Archive | Ethnicity RSS feed for this section

The Creative Power of Dreams: conference report

31 May

With abject apologies to Ira Barouch, from whom I solicited this guest post, at long last I’m posting his report on the New England Regional Conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD)—which took place one long year (and a few days) ago. Two main reasons for my delay: The article happened to come to me just a few days after I had to move out of the apartment I had lived in for 26 years because my landlord needed to sell it (and I was still deep in trying to find a new place), so life was rather chaotic for quite a while. Also, a synchronistic typo occurred as I was doing a light edit of the piece. It occurred in the paragraph after the one on Kabbalah and dreams. Intending to type an em dash (Alt-0-1-5-1 on the number keypad when using Windows), I accidentally typed something I never have before or since: ק, a character I recognized as a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Because I’d heard of the Kabbalistic use of a numerology system called gematria, I emailed the friend who had told me about it for help in deciphering a potential gematria meaning of this little synchronicity. He was on his way out of the country, and at that point, I’m embarrassed to say, procrastination set in on both following up with him later and getting Ira’s post posted.

A small saving grace for me: Ira’s report has timeless relevance because of the subject matter. It also has timely relevance, because several of the people who presented at the New England conference will be presenting at IASD’s annual conference next week (June 3–8) in Berkeley, California: Linda Yael Schiller, Tzivia Gover, Curtiss Hoffman, and Deirdre Barrett. So Ira’s report can serve as a bit of a preview of the upcoming conference. Continue reading

Jews and Dreams

2 Apr

Having been absent from this blog for quite a while, I’m grateful to Ira Barouch for this guest post. My getting online at the end of Passover with a post inspired by a Chanukah workshop may seem out wildly out of sync, and I do apologize to Ira for my slowness (I’m still distracted by preparing for my upcoming move).

On the other hand, the timing has continuity: Around Chanukah, as Ira notes, the Jewish cycle of reading the Torah in small sections lands on the story of Joseph interpreting the dreams of Pharoah—a biblical event that facilitates the survival of Abraham’s descendents during widespread famine by bringing them to Egypt. Passover celebrates the Jews’ subsequent exodus from Egypt, the beginning of 40 years of miraculous survival in the desert on the way to the Promised Land.

Jews and Dreams

by Ira Barouch

For thousands of years the Jewish people have been fascinated by the notion of extracting valuable messages from dreams. Jewish culture has been in the forefront of the study and practice of dream interpretation, beginning with the ancient biblical prophesies of Jacob and his son Joseph in Genesis, to the “mysticism” of the medieval era’s berekhat (tractates, or sections of the Talmud), to the sexually charged instinctual wishes of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory that boldly ushered in the 20th century, and continuing all the way up to the trendy contemporary “Kabbalah” practices popularized by Madonna and other celebrities.

On a Saturday in early December my wife, Helen, and I attended a Chanukah retreat in White Plains, sponsored by Westchester Jewish Community Services. In addition to workshops that practiced mindful meditation, chanting, and yoga, the program included two fascinating presentations that illuminated the long Jewish tradition of dream interpretation. As a psychoanalyst, I was intrigued.

“Pharoah’s Dream,” digital pop art giclee print by Israeli artist Mike Darnell

 

Rabbi Molly Karp, religious school principal at Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown, CT, led a workshop entitled “Spirit Dreams: The Joseph Cycle,” referring to the section of the Torah traditionally studied around Chanukah. Our group, which included a few other local rabbis, sat around a large table and took turns reading and discussing portions of this ancient text. The narrative follows the spiritual development of Joseph through his uncannily insightful interpretations of his own and others’ dreams. The cycle features the two universally recognized dreams that so troubled the Egyptian Pharaoh, in which he envisioned “seven fat calves followed by seven lean calves.” Joseph had gained a reputation as a keen interpreter of dreams while falsely imprisoned in an Egyptian dungeon, and when he was summoned to interpret the Pharoah’s two dreams, he immediately understood them as a divine prophecy from God and warned that seven abundant years would be followed by seven extremely lean years. Continue reading

Color quest, fall edition

23 Sep

The leaves haven’t turned yet, but I’ve recently been encountering echoes of some of the images I found, during this year’s sometimes drab spring, in my quest to incubate some vivid color into my dreams. The spring quest took a lot of tries before I got dream color: I wrote three posts about my multiple efforts.

