Stuff I wouldn’t be looking at if it weren’t for dreams

27 Apr

More hip-hop, only this time a visual interpretation. My last two posts (here and here) explain how I started following a hip-hop thread of associations in waking life because of a dream in which there’s a plate on a table that, when I woke, reminded me of a radio studio turntable.

Granted, I would have looked at Luke Haynes‘s website anyway, because tomorrow (4/28) he’s giving a talk at the American Folk Art Museum, across from Lincoln Center, and I’ll be too busy with other things to get to it. The museum event write-up says Haynes’s “background as an architect deeply informs his quilts” and that he “unites traditional quilt patterns with bold photo-based images.”

Haynes was living in Seattle at the time he wrote his About page, but apparently he lives in Brooklyn now. And he has a show going on at Eli Alexander Gallery, 15 East 27th Street, through May 21, so I’ll try to get to that instead.

But if it weren’t for a dream-inspired intellectual (if not visceral) interest in hip-hop, I wouldn’t have spent any time looking at Haynes’s Jay-Z/Kanye quilt (Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is a Brooklynite):

"The Throne," quilt by Luke Haynes

"The Throne," quilt by Luke Haynes
(image from

Haynes says of it: “This piece is constructed from reclaimed Textiles. I took Clothes and sheets discarded from the people of NY and created this quilt. ”

I love that idea, for starters, because I’ve been a devoted recycler since long before there were convenient places to do recycling.

To riff on that theme for a moment, the way we riff on associations to images and actions from dreams, dreams are good at recycling our experience. The recycled content from recent life is usually called “day residue,” although that doesn’t do justice to the surgically precise way the dreaming mind chooses a very few items from the thousands of thoughts and perceptions a person experiences over a couple of days and uses them as metaphors for issues (positive or negative) in our current life—and in a way that also recycles, and matches it with, past experience that may be unresolved in some way.

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Montague Ullman wrote:

There are three essential features that account for the potential healing power of the imagery. The first important feature of dreaming is its relevance to our current life. Freud provided the clue to this feature when he identified the dreamer’s day residue as the starting point of what occupies the dreaming psyche. The feeling residues of recent experiences surface when our brain gets the signal to start dreaming. Those residues continue to linger because of their connection to earlier emotional residues from our past.

The second important feature is our ability to gather more information relevant to a current issue than we can readily do while awake. We bring a historical perspective to our thought processes while dreaming and seek out residues of experience from our past that, in a feeling way, are related to whatever the current issue may be.

The third important feature of the dreaming psyche is the profoundly honest way in which it reflects our subjective state. There is an honesty to our dreaming psyche, as if, in its naiveté and innocence, it had no choice but to tell us the truth about our life, regardless of our waking interest in knowing that truth.

—Montague Ullman, “Guidelines for teaching dreamwork,” in Dreamtime and Dreamwork: Decoding the Language of the Night. Edited by Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. Jeremy Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles, 1991

Naiveté and innocence also characterize, at least on the surface, American folk art.

Hip-hop doesn’t claim either, but a video I watched on Jay-Z’s official site has at least a feel of innocence about it. (Disclaimer: I rarely can make out the lyrics in most kinds of music, so here my comment applies to the visuals.) The grid of images on the home page includes one labeled “dream hampton talks about directing THEEsatisfaction’s ‘Queens.'” dream hampton is a director who (according to her site) has lived in New York most of her adult life. (Love your name, dream!)

(Added on 4/29)

One more observation I meant to make: The combination of two people (Jay-Z and Kanye West) in one depiction on Haynes’s quilt image is so like a phenomenon that’s common in dreams—the conviction that something is both this and that. An apple and a tomato. Daytime and nighttime. Jay-Z and Kanye.

One Response to “Stuff I wouldn’t be looking at if it weren’t for dreams”


  1. From a quilt to a dream: Double image « - April 30, 2012

    […] My most recent post was about a quilt by Luke Haynes that depicts, in a single image resembling a double exposure, both Jay-Z and Kanye West. I wrote the post on 4/27 and yesterday added the observation that this effect is “so like a phenomenon that’s common in dreams—the conviction that something is both this and that. An apple and a tomato. Daytime and nighttime. Jay-Z and Kanye.” […]

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