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Madison Avenue elevator tragedy

3 Apr

News of the elevator accident in a Madison Avenue building that crushed a woman to death in December made me shudder, as it probably did most New Yorkers, since most of us take elevators as part of everyday life here.

Sunday’s New York Daily News (4/1/12) had this story: “Mechanic Michael Hill, who worked on elevator that killed Suzanne Hart, says he’s haunted by her death.”

The mechanic who worked on an elevator that later crushed an advertising executive can’t get the image of her trapped body out of his mind.

Breaking his silence for the first time, mechanic Michael Hill told the Daily News he dreams of the horrifying day when the midtown elevator suddenly lurched upward, killing Suzanne Hart….

Hill insists he has been wrongly accused in the Dec. 14 incident and says investigators are downplaying evidence of other bizarre problems with the fateful lift.

The trauma of that event is likely a heavy burden to all involved–the woman’s family and friends, the witnesses, building occupants, and building and elevator staff. It’s another event that renews my gratitude for the many years I’ve lived in NYC physically unscathed.

For anyone not so fortunate, the Nightmare Help web page of the International Association for the Study of Dream offers some resources to help deal with trauma-related dreams: http://asdreams.org/nightmare/index.htm

Handwriting analysis: An exciting new dreamwork tool

2 Apr
Judy Kaplan flyer

Flyer announcing Judy Kaplan's workshop

Like astrology, handwriting analysis had vaguely interested me but left me too skeptical to want to tack its complexities. Unable to make a fair evaluation with such limited knowledge, I’ve remained agnostic.

Enter Judy Kaplan (thewriteme.com), who conducted a workshop in Manhattan in December and will be repeating it at the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams in Berkeley, Calif. (June 22–26: ASDreams.org/2012). I predict buzz, and a lot of it. Judy adds a tool to dream understanding that’s fresh and original—and can open up whole new associative directions by zeroing in on even a few individual letters. Continue reading

Montague Ullman’s influence lingers at publication parties

11 Mar

On what’s probably the last day of vaguely winter weather of 2011–2012’s vaguely winter season, I’m getting back to work here by writing about a holiday party I attended at the other end of the season, in December.  More to the point, about the books I received from the party host, Cosimo.

Appreciating Dreams, by Montague Ullman

Cosimo, a specialty publisher in New York City (whose owner is a Dutch expat),  does “publishing on demand” in several categories. In 2006, Cosimo republished Appreciating Dreams,

in connection with a seminal 2005 talk by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Montague Ullman (1916–2008). The Ullman Method of group dreamwork has widely influenced how people work together to understand their dreams. Appreciating Dreams is the “manual” for the Ullman Method.

Montague Ullman, on his site maintained by Markku Siivola

Montague Ullman, on his site maintained by Markku Siivola's

Understanding Dreams, by Markku SiivolaCosimo gave out gift bags at the party, and some of the bags included a just-published book by Finnish psychologist Markku Siivola, a friend and student of Monte Ullman’s. That book is a restatement and introduction of the Ullman Method, titled Understanding Dreams: The Gateway to Dreams Without Dream Interpretation. Markku and I met at one of the weekend-long dream group dream leadership trainings that Monte used to conduct in his home in Ardsley, New York. That weekend afforded a convincing demonstration of the Ullman Method’s ability to be just as insight-inducing and satisfying for group members as for the person whose dream they’re working on: at some point in using the Ullman Method on a dream I’d brought, both Markku and I were deeply affected, each for our own reasons. So I’m particularly looking forward to reading his take on the method. Continue reading

PsiberDreaming Conference

2 Oct

The 10th annual PsiberDreaming Conference (PDC) of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) is running full steam. The conference started last Sunday and continues actively until next Sunday (October 9). After that, the papers and discussion threads, contest instructions and submissions, remain available on a read-only basis for two weeks. Conducted entirely online, the conference goes on 24 hours a day, and it enables copious interaction not only with the presenters but other attendees.

