Stroll on over to Seattle Review of Books and see my new column featured every Friday of my dream comics. These comics are a collection of dreams over the course of an entire year. Recently I picked up where I left off and the posts will eventually catch up with where I am today. Extremely delighted about this news, enjoy!
My wife Jessixa and I will be co-authoring and co-illustrating a children's book! The book is about a cat who has lived all his life at sea on a cargo ship and wonders what it would be like to go "home". We have been collaborating for years and love the feeling we get when we finish a piece of art and can't even remember who did what. Neal Porter (of Roaring Brook Press) is a very talented editor. He LOVES what he does and it shows. I feel very lucky to work with him and all the other wonderful people at Roaring Brook.
Greetings! I was lucky to be asked to do the KEXP holiday card this year. Here it is!
All Hallow's Eve is fast approaching! Be sure to come on down to the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center for Short Run Comix and Arts Festival. There is always a TON of amazing work to see here. This year I'll be selling the first Cat City™ zine (with fold out poster!) along with a new zine - a collection of Gluten Free Hobo comics and recent Cat City™ comics, all in one! I'll also have complimentary Nap Coupons and Jessixa's "I Love Twin Peaks" series (volumes 1, 2, & 3). And since it's Halloween I'll have tons of glorified sugar to hand out. "So come on down! I'll chew on a dog!"
Just finished a poster for another event at Mercer Street Books. Enjoy!
"The unconscious is like the vault of a great bank in which is stored all the wealth inherited from our ancestors and in which we, as individuals, also have deposited our own coin. All of this treasure belongs to us, and we like to think that it is at our disposal, but the trouble is that we cannot withdraw on demand." Singer, June. Boundaries of the Soul. New York: Anchor, 1972. Print.
The dream image of the basement is easily the most common representation of the subconscious for me (and for a lot of people, I assume). My grandparents' basement was the the setting of a lot of family gatherings in my youth. This lower level had almost everything needed to entertain a family of a thousand, and it happened very often. There were other rooms in the basement less frequented during visits. The unfinished room, in particular, was a storage of tons of stuff collected over the years by my grandparents. Anyone who has visited grandparents in their long time residence knows of the toys that dwell there. They are universal toys, vaguely familiar with strange personalities, meant for whatever grandchild happens to be visiting. They are almost always there when you visit and provide strange entertainment and excitement. You always leave them behind, as an unspoken rule, for the other grandkids to use during subsequent visits. These toys in this dream are like what June Singer describes in the passage above. I want to share the hidden gems in my unconscious, through these comics, but at the same time I worry that people may not understand.
It would be fitting if I dreamt this during those sleepless nights of diaper changes directly after my son was born. But this was over two years ago, so the diaper changes hold way more significance. I'm engaging in what looks like a delightful poolside session but have to leave and commit to my shift at the ice cream shoppe. When I arrive I am delivered into a handful of needy adults that will inevitably lead into thankless work.
The "you've got to be kidding me" nature of this dream accurately portrays my astonishment in dealing with the general public. The woman with the truffle oil allows me no time to collect myself to better serve her, and furthermore she interferes with my work adding a total disregard for the work I'm expected to do. This lack of respect and common sense is disgusting and offensive to me.
The two men who need their diapers changed are obviously outside of my job description. At least I can see that in the dream. It ultimately comes to the "I can't even" point and I throw in the towel.
When analyzing dreams it's easy to go down the path that our dreams are trying to tell us something is wrong. That's not always the case. If we listen to our unconscious enough, we can see that often times it is telling us when we are doing things right. In this case, I think my unconscious is confirming what my waking self already thinks - that truffle oil and adult diaper changes are not something I should be worried about. Let those people sort out their own shit. Go back to the pool!
Something important must have proved disappointing to provoke a dream like this. I've always mostly liked Michael Jordan - he's undeniably one of basketball's greatest players and has legend status, but there were times (when he was up against the Utah Jazz in the finals twice), that I really wanted to hate him. But in the end I look back and realize that the Chicago Bulls weren't better than the Utah Jazz - it's more like Michael Jordan was just better at defending his talent. So I have a pretty good opinion of him to this day. Anyway, I never knew much about Michael Jordan as a person, so maybe that's the main element that is happening here. I guess this dream really says to me that no matter the amount of influence a superstar has on you, they are still just a goddamn human being and have all the boring qualities the rest of us have.
Sleep Comic #39 in which I box not only a person's ears, but also a cat's ears. The hilarity of this dream really obscures any deeper meaning. This has always been a problem with the way I present these dreams to readers - precisely why I've chosen to annotate them. Here, however, I am going to just leave it alone. Enjoy this offering from my unconscious!
