Questions and Answers -or- Socratic Method in Middle School
Socratic Dialogue -or- More E-mails to Young Dream Researchers
Periodically, I receive e-mails from students asking for information, "E-mail to a Young Dream Researcher" is one of the responses over the years that I have sent. Below is a list of well thought out questions, to which I have provided answers and asked my own "Socratic dialogical" questions that can be directed to all students, including Vicky. Here is Vicky's e-mail and questions:
Vicki, 13 American
Hi, I'm an 8th grader attending Middle School. I'm working on a research project on dreaming and one of the requirements is to send letters to appropriate people such as a dream interpreter. Therefore, I would like to ask for your address. If you can't, I will be grateful if you can at least send me names of other people who can help. Thank you.
Mr Hagen's Reply:
I am a Canadian dream researcher, if you have some questions (or need some help), please send them to this e-mail address. I will respond to your questions as quickly as possible.
Vicky's Reply: I have ten questions:
1. How and when did you become interested in dreaming?
Formally, I started writing down my dreams in note books while studying at the University of Zurich on 11.11.1977. In this context, the date for me symbolically alludes to "Rememberance Day" and "War and Peace in the Global Village". That's the when and the how. So if Carl Jung's "Red Book" was just published a few years ago, then I have a "Blue Binder" that recorded my dreams from 1977 up to 1989. The binder has almost fallen apart, because I have always returned to it for contextual understanding so many times. Jung's Red Book is very artistic, my blue binder is not, instead it documents and highlights psychological connections between people, places, time, conflicts, ideas and conceptual theories.
The blue binder looks more like a philosophical "cognitive map" to help my "mind's eye" see what Gregory Bateson called "Steps to an Ecology of the Mind". Unfortunately when I was in grade 10, I was forced to make a choice between taking art and music or taking languages. My father even went to my high school to find out why I couldn't do both. The Principal's answer, this was the Board of Education's format.
I decided to take the language path at the psychological expense of my artistic development. Was art and music my poetic "road not taken"? Or, did my decision lead me to understand what Erich Fromm calls "The Forgotten Language" of the dream, allowing me to "psychodynamically" see and appreciate literary culture, art, music and philosophy? As a language, the dream has always "hermeneutically" connected humans to each other, read the dream interpretation "International Mother Language Day". Did I mention, I hated Latin?
2. What are your future plans and projects?
Right now, I am working on "1001 Nights in the Global Village", I'm almost 150 days into the "project", where I post a new dream interpretation each day onto my facebook page (the page can be accessed through the IIDR website). The idea behind 1001 Nights is a re-working of the Arabian 1001 Nights tale, that aims to collectively transform the dreams of global conflict and hatred into reconciliation, tolerance, love and peace, at least that's the hope. This aim and hope involves making the everyday "psychodynamics" of dreaming in the "global village" visible and transparent for all to see. What do you think about war, hate, violence and aggression? Do you think that "illuminating" the psychological conflicts and stressors found in our dreams can help to find a way to solve our everyday problems and promote peace in the world?
3. Did anyone help you get to where you are now?
There are many people to thank, where to start? From 1984-87, I completed a training therapy with a Professor who taught at the University of Zurich and had a private psychotherapy practice. A physicist friend and I have had an "enlightened dialogue" for well over thirty years. Let me not forget all my patients and clients I have seen who provided a wealth of insight and dreams about themselves and the world we live in and most importantly the social problems surrounding the "human condition". Having gone to most of the annual conferences of the International Association for the Study of Dreams the last 10 years has provided me with insight into the work of dream researchers from around the world. There are many more who go unmentioned to thank. I hope you find these answers are helpful to you?
4. What makes the study of dreaming so complicated and how do you deal with it?
Just a few days ago, I was talking to a friend about "seeing" the problems of complexity of the dream and the world as a "complex system". However, if we use James Joyce's "Finnigan's Wake" as a historical schema of the literary organization of "dream vision", then all of a sudden, you can bring order to what seems to be a chaotic complex system. Each dream much like a fable can be seen as having a simple message. When you start adding up all the dreams, is when things can start getting and seem very complex. Can you see the complexity and simplicity of life, in your dreams?
5. What makes you want to study this?
As I have said elsewhere at the International Institute for Dream Research website using the signature line of the TV character House "everybody lies". Unfortunately we all learn to wear "masks", what some call "persona". The dream provides insight into self-deception and the culture of deceit we live in. What makes me want to study dreams is answered by another question, what is truth? Is it important to know thyself? Is it important to see the difference between the true and the false self in others and yourself?
