|Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1999 Fall). Electric Dream Visions from the ASD
1999 Conference. Updates, Events and Horizons. Dream Time Cyberphile. Dream Time 16(4).
The Dream Cyberphile
by Richard Catlett Wilkerson
In this issue the Cyberphile will summerize the synergy of cyberspace at the 1999
Conference, explore the visions and research offered, look at ways to better your own
online projects and offer highlights and insights to the future of the Internet.
California Dreaming Online
The 1999 ASD Santa Cruz Conference provided a variety of places and venues for the
discussion and exploration of dreams and the Internet. Panel discussions, presentations,
exhibits and Peggy Coat's daily Computer Cafe filled the original menu. The excitement
overflowed the scheduled events and became an aroma that could be followed through the
whole conference. The level of communication and planning soared on the wings of emerging
technologies and consciousness that are opening into the 21st Century. On a
personal level, "I will talk to you next conference." was replaced by "I'll
e-mail you next week!" and "That sound like a good idea." has been replaced
by "Let's set up a Web Site, bring in Italy and France and get this project
For me, a particularly grand, exotic and wonderful community of Dreaming in Cyberspace
emerged the conference. The multitude of projects that each had their own lives and
destinies began to emerge from below the buzzing electric matrix and form together into a
common realization that the 21st Century in dreaming is going to be alive,
global, and more interesting that we could ever have imagined.
Cyber-Dreamwork & Research at Santa Cruz
The tools, skills and values that have been developed in dreamwork and dream research will
form the core material from which the cyber-dream future will emerge, and we had a chance
to review what we have learned. Peggy Coats(1) offered a
panel on Dreams and the Internet which brought together many of the pioneers in this area
to discuss what has happened since the 1996 panel in Berkeley. At the 1996 conference the
question was whether or not dreamwork could ethically and safely be engaged online and the
answer was unanimously "Yes!" At the 1999 conference, it was clear that this
still holds true, but the issue has become more complex. Jeremy Taylor ended the AOL
DreamShow when AOL wanted his groups to shift to a pay-for-dreamwork system. John Herbert
noted that moderated groups were essential to teach people the "If this were my
dream" non-projective techniques. Linda Magallón noted that swiping dreams online
for research without asking seems a questionable ethical move and suggested we always
"Ask First!". Jayne Gackenbach has been researching the effects of cyber and
virtual reality on the human body and mind(2) and has been
asking just what we are really doing by dragging people into virtual realities? Is this a
just a new thing to learn, or are we fundamentally altering and restructuring our
consciousness? The conclusion seems even more unbelievable than the question. It appears
as if there is a whole new consciousness emerging that may be described as the Internet
itself beginning to dream. The basic skills of dreamwork may soon serve us as we find that
we are living in the dream of the world as well as in our own dreams. Hopefully, as
Magallón has suggested, whatever imaginary we find ourselves in, we can behave and treat
the other in a peer or partnership paradigm. I will return to the notion of the
Many wonderful research projects were demonstrated at the Cyber-Cafe over the week,
including Dreaming Arnold Schwarznegger , NADIS: Numinous Archives Dream Interactive
Bjo Ashwill's dream journal and content analysis program and Robert Bosnak's
Bosnak's cyberdreamwork gives us a particularly good example of how the environment is
about to become "alive". At the demonstration, Bosnak connected himself to a
computer mediated GSR system (lie detector) and had a voice conference call via the
Internet with three dreamworkers on the East Coast. Since ASD does not allow dreamwork
online at this time, Robert offered himself as the subject and dreamer. As he told his
dream and as the dreamworkers asked him questions about the dream and its meanings, we
were able to watch the responses as well a general mood fluctuations. Bosnak points out
that this kind of technology is just the beginning of a whole range of interactive
relations that will be available in our communications.
For more on this project, see http://www.cyberdreamwork.com
If you missed any of these presentations, you can still visit the Comptuer Cafe at
Also, as part of the electric conference, were the content and category dream research
sites of Bill Domhoff and Patricia Garfield. Bill Domhoff and Adam Schneider have added to
the Content Analysis Site by opening DreamBank.. DreamBank allows casual users to sort
through thousands of dreams by topic and generate thematic collections. I went through
this part of the site, for example, and collected computer dreams from various population
samples. With a research grant from DreamBank, you can also access a wider group of dreams
and perform various Hall-Van de Castle content analysis searches.
