Media Programming of the Global Theatre-or-Oneiric Film Theory

Transportation Theory -or- The Magical Theatre of Dream Vision

Dedicated to all students of the dream, past, present and future. 

As a University student, the literary works of Hermann Hesse psychologically transported my poetic mind and soul. Hesse's "The Glass Bead Game", provides a metaphor for the flights and unified poetic design of the human imagination. Hesse's surreal literary work of "Steppenwolf"  with its' "magical theater", is an allusion to the dream world, in which each door of the theatre represents a poetic fraction of the protagonist's walks of his life. The book has a special place in the "amusement art" (1) doors of my own memory, perception, poetic heart, soul and dreams. 

The Hollywood dream factory has almost from its beginnings attempted to commercially exploit the dream and the "magical theatre", creating a theology of the bourgeois marketplace of conspicuous consumption. The International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) has attempted to lay bare the subliminal anthropological and behavioural economic workings of the Hollywood dream factory and the global marketplace of Planet Hollywood. 

Hesse reportedly began "Steppenwolf" while in Basel, Switzerland, and completed it in Zurich. The University of Zurich, was a place that I was privileged to be a student at from 1975 to 1983. This "Field Note of a Dream Researcher" is dedicated to a class of first year University of Guelph students to whom I recently (October 2013) had the pleasure of speaking to. I hope they will learn to understand their own private magical theatre and discover transcendence and understanding, as Hesse intended the oneiric effect on his readers. 

This Field Note discusses the idea of "post-modernism", and the psychodynamic effects of the global culture industries and the Hollywood dream factory on our dreams. The second part of this Field Note (posted at a later date) will discuss the Guelph student's creative ideas about dream work. For those of them who decide to philosophically enter the "magical theatre", may their own depth psychological journey down the enchanted Lewis Carroll "rabbit hole", be as spiritually enlightening ("Know Thyself"), as my own. 

The Hollywood Novel -or- That's Entertainment in the Global Magical Theatre 

We live on a pale blue dot in the dramatic vastness of the cosmic stage and theatre of the universe. It is with this theatrical background of the cosmos in mind, that the dream visions on this pale blue dot, mythopoetically have always spoken to us. Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" provides us with a perspective in which we can view ourselves and our relationship to the cosmos. Media study of our dreams, would reveal that mass communication on our planet has evolved to the commercial point that we can speak about "Post-Modern Times -or- Welcome to the Hollywood Dream Factory" (read interpretation). Judy Garland, gives us Hollywood's poster girl rendition of "That's Entertainment" (watch music video) and the prototypical lyrics of Planet Hollywood's dream factory. 

Our collective dream world has become a stage, a theatre, a mass communication platform for global oral and visual culture, dominated by "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (read interpretation). Researching collective dream patterns allows us to be transported and explore the oneiric web of mass communication, what Umberto Eco called "Travels in Hyperreality". Marshall McLuhan in "From Cliché to Archetype" understood that satellites had enclosed the earth, turning the planet into a global theatre which can be "programmed". 

This 24/7 oneiric media programming of Planet Hollywood is readily visible in our nightly dreams and in our everyday waking communication. For McLuhan, this global theatre has become dominated by the "theatre of the absurd". The programming of the absurd is readily audible and visible in the three dreams discussed below which are found after the segway about the mythopoetic cyber-world construction of our collective and individual dream worlds. 

Hollywood Dream Factory Triptych -or- The Global Theatre of Dreams 

McLuhan's global theatre, finds expression in the nightly theatre of our dreams, theatres of the absurd, of cruelty, of the grotesque, of horror, of love, of hate, these theatres dominate our collective oneiric stage. Collecting dreams from around the planet, allows us to realize Novalis's dream of a "romantic encyclopedia" (2) which encompasses the ideas of "magical idealism", universal poetic fantasy and dreams. 

Since undertaking my three year "training therapy" in Zurich (from 1984 to 1987), I have almost always adhered unwaveringly to Novalis idea; "We are on a mission: we are called upon to educate the earth." From this romantic philological world education idea, the IIDR was founded in the hopes that philosophical transparency and understanding of the mythopoetic process of "world building" of our dream world would lead to a "revolution in dreaming" in our global waking-dreaming communication theatre. 

