Theatre of Dreams - Article 3
Communication Technologies and the Western Dreamscreen
Communications technologies have progressively produced media that reproduced the physical characteristics of the dream. The combined presentation of visual and auditory animation most closely resembles the modern media of film, television and the Internet. Information is adapted to connect directly to primal patterns of human perception and understanding. We can think of these media as the communal dreamscreen. The Western Dreamscreen has been shaped by a variety of media industry influences.
Techniques of Film, Theatre and Dreams
Freud ( Interpretation of Dreams ) had already pointed out that a primary tendency of the sub-conscious (i.e. dreams), was to communicate in visual metaphors. Artistic and poetic methods soon developed, turning their sights towards the unconscious processes through the visual, poetic and plastic arts. As an art form, film resembles the techniques used in dreamwork which in turn open the gateway to film's surrealistic possibilities. Dreams and film are similar in that they take place in darkened space, the dreamer or spectator perceives, identifies and is persuaded to believe in a flow of images which appear real. It has been said that art imitates life; surrealism can be said to believe that art and life imitate the dream or the nightmare.
It follows that popular communications form communal dreamscapes, where collective ideals are given voice. It also follows that, when the techniques and devices of such collective communications are identified, they will be used to return information back to dreamers, modified to influence individuals and affect behaviour. These ideas enter individuals' dreams, creating acceptance or conflicts that are in return then reflected back out on the communal dreamscape. The cycles of dreaming and storytelling have intensified with technological advances, to the point that it has become possible, within the space of a single day, to witness several cycles of stimulus and response between individual and collective ideals that follow widely and intensely attended e vents. Speculation about possible causes of 9/11 or the massacre in Littleton, Colorado had gone out in the media and initiated individual responses even as the events unfolded. Just as individual dreams can be analyzed as a coping mechanism, public storytelling, the music, art and literature that form popular culture, can be criticized on the basis of how well it represents the dramatic tension between individual ideals and collective realities.
Film Techniques and Communal Dreamscreen
It is only natural that our technologies should mimic our bodies, physically and mentally. Within the Theatre of the Mind are two dreamscreens: the Individual Dreamscreen within our own minds, and the Communal Dreamscreen of public media in its widest interpretation. In constant interaction, the Communal Dreamscreen has gradually developed to induce or reproduce the characteristics of the Individual Dreamscreen. The combined presentation of visual and auditory animation on the Individual Dreamscreen is most closely duplicated in the modern media of film, television and the Internet. Similarly, the Theatre of the Mind is in constant interaction with the Theatre of Everyday Life, each influencing the other.
But the degrees of influence are not equal. Some individuals and power groups have more influence on the Communal Dreamscreen than others, and the Communal Dreamscreen has more direct and greater influence on Individual Dreams than the other way about. The dreamscreens of Americans have been shaped by a variety of media industry influences. Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science were a predominant industrial force shaping the American Dream in the 20th century. The producers of television programming carried similar weight, and they sometimes used their influence for the benefit of large advertisers, or powerful political constituencies. It is useful to understand some of various techniques that media experts use or hire to ensure the dominance of their dreams.
Dreams as Psychodrama
The Austrian psychiatrist J.L Moreno developed the technique of psychodrama, which is intended to act out theatrical scenarios by analysing repressed inner conflict, especially as it relates to interpersonal antagonisms and errors in judgement which are revealed in the spontaneous improvisation.
Dreams in the same fashion make us relive painful long forgotten memories until they either become so distorted as to become unrecognizable or are finally worked through and resolved. Conversely they can titillate us with impossible visions.
Dreams, Film Techniques and the Theatre of Everyday Life
The perspective of life as theatre views everyday life as a "show" (performance) which is "staged" (performed). Understanding follows when we recognize that individuals fill at least two roles in modern storytelling, those of spectator and actor. In both individual and communal dreamscreens, we watch ourselves, individually and collectively interacting in the theatre of everyday life.
