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!
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!"
"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.
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.
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.
This sort of reads like a fever dream (even though it's not), but without the nightmarish aspect. I love fever dreams. Yes it sucks to be ill, and yes there are unsettling aspects to a feverish nightmare, but these dreams always live on as legend for me. Fever dreams seem to take elements from waking life and really amplify them. For example, when I was about 12 I had a fever dream where I was Link from The Legend of Zelda. It was fantastical and terrifying. I'll never forget the feeling from this dream. It did have nightmarish aspects, but how could I complain about being in my favorite video game? Even the underworlds were fascinating. The dream has stuck with me forever, and I recall being so intrigued with this dream that a fever - albeit unhealthy - seemed to also serve a constructive purpose from then on. This also happens to Robinson Crusoe in the eponymous book, but to a more severe (and religious) degree. I guess you could say that religion was Robinson Crusoe's Zelda.
One of the first dreams I can recall was a fever dream about my Pound Puppy, named Pow Wow, being taken by a band of nefarious monkeys. It was up one of Salt Lake City's many canyons in the winter - snow everywhere and my Pound Puppy locked in a cage by these evil creatures. I've never looked at Pow Wow the same since.
More talking animals and more people with basic-shape-heads. The bonding with the Orca gives me a great feeling of resolve, as I think they are very majestic but extremely terrifying. Clearly this is still the case in the dream as I have to act as a liaison between the basic-shape-heads and the other Orcas. Trying to keep the delicate balance and be peaceful together. Dance!
This dream offers everything I love about dreaming. Rife with symbols, complicated and psychedelic in its pacing, and at the same time full of humor and emotion. And let's not overlook - water slides! I've found that the pedestrian "dream encyclopedia" often has an entry for water slides. I'm not a fan of dream dictionaries (especially online versions) but they are useful in gathering an idea of what people commonly dream about. Water slides happen to be one of those common themes. What the dream dictionaries will tell you about water slides can't offer you the personal connection that you have with water slides. The water slide presents a perfect opportunity to dissect a layered metaphor. We must look at the state of the water - flowing, in a tube, at a theme park, particularly for fun. This is general; my idea of water slides is that they are the greatest thing ever. I yearn to go to a water park every summer. The montage in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure where Napoleon visits the water park is, for me, gripping. Yet, Dreambible.com describes the appearance of a water slide as "Playing with uncertainty or feeling good ignoring the consequences of your actions. A waterslide is a sign that you may know that you are doing something wrong or risky and are enjoying it anyway. Having fun behaving bad." 'Water Slides.' Dream Bible. Copyright 2010-14. Web. 20, July, 2015. Another site, Dreammoods.com puts it more simply: "To dream that you are on or see a waterslide suggests that you are being carried away by your emotions. You are being engulfed by your subconscious. Alternatively, the dream indicates that you are going with the flow of things without any objection or resistance." 'Waterslides.' Dream Moods. Dream Moods, Inc. P., 28, March, 2015. Web. 20, July, 2015. I'd go with the Dream Moods entry, but it's so broad. It takes the idea that water serves as a symbol of the unconscious and emotions and vaguely pairs it with the actual concept of a water slide. Going with the flow of things could also be said about a river. We need a clearer distinction - a personal one.
