Occupy London – The Tavistock Institute Social Dreaming Event
The first Social Dreaming Event (SDE) at Tent City University took place on the 9th November with 20 people presenting a total of 11 dreams.
UPDATE: Social Dreaming Events continue to take place at Tent City University, you can now follow the sessions on our ‘SDE Tent City University’ blog:
The task of the SDE was stated as: to associate to dreams made available to the Social Dreaming Event in order to make links and find connections between individual thought and social meaning. The social context in which the event took place is a protest against capitalism.
Of the 11 dreams presented, 10 were night dreams and one was dream-as-prophecy. The participants presented their dreams willingly and with a sense of curiosity about the process with only short side discussions on the theory of dreams – their validity and value and whether dreams originated from ‘within’ or from ‘on-high’. In the main, the participants understood that meaning would emerge through shared effort by the participants themselves, holding to the idea that dreaming is an individual process that can be used for developing social, as distinct from personal meaning.
The process was interrupted for between 20 and 25 minutes by the deafening noise from a helicopter hovering directly overhead, possibly stimulating certain dream elements about destruction. The participants responded to this by doing a non-verbal group exercise that nevertheless involved mental imagery and communication, suggesting a parallel process to dreams as being located physiologically in people but needing the application of words/language to become ‘social’, i.e. dreams are images given a language and communicated. The noise passed and dream presentation resumed.
The dreams fell into two categories that had resonance with the SDE’s setting in Tent City – being on a journey and loss. Dreams about journeys were pleasant and exciting – being able to fly, theme parks with flashing lights and exciting rides, and trains and buses. The direction and means of the journeys – literal journeys and the ‘journey of life’ – were sometimes confused, but they involved history and stories (his story?) and progress was made without concern.
The second cluster of dreams involved loss and these dreams were less pleasant, but also tempered by elements of the dreams being about putting things right. There was loss of fishing equipment (the participants’ search (“fishing”) for dreams?); loss of parts of one’s body (a tooth, skin peeling off a face); losing sustenance (rotting food at Tent City), loss of stability (the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and radiation; Bill Murray – ‘Lost in Translation’).
Dreams also expressed the hope of putting things right (finding mother at home, clearing and cleaning the kitchen and cooking a meal). A delivery of fresh vegetables was due, but forgotten – pointing to over-looking the physical and human resources that are actually available. Snakes appeared and although arousing fear, they also served as symbols of learning (tree of knowledge) and cure (medicine), and snakes having positive meaning in many cultural mythologies.
The dreams covered all four elements: air (flying); water (travelling on boats and submarines, the tsunami, Jonah and the whale; Moses crossing the Red Sea); earth (earthquake) and fire (earthquake, radiation, cooking)
Our working hypothesis is that this Social Dreaming Event expressed a Garden of Eden scenario where goodness would be available for all, but not without the acquisition of knowledge and avoiding the temptation of magical thinking.
At the end of the SDE, participants said they appreciated having a ‘safe’ place to share and understand their dreams; and that they would welcome the SDE as a regular event at Tent City.
The facilitators of this SDE were Mannie Sher and David Armstrong.