As a trend in theatre in the 1970s, the theatre of everyday life attempted to display the concerns of everyday life. Content in presenting an assemblage of fragments of reality and tatters of language, the aim of this form of theatre is to reconstruct a milieu, a period and an ideology. Like collective dream patterns it is a hyper-realistic theatre which mixes autobiography, intimacy, fantasy and reality. The communal narratives which circulate on an everyday basis provide both pro- and retro-spective trans-generational awareness. The dramaturgical work of everyday life found in the dream-work uses the technique of montage of memory. [A relatively rapid succession of different shots in a movie/The juxtaposition of such successive shots as a cinematic technique] In the same way that a director cuts different shots together to create a whole, the dreamer's seemingly-unconnected unconscious visions will make sense strung together, and in the same way that pieces of film are left on the cutting room floor, so will the dreamer edit his memories while dreaming.
Communal fantasies such as rumour and gossip are created by the field and flow of everyday metaphoric ex-changes and communication currents. Dreams reflect these narrative currents of communal fantasies and their underlying fears, hopes and desires. Gary Allen Fine ("Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds") believes that gaming produces collective fantasies projected on the sub-culture's communal screen. So for example, Dungeons and Dragons, Chivalry and Sorcery and The Empire of the Petal Throne all create role-playing worlds for the player. All thought and fantasy become part of a constructed social world.
When pessimism sets in, in the theatre of everyday life, disillusionment is the logical outcome. Resignation, alienation, apathy, mortification and protest are the net result and become acted out "on" and/or "off" the cultural stage. The dream provides access to understanding the cultural milieu and the dynamics of the theatre of everyday life. Disillusionment, disenchantment, and the disappointment of broken dreams is the common coin of the oppressed and disenfranchised. Feelings of devastation, helplessness and dejection all serve to illuminate both the tragic reality and alienation effects of everyday life.
Dreamwork as Non-linear Editing
A popular development in motion picture editing over the last twenty years, non-linear computer editing allows random access to any scene without having to move sequentially through the whole film. This allows the editor to try out variations in sequence as well as watch two variations on the screen simultaneously.
Visual and auditory techniques such as fades, dissolves, wipes and superimpositions can all be tried out and pre-viewed. Perspectives can be played with built up and then washed away like sand castles on a beach.
Dreams operate in much the same way, where memory represented by the film is non-linearly edited providing the texture of what is being experienced as "real" yet also surreal and "unreal." In this way, memories, fantasies and desires become connected or disconnected sensually, emotionally, motivationally and cognitively. Personality then informs the individuals' choices of the dream work and then plays the role of making the final editing decisions of viewing ones' auto-biography.
Dreams, Genres and Body Techniques
Marcel Mauss article Body Techniques believes that each culture imprints on the body through tradition. The everyday body is technologically determined by the society it lives in. The body transforms itself in film/dream according to the genre it finds itself in.
The literary genre has an effect on the bodies of the readers/spectators. Gaze, voice, touch and sensation all play an inordinate role in film/dreams. The film/literary/dream genre is dependant and caught up in the spectacle in which the body in its spiritual, intellectual, sentimental and material aspects finds itself. Horror and pornography are more visceral and privilege the "sensational" body genre. In porn the money shot/orgasm is at the centre of the stage while in horror, violence and terror, which paralyse the body/mind, are central. Melodrama, or the "weepie" is also important, because so many people find themselves crying in their dreams.
Thought, emotion, sensation can all be related back to the body or what Freud called the body-stimulation theory of dreams. The IIDR is constructing an anatomy of film/dream bodies out of the database of dreams it has received.
The Civilized Body
Projected onto our Individual Dreamscreens are memories and collective behaviours. We imagine people doing things, so the primary symbol of society and the foundation of our experience of ourselves, is the human body. Dreams allow for the reinvestigation of how cultural meanings are attached to human bodies, providing insight into the ways individuals are regulated and reproduced. The social body and the physical body are the intersection where the individual is civilized .