If you have been reading recent Dream Times issues, you will also be aware of the
Universal Dreams project of Patricia Garfield. This project is an experimental approach to
developing categories of dreams in meaningful and common themes, such falling, losing
objects, discovering new rooms and so on. If you have collections of dreams, you can stop
by the Universal Dreams Web site and enter your collection or take the survey.
If you have a research project, the ASD Web site has page where you can display and
explain your research and gather subjects and data. Contact Peggy Coats
firstname.lastname@example.org for more and ask her to display your research on
http://www.dreamtree.com for extra exposure.
Jeremy Taylor mentioned that the Dream Show archives on AOL contain at 60,000 dreams.
Finally, on dream research databanks, there is the many-years collection of the online
dream sharing E-zine, Electric Dreams. Bob Krumhansl each month has taken dreams that have
been offered to the e-zine and put them in easy to locate categories. For back issues of
Electric Dreams go to
World Alive or Models of Simulation?
In 1989 Harry Hunt(3) noted that dreams, like other
heavily visual-spatial patterning systems, tend to favor over time the movements of
presentational symbolism (right brain, intuitive, emotional, direct felt qualities and
rhythm). At the same time, representational symbolism (sequential, judgmental,
logical-intellectual features) is slowly derailed. "More specifically, dreaming
exteriorizes the processes of cross-modal synesthetic translation and mutual
reorganization that may constitute the core of all symbolic intelligence" (pg. 206)
Jayne Gackenbach, in her presentation on Dreams and the Electronic Age(4),
has moved this notion into a cultural context and, like the more recent of Hunt's
theories, expanded the focus from the lone dreamer to the dreamer within a variety of
virtual worlds and simulated realities. Here the question shifts from a what dreams are or
aren't to a general question about consciousness as it moves through and is altered by
emerging states of reality; dream reality, mystical reality, virtual reality and
cyber-reality. More specifically, what is happening to our brains and minds as we
re-organize our lives in or in conjunction with virtual reality?
It is interesting to note that the most popular dream conference systems online for young
adults are the lucid dreaming and shamanic dreaming channels.(5)
What is going on that lucidity and mythic Dungeons&Dragons type systems of dreaming
fascinate and absorb our children's time and attention? Gackenbach's research seems to
indicate that part of this is our kids's innate need for spirituality and the time they
spend playing video games. With my generation, the non-interactive TV was the model for
the substitute parent. We learned to question reality in general, but rarely questioned
whether the present moment was real. A flock of therapies and spiritual exercises served
that purpose. Now the media is interactive and the question of reality is constantly on
the minds of those who play video games and those who participate in cyber-environments.
The existential attention continually differentiates between real and simulated reality.
Is this simply an adjustment to new technology or is something else occurring here?
Gackenbach brought up the notion of cognitive amplifiers which may be creating a whole new
kind of consciousness. In their simple forms these amplifiers may be seem as any
consciousness enhancing techniques like meditation, mindfulness, language acquisition and
video game playing. These amplifiers not only augment consciousness, but may fundamentally
change it. Hunt notes that these changes do not stop at the abstract/verbal level of
processing, but continue to develop in higher states of consciousness, in nonlinear modes
of spatial thinking and multi-modal processing which integrates self and affect with
In other world, the new media immersion we live in may be creating cultural amplifiers
that are augmenting and altering us in ways we will hardly recognize but profoundly change
us. As we immerse ourselves in the new environments, we become part of the environment.
This is nothing new to dreamworkers. The dreamworld is an internally generated virtual
reality in the same way that video games are an externally generated reality. To the
degree that both the dreamworld walls and virtual walls react and interact, they begin to
functionally become quite similar. In a short time, due to interface with the Internet,
the interactivity of video games (externally generated interactive virtual realities) will
not be limited to nausea creating helmets, but will be on our walls, our cars, our
The consensus at the 1999 Santa Cruz conference was not to pull back from this
onslaught of simulation and hyper-reality, but to engage with it in a way that allows us
to co-create and import the values we have learned though dreamwork. As Stephen Aizenstat
suggested in "Tending the Dream is Tending the World"(6),
we have failed in our attempt to impose ecology sustaining and socially rational values on
the world. Perhaps in learning to listen to what the World wants we will hear an emergent
theme that has been previously drowned out by our forced interpretations.
What are these values embodied by dreamworkers?
