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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

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

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

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

Gender and apology

9 Dec

In my last post, I described my “Arguing in My Cornfield” dream of November 20 as having clearly been inspired by my focus on the Dutch history of the New York City region. On November 21, I also came to think of one aspect of that dream as precognitive of a short item on Netscape News—an item that in turn helped articulate a feeling I had in the dream.

In recording the dream, I had written this:

[I only gradually became aware of this after waking:] I’m a man—early middle age, paunchy, round-faced, with strawberry blond hair. I’m wearing brown pants and a rough, long-sleeved, pale orange shirt with slightly billowy sleeves; the cuffs are buttoned. The period [now that I think about it] seems colonial. (Feeling: I feel a sense of entitlement and proprietorship—not to riches, but as being male. Someone who feels no need to justify myself. I’m also very cranky.)

I had found it difficult to describe that feeling, and I wasn’t satisfied that I had captured it accurately in words. (And a few days later, I had a similar dream.) But when I read the article on Netscape, I thought, “That’s it!” The story was titled “Why Women Apologize So Much,” betraying a bit of bias; it could just as easily have been titled “Why Men Don’t (Know Enough to) Apologize More Often.”

The article (quoting LiveScience.com as its source) says that women and men actually apologize in the same percentage of the situations they think an apology is called for. The difference is that men view a lot fewer of their actions as needing an apology.

(The LiveScience source article was published on September 27. The studies were done by Karina Schumann, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.)

“Schooners and Sampans” dream

15 Nov

On the morning of September 21, I’d already known for several months that I wanted to organize some kind of series of Dutch-themed dream-related  events. I’d also been toying with the scavenger hunt idea for a while.

The second of two dreams that I woke with was striking, both because it was brief and because of its visual impact: Continue reading