Perception of the body is modified through socially defined linguistic rules. People are categorized into subgroups, each with their own symbols, jargon and uniforms to define and express themselves. As a result of this symbolic interaction, every kind of behaviour and mental process carries the imprint of verbal and body language learning, from feeding to washing, from working to playing. Movement, sex, anxiety, aggression, pleasure, pain, hunger: they are all influenced by this learning process.
Society's use of the human body is revealed through the study of technological symbolization. The body politic of society defines the health and psychopathology of everyday life. The politics of the dream are a primary determining factor of individual biography. Pervasive political abuse of human rights, the rights of children, and freedoms of expression have caused depersonalization, disenfranchisement, and alienation from social structures. And so many individuals seek to repair their broken dreams.
Techniques of Persuasion
The Information Industry configures the social cognition of its audience through the techniques of persuasion. The mantra of Social Psychology is "belief creates social reality" - meaning that if enough people believe something, it becomes "true" for that society - which is also the rhetorical guiding image of such tabloids as the National Enquirer. Understanding follows when we recognize that individuals fill at least two roles in modern storytelling, those of spectator and actor. In both individual and communal dreamscreens, we watch ourselves, individually and collectively, interact in the micro and macro sociological patterns of everyday life. This is increasingly overt, on radio phone-in shows, social relationship talk shows, home video television shows, and individual web-sites, for instance. Movies move us in a constructed social space which integrates the individual and collective narratives.
Rhetoric of the Dream
Dreams are based on an information code which keys in both individual as well as collective narratives. Dreams make transparent the media's effects on the individual and the speech community. The effects of media on dream formation are for its users universal and pervasive, sometimes invasive and harmful. Many dreams received at the Institute provide clear evidence of the harmful as well as creative influences of media. For a good read on the influence of rhetoric on dreams see Bert O. States' The Rhetoric of Dreams . Criticism of dreams proposes the assumption that communicators make intentional and often deceptive use of language in their narratives. By discovering the motives behind points of view inherent in the rhetoric used in narratives such as dreams, social-psychological influences such as persuasion, conformity and prejudice become transparent.
Fashioning the Theatre of Everyday Life
The fashion industries are deeply implicated in the manufacture of character, persona and image. Pursuit of the dream, success in public life, has long depended on the management of appearances. Fashioning the body becomes a means to fashion one's self image. The everyday behavior of wearing and displaying clothes, hairstyles, nails and make-up are all part of producing daydreams that are represented in fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar , Glamour , Vogue , GQ and Esquire .
The fashion industries write on the surface of the body which in turn configure collective life-style dreams. The clothing industry attempts to create the mystique of the ensemble, the beauty and cosmetics industry the right face and scent. This conspicuous consumption of the images of popular culture has led to the triumph of the superficial. Advertising the Dream reinforces the collective creation of fashionable daydreams and desires. Advertising as a producer of visual images becomes a contributor to the shared daydreams projected on the Communal Dreamscreen.
Dreams, Gaze, Mirror
The theatre as dream acts as a social mirror and casts its spell on the audience whose gaze becomes entranced by the unfolding spectacle. The mirror achieves importance in the cultural domain beginning with the child who learns to recognize its self-image. The mirror also illustrates how individuals learn to visually recognize and personify themselves through the images of others who act as a point of reference. In this sense the mirror and its reflections creates the looking glass personality and acts to configure the kaleidoscope of personifications of our self.
Film Techniques: Dreams and Affective Realism
Realism is a literary and visual-arts technique which attempts to influence audiences by suggesting that the medium or story accurately presents everyday life or social reality. Affective realism is viewed as the mixture of thought and emotional response to social situations. There are frequently attempts to influence this decision by other means. Certain fictions are said to be "based on a true story." Documentaries are a category of film that depicts real people dealing with real situations, as opposed to actors performing fictions. "Non-fiction", biography, history, self-help books, manuals and guides, are often perceived, due to their proximity to fact, to be closer to reality. Some narratives are described as "news" as opposed to a "story."