Since before Biblical and Homeric Greek times, the dream world has been used as an enchanting and fear inducing plot device, that has transported the mind, body and fantasy into an imaginary fictional universe. "Field Notes of a Dream Researcher" (read Field Notes posted until now) is intended to provide the reader with a philosophical understanding of the collective fantasy world (3) we live in. This "1001 Nights" post-modern "melodramatic" dream screen (4) world is being philosophically crafted and designed using the conceptual tools found in art, cinema, literature, music, science, and medical humanities. 

Here then, is an artistic triptych of dream interpretations that underscore the pervasive "global theatre" programming influence of the Hollywood dream factory dream world; 

Dream 1:         On Suicide: The Movie 

Stephanie, 27 Hong Kong, Public Relations worker 

"This place looks like a hawker centre or food stalls, with cheap plastic chairs and tables on the outdoor. I was with 3 friends, a couple and another guy (All of which are pretty close friends to me and we used to hang out all the time). And there was something chasing us, I don't see it be it feels like ghost or spirit of some kind. We ran inside, which looks like a warehouse, or a sheltered dark street. We were running away from this thing, panting and running, for a long time, very frightened, and found a hiding place in a small dark corner. Suddenly in the corner we got hungry and had a noodle. Then the scenario turned to the same outdoor food stalls. It was facing a street with many cars parked on the side. 

There is a high rise building right opposite, rectangular-shaped. I looked above the building, I saw a woman, in her 20s, in her white pyjamas, jumping down the building. I was so frightened, didn't want to look. But something made me keep looking at it, until she fell to the floor. But there were parked cars blocking the view when she fell on ground, all I heard was a very loud bang. And then repeatedly for about another 2-3 times, similar looking girl jump down the building. i was forced to keep looking at it, the force seems to come from inner me, that i have to keep my face on that direction and my eyes on the woman. The last one who jumped off was a man, also in 20s, this time, there was a big advertising billboard on top of the roof and he jumped down. 

Also the same scenario, where I wouldn't see the final death as the parked cars would block but hear a loud bang. I was so scared but just didn't or couldn't move away from where i am. Then sitting on one of these plastic chairs, and my friends walking towards me, all of us wanting to leave here. Suddenly, another man fell towards us, broke the glass rooftop above us and was dashing towards our table. We were screaming and extremely frightened. Then suddenly we see a rope hanging this guy on his body, and looked on our left side, that there was a production crew making a movie. Then i was confused, but definitely sure, that the previous few bodies were really committing suicide and not making a movie." 

Stephanie's Dream: Welcome to Postmodernist Global Theatre of Dreams 

Inception in the Global Theatre -or- Life the Absurd Dream Movie Theatre 

The filmic landscape of imaginary "scenarios" projected onto Stephanie's dream screen (2) begins at a "Hawker centre", which "conceptually blends" (5) Hong Kong, based on media, fantasy and reality. In the "Theatre of the Absurd", life has no intrinsic meaning. As Camus' re-worked "The Myth of Sisyphus" has shown, the absurd meaning of life requires not suicide, no, it requires a revolution, a paradigmatic revolution in dreaming. 

In the theatre of the mind, what is real? Anyone watching the film "The Matrix" will find a disturbing answer. In one scene, Neo is seen taking an illegal computer program out of a hollow book "Simulacra and Simulation", this book is found not only in the reel (film) world, it is found in our waking world. The book was written by Jean Baudrillard, it is a book about the cyber-world we live in today, of the master "neural-interactive simulation" codes for the programming of the "social construction of reality". In a similar philosophical vision and feel, Jake Sully in "Avatar" says; "Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here is the dream." The film "Inception" illustrates this idea of the psychological loss of referents between dream and waking reality.  