Bel Borba aqui

One of those posts mentions a DVD titled Colors of a Creative Culture, about street artists in and around the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, engaged in community art projects: Continue reading

It’s gonna be a strange and wonderful weekend

2 Aug

Trying to be disciplined about staying on theme here, I don’t indulge much in posts about things that are dreamlike. But a selection of activities in New York City this weekend (and honestly, I’ve searched only Thursday and Friday at ClubFreetime.com) is too quirky to pass up commenting. And anyway, there really are some dream-titled ones among these events.

And me with a camera that’s refusing to work. Assuming I’m in town, I plan to get to as much as I can; thanks to the apartment search that’s become never-ending (and no further word from my landlord), I’ve been missing summer in a big way! Regardless — If you get to any of these events and find truly dream-related material (or have resulting dreams yourself), report back here!!

THURSDAY

Arctic Summer, Part 1, National Museum of the American Indian,several times during the day (and Friday, too)

The Owl and the Lemming: The quick-witted lemming outwits the hungry owl. Puppets made of sealskin by local artists act out this Inuit folktale.

The Twenty-First Annual World Eskimo-Indian Olympics: Competitions in strength, agility and traditional skills highlight this 1982 event. We see such events as the two-foot and one-foot high kicks, the knuckle hop, the blanket toss and the four-man carry.

The Owl who Married a Goose: An owl falls in love with a goose, but has a tough time adapting to life on the water. Continue reading

Howard Lerner: Myth and Metaphor (through July 7, 2012)

1 Jul

With having been away and previously getting ready to be away, I’m unfortunately rather late with this post. But there’s still a week left to see the incredible paintings and sculptures of New York artist  Howard Lerner at Synchronicity Fine Arts, 106 West 13th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues).

I previously wrote a post about “The Mystical Meaning of Jacob’s Ladder,” so at the opening for Howard’s current show, I was especially interested in a painting I hadn’t seen before, Jacob Dreaming, already so evocative in its own right.

"Jacob Dreaming," by Howard Lerner

“Jacob Dreaming,” by Howard Lerner

Continue reading

“Der Traum”

3 Jun

I’m working on my presentation (based largely on this blog)  for this year’s annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (June 22–26, 2012).

Gathering images for the PowerPoint, I went to the website of Columbia University’s Department of Germanic Languages (whose Wijnie de Groot presented a great one-night Dutch-language immersion class free during 5 Dutch Days in 2012; see my post “Woensdag, wij leren Nederlands!“). I expected to find the staid-looking Columbia seal that I believe was there last time I went to the site.

Instead what greets the site visitor now is the stunning orange-pink-blue lion–naked woman–horse of Franz Marc’s Der Traum (“The Dream” in German).

"Der Traum" by Franz Marc (1880–1916) (image from Wikipedia)

“Der Traum” by Franz Marc (1880–1916)
(image from Wikipedia)

Soooo much better!

Spring color quest (2): Pluralistic color

1 Jun

(Read the first installment, “March flowers brought May showers.”

My next ventures in search of color tended toward more pluralistic sources than Macy’s or Merriam-Webster, 3M Post-it Notes or an educational institution the size of New York University.

For a more heartfelt depiction of Brazilian color than the Macy’s flower show could offer, the next day (March 31) I finally checked out of the library a DVD I’d been seeing on the shelf for many months, Colors of a Creative Culture, by David Zucker.