Let's get to the juicy part of this dream: a dream within a dream. Freud asserts that dreams are disguised or "latent" versions of our innermost desires. Thus, he logically sees a dream-within-a-dream as a double negative where the the dream in the dream is actually the latent desires unveiled. This just sounds like the ravings of a megalomaniac to me. (It's easy to be a Freud-hater because most of his work, taken as psychology, is one massive extension of his ego and latent desires.) Jung didn't seem to think this at all. In fact, he hardly viewed the dream-within-a-dream as a significant dream event. Rather, as Hall sums up in Jungian Dream Interpretation, "...such shifts within a dream can be seen as movements of various ego-organizations, some of which claim for themselves the status of full waking consciousness, although the complicated dream structure reveals them to be only partial integrations. To some degree, the dream-within-a-dream is a more complicated form of the frequent shift from scene to scene withing a single dream" (90). Jung (via Hall) couldn't be more spot on concerning this dream. In my dream I am trying to tell several others about my dream (so technically this isn't a dream-within-a-dream, even) but everybody else keeps cutting me off. When I finally get to tell my dream it is clear that I am satisfying the need to tell a story. Much like this very project! The aspect of the dream-within-a-dream here is very ego based and naturally integrated into an already complicated dream. It's not as though (as Freud thinks) the mask is suddenly removed. It's still just a dream even though we want it to be more, even though the EGO wants it to be more.
This passage has always felt like it pertains to celebrities:
"There are many people whose conscious attitude is defective not as regards adaptation to environment but as regards expression of their own character. These are people whose conscious attitude and adaptive performance exceed their capacities as individuals; that is to say, they appear to be better and more valuable than they really are. Their outward success is naturally never paid for out of their individual resources alone, but very largely out of the dynamic reserves generated by collective suggestion. Such people climb above their natural level thanks to the influence of a collective ideal or the lure of some social advantage, or the support offered by society. They have not grown inwardly to the level of their outward eminence, for which reason the unconscious in all these cases has a negatively compensating, or reductive, function." Jung, Carl. Dreams from The Collected Works or C.G. Jung, Volumes 4, 8, 12, 16. Princeton: Bollingen, 1974.
I've always struggled when it comes to separating a celebrity's craft from their opinions, politics, and behavior. In this case it's Dustin Hoffman whom I really like. So the fact that he went and fired missiles at my superhero friends and me was disappointing. In the end I resolved to shoot back at him anyway yet continue to love his acting. What part of myself do I feel this way about? Serious ego happening here. Me as a superhero, I can fly a plane, and I have permission to potentially fatally injure a person.
Confrontation of the shadow is different for everybody, and being closer to it - I realize how much work it is to deal with it. Looking back on these dreams (the dreams in Sleep Comics are from three years ago) I can see the shadow everywhere. Naturally so, since the shadow is just another part of the whole person. Jung: "To take a legitimate parallel from the psychology of the individual, namely the appearance of an impressive shadow figure antagonistically confronting a personal consciousness: this figure does not appear merely because it still exists in the individual, but because it rests on a dynamism whose existence can only be explained in terms of his actual situation, for instance because the shadow is so disagreeable to his ego-consciousness that it has to be repressed into the unconscious. This explanation does not quite meet the case here, because the trickster obviously represents a vanishing level of consciousness which increasingly lacks the power to take express and assert itself. Furthermore, repression would prevent it from vanishing, because repressed contents are the very ones that have the best chance of survival, as we know from the experience that nothing is corrected in the unconscious." Jung, Carl. The Four Archetypes from The Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 9, Part I. Princeton: Bollingen, 1959.
This is all so clear once you see how your Shadow plays into your daily life. My small progress has been to take a conscious look at my unconscious behavior and examine when my shadow tips its hat, and there have been specific dreams which help to highlight exactly when my shadow is tipping its hat.
I understand this dream doesn't quite deal with the shadow self, but it has themes that trigger the question of whether the shadow is at work here. My motives for paying the man to take care of a friend in need while I have a good time. Or, the friend who is too drunk and needs assistance could be the critic in me judging my behavior if I ever become too irresponsible, particularly by the shadow's doing.
The most common feeling I latch onto from all of my dreams is the overall sense of place. It is quiet and solitary and even the shortest dream can leave you with a full day of trying to capture and understand that feeling. It's not a feeling of the waking world. Not good or bad; not something that is asking to be analyzed, just a morsel to keep us coming back. Dreams like this are a welcome break from the standard unraveling of symbols and imagery we are acquainted with.