 

After the first event I had a sense of psychological overuse. It took a while before I wanted to submerge into the psyche like that. I also knew that we were on the edge of something new.  The medium of the Internet was enabling us to explore the psyche in a new and revealing way. The DreamEvent, I can see has a format that can be developed to be as exciting and fruitful as that first event.

 

Features of the DreamEvent

The DreamEvents bring a freshness to the exploration of the psyche that I think is as exciting as the introduction of the couch or the 50 minute hour.  The features of these events are in themselves simple facts.  Each of these facts has a profound consequence.  I will conclude this article with a summation of those features.

Twin aspects
There is the Game and the Group.  The DreamEvent combines a cooperative form of the HipBone game with the psychological depth approach from Psybernet groups. I think of them as twin aspects of the DreamEvent, twins that work together. 

Imaginally Evocative
We operate on the Net with some of our faculties maximized, such as writing and seeing our inner thoughts on a screen in words.  We are already in a place where we are with people who we partially construct out of our imagination.  We meet the dreams in a place that is close to where they come from.

Solitary Reflection in a Group
The contradiction that is inherent in the life of some monks in monasteries is that they are hermits in a commune. Being in a group on the Internet is like that.  The writing up of our dreams and contemplation of them in silence, a natural and traditional way to explore dreams is not forsaken as we are at the same time in a lively and busy group.

Patterns and the Psyche
The very stuff of the psyche: associations, the naming of themes and patterns, the naming parallel processes are present in the play of the HipBone game which uses these very things that are traditional in psychotherapy.

Temenos
We do our dream work within form: within the form and containment of a closed and private group, within the form of the HipBone Game and the structure of the WaterBird board. There is also the definite, though mysterious containment that comes from the contours provided from dreamworld itself.

Enactment
Joseph Campbell described ritual as the enactment of myth.  Dreams may not be myth. but they are close.  They have been called the dreams of a culture.  Through learning to use the precise form of the Games and honoring the purposeful act of making moves we are in the process of finding a new ritual that opens the doors into the imaginal and sacred places that older rituals opened in a past era.

Mediated
The psyche is invisible without a medium.  The psyche comes to life or some would say only exists once it is reflected.  The DreamEvent is a medium.  Participation in these events has made it clear that such structures as the "50 minute hour" of psychotherapy are forms of media that enable the psyche to manifest. 

Acknowlegments

My thanks go firstly to Charles Cameron for being a friend, for his work on creating the HipBone Game, for his involvement in the first DreamEvent and for his work on the initial drafts of this article, which originally we thought we might write together and which has phrases throughout that originated in his mind and came from his keyboard. Thanks to Richard Wilkerson the editor, for persisting in extracting this article from me. I need a deadline to get these things done, and he provided several! Warmest thanks to the participants in the DreamEvents I hop this article does the process justice, though I know it is barren compared to the riches of the experience. To all in Psyber-L to whom I feel bound by the contours of that container as well as the bonds we make.

Version History

Version 0.9  Monday, April 03, 2000 revised for ASD Dream Time

Walter Logeman

Walter Logeman is a psychotherapist in Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1993 he began developing the Internet project Psyber-L, a group for experiential learning about online depth interaction for people doing psychological work on the Internet. http://www.psybernet.co.nz/ 

E-mail: walter@psybernet.co.nz

 

 



 

  Copyright 2000 Walter Logeman. Reprinted by Permission. Association for the Study of Dreams. All Rights Reserved