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The Ambassador (Pro Tem) of Dreams

Dreamed 1993/3/1 by Chris Wayan

I dream I'm standing at the end of the world we know, looking at a low stone wall: the border of dreamland. At the checkpoint of dreams, a man and a woman await my questions. They aren't just customs officials but ambassadors, authorized to represent dreams' interests in the physical realm.

I ask them a question with both political and scientific implications. Can dreams grasp such ideas? And then... I'm standing inside dreams, looking at the gate of waking. The same two figures are now, from this side, the authorized representatives of the waking mind. These two MOONLIGHT! Two paychecks are better than one...

Since they're working for waking now, I have to represent dreams' interests. Kind of intriguing--dreams get to analyze the undream mentality! I decide to repeat the question I asked dreams: "How does current cosmological theory explain the fact that night and day, waking and dreaming, have gotten reversed?"

Just asking the question inverts the whole dream a new way. Now THEY asked ME, and I have to explain dreamland's position.

I wing it.

Mirror images of me looking at the night sky, one negative one positive.
"Night," I say firmly, "is created by dark stars, which radiate darkness, as suns do light." Now wait, am I reversing cause and effect? Astronomers do use negatives a lot--galaxies are black whirlpools in a milk sea... Is this a dream metaphor or am I really postulating antiphotons? But my mouth's already rushing in where braincells fear to tread: "The individual dark stars are invisible to the eye--too far, too small--but cumulatively they create the night." Of course, even before Hubble, we knew that night is essential--so the world won't roast in light. Right? "Distant space is darker; the proportion of dark stars may have changed over time. Invisible galaxies... our faint but visible local arm... the naked-eye constellations... the planets, and nearest and brightest, the sun."

It all sounds so plausible, yet the red shift supposedly explains why the night sky is not the incandescent face of one vast composite sun. No need for dark stars to suck up that deadly light. Maybe the customary view--an expanding unverse, radiating only light, but not enough--is right! Yet antimatter is quite real, and the gravitic evidence for dark matter is quite strong... so why not anti-light?

It's a riddle all right. Is my diplomatic position true only for the dream sky, or for the waking night too? Or both, or neither? Is this "dream thinking", "irrational", "primary process"? But I'm dreaming this very question, and I'm officially representing dreams as I juggle waking concepts like relativity, red shift... and primary-process thinking! A dreamer thinking about waking psychobabble about dream thinking.

A quote pops into my head. Or did one of the gatekeepers say it? I'm so getting sleepy, here in the dream... if I close my eyes I'll soon find myself awake, thinking the way they do (they call it thinking).

The quote was something like: "A wise person pursues a riddle as stubbornly as a miser pursues a coin rolling toward a crack in the floor." As I drift off to wake, I realize the quote's from a Patricia McKillip novel where the hero's reluctant to ask certain questions that threaten not just his self-image but his whole society--education, law, religion, politics, history. Unanswered riddles can have public import!

And so can dreams. Discounting dream politics or science is like telling a woman "You're nurturing and spiritual, but of course you can't learn math, politics, science." To squeeze dreams back into the corset of merely "personal growth" can keep a dreamer (or a therapist's clients) introspective, pious, slow-growing, and politically passive.


My eyes open. I write down the dream. No, it's not a literary confection. I really dreamed this, in all its flipflopping complexity. An open letter from dreams, to all us dreamworkers!

See, I knew that my colleague, Stephanie van Zandt Nelson, was speaking soon to the San Francsico Jungian Society, and she wanted sample dreams, showing what contemporary dreamworkers are doing. This dream is my response: a diplomatic cable from the dreamworld to modern psychology. Because what we dreamers are doing is dreamwork that violates this society's rules of what's possible. We dream the future, or lucidly, or to order; we read minds, tap into data nets (Paul Sandberg seems to be getting NASA telemetry!), become other people, or create shared realities. Most importantly: as shamans always have, we dream for public as well as private purposes.

I custom-dreamed this especially for you Jungians: I asked for a dream about dreams--and the Jungian approach. I got a dream declaring me an ambassador! So I ask you, in the name of dreams, to consider the possibility that seeing dreams as spiritual, private, long-term, apolitical, low-tech, primary-process, and symbolic, rather than as real, literal other worlds we visit--is wakocentrism!

For individuation doesn't happen just to individuals. Dreaming itself is evolving--individuating.

LISTS AND LINKS: dreams on dreams - diplomats - dreaming personified - shamanic dreams - red shift and cosmological dreams - Jungian dreams - dreamwork - Stephanie Van Zandt Nelson - Patricia McKillip - riddles - sociological dreams

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