It matters little that all these are interpretations of reality, or that the defining situations are arbitrary. To use a metaphor, the illusion of reality adds colour (emotion) to the social environment one has entered and is interacting in. The best example of this is reality television, where people perform tasks they are unlikely to encounter in everyday life, except that they have been invited to participate in the challenge of reality TV, which theoretically might happen to any of us.
Ideology and Role Models of Discourse
Society impresses its ideology, norms, expectations, and values on children as they enter the culture. The process is called socialization. It is important that we be able to question this process and the values it presents.
While the institutions of Western education are formally assigned the duty of instructing social reality to their newly-forming citizens, George Herbert Mead said that children learn how to perform in their social reality by observing role models (celebrities, sports heroes, parents, school teachers, etc.) Schools teach language, which children learn to use to stimulate and motivate the Self, which in turn upholds their developing sense of social reality. Role models are frequently provided by the media to encourage others to evidence similar values and behave in similar ways.
Internal dialogue becomes the means by which individuals direct their own actions. In dreams, the individual's inner voice narrates, shaping perceptions and action. Other voices provide social feedback about the individual's appearance and performance. Fashion, so important to youths, is one dialogue that promotes conformity to a narrative ideology. We come to assume that wearing a necktie to important meetings is important for success, for instance, and are quite conscious that failure to play by the fashion rules, refusing to wear that necktie, is a refusal to conform.
Narrative Ideology and Dialogue
Our inner dialogue shapes perceptions, narratives and action. Others act as a source of social information (i.e. act as mirrors/feedback) about ones' appearance and performance. Children learn that fashion is a language that encodes a narrative ideology.
The creative dialogue between the conscious and unconscious provides the foundation for the individuation process. The creative urge transforms the chaos of unconscious content into dreams, fantasies, visions, and all the arts. The dynamics of personality are determined by unconscious/conscious flow and gradients of the symbolic work of creation.
Table-talk is a form of literary biography which can include a vast variety of discourse including sayings, opinions, anecdotes, small talk, chit-chat, gossip, rumour, etc. Table-talk is extremely valuable in understanding the nature of formal and informal dialogue and the unpublished and secret histories of an individual and a society.
Romanticism is a complex idea which encompasses a history of ideas and ideals of dialogue, aesthetics and moral values (i.e. vice and virtue).
Ethel Person ( Dreams of Love and Fateful Encounters ) focuses on the lover's internal soliloquy and external dialogue with the beloved. This soliloquy, dialogue and narratives of love, loss and romantic agony can develop during one's whole life.
Most literary theorists believe that there are gaps in texts. These gaps are produced when a dominant ideology (patriarchal, capitalist, communist or other) is imposed on written text and therefore on the writers' and readers' minds. For example, the feminist Catherine Belsey ("Critical Practice") sees gaps in Arthur Conan Doyle's writings, specifically his representation of the feminine. Doyle, according to Belsey, sees women as figures that cannot be explained logically. Belsey's conclusion is that these stories emphasize a male centred universe of discourse (read dialogue) which has left women voiceless and powerless.
So any text such as literature, music, art, architecture, fashion, dreams etc are pervious to power. Ultimately the homogenizing forces of prejudices/dominant narratives/ideologies/fallacies/myths become visible in peoples' dreams. But power can only displace the truth, the truth is always somewhere, even if that somewhere is the unconscious, we can search for it and hope to find it (the truth), even if it may not be absolute.