Continue reading

Tikkun olam TV

24 May

It’s Thursday night, which has been a great TV-viewing night for me this season. First at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Missing on ABC (channel 7 in NYC), with Ashley Judd as a middle-aged ex-CIA operative kicking butt all over Europe to find her kidnapped teenage son, without (implausibly) having lost any of her dexterity, quickness, or endurance. Then at 9 p.m., Touch, Fox’s (channel 5’s) new Kiefer Sutherland vehicle, in which he’s the rather morose and insecure (i.e., anti–Jack Bauer) father of an autistic 12-year-old, Jake. And finally, at 10 p.m. on NBC (channel 4), Awake, a superbly imaginative cop show starring Jason Isaacs.

Missing aired its season finale last week. It has neither New York nor dream content, so enough said here about that series. Awake takes place in L.A., but hey, the LAPD detectives put an ex–New York couple into witness protection in one episode, and anyway, Awake is all about dreams.

Awake, or not?

"Awake," on NBC: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Dylan Minnette

“Awake,” on NBC: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Dylan Minnette

His shrinks say not, he says always. Detective Britten has been in an accident that has killed either his wife or his teenage son. Carrying on with life, he wakes up with his wife, goes to sleep, wakes up having his son alive. Always alternating. The psychiatrist in his wife-survived reality tell him, “I assure you, this isn’t a dream,” and he replies, “That’s exactly what the other shrink says”—the psychiatrist in the son-survived reality. Both shrinks keep urging him to accept that his other “existence” is just a dream, a way of denying the loss. “I have no interest in getting better,” he tells them; as it is now, he still has his wife and he still has his son—just not at the same time Continue reading

Food as dream

26 Apr
Empellón Cocina

Empellón Cocina (photo from the restaurant's website)

The premise of this blog has been to explore how New York affects our dreams, how our dreams can help us appreciate New York, and what we can discover about dreaming while out and about in New York. Now, in “A Taste of Mexico, as in a Dream” in the April 24 Dining & Wine section of The New York Times, Pete Wells demonstrates one more angle: how the dreaming experience can help us express our experience of New York.

Wells reviews the restaurant Empellón Cocina in the East Village, whose chef is Alex Stupak:

A 32-year-old former pastry chef, he has read the classic cookbooks and spent some time in Oaxaca and the Yucatán, but he hasn’t studied this intricate and endlessly complex cuisine with an anthropologist’s intensity, as Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy have. If everybody with a similarly brief education opened a Mexican restaurant, the world would be full of foolish empanadas, pretentious moles and goofy adobos.

But some beginning students of a language can wake up to discover they’ve been dreaming in it at night. At its best, Mr. Stupak’s cooking at Empellón Cocina resembles the food of Mexico the way a dream resembles life. Everything looks familiar, except that the light seems to be coming from a different direction, and did that river always run right through the bedroom?

When you slice into a gordita, does it always gush with warm egg yolk? The one here does, the deep-fried flying saucer of masa giving way to the yellow yolk that curls around smoked plantains and a crumble of chorizo.

There are a few low notes on the menu, but overall, Wells seems intrigued and satisfied with the results of Stupak’s relatively casual education in Mexican cuisine.

In the wake of my Hollis hip-hop post

24 Apr

Except where noted, all of this happened on April 18, the day of my most recent post, about a dream that led me to watch a DVD about the Queens neighorhood of Hollis, birthplace of hip-hop (“What my German great-aunt and Run-DMC have in common“).

Sketch of a plate on a desk in my November 11, 2010, dream

Sketch of a plate on a desk in my November 11, 2010, dream, which reminded me of a radio studio turntable

"2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay"

(image from Amazon.com)

What happened between the time I started writing that post earlier in the day and the time I published it is an example of the small coincidences that can add up to a complex web of synchronicity:

"Free Stylin': How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry," by Elena Romero

(image from Amazon.com)

  • I turned on the TV while I worked out and came in on the middle of a movie (Tell Seconds to Hell) about German soldiers in Berlin at the end of World War II forming a bomb disposal squad to rid the city of unexploded bombsContinue reading