Much like in "Inception", the dreams architectural "conceptual blending" fingerprints of Ariadne are readily found in the labyrinthine "high rise" Hong Kong social world. Clearly one of the dreamer's (Stephanie) identifications is with "Ariadne", she lives in a post-modern "Sisyphusian" world, a world where the conceptual distinctions and boundaries between dream and reality are tenuous at best. A social world, where the reel (film) world, is a place where "the mind makes it real". The neurotic "confusion" about reality and whether people were making a movie or are really committing suicide (6, 7), is reminiscent of the "femme fatale" character "Mal", and her tragic fate in "Inception".  

Many dreams such as "Visual Outlines of Pizza Pizza" sent to the IIDR speak of the commercial denigration of the dream, of art, of vision (8), and of life. An absurd, kitsch and cliché dream world, built on the commercial mechanical reproduction of the plastic arts (9).  

DREAM 2:    Automata Programming -or- Brutal Attack on the Psyche 

John, Canadian Student apprentice, 24 

"Have a lot of dreams, once they were of flying and positive themes, now this has changed to a more ominous type, often unclear in meaning. Bearded lady, friends crawling down trees with heads spinning, knife attacks, bullets, car crashes, unwanted sexual encounters, have tried the usual confrontation trick. Works somewhat ok in real life but seem to have very little say in what is happening as I sleep, all in all a brutal attack on the psyche or the ego or whatever separates us from automata. Used to wake up with skin crawling, every day. Feel this has improved, but still a little bit disturbed by lack of clarity and direction. Parallel to reality possibly?" 

John's Dream: The Hangover -or- Dark Romanticism in the Global Theatre  

Cognitive Locus of Control of Personality -or- Bad Taste in Waking and Dreaming 

The everyday "lack of clarity and direction" that the dreamer reports that may be "parallel to reality", provides a symbolic key to understanding the "focal conflicts" (10) meaning of the dream. The dream provides a fine artistic example of the "continuity hypothesis of waking and dreaming". The dream illustrates an external interpersonal locus of control pattern. The dreamer's brain (personality-mind-body) is aroused to the sensory (sensation seeking) point of overstimulation, so that he perceives his "skin crawling". 

This lack of self-control, is perceived as a "brutal attack on the psyche". Hans Eysenck postulated that personality traits, arousal, and neuroticism were linked to learned sensation seeking behaviours. Dream research findings support many of Eysenck's ideas when applied to the dreaming brain (11), read interpretation "Yerkes-Dodson Law in Dreams" (12). 

Again as in Stephanie's dream above, "the mind makes it real". From a personality-arousal perspective, the social psychological problems of maintaining a stable locus of self-perceptual control is always marked by "cognitive dissonance". My own paradigmatic self-perception theory, is one based on the clinical psychological observations of how the "looking glass self", perception, memory, arousal and stress operates in our projective dream screen theatre of the mind.  

The humorous bachelor party film "The Hangover" seems written all over the dream. John's dream can be understood using the concept of "bachelor machines". Constance Penley "Feminism, Film Theory and the Bachelor Machines" states; "The bachelor machine is typically a closed, self-sufficient system. Its common themes include perpetual motion, an ideal time and magical possibility of its reversal, electrification, voyeurism and masturbatory eroticism, the dream of the mechanical reproduction of art." Bachelor machines are postmodern absurd mechanical dream machines (13). 

The dream can also be seen from a dark romanticism perspective, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", Robert Lewis Stephenson fine bogey tale "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" and Bram Stocker's "Dracula" were all gothic stories of literary characters that were first seen in dreams by their authors. These stories were later adapted to the film medium. Taking the dream from a humorous absurd perspective, the poetic "bad taste" figure of the "bearded lady" found in the dream, can also be found in the science fiction romance film parody of the Hollywood dream factory, "Spaceballs". 

DREAM 3:     Saturday Morning Cartoons -or- The Criminal Venician Gondolier 

Betty, 14 American Student 

"I shrunk so small that i could fit through a heating vent. I was in an old camper trailer, im pretty sure it wasn't a tent trailer. I know it was old because the carpet was an old orange, and i remember mentioning it smelt like mothballs, like my grandparents old trailer. So, i jumped through the heating vent and when i came out, I was in another identical trailer exactly like the first. So i jumped through the heating vent in that trailer also. I did this around 5 times. The last trailer heating vent i jumped through, i fell through it into a normal sized room. The room was large. 