Dominant narratives shape the voices and scripts of actors and audiences in the political and social forum of history. They mould the dramaturgical language by which we define ourselves and others. In a society where the economic interests of business are ascendant, for instance, we define ourselves by the jobs we hold and declare displays of products we consume as indicators of success. These displays and declarations are a form of public theatre presented at social functions and other gatherings, and what is considered suitable displays changes with fashion. We take direction for our roles in this public theatre from representations in the cultural media dominated by our power elites: television, radio, print and the legitimate theatre. An indication of the importance to the power elite of the control exerted through media is evident in the effort extended by large corporations to dominate new media, such as the Internet, which have begun to provide freedom of expression to previously disenfranchised individuals and collectives.
Free Speech and Dominant Narratives
Power elites enforce conformity by defining the rules, roles, values and dominant meanings of social discourse. The sociologist Basil Bernstein speaks of restricted and elaborate speech codes laying a foundation for understanding how and why subjugated groups are usually incapable of successfully relying on defending themselves based on free speech. Free speech is an instrument in the hands of few individuals. Freedom of the press is enjoyed by those who own a press, for instance. In this circumstance, constitutional protection of freedom of the press actually subordinates women, children, minorities and the poor, people who have neither access to, nor the skills to use a "free" press. They are subject to forms of prejudice that enforce and reinforce the power of those who have the wealth and education to be so equipped. Where free speech is restricted, free will cannot exist.
The Deference System
Maintaining social bonds is a primary human need. The forces which bind (or un-bind) a group and society together define its social structure. The machinery of an institutional social structure is maintained by conformity to a deference system (system of respect/regard) which regulates the discourse of social roles, rules and values (i.e. standards) by which a situation and the speech community operates.
Deference regulates face to face communication. Contact with others produces an emotional response to the face, feelings become attached to it. In situations where an individual or group receives gratifying news, the projected face and image/esteem receives emotional reinforcement and one "feels good". Situations where expectations are not fulfilled often become the source of "feeling hurt and bad."
Maintaining face and one's appearance in social situations against loss (face saving practices) is a primary human motivator. In our society the threats to one's face are labelled faux pas, gaffes and boners.
Children are taught to understand and value the deference system through socialization. Members of every social circle are expected to have knowledge of the social code for maintaining face in a group setting.
Techniques of Media and Stage Management
The theatre creates a sense of illusion because we learn to accept it as real when it is only a fiction. Illusion and disillusion never appear alone; they are always a binary archetype.
Daniel Boorstin ( The Image or What Happened to the American Dream ) discusses the media's increasing "Management of Illusions". Boorstin signalled the dangers of the ever-growing onslaught of information technologies and their management of "pseudo-reality." For Boorstin, the management of the consumption of images of staged-reality has created a misinformed public and destroyed the fabric of the American Dream. This message was echoed twenty-five years later by Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business .
For Maurice Nichol ( Dream Psychology ), "the cartoon is the result of circumstances affecting national life." In looking at a political cartoon/caricature many perspectives determine the symbolism, which include the personal, social and national. Communal fantasy as represented in the process of "rumour" keeps alive tales of the community and the heroic deeds as well as the deficiencies (i.e. Film Noir aspects) of its groups and members. It is also often the source of misinformed opinions in terms of stereotyping and scapegoating within the community.
Dreams and the Political Dialogical Imagination
Dreams expose deep social rifts including language, sex, race, age, and body. Within patriarchal, capitalist, communist, and fascistic societies the powerful seek to shape the dominant narrative for their own benefit. When subordinate narratives conflict, such as those of children, women and visible minorities, for example, these narratives may be subject to censorship, suppression and oppressive forces.
The powerful in these societies maintain their power in party by revising history to distort our collective memory or by teaching gender and class roles to groups and individuals that will serve the ends of the powerful. The effects of these politically oppressive hidden agendas and ideologies show up in the dreams of people within politicized groupings such as children, women, the poor, and blacks.