Martin (the striped shirt friend) in this comic represents an old friend of mine, Fritz. He passed away almost ten years ago. Fritz's behavior was very organic and natural but also very puzzling. I know only one other person who behaves like Fritz - with a strong connection to the earth. Giving in to instinctual needs (just wanting to sit in nature, really) and conflicted about it because of worldly distractions. It's like a magnetic pull, not just some love of camping/hiking or a Thoreau appreciation. There's no way to explain it other than when you see a person like this live in the city too long you start to see their soul whither and die, and as much as you want them to stay you have to let them go. It's no wonder Twin Peaks took place in the Pacific Northwest.
"It was said that Dr. Jung's favorite story went something like this: The water of life, wishing to make itself known on the face of the earth, bubbled up in an artesian well and flowed without effort or limit. People came to drink the magic water and were nourished by it, since it was so clean and pure and invigorating. But humankind was not content to leave things in this Edenic state. Gradually they began to fence the well, charge admission, claim ownership of the property around it, make elaborate laws as to who could come to the well, put locks on the gates. Soon the well was the property of the powerful and the elite. The water was angry and offended; it stopped flowing and began to bubble up in another place. The people who owned the property around the first well were so engrossed in their power systems and ownership that they did not notice that the water had vanished. They continued selling the nonexistant water, and few people noticed that the true power was gone. But some dissatisfied people searched with great courage and found the new artesian well. Soon that well was under the control of the property owners, and the same fate overtook it. The spring took itself to yet another place - and this has been going on throughout recorded history." Johnson, Robert A. Owning Your Own Shadow. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991. Print.
The Republican security guard is the powerful and elite trying to control the bubbling waters. Intriguing that this is happening from day one at this art school. Not a good sign. How are we supposed to create the original and impactful art where whistling uniformed men regulate? How much order is necessary at an institution like this? At what point does the integrity of the school start failing and a new artesian well bubbles up elsewhere?
When I was in junior high my parents took me to this art school I might possibly attend. The woman who ran it was smitten with my work and we toured the studios. The work the students created was amazing, and I got the impression that the curriculum was rigorous and disciplined. When it came time to sit down and discuss the idea of me attending - the woman made it clear that the decision must be mine, not my parents'. Sitting there I could hardly grasp what a large decision was being handed to me. As I hesitated at this I must have asked a wrong question, and the woman said, "Oh, he's letting the left brain in, this has to be a right brain decision!". In the end I chose not to attend, moreover I feel like the woman chose for me not to attend. This event has always stuck with me - it was like someone laid a trap for me in the place I trusted the most.
I did not know it at the time, but this dream was beckoning me to confront my shadow self. The ex-boyfriend threatened me and I reacted. The results were negative and I ended up feeling bad (and like a bad person) for unknowingly 'boxing' his hearing aids. How was I supposed to know? Moreover, why does this suddenly negate the wedgie administered by a complete stranger? He's still a jerk, but suddenly I'm an idiot? If this were real life, and I could do it over again - I would box the ex-boyfriend's ears and deal with the fact that I ACCIDENTALLY hit his hearing aids. I would tell Jessixa I'm leaving, ask her to come with and be very assured that she broke up with him because he is an asshole. Bonus of leaving early is that the punk rocker would not have the chance to come down the stairs and address my "homely" qualities because my punk rock side (shadow self) walked out the goddamn door with my wife.
This dream happened during election time (2012) and naturally exhibits some political anxiety I was having. The feelings run deep - noting the frigid water and possibility of loss of life. This makes a lot of sense as I asked myself the other day why I fear politics that oppose mine. The answer I came up with is that (I feel) ideals which differ from what I consider benevolent have potential to cause suffering for other people.
Identifying with politics, causes, and movements is quite a trap. Jung: "A group experience takes place on a lower level of consciousness than the experience of an individual. This is due to the fact that, when many people gather together to share one common emotion, the total psyche emerging from the group is below the level of the individual psyche. If it is a very large group, the collective psyche will be more like the psyche of an animal, which is the reason why the ethical attitude of large organizations is always doubtful." Collected Works of C.G. Jung. Princeton: 1959. Print. Here is a good time to address projection - "The effect of projection is to isolate the subject from his environment, since instead of a real relation to it there is now only an illusory one. Projections change the world into a replica of one's own unknown face." Jung, Carl. Collected Works of C.G. Jung. Princeton: 1958. Print.
People keep getting caught in these frigid waters and people from these two ice floes keep trying to save them. Yet nobody has any sort of control, and at the end of the dream it is revealed that the voters have control! However, the voters are no where to be found in the arctic environment. How could they possibly affect the fate of the freezing diver?
More from Jung about trees: "Taken on average, the commonest associations to its meaning are growth, life, unfolding of form in a physical and spiritual sense, development, growth from below upwards and from above downwards, the maternal aspect (protection, shade, shelter, nourishing fruits, source of life, solidity, permanence, firm-rootedness, but also being 'rooted to the spot'), old age, personality, and finally death and rebirth." Jung, Carl. Alchemical Studies from the Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 13. Princeton: 1967. Print.
