Visual Thinking in Sweden -or- Hollywood's Pictures in the Head

Understanding Media -or- Visual Culture and Dream Vision 

The psychological idea of "the picture in the head" was coined by Walter Lippmann, meaning that people visually learn via the mass media to condense ideas and thoughts into pictures, symbols and concepts

Lippmann's ideas about mass media and visual thinking and culture would in part later evolve into the "symbolic interactionism" model of communication. From a different mass media perspective Marshall McLuhan would identify how mass media shaped these images in the head. In "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" McLuhan shows how the "medium is the message". All of the media that McLuhan identified are found in our nightly dreams, including those of "motion pictures" and visual culture of the Hollywood dream factory. 

In the 20th century, the psychological and subliminal influence of the global film and mass media industries in creating "pictures in the head" has been unprecedented. In the postmodern age, this mass media marketplace of ideas, images and symbols of Planet Hollywood's dream factory, conceptually circulates in visual culture's communication patterns of the collective dream visions of those living in the "global village".

Peder's dream below, shows an almost too realistic "picture in head". Peder reports in his dream, that he is "thinking, ‘am i not supposed to be master of my own dreams?'" Evidently he has not quite reached the psychological level of cognitive dream control of another dreamer who has become "Queen of My Postmodern Domain."(read dream interpretation)  

Peder, 24 Swedish 

The dream was like i saw a picture of my room, and i heard sounds. The picture didn't change, i couldn't move, but could hear what was happening. At first i heard the rain on the window, and i could hear it was windy outside, then i heard my brother opening my door and i heard him say hi.  I expected to see shadows, but the picture of my room i saw was unchanged. I heard him walk in with shoes on going past into the kitchen, opening the Fridge door, and close it.  I said, "I'm here in bed", but it seemed like he couldn't hear me.  I couldn't move my head either nor any limbs. 

I heard him take a glass from the kitchen cabinet and taking some water form the tap, and when he placed the glass on the bench when he was done. By this time i was greatly annoyed i couldn't see anything, and knew i was dreaming.  I was thinking "am i not supposed to be master of my own dreams?"  I tried to move my head but couldn't.  I thought : "hmm i guess i have to wake up" and tried to wake up and after 3 tries i woke up. The picture i've seen through the dream was identical to the one i saw when i woke up.  The sounds were gone, no brother, only heard slight raining from outside.  I dream dreams like these often but they feel very real at first until you notice strange things.

Mr Hagen's Reply: Film Realism of Sunset Boulevard -or- Hollywood's "Life the Movie" 

The picture you see of your room in the dream, turns out to be the same as the picture of your room you see in the waking world. From an artistic perspective this dream can be seen as what is called "realism" As you yourself say, that the dreams "feel very real until you notice strange things." This psychological transition from realism to the often "strange" simulated reality of the dream, has been called "surrealism". The dream then becomes a surrealist theatre, this theatre becomes dominated by the dream logic of symbolic meanings

In Hitchcock's motion picture "Spellbound" a surreal dream scene that was designed by Salvador Dali unfolds. In the dream, the protagonist (Gregory Peck) who suffers from amnesia (has forgotten who he is), encounters a variety of visual scenes, such as a man hiding, a faceless man, a man falling and symbolic landscapes and objects. The symbolic meaning of dream provides for the roman à clef (story with a symbolic key) resolution of the psychological conflict of the film. When the symbolism of the dream is finally decoded by his psychiatrist (Ingrid Bergman) and lover, the real killer is exposed. Read the dream interpretation of "Spellbound in the Global Village". 

This surreal dream and film logic has been discussed in the dream interpretation "Hollywood Dream Factory". One of the sublime motion picture endings signature iconic "one liners" to come out of the Hollywood dream factory happens at the end of Billy Wilder's "noir" film, "Sunset Boulevard". Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) is a Hollywood silent film star has-been, who dreams of making a triumphant "come back" to the "silver screen". Hollywood intrigue unfolds and near the end Desmond murders her estranged dream lover (William Holden), and then psychologically slips into a hallucinatory state. When the police and press arrive, Norma believes she is on the set for a film shoot. Desmond's butler and ex-husband (Erich von Strohheim), who says that he once was one of the great Hollywood silent screen directors (beside D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille) plays along with her Hollywood visual hallucination. The ex-director yells, "Action!"

After a short speech, Desmond dramatically says; "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." The tragic up close and personal phantasmagoria of the Hollywood's dream world, and postmodern film illusion is complete. Today, we live in the postmodern age of "Life the Movie."  (read dream interpretation). In this postmodern age of life the movie with a cast of billions, created by mass media and the culture industries, we can see that many live on Hollywood's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Further Reading: 

  • Hortense Powdermaker, "Hollywood, The Dream Factory"
  • Daniel J. Boorstin, "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America" 


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.