Literature makes strong use of stereotypes, a short-hand technique of revealing character, especially that of minor characters. Telling details, such as giving a middle-aged man with a pony tail, or a teen with a baseball cap worn backwards, allow audiences to flesh out characters with other commonly held assumptions believed to be associated with such people. These sometimes fail when different audiences associate different personalities to different characteristics. Sometimes authors use stereotypes to deliberately mislead, especially when major characters are shown to have unexpected qualities. It should come as no surprise that in the theatre of everyday life, negative characteristics are more easily associated with stereotypes than with fully encountered human beings.
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl , in The Anatomy of Prejudice outlines the origins, development and aims of hatred. Gabrielle I. Edwards' Coping with Descrimination outlines the harms of stereotyping and scapegoating. "A stereotype is a mental picture that one group has of another, a false characterization designed to depersonalize the target group."
Prejudiced metaphors of class, race, gender and appearance condition and distort speech and thought. Language has become a political weapon in the ceaseless war between dominant and disenfranchised groups.
Our gaze and the unconscious mental structures (i.e. images) which feed our vision of others and the world have been socialized by the "politics of discrimination." These hate systems are transgenerationally reproduced and are readily visible in the Middle East, in the Balkans and in Northern Ireland to name a few places. Most hatred however remains repressed from being expressed in the community, mainly due to the deference system of "political correctness." The hatreds are then relegated to the communal dreamscreen where they can gain expression.
Stereotypes are often used to assign blame to minority groups for things that have gone wrong or for misfortunes that have befallen the community. This is called scapegoating. Terrorists in films are now often swarthy with Middle-Eastern accents, replacing the blue-eyed and blond terrorists with Irish accents just a few short years ago. Individuals are soon seen as an interconnected group, until it is safe to suspect all swarthy travelers with Middle-Eastern accents when they presume to cross North American borders.
The enemies in current dreams are often "android like beings" such as those found in the Terminator films and the Borg (human-machine hybrids who function on the basis of collective consciousness) species in Star Trek: Next Generation. The "agents" as sentient programs in the film The Matrix "who are everyone and yet no one" may also fit this category.
As previously mentioned, sexism translated into the visual dimension is known as "lookism".
Emily Martin's The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction describes the process by which women are alienated from their own bodies and self-images as a result of dominant social, ideological, and medical metaphors that favourably depict an almost exclusively patriarchal capitalism.
Dreams as Carnival: Subversion of Dominant Narratives
The Russian literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin coined the term "carnival" to offer a new reading of the novels of Francois Rabelais. The essence of carnival is a social world of humorous phenomena opposed to the serious tone of medieval feudal culture. Carnival provided an authorized outlet from cultural repressions and for protesting/subverting repressive state ideology. Carnival focused on the body and its socialized and ritualized reality such as eating, drinking, evacuation, sex, birth and death. The parody was an authorized transgression of social and civil norms, employing the grotesque in order to parody accepted beliefs, rules, roles and values. The figure of the body is used to embody the grotesque realism of social life, thereby temporarily suspending all prohibitions, inhibitions and hypocrisies. Dreams use both parody as well as the grotesque in a gesture of mockery and escape from the repressive culture and body politic allowing a return to primitivism.
Subversive narratives force any repressed, forbidden or oppositional interpretations of collective memory to become visible. Subversive narratives represent counter-memories to the meanings which produce dominant narratives. Subversion can be seen then not only as resistance to censorship (the control over meaning), but also as an instrument and as a sign of power to bypass the censorship of the nightmare, trauma and damage of abuse, assault and rape.
Anatomy of Institutional Imaginary Practices
In The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema , Cristian Metz linked the concepts of film, dreamwork, and the visual and auditory imaginary regime. In the botanical monograph of his own dreams, Freud assumed the technique of the time to study humans after death (autopsy), rather than as active, living creatures (biopsy). He discovered that society has institutionalized the visual and auditory regime. Hierarchies in governments, corporations and schools "watch over" their citizens, employees and customers and students, then enter into discussions to shape decisions that will affect them.