Dreamworkers are generally very familiar with mediated realities. As Jeremy Taylor
continually stated during the conference, a major job of living in simulated reality is
work on projection, the task of separating who we are and who you are and what it is and
what is me. This work used to be just the providence of psychotherapy, but has now grow to
be included in many programs of spiritual growth, self-enhancement or interpersonal
relations. At this time there are excellent models of non-projective dreamwork online. One
is the "If this were my dream.." approach(7)
which allows individuals in a dream group to participate by engaging their own fantasy
systems and taking the dream as if it were their own. Another is the dream interview, as
used by many Jungians and made popular by Gayle Delaney. A variation of this is
dream-reentry, where the dreamer is led back through the dream with questions, and
alternative imaginal pathways are explored.
Cyber-place rather than Cyberspace. As Robert Bosnak has noted,
cyberspace tends to de-value the body. It is "wetware", there are
"flesh-meets", there is the fantasy of dropping the body and beaming up,
uploading from the dirty particular into an abstract model of a clean digital. Bosnak sees
that this is only a phase. Cyberspace was built and originally inhabited by boys. Now the
statistics are changing and women are increasingly coming online and changing the
landscape, giving it civilization, bodily value and place significance. While boys prefer
video game, young women chose chat rooms. The negative evaluation of the body may
disappear as cyber-ecologies become less a place to fight and compete and more a place of
spirit, of soul, a place to be rather than a place to conquer and pass through.
Here dreamwork is of great value in slowing down the hyper-jumping. For example, when
Princess Diana died(8) , the media flooded our fields with
continual new but pointless news and events. One woman said she just didn't have time to
grieve, as the next event grabbed for attention, the latest non-news about what happened
became a headline.. However, in our online dream groups, we began working with these
dreams and found that we could create cyber-environments where dwelling and grieving were
possible. This story- telling quality of the Internet is has opened many new channels and
will surely be a key to creating cyber-ecologies that sustain spirit. When we have, as
Bosnak suggested, place without location, we will have to re-work our notions and habits
of space and relationship. Our narratives may create this bridge and dreamworkers have
many skills in taking fragmented images and weaving them into a meaningful store.
Symbol vs Sign. Dreamworkers are very familiar with Jung's continual
de-valuation of the sign and valorization of the symbol. Signs simply point to something
else, while symbols imagistically hold two or more great powers in a kind of suspension
that allows for a transcendent new reality to emerge. But we need to keep a close watch on
the sign as well. We are in the "Age of the Sign", according to many
postmodern thinkers and cultural theorists. In this sense, culture is like an enormous
mobile, with each hanging piece a reflective arrow pointing to and mirroring other signs,
an endless sliding of signification where even the central string that holds them together
has been forever lost. As Jean Baudrillard notes(9), in
primitive [his term] and even medieval societies, there was a one-to-one correspondence
with the sign. We could look at the marks on a person's body or the clothes they wore and
we knew what that meant. Then the correspondence began to waiver, theater took the place
of ritual and psychology the place the myth. Now we are just ending an age where the
meaning and values have been stripped from any cultural practices and re-coded on capital.
That is, value is often exchange-value in dollars. Once something has become valued as a
commodity, its values are re-coded on capital and the older meanings get lost. As Robert
Bosnak has noted, Mercury is the god of the Internet and this god is a deity of commerce.
In recognizing that commerce is a deity, we learn, as with other archetypes, not to fight
it directly but to do our own work. Baudrillard suggests this as well in contrasting
symbolic exchange with sign exchange. Symbolic exchange lives outside of capital economy
and is more tied into the exchange of gifts, of looks, of excess and festival and
celebration and carnival. Dreams, dreamwork and dream sharing fit quite well into this
scheme as dreams have always resisted commodification and thereby been de-valued by our
culture. But how do we do this inner work outside of exchange values without all becoming
How does a sign culture of money and status bridge with a symbolic community of
the sacred and spirit? It is a shift in consciousness much like in dreamwork
where the whole dream is seen a alive. In moving into a cyber-ecology, we can begin to see
the whole environment as responsive and interactive. And just as in life we have learned
(or not learned, as in poor ecological practices) the need to go beyond interacting person
to person and include interacting person to environment. In archetypal psychology the
terminology might be seeing soul in objects once considered trash. Rather than throwing
away dreams and creating a trashed psyche, rather than piling up old tires and creating a
garbage dump, we see that our life space is alive and needs of its own beyond our
individual wills. Can we learn to listen? This question was continually addressed during
the conference. Dreamworkers, all in their own ways, are developing the skills not only to
listen to dreaming world, but to participate and dance in it. In this way, the annual ASD
Dream Ball is perhaps the best model of what virtual reality is really going to be like.