The tree, as stated above, has a broad range of meanings. I like to break it down into three parts: roots, body/trunk, and branches. They all serve a purpose and have great metaphorical meaning. Most simply the roots are the unconscious, the trunk - the ego, and the branches are the spirit.
In the case of this dream the tree is a cause for the grounding of a fast flying plane. I have to add the airplane into the interpretation along with the tree taking over my friend. When Apollo chased Daphne through the wood and he gained on her she asked her father, Peneus, to help her. He changed her into a laurel tree, to Apollo's dismay. Perhaps Martin becoming a tree was a needed change in order to ground the plane, albeit a tragedy. The plane landed safely, but Martin was lost. A sacrifice has been made here.
It's common for an analyst, especially a Jungian analyst, to encourage you to write down your dream from the night before your session and bring it with you. I have been in this habit for quite some time and it is very productive. It has helped me to be able to confront emotional problems much better by sitting with my feelings and sending the intention to my unconscious that I would like help understanding them better. Many times have my dreams profound from setting such intention.
This dream is from last week, and deviates from the order in which I'm posting (my dreams form 2012), but I wanted to share it because it has very numinous qualities. Here I am confronted by the shadow, play a game with it, and then confront it - all in a lighthearted way. This is usually not the case. The shadow can be the most frightening aspect of the psyche to wrestle with. This is a good starting place, as I by no means solved the shadow dilemma, I simply started the process of integrating it. At the end, the shadow figure reveals himself to me and is wearing a colorful primitive looking mask. This is interesting -- the reveal of the thing hidden reveals another hidden thing. There's still so much more!
This is fun: Umbrella - 1. dome of the sky; 2. verticalisation: the cosmic tree, the phallic father; 3.a sun-emblem; cf. parasol and sunshade; 4. divine and royal power, protection; 5. mourning; 6 folklore; it is unlucky to open one when not needed. De Vries, Arthur. Elsevier's Dictionary of Symbols and Imagery. 2nd. ed. Bingley: Emerald Publishing, 2009. Print.
A couple thoughts: In the dream the umbrella is put to good use even though it's not used for what it's intended for - protection from rain. Umbrellas are synonymous with floating or flying (to most of us) even if we haven't seen Mary Poppins. The more I look at this dream, the more I feel like the umbrellas are trying to tell me something. Like they have an anima that has a goal of leading me toward something.
Holy crap. The tree. There's just too much. This dream means business. First of all, in Norse myth the ash tree, Yggdrasil, is where the gods hold court each day. Yggdrasil's branches and roots extend all over the world. But most interestingly is the well of Mimir where wisdom and intelligence are contained. One cannot acquire this wisdom without giving up your eye in exchange, which is why Odin has only one eye. Odin's horse has eight legs, so I guess that makes up for it. It's only natural to make the connection in this dream of the well (or roots of the tree) to the rooms below the tree on the hill. After all "the entire tree is an amazing resource".
"Trees, like fishes in the water, represent the living contents of the unconscious. Among these contents one of special significance is characterized as an "oak." Trees have individuality. A tree, therefore, is often a symbol of personality... It is a prototype of the self, a symbol of the source and goal of the individuation process... The secret hidden roots is a spirit sealed inside a bottle. Naturally it was not hidden away among the roots to start with, but was first confined in a bottle, which was then hidden." Jung, Carl. Alchemical Studies, The Collected Works of CG Jung, Volume 13. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967. Print.
I recall that the tree in my dream was neither ash nor oak. But this makes little difference. It was something like the Joshua Tree which fits a mythical description and one appropriate as the metaphor for the self. It's very fascinating how blind I was to the symbolism of these dreams when I originally sketched and inked them. Looking back just two years later so many pieces are fitting together. The dream ending in darkness seems very scary. Fitting since the process of individuation is the scariest thing a person can do. All heroes' journeys are missions of self discovery, and we are all heroes if we attempt this undertaking. One of the most defining moments of my life was in high school humanities class when studying Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The class was bored and apathetic and as the teacher was helping us to analyze the story I became very interested. All of the symbolism and subtext was suddenly interesting. This was a rare moment for me as I was usually day dreaming or drawing. The teacher was saying something about Sir Gawain returning to the court and how the other knights didn't understand what he had gained. Then she asked the class what he had gained and I poked my hand up. "Wisdom" I answered. The way I remember it was that the teacher had a dumbfounded look on her face, but I'm certain I am just projecting my own feelings onto her. This was pivotal in how I started to see the world. Suddenly everything became a quest for wisdom. The hero's journey suddenly made sense. It was a perfect introduction to how solitary self discovery can be, because nobody else in the class seemed to care what was happening, just like nobody in King Arthur's Court seemed to get it.