Homogeneity Techniques of the Body Politic
Though it may be unreasonable to expect that the Western body politic could fully serve the needs of all its members all of the time, too many individuals have retreated entirely from the psychic labours of life, accepting dominant narratives under the overbearing weight of modern media. Social pressures to conform are brought to bear immediately, and heavily where the individual's production/consumption process begins: with the education and socialization of children as they acquire language and identity. Children have just begun to create their personal, dramatic screenplays when schools, youth social organizations and families begin to teach rules and roles as defined by the dominant members of society.
Total social control requires homogeneity in the body politic. Theoretically, everyone is treated the same regardless of individual need or advantage. With media control in the hands of ever fewer and more powerful elites (media control itself is a tool of power), more communications are filtered through the sieve of the dominant perspective, imposing an oculo [based on looks] and phallocentric [male-centred] ideology in the public narrative. Increasingly large segments of the population find themselves living outside the dominant power-centred discourse. They must find alternatives, or be left excluded and voiceless.
Disillusionment with social reality is unconsciously acted out on the Communal Dreamscreen and more consciously expressed through poetry, theatre and film. Poetry reflects the communal currents of enchantment and disenchantment. Poetry manipulates the rhetorical (persuasive) and dimensional aspects of language, and is primary to all forms of discourse, including the language of the dream.
The Wizard of Oz's yellow brick road is littered with broken promises and broken dreams. The repression of the dream and the perversion of human impulses accumulate as betrayal of the child. Censorship, hiding the machinations of the "wizard" from public vision and hearing becomes an increasingly important part of the process. This too alienates and depersonalizes individuals from their authentic, creative selves, and their natural environment. They forget that they have the means to solve their own problems, to create their own, meaningful existence.
Private detective Jake Gittes' final failure in Chinatown is in not protecting a childlike young woman from the man who is both her father and her grandfather, and now that she is sexually mature, her would-be guardian and future lover. And we know that if this child, traumatized and unable to cope, eventually escapes and runs away into the society built by her guardian's corruption, she will eventually be punished for prostitution, drug dependency or vagrancy, while her parent remains a respected pillar of the community. Justice and order do not prevail.
Institution of Censorship
Censorship is the primary cause of the cryptographic [having a hidden, ambiguous or secret meaning, a system used in a code, the art of deciphering messages] enterprise. Freud, in A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, had realized that the child's basic dream lacks distortion and therefore censorship had not yet become instituted in the child's psyche, until about the age of eight. In the 18 th century, the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau also pointed to this eventual corruption of the child. Freud said, "Now from these children's dreams it is possible to obtain without any difficulty trustworthy information about the essential nature of dreams, which we hope will prove to be decisive and universally valid."
The repression of the dream; opacity in the body politic and the corruption it hides; and the perversion of human impulses all result in betrayal of the child. Censorship from public vision and hearing produces a blindness and deafness that has estranged, alienated and depersonalized us from our authentic, creative selves, and our natural environment. It has gone on for generations, these patterns of repression imposed by dominant narratives that victimize and re- victimize victims .
Social life and the problems that result can be studied symptomatically. Once again, dreamwork provides insight, and literary modes provide the terms of description. The work of the dream narrative is subjected to censorship of thought, consciousness and memory from dominant forces. Defence barriers are constructed within the individual and collective conscious against self awareness and perception, leaving various forms of dissociated and dismembered narratives. Ironically, the totalization of the dream leaves gaps, leading to a psychopathological conscious awareness. Collecting dreams (dreamwork) provides insight that leads to filling in the historical gaps and providing a voice to shattered autobiographies that result from the developmental arrest caused by poisonous pedagogies imposed on children.
A history of the dreamwork of Western society is being developed at the IIDR to counteract the unfortunate historical practice of altering, neglecting and ignoring dreams. The primary motive of covering up the past (censorship) has been to hide the historic emphasis on violence and destructiveness directed toward children and the truth.