This year, the emphasis (although not exclusively) is on lucid dreaming. (There’s also lots of discussion, and some papers about, lucid waking.)  It’s a fun and enlightening investment of time, even if you arrive a week late!

Two IASD members from NYC are presenting: Lou Hagood’s delightful paper went up for viewing today (Sunday, 10/2). Lou is a psychoanalyst and dream group leader who writes a blog called Playing with Dreams; I thoroughly enjoyed his workshop on that topic at last year’s IASD conference in Asheville, North Carolina. His playful yet profound PDC paper relates the question he incubated a dream about—“What’s My Lucidity?”—and the follow-up incubations and dreams that came after. Inspiring!

Tomorrow, Judy Gardiner’s “Dreaming Beyond Ourselves” gets posted. It’s based on a stunning series of dreams that flooded her with information from various fields of science about which she knew little until she followed up with extensive research. She has novelized the story in Lavender ~ An Entwined Adventure in Science & Spirit, released in September. I missed her slide presentation about those same dreams at IASD’s 2007 conference in Sonoma, California (I got lost on campus!), but I sure heard about it everywhere the rest of the week. Judy became a dream-studies rock stock that year! In addition to the PsiberDreaming presentation, Judy has agreed to do a book reading for us in NYC—date and location TBA.

You can also still read and discuss papers that were posted during the past week, including “Giving Dreams Sanctuary,” by Dutch psychotherapist Robert Bosnak, who graced IASD-NYC with a talk last January on “Nieuw Amsterdam and the Dream of the Golden Age: An Alchemical Perspective.” Robbie is cofounder of the Santa Barbara Healing Sanctuary. As his PDC paper notes, “This is the first Asklepian residential facility—based primarily on the medicinal potential of dreaming for participants with significant physical illness—to be founded in 1500 years.”

Register for the conference at asdreams.org/psi2011. If you’re not yet an IASD member, join at the same time and the conference is free.

Blessing-type synchronicities

2 Aug

Carl Jung defined synchronicity as meaningful coincidence—the noncausal correspondence between something on your mind and an external event that echoes it in some way. An example he gave (I might get some small details wrong here as I write from memory) was a patient of his who’d hit a brick wall for months in dealing with a particular issue. In her therapy session one day, she told him a dream in which she’d been given a golden brooch in the shape of an Egyptian scarab beetle. Just as she finished telling the dream, they heard a sound at the window. Jung opened it and caught in his hand the insect that made the noise as it beat its wings against the window. It was a scarab beetle, very rare in the Swiss environment of Jung’s home. The synchronicity so awed the patient that she experienced a breakthrough on the difficult issue.

I find that synchronicities often trigger my interest in something—commonly when I hear an unfamiliar word three times in 24 hours in different, unrelated contexts.

Other times, a synchronicity bestows a sense of blessing on a new interest that’s just occurred to me. That’s the type I experienced today. Continue reading

Remembering Nicole Carstens

26 Jun
Nicole Carstens, 1958–2001

Nicole Carstens, 1958–2001

Over in Kerkrade, Netherlands, the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) will have completed its second day of annual conference workshops and symposia today.

And here in New York, the Blue Note Jazz Festival is going on throughout June, mainly at venues such as the Blue Note and B. B. King’s.

So it’s a fitting day for me to continue my dream-related appreciation of Dutch New York by writing about my late friend Nicole Carstens. I met Nicole, who was from the Netherlands, in an eight-session dream “class” / dream-sharing group here in New York in 1996. She died in the spring of 2001, while in her early 40s.

Looking back at several letters we exchanged and some notes from various conversations, I realize just how few actual contacts we had in those four and a half years. It seems otherwise, because Nicole and I quickly noticed that the dreams we shared in the class each week had surprisingly—spookily—similar imagery. This gave us the opportunity to delve into some difficult issues we had in common, despite their differing waking-life manifestations in our personal histories.