Everything will be a mask, but one which we can dance and celebrate. Technology desires to
dream as well. We can help this desire along.
If you would like to join the online dream movement, drop me a line and we can talk about
the many networking and creative possibilities available online in dreaming.
Please send in your Papers
If you gave a presentation at the ASD conference this year, we would like to post your
presentation (or a link to your site) on the ASD site. Please send you presentation in any
format to email@example.com
Dream Web Site Owners: Tips on Increasing Visitors.
Last month I opened this section and mentioned how difficult it is for those of you
with dream products and books to get attention online. Everyone wants to download the
latest browser from Netscape, but who even knows that your site exists? Last month I
talked about how to use e-mail to network. This month I want to suggest to you to add
secret words to the pages on your web site. Secret Words? Well, they really aren't
*secret*, they are technically called *hidden* words or meta tag statements. These live on
your web page but are not seen by people casually visiting your site. But they do live
inside your web page and direct the thousands of search engines on the Internet and tell
them all about your site, how to index your site and what not to list. You can see what
other people have done, and not done, buy selecting on your browser the "SOURCE"
option. This reveals the hidden codes on a page, any page in your browser. The main meta
tag or hidden statement you want to focus on is the KEYWORDS. These are words that people
type in when they are looking for a topic online. But it is also important to have a
SUBJECT and DESCRIPTION. You can simply fill these out and give these to your web manager
and have them added to you site, or you can use forms online to help guide you through the
process. Here is one site that after you fill out the form, will actually generate all the
needed meta tags for your web site. You simple copy and paste them into the code of your
site, or ask your web manager to add them.
Next issue: Getting on the right Search Engines! In the meantime, be sure to stop by the
www.asdreasms.org site and visit the statistics pages to see why people visit our site and
where they come from.
Final ASD Web Highlights:
The ASD Discussion Bulletin Board with Jean Campbell
The ASD DreamArts newsletter with Dawn Hill
Bibliography and Citations
1. Coats, Peggy (chair) (1999). "Dreams on the Internet." A
panel presentation at the Conference for the Association for the Study of Dreams, Santa
Cruz CA. [AUDIO TAPE] July 8th, 1999, University of California at Santa Cruz. [Peggy
Coats, Jayne Gackenback, John Herbert, Linda Magallon, Richard Wilkerson]
2. Gackenbach, J. (No date). Video Game Play and the Development of
Consciousness. Athabasca University [Online]. Available:
http://www.sawka.com/spiritwatch/videogame.html [1999, July 30].
3. Hunt, Harry (1989). The Multiplicity of Dreams: Memory,
Imagination and Consciousness. New Haven: Yale University Press.
4. Gackenback, Jayne (chair) (1999). "Dreaming in the
Electronic Age." A presentation at the Conference for the Association for the Study
of Dreams, Santa Cruz CA. [AUDIO TAPE] July 8th, 1999, University of California at Santa
Cruz. [Jayne Gachenbach and Robert Bosnak].
5. See the Usenet Newsgroups such as alt.dream.lucid and
alt.dreams.castaneda and alt.pagan and alt.gothic, talk.newage.religion
6. Aizenstat, Stephen (1999) "Tending the Dream is Tending the
World." A presentation at the Conference for the Association for the Study of Dreams,
Santa Cruz CA. July 8th, 1999, University of California at Santa Cruz.
7. Herbert, J.W.(1991) "Human Science Research Methods in
Studying Dreamwork: Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Face-to-Face and Computer
Dream Work Groups." Unpublished Manuscript, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco.
[Online]. Available: http://users.aol.com/john0417/HuSci/Greet.html [1999, July 30].
8. Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1998 Winter/Spring). Dream Sharing In
Cyberspace Continue Updates, Events and Horizons. Dream Time Cyberphile. Dream Time 15(1&2).
[Online]. Available: http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/cyberphile/rcwasd08.htm [1999, July
9. Wilkerson, Richard Catlett. (1999). Signs of Simulation, Symbols
beyond Value: Baudrillard and Dreamwork. In A Brief History of Dream Sharing, Theory,
Techniques & Cyberspace. San Francisco: DreamGate.com Publishing. [Online]. Available:
[1999, July 30]
This article may be slightly altered from its original form on the ASD
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