It stretched out farther than I could see to my right and left, but the wall in front and behind me was visible. I know it was a room and not a hallway though because my dream made that quite clear. It was also echoey, with marble floors, and giant pillars surrounding a small, winding river in the middle of the room. The river came out of a dark tunnel on the opposite wall from me. I was standing in this room when a man who looked like a bad guy from Venice on Saturday morning cartoons came out of the tunnel standing up in a gondola. He was quite obviously a criminal gondalier. He was just about to attack me when three of my friends that I hung around with often came wearing karate outfits, all white. Two of them had black belts, and one had a bright red belt. The dream just ends there right after i see my friends. I don't even know what happened to the sinister venecian guy." 

Betty's Dream: Honey I Shrunk the Kids-or-Alice Camped Out in Cartoon Land 

Battle of Good and Evil -or- The Never Ending Story in the Global Theatre 

Growing up in North America with the TV, what child didn't watch Saturday morning cartoons? When I became a father in 1993, my child and I watched them together. Our favorites included such shows as Sailer Moon and ReBoot. Much like in literature and film, Saturday morning cartoons feature "good guys" and "bad guys". In ReBoot, the viewer sees a cartoon personification of the inner world of a computer system, "Mainframe", where "good guy" Guardian Bob battles against the likes of Megabyte and Hexadecimal for control of Mainframe's cartoon world. Betty's dream focuses on a criminal cartoon character. This is a collective North American narrative pattern, which features the philosophical problem and symbolism of good versus evil (14). Betty's dream ends right after she sees her friends, leaving the dream and the dreamer without a proper narrative ending; "I don't even know what happened to the sinister venecian guy." 

This narrative pattern is not a new one, for example Prudentius "Psychomachia", the battle for the soul and the conflict of virtue and vice, features the symbolism of good and evil. Carl Jung's, "The Spirit in Fairy Tales" can be used to understand the symbolic meanings of cartoons. Jesse Reklaw's anthology "Dreamtoons", is a comic strip based on dreams submitted by readers and published as "Slow Wave". While Betty's dream has features of the film "Honey I Shruck the Kids", it is Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" which features the song "In a World of My Own" (watch music video), that seems to best fit Betty's personal fantasy world dreamscape.

From a collective make believe perspective, the film "The Never Ending Story" features a fantasy world "Fantasika", which is being destroyed by Nothing (read, the Absurd), a mysterious Waste Land force. Humanities archetypal mythopoetic wake-dream-make believe global theatre cycle has been a Never Ending Story, how long it will continue remains in question, given our present circumstances.

Postscript: The Hollywood Dream Factory -or- Programming the Global Theatre 

Many interpretations posted at the IIDR website are devoted to the McLuhaneque culture industry influence of the Hollywood Dream Factory. The dream factory commercially programs and shapes the plastic art medium, the symbolic messages and communication of our dreams in the global theatre. The 24/7 media "programming" of the global theatre of dreams can be seen in the variety of dreams above. The techniques and bio-mechanics producing "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" and "Ways of Seeing", is known in film circles as "apparatus theory", a concept that can be traced back to Sigmund Freud and his ideas about the psychical apparatus and the theory of instincts. 

The Hollywood novel features the film industry's dream factory programming of the global theatre of the symbolic philosophy of mind at large, and its' claims of art in contrast to those motives of profit and greed. The dream interpretations above underscore the idea of the subliminal programming of consciousness (16) by the culture industry. Dreams make bare the ideological workings of the oral and visual base and superstructure of the culture industry apparatus (Louis Althusser idea of "Ideological State Apparatuses"). Such ideological State workings can be found in Hitler's "Third Reich of Dreams" (read interpretation). For a more global State apparatus perspective, read the IIDR dream interpretation; "State, Institutions and Social Order".