American Cultural Noir is far simpler, more direct and violent. Consider the works of James Ellroy, who has completed two books (American Tabloid, and The Cold Six Thousand) in his noir/historical trilogy that speculate on the roles of numerous competing law enforcement and secret agencies, Hollywood, and the mob in events surrounding the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King. Film Noir circumvents the dominant narrative of legitimate social reality and exposes the dark side of society to the prurient, sensationalistic and voyeuristic gaze of an intrusive public. Private, criminal matters are revealed, creating an atmosphere of scandal. The dramatic energy of stories in the genre is provided by the conflict between the audience's sense of what is right, often represented by a detective protagonist, and attempts by criminals and corrupt officials to cover-up their crimes. Film Noir is the communal dreamscreen where the dark side of western culture is made visible in the denouement.
Survival in Total Institutions
Since the early beginnings of Western literature, children have been have grown up hearing adventure stories set on battlefields, oceans, islands, mountains, jungles and deserts with the essential themes of struggle and survival, where the individual fights back, overcoming the physical/psychological environment, and is labelled a hero or heroine.
In the same way, Stanley Cohen and Laurie Taylor ( Psychological Survival ) list five types of techniques of self-defence and psychological resistance against total institutions such as prisons and asylums: self protection, such as body and mind building; campaigning, such as petitions, writing letters to MPs, legal appeals; escaping, such as break-outs; striking, include hunger strikes; and confronting; forcing the problem into public consciousness.
Case Study: Symptom Reading of Dreams
Another way to criticize the dream, literature and art, is by reading symptoms. A symptomatic reading uncovers buried and censored problems in the text. These are invariably social problems. Their removal allows the dream to focus on gaps and blind spots generated by censorship and the repression instigated by dominant narratives.
A symptomatic reading of dreams can provide the basis for the narrative structure of a case study. Case study, an important current method of medical clinical study, is similar to naturalistic observation. Freud used case studies to forge his psychological theories of dreams and to refine psychoanalytic techniques. In the case study, the researcher observes a single subject to understand mental processes and behavioural problems.
Freud believed the dream to be a diagnostic ("endoscopic") tool of insight for therapeutic use in the treatment of the "organic symptoms" that were without an organic cause. His work Studies in Hysteria started with "hysterics" whom Freud believed suffered because of repressed and un-verbalized "remembrances."
When repressed material "leaks out" and gains access to social reality a "symptom reading" becomes possible. Uncovering the buried social problematic (or focal conflict) of the dream is central to the dreams understanding and ending the repetition compulsion (of the repressed material) it creates.
The IIDR views dreams as literary texts, biographical documents written by individuals influenced by the cultures in which they live. It is a mental process that we have each inherited in our genetic make-up, to sort through the daily experiences we encounter in our environments, and expressed through the languages learned as we have been educated within our various cultures. This is the sociology of the dream.
Examining dreams will therefore reveal the life histories of individuals, groups, communities and nations, and their structures of social classes and cultural influences. The activities of the various cultural structures and institutions that influence us then become transparent. Dreamwork provides a developmental profile of individuals and cultures as illustrated by structured self perception (self images) or presentations of the self to society. This is achieved through the talking cure.
The talking cure is a psychodynamic [any theory that uses dreams to understand psychological proceses] linguistic tool for a program of social medicine within the mental health movement. Dreamwork represents the intersection of structures of everyday collective and individual memories and knowledge. Dreams can therefore be used to remember and express suppressed and oppressed truths. The IIDR's metaphysical mission is the Restoration of the Dream. It makes possible the salvaging of oppressed truth (counter-memories) which lies submerged in our subconscious selves as revealed in our dreams. The main aim is to end the nightmare of broken dreams and lead individuals and society towards a rapprochement of conscious and unconscious forces which will generate healthy dreams and self awareness.