Nicole was an artist; she supported her art by working as a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight attendant (so was frequently out of town), and as a translator. Exposure to her art, in juxtaposition to doing dreamwork together, gave me another opportunity: a rather large leap forward in my level of art appreciation, given my relatively scanty art education. Continue reading

Spatial experiences in dreams

24 May
Elephants Dream

From the movie Elephants Dream.© copyright 2006, Netherlands Media Art Institute / http://www.elephantsdream.org

In the better late than never department (I’ve been preoccupied away from the blog for a while)…

In the book Black Elk Speaks, the Sioux holy man recounts a dream he had at a young age, in which the Powers of the World—of the West, the North, the East, and the South—appear to him.

New Yorker Susan Tyburczy holds that story dear to her heart. She enjoys standing at the ocean’s edge and imagining what transpires in the vast space beneath the surface. Being a young sleepwalker and sleeptalker were also precursors to her choice of dissertation topic. In earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Saybrook University, she studied the spatial experiences reported by dreamers.

Susan Tyburczy

Susan Tyburczy, Ph.D.

Dr. Tyburczy, a Staten Island psychotherapist who’s a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, described her research on Sunday, April 3, for IASD’s New York Metro Area group. In the audience were a number of the dreamers from among the 28 she had interviewed for her study. Even the settings of the interviews had had spatial variety—places that ranged from her home to theirs to parks to restaurants (she and I sat in a corner of a diner for hours when I told her my dream). Using the method Susan devised of arranging items to represent the characters, objects, and movement in their dream, one dreamer even laid his out in the trunk of his car. Continue reading

Tanka, taiga, Tarot

12 Apr

Some last-minute questions came up last month in connection with two of the three articles I was working on for the Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreams (due out in March 2012). I was vastly relieved to discover I have several books with the answers—books I hadn’t remembered I owned, because I tend to acquire used books almost as often as I buy groceries, and in similar quantities. These particular books, though, had come from a friend, Patricia, and I’ve been meaning to thank her for their recent help. Continue reading

Freudian ordure

11 Apr

“Bathroom” dreams are one of those types that supposedly happen in everyone’s dream life, and synchronistically/precognitively, I had one this morning, although it wasn’t set in a bathroom.

No details will be forthcoming here, but I will explain why the dream was synchronistic. In one of the fits of filing with which I’ve been attacking an old and dreary pile of papers, I came across half an article I’d cut out of The New York Observer‘s culture pages at some indeterminate date earlier this year. The exhibit described, of art about math, still sounds interesting, so I went online to determine whether I’ve missed it. I haven’t: it’s “Proofs and Refutations” at David Zwirner Gallery, through April 23.

The first half of the article, which I didn’t cut out, is about an exhibit at the Algus Greenspon Gallery, also through April 23. Says Observer writer Will Heinrich (“The Offal Truth,” March 22, 2011):

Since the 1990s, inspired by a reference in The Interpretation of Dreams, the English performance artist Stuart Brisley has been constructing a “Collection of Ordure.” Several prime examples of his collection—one is tempted to say “ripe,” but they’re odorless—are on display in the Village…

 

145 mph, awake and dreaming

7 Mar
Drag racing crash - Photo on NYDailyNews.com credited to Suffolk County Sheriff

The remnants of what was once a red Dodge Neon SRT is seen after the fiery crash… (Suffolk County Sheriff via the New York Daily News)

Just after midnight on Thursday (March 3), according to Suffolk County Police, two cars were drag racing at 145 mph on the Long Island Expressway. If you happened to be one of the drivers these two idiots were idiotically* passing and dodging in front of, your stomach would likely be balled up in fear for a week. I speak as a driver who’s been passed on the LIE by drag racers doing what I would guess is closing in on 100 mph. *(The original violated a principle I try to hold to: condemn the behavior, not the person.) Continue reading