The IIDR is tracing the "sociology of consciousness" driven by the "Veblen Effects" that are created by the programmed political-economic institutional and industrial reality of Planet Hollywood. From a more global cultural consciousness perspective, read IIDR interpretation; "Consciousness and the Culture Industries in the Global Village". Here are a few dream interpretations that underscore the dream factory's technological media apparatus, and the cognitive-behavioural classical and operant (instrumental) conditioning of consciousness and our dreams. 

Amusing Ourselves to Death -or- Media Ecology of the Global Theatre  

Neal Postman "Amusing Ourselves to Death" has advocated for media ecology. "Amused to Death"  by Roger Waters is concept album that was inspired by Postman's work, featuring disillusionment with Western society and the influence of mass media. Following in the footsteps of McLuhan, Postman, Chomsky, Waters and the like minded, the IIDR calls for a media ecology of the oral and visual narrative base and superstructure of everyday life, and of our dreams. 

Few Hollywood dream factory films have provided a philosophical landscape and perspective that illustrates the unbroken ecological wholeness of our planet, a planet where all political and economic boundaries are tenuous consensual constructs, "Gravity" is one such film. Mission specialist Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is tasked with the servicing of the Hubble telescope. We learn that Stone has tragically lost her child, and lost her faith. Stone finds redemption, renewal and rebirth, by surviving in outer space, after a chain reaction of space debris nearly destroys any hope of returning to earth. After a series of tragic experiences, Stone falls into a state of despair, she turns off the air supply in the space capsule she is in, in order to commit a painless suicide, then salvation appears on the horizon. As Stone is losing consciousness, her mission commander (George Clooney), who has a hell of a story to tell about how he got to the capsule appears, he instructs Ryan on how she can return to earth. We learn that Stone was experiencing a hallucination, most likely a hypnogogic dream, albeit an accurate one, in terms of the instructions concerning her return to earth. Stone's will to live is restored and she successfully returns to earth. 

Based on the preliminary dream research, all indications and indicators point to the fate of the earth being decided within the next two generations (forty years). Large scale dream research using supercomputers and large numbers of dream texts collected from across the planet can provide an accurate medical humanities assessment and index of social problems that we are faced with. Either, we will learn to use and treat the earth ecologically, or we will follow the evolutionary extinction path of the dinosaurs and so many other creatures that the fossil record of our planet shows that nature has created and destroyed. Is the planet doomed to what T.S Eliot called "The Waste Land"? 

Some may argue that such ideas are too dystopian of our future. It sees things too hyperbolically, too melodramatically, too black and white, too Kafkaesque? I would argue as a clinician and diagnostician with over 35 years of experience working with dreams, that this is where our collective dream patterns are telling us we are going, telling us where we are headed. Like in a "self-fulfilling prophesy", the population of the earth is racing towards a global medical humanities crisis, an Armageddon on the planet. The ecological turning point (17) is now, the "existential" choice is ours. What is at stake, is our children's children's dreams and life on the planet. What dreams and nightmares may come? 

Footnotes: Principles of Art -or- The Turning Point in the Global Theatre 

  1. R.G. Collingwood, "Principles of Art",
  2. Hans Ulrich Reck, "Traum Encyclopaedie" (Dream Encyclopedia).
  3. Gary Alan Fine, "Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds".
  4. Robert T. Eberwein, "Film & dreamscreen: a sleep and a forgetting".
  5. Mark Turner, "The Literary Mind".
  6. Emil Durkheim, "Suicide".
  7. James Hillman, "Suicide and the Soul".
  8. Martin Jay, "Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought".
  9. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction".
  10. Thomas Morton French, Erika Fromm, "Dream Interpretation: A New Approach"
  11. Allan Hobson, "The Dreaming Brain"
  12. Daniel E. Berlyne, "Conflict, Arousal and Curiosity".
  13. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "Capitalism and Schizophrenia".
  14. Paul Ricouer, "The Symbolism of Evil".
  15. Ernst Bloch, "The Principle of Hope".
  16. Hans Enzensberger, "The Consciousness Industry".
  17. Fritjof Capra, "The Turning Point"  
All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.