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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 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!!


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

“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!

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

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

200,000 descendents of Nieuw Amsterdam’s miller

25 Jul

This past week I finished reading the novel City of Dreams, by Beverly Swerling, which traces several generations of surgeons and apothecaries from the Dutch colony of Nieuw Amsterdam through the English takeover (making it New York) to the American Revolution. (Vivid and fascinating. It was frequently my bedtime reading, and to my surprise, few or no nightmares resulted: the era’s surgery, medicine, and public punishments were all gruesome, and all vividly and copiously described.)

After six months of that, I’m highly alert to anything Nieuw Amsterdam…such as a June 22 article on The New York Times website: “The Van Dusens of Nieuw Amsterdam.” The Van Dusens in question are the numerous descendents—now spread across the country—of “one of Manhattan’s first few hundred settlers, the operator of a windmill where the Dutch ground grain….

It all began with Abraham, whose forebears were from the town of Duersen in northern Brabant. Known in official documents as “Abraham the miller,” or “Abraham Pieterszen,” as in son of Peter”….Two of Abraham’s progeny — Martin Van Buren, a great-great-great-grandson; and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (add four more greats) — served as presidents of the United States. A third, Eliza Kortright (Generation 7), married one, James Monroe.

Another is the current mayor of Astoria, Oregon. (Lots of multimedia with the article—including recipes from a 19th-century cookbook, Civil War diaries, and a bucolic 1814 view from 110th Street.)

I wanted to blog about the article, but I had to come up with my own excuse, because there’s no mention in it of dreams. So naturally I Googled: “‘Van Dusen’ and dream.” I was handed plenty of news hooks. From just the first page of search results: Continue reading

Perchance to dream

24 Jul
Movie poster - Ethan Hawke in "Hamlet"

Movie poster - Ethan Hawke in "Hamlet"

The indie movie on last night’s Reel 13 (on Channel Thirteen): Ethan Hawke as Hamlet (2000), set in modern NYC.

I loved it. Glad I hadn’t read the reviews on IMDB first, although I’m gaining more discernment from them. That’s the prelude to a second watching.

Because of my very limited experience of European travel, Denmark has a special place in my heart: I was there for the 2004 annual conference, in Copenhagen, of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.

Elsinor Castle in Denmark

Elsinor Castle in Denmark

Given that this version of Hamlet is set in New York City, the state of Denmark becomes the Denmark Corporation. Much of the action takes place in the Hotel Elsinor. The post-conference event in 2004 was a trip up the coast for the summer solstice / Sankt Hans celebration . We stopped for a few moments at the real Elsinor Castle, which we could see only from the outside. (Shakespeare, reportedly had never been there, or to Denmark). 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

A happy synchronicity: Two receptions and a book

25 Jun
Exploring Historic Dutch New York - book cover

Exploring Historic Dutch New York, edited by Gajus Scheltema and Heleen Westerhuijs

Tonight (June 24, that is) is/was the opening reception, in Kerkrade, Netherlands, of the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams which continues through June 28. Having attended every other IASD annual conference since 1997, I’m sorely disappointed about not being there.

So it was a happy surprise and exciting synchronicity when I received an email announcement yesterday of a reception tonight at The Netherlands Club, 3 West 51st Street in Manhattan. The occasion was twofold: a farewell to the current consul general, Gajus Scheltema (who’s headed for a new assignment in Islamabad), and a book signing for the newly released travel guide Exploring Historic Dutch New York, which he co-edited with Heleen Westerhuijs.

Continue reading

The Nieuw Amsterdam of “Mad Men”

11 Apr

Returning for a moment to my Dutch fascination because of the upcoming International Association for the Study of Dreams’ 2011 conference in the Netherlands…a small synchronicity:

Back in January, when I was in the midst of sending out emails announcing Robbie Bosnak’s “Nieuw Amsterdam and the Golden Age” talk, I watched episode 4 of Mad Men‘s first season (on DVD). The episode title is “New Amsterdam.” It emerges in the story line that Pete Campbell, the obnoxious junior account executive trying alternately to suck up to creative director Don Draper or to show him up, is a descendant of the Dyckmans. Continue reading

Tulips dream and photos

29 Mar

I remembered this dream from yesterday after checking my email a little while after I woke up yesterday. A friend here in New York had forwarded a series of photos of tulip fields in northern Holland, with the subject line “The Netherlands in May.” I suddenly remembered the dream (I had already remembered a different one) and realized, of course! The Holland connection for the dream should have been obvious to me, given the upcoming conference in Kerkrade, Netherlands, of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. (Also, the caption mentioned Tulip Mania— “Their dazzling colors are thanks to the years in the 17th century when tulip mania swept the globe and  the most eye-catching specimens changed hands for a small  fortune”—and Robbie Bosnak had referred to Tulip Mania in his January 30 talk for IASD-NYC.)

Here’s the dream:

Sunny windowsill, like in my WPR [waking physical reality] kitchen; I’m facing to the right. I think, “I should pull out that dead avocado [as in WPR].” I look to my left, at the avocado plant, and discover that the young leaves of a number of tulip plants are showing in the pot, around the stem of the avocado. “Oh! I forgot I planted tulip bulbs there. I guess I can’t pull up the avocado until the tulips are done.”

(Feelings) Surprised. Impressed that I made such good use of the space in the pot, and pleased to anticipate seeing tulips–a nice surprise. But I’m disappointed about not being about to get rid of the avocado, which has clearly died and is beyond my help.

Interesting that that email caption about Tulip Mania goes on to say something I didn’t know, but somewhat parallels the combination of flowers and food in my dream’s flower pot: “But like a Rainbow, this colorful landscape is a short-lived phenomenon. When the flowers are gone, the land  will be cultivated for a rather more mundane crop of  vegetables The Netherlands produce more than nine million bulbs a year.”

I’ve found the same photos on a couple of blogs—not credited to a source in either place–but they certainly are beautiful. Click on the following photo to get to more of them:

Tulip Fields in northern Holland (unattributed photo at Tourism on the Edge)

Tulip Fields in northern Holland (unattributed photo at Tourism on the Edge)

What this dream leads me to do:

I won’t be in Holland in May (but June, I hope!)…so what about tulip festivals locally? A bit of Googling finds a few in May:  in Albany (Saturday, May 7) … and in Huntington, LI (Sunday, May 1). In Manhattan, the West Side Community Garden (West 89th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus) had its “day of [planting] 10,000 tulips” in November, so as spring warms up, it’s bound to be a beautiful place to visit. I haven’t checked the Brooklyn and Bronx botanical gardens, but there are sure to be at least some tulips showing up in each. Time to get out and get some color!