6. How do you become a dream researcher?
Dream research is a very specialized field. While I guess you could self-learn, I think some form of formal training is necessary. There are many who have tried to teach themselves "lucid dreaming" for example, ending with tragic consequences. First, you need to work towards a degree, at University a Masters or a PhD (which means doctor in philosophy). Do you believe that dream interpreter/research is an occupation and career path you might be interested in?
7. Did you have any kind of inspirations?
The dream has always been a source of inspiration, as a dream from a mother (read IIDR dream interpretation "Keeping up with the Joneses") whose 17 year old daughter tried to commit suicide because she (the daughter) felt materially deprived found inspiration in her darkest dream and darkest hour. As for my own artistic inspirations, there are many so-called "Big Dreams" I have had. Is not the archetypal nature of "dream vision" in itself an artistic form of inspiration?
8. In your opinion, what do you believe is the foundation of dreaming?
Mother nature and evolution (read "An Evolutionary Theory of Dreaming") has built and hardwired the dream into our "ontological being". There is a "natural history" to dreaming. In the next while, I will be posting a dream interpretation about some of the physicist "Wolfgang Pauli's" dreams that illustrate the natural history perspective of dreaming. One of the most important foundations of dreaming then can be seen in the "ecological perspective", read the dream interpretation "Nature's Greatest Gift -or- The Ecology of Dreams". You can also read the interpretations "Mother Nature and Creation Mythologies" and "Avatar and Mother Nature". What are your thoughts about the "meaning of dreams"?
9. Which ancient philosopher do you think helped the most on the study of this field? And how has this person helped?
That is an easy question to answer. Socrates via Plato was the philosopher whose method of critical thinking set Western civilization on the philosophical path it is on today. The dream interpretation "Socrates on Death Row" speaks about how dreams played a role in Socrates life and death. Raphael's painting "The School of Athens" provides an artistic answer to your question. The dream interpretation "The School of Athens" provides insight and attests to Socrates psychological influence on Western philosophy. Have you heard of Socrates?
10. There are many perspectives of dreaming, but which one do you believe is the most accurate and why?
Unfortunately there is no one perspective artistic, political, economic, nor is there one ideologically reductionistic way or method to understand the complexity of the dream in all its near infinite creative variations and facets. In this sense, I have always been "Against Method". When I read a dream, I search for an organizing cultural pattern of thinking, feeling, sensing, then I relate this anthropological pattern (or "schema" in the Piagetian sense) to ideas found in popular culture, visual culture, sociology, art, music, philosophy, politics, education and so on.
My hermeneutic method is eclectic, always searching in the "marketplace of ideas" for the cultural ideas, allusions and idioms found in the dream. We all live in this epochal marketplace of thought, where our oral culture is embodied in our collective memory, the collective Western (and Eastern) canon, the storehouse where all our cultural ideas and dreams circulate.
Already as a student, I was always very skeptical about what I consider ideological interpretive approaches to understanding the dream. For me this is a psychological form of "indoctrination" (read the dream interpretation "The Seminary Student"). Studies show that people in Freudian, Jungian or Adlerian therapy start dreaming in those concepts and terms. This psychological and ideological "social influence" shouldn't be surprising. Look at Hitler's ability to achieve near complete "mind control" of a people and nation (read the dream interpretation "Inside the Third Reich of Dreams").
For the most part, my research and work is an extension of Freud's "Project for a Scientific Psychology", and Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli's work to create a unified philosophy of nature. My work is also strongly influenced by "Romanticism's" (Rousseau, Holderlin, Novalis, Goethe, and Schiller) enterprise of what Schiller would term "Kabbalah and Love" (literal translation). You can read any of the dreams in the "Art of Loving" section of the IIDR website to understand my road map for visualizing and verbalizing the successes (and failures) of the "romantic" project (for example "Royal Road to Romance").
There is however one man whose work I identify with and deeply respect, a man who, had he survived the Holocaust (he committed suicide because of fear of being captured by the Nazi's) most likely would have already said what I am saying, had his life not been cut short. That man was Walter Benjamin, he contributed so much, in a relatively short period of time by providing insight into the social process of the epochal evolution of our visual consumer culture and the modern dream world. If you read the interpretation "Note to Children of Holocaust Survivors", then you can understand the background of my emotional affinity to Benjamin and all Jews (and non-Jews) who died in World War II. Who is a role model for you?