Bin Laden's Deadly Terrorist Dream Game -or- Art of Darkness

"Thou shalt not kill" Exodus 20:13 

9/11 Attacks in the Global Village -or- Zero Dark Thirty 

A few weeks back I went to see the Hollywood dream factory film production "Zero Dark Thirty". My reading of the film was one of psychological closure, bringing a narrative ending to a traumatic and tragic chapter of the ongoing history of war, what Marshall McLuhan once called "War and Peace in the Global Village". 

Let me flashback down my memory lane to September 11, 2001. I had gotten up to take my daughter to school, she was just starting grade 3. In the car, I listened to music during the 25 minute ride to my daughter's school. I drove to the front door of the school, arriving at 850am (according to the clock in the car) and as she was getting out, I told my daughter (as customary), "have a good day...I love you". Her usual response,..."I love you to". No sooner was I driving away from the school, when an irresistible unaccustomed urge to listen to news radio came over me. So I tuned to CFRB Newstalk 1010, a Toronto radio station. What I began to hear was unbelievable, I immediately called my mother on my cell phone, and told her to "turn on the TV!". 

Later, watching on TV, people were jumping from the twin towers, seeing this was emotionally and viscerally horrific. By the end of the day, the towers were seen on TV coming down, too many times to count. I picked my daughter up from school and naturally, there were many questions. At school, from my daughter's report, there was evidently great confusion about exactly what was happening and what to do. I'm certain that disorientation was what was being thought and felt across North America, we were under attack both physically and psychologically. Even our children immediately understood the reality of the visceral threat, which was mirrored in our own disbelief and confusion. A number of years later, my daughter and I visited New York, and "Ground Zero" together. 

We know today, that Bin Laden had a real nighttime dream about a playing field, one which politically pitted the Americans against his al-Qaeda Jihadists, locking them together in a deadly military terrorist game, with no holds barred. By the end of the day of September 11, nearly all of Bin Laden's dream and battle plans were carried out. The exception, United Airlines Flight 93 where passengers heroically fought back to thwart the radical Islamic terrorists dream game. By the end of the day, surveying the psychological battlefield damage, terror had viscerally struck into the hearts and minds of North Americans and most likely many living in the "global village". A few days after the attacks, I watched as CNN reported that 90% of Americans were having nighttime nightmares. Americans, I can guarantee were not the only ones. There are numerous dream interpretations related to 9/11, including "Fear and Loathing in the Global Village" and "Remembering the World Trade Centre" posted at the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) website. 

Having grown up during FLQ terrorist crisis, and the ongoing MAD Cold War games, now a new vicious circle of the political game of fear, hatred and violence was being created. Now, "true believer" terrorists were on the playing field, playing out their Islamic Jihad dreams of death to Israel and the West. Bin Laden was their leader, the master mind of the collective nightmare of militant terrorism. 9/11 was broadcast on all global mass media channels. Hunting Bin Laden became an American intelligence community and mass media obsession, he became for some, the planets "most wanted". Bin Laden rhetorically responded with his own propaganda videos taunting those hunting him. 

In the February 4, 2013 Time magazine article "Art of Darkness" by Jessica Winter the reader is told that the director of the film "Zero Dark Thirty" provides a "window" to observe the American intelligence community's hunt for Bin Laden. As a viewer, the political rhetorical framing of the conversation in terms of the Socratic questions about fascistic interrogation techniques, other terrorist attacks or even the (command and control) technology of the American military industrial complex found little or no interest for me. Many of these ideas and stories are well known. Many are weary of 9/11 rhetoric and conversation, from all sides. Lest we forget, the real voices and visions of the innocent people, the civilians, the citizens of the world who died, whose own dreams were annihilated by nightmaric acts of militant terror. The global village nightmare that was 9/11 can still be found echoing in our nightly dreaming. 

The opening mise en scene sequence of Zero Dark Thirty was compelling, no visual images of the twin towers, only a dark screen, only the calls of desperate 9/11 voices. The emotionally helpless voices psychologically frame the recalled despair of the dramatic montage of visual cultural images of 9/11 we carry with us. Cogent cinema was created in the portrayal of the single minded dedication and performance of the woman "intelligence officer" who found Bin Laden and ultimately on Presidential order and approval of "Operation Neptune Spear" helped bring him to justice. President Obama and his national security team reportedly watched in real time as the military operation unfolded. This intelligence officer according to the Time article "is still active in the field and cannot be identified." I would like to thank her, whoever she may be, for her dedication to bring an ending to a painful chapter of human history. The outcome and ending cannot be seen as a victory, however the unfinished business that is 9/11 has found a small measure of philosophical closure. Bin Laden's infamous deadly terrorist dream game is over, at least in terms of his leadership role on the battlefield of our dreams and nightmares. 

Kelly Bulkeley in his introduction of "Dreams of Healing: Transforming Nightmares into Visions of Hope" discusses the "emotional shock waves", "reverberating throughout American society", in the wake of 9/11. Stated once again, 9/11 was not only a nightmaric wake up call for Americans, let us not forget that not only Americans died in the twin towers, reportedly citizens from over 90 countries living in the global village, died as well. Let us also not forget those who died in the ill fated airplanes, those at the Pentagon, the firemen and the police.... All of us living in the global village must question, much like the last words spoken in Zero Dark Thirty; "Where do you want to go?" 

Deirdre Barrett in the introduction of "Trauma and Dreams" tells her readers; "Dreams constitute a unique window on trauma and its effects. The window is not clear, however, but prismatic, showing us a changed version of events that is frequently distorted but can also bring chaos into resolution. This view can be both diagnostic and therapeutic." Many of the dream interpretations posted at the IIDR website allow us to see through this "unique window", providing insight into; trauma, posttraumatic nightmares, and posttraumatic stress disorder as a consequence of such traumatic experiences such as war, crime, genocide, violence and 9/11. These social psychological problems then become transmitted from one generation to the next, causing a generational nexus and vicious psychopathological cycle of dreaming. Knowing the dynamics of the depth psychological damage such trauma creates has not stopped some from continuing to intentionally inflict such earth shattering emotional grief and pain on others. To return to the beginning of this "Field Note of a Dream Researcher", the Bible commands; "Thou shalt not kill", there are however situations like 9/11, where exceptions to the rule must be considered in order to "bring chaos into resolution." 

Further Reading: 

Peter Bergen, "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden-from 9/11 to Abbottabad."

Johann Christoph Arnold, "Seeking Peace: Notes and Conversations along the Way."




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