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    Thread: Hello from a Surrealist

    1. #1
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      Hello from a Surrealist

      Hello!! I'm a surrealist who loves dreams and dream-inspired arts. Personally I'm not at all interested in lucid dreaming, but it seems like you lucid dreamers are the only ones interested in discussing dreaming at all , so I've come hoping to participate in discussions about dreams and surreality.
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      Lucid dreaming is hard to resist, so maybe after you will read some more about how different LDs and regular dreams feel, you will give it a try. Till then, sure, dreams of all shapes and forms are fun to have and talk about.

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      Hey Laby! So, what kinds of surrealism are you into? I love various kinds of surrealism in movies, stories and art - going all the way back to the beginnings with Dali and Bu˝uel in Un Chien Andalou, plus of course Dali's paintings, through more recent incarnations such as the films of Jan Svankmejer and the Brothers Quay, up to cartoonish surrealism like Tim Burton or Monty Python. I've done a fair bit of automatic writing and come up with some pretty interesting stuff, but some of it just went in sort of ridiculous circles. Seems like you have to remain fearless and as soon as you interject a bit of caution or get afraid of what's being revealed it sort of slams the door shut and it loses its spark.

      I also find that the various incarnations of artistic surrealism tend to be built on a particular flavor of current ideas concerning the unconscious. Example - in the automatic writings or the paintings of a given period, people tend to produce a lot of the same kind of imagery or ideas over and over, based on what they expect to find in the depths of the unconscious owing to the popular theories of the day. I don't mean to knock surrealism, I just think it's really hard to go in exploring there without some pre-ordained ideas of what you're going to find. I've even found that my own ideas about it have evolved over the years and what I find there now is different from when I used to be for instance influenced more by Freud (now it's largely Jung).

      Who are some of your favorites, and some interesting things you've discovered about Surrealism and dreams?
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 09-07-2017 at 07:02 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Who are some of your favorites?
      I think Andre Breton is the best when it comes to elaborating surrealist philosophy and explaining the ideas behind the genre. For paintings and mustache styles Dali is wonderful. H.P. Lovecraft has a great grasp of surrealist literature though I don’t think he ever identified as such, and oddly I prefer his non-horror works for those qualities. David Lynch is wonderful with cinematography and is my personal favorite in live-action, and Satoshi Kon is my favorite in animated cinematography, and Kon is probably my favorite all-around.

      Each have good strengths, I find.

      Breton is great at plainly establishing the why behind the question of “why dream??”

      Dali I find interesting for the scope of how he applied the philosophy to his own life.

      Lovecraft has a way of stating phrases in a descriptive way that describe things that the mind can’t imagine, which has an interesting effect on the perspective of the reader.

      Lynch captures the mystery of the dream, and, I think in his style of directing and writing, where the mysteries come first and making sense of them comes later, is almost an observation of the waking mind trying to make sense of those dreams.

      And Kon captures the wild, vibrant, and chaotic elements of the dream, and the sudden transitions and illogic of things.

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      I don't mean to knock surrealism, I just think it's really hard to go in exploring there without some pre-ordained ideas of what you're going to find.
      I do get what you are saying. That’s why, for example, I don’t typically like the practices of automatic writing or surrealist practices where the conscious mind could have a strong influence. Which isn’t to say I have a romanticism with the unconscious mind, but rather, I just find it way more interesting to see the unusual sights and sensations that the unconscious mind can produce.

      In a sense that’s why I don’t really understand the appeal of lucid dreaming. For me the dream is wondrous in its chaotic beauty and liberation from waking logics. The idea of trying to forcibly impose order on such a world seems… almost irreverent to me. :p I’m interested just in going along for the ride, really, and seeing the sights there are to see.

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      and some interesting things you've discovered about Surrealism and dreams?
      One interesting discovery about my dreams came from a friend of mine. If the narrative of my dream has a central conflict it will build up to the point of the conflict, and then terminate. I have a group of friends who maintain a shared dream log online, and one came up with a good theory behind why my dreams take such a form:

      The key is that we play D&D together. Usually when we play, I am the DM in charge of running the game. My group also tends to favor… unorthodox approaches and almost always solves problems in ways I never expected nor anticipated. I’d present something intended to be a villain and instead they’d befriend the villain and work on teaming up with that character. I’d present a plot hook promising terrifying consequences to the world if left unchecked, only to have it ignored in favor of trying to set up a lucrative farming operation by incorporating the spells and mechanics of the game into agriculture (and yes, that one actually happened).

      So some years ago I simply just… sort of stopped planning resolutions to problems in the game. Now-a-days I simply present a problem and figure that the group will find some unique way to overcome it. I don’t plan a solution out for the group to make because they will undoubtedly find a surprising way to address the challenge anyways. So my friend pointed out that my dreams seem to have followed suit. They present a challenge and build it up, and then it ends. Because the dream is waiting for a non-existent group of players to respond to the scenario that the dream built.
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      Wow, a lot of good info there to absorb. I had never thought of Lovecraft as a surrealist but I suppose it fits. One thing I've noticed about him- the horror always comes from underground or the distant past - well except for when it comes from outer space, but then I suppose any of them can stand in for the unconscious. And if we include Lovecraft, then I suppose that opens the door to Poe and Ambrose Bierce and a whole slew of Romanticists.

      In a way I agree with you about lucid dreaming taking some of the unconscious element out of dreaming. In fact, I believe that's why when I was in here a couple of years ago and doing well as far as having more lucid dreams, I suddenly decided quite abruptly and unexpectedly that I actually liked non-lucids better. From that point on not surprisingly I stopped having lucids. However I don't think it's that simple or clear cut. Which is why I'm back and trying to achieve lucidity again. For instance in his writings about Active Imagination, Carl Gustav Jung said that he needed a more conscious way to explore the unconscious realm than normal dreams can afford, because usually the sleeping mind is too weak and unaware to do more than serve as a rather simple observer or follow along with whatever the dream script is.

      So he developed his techniques for active imagination, which for all the world sounds to me like WILD. He would go into meditation essentially and watch the shifting kaleidoscopic images 'behind the eyelids' until they began to form images and become more solid ad real and then when a coherent landscape of some kind formed he would step into it and begin interacting with it. He was careful not to try to assert any control, he restrained himself to only responding to the characters who showed up, asking them questions and responding to them, and he said it's important to negotiate with them - not to fight, argue, or just ignore them, but to be sure to assert your own personality and not just let them do whatever they will to you. In this way he says you can be led deeper into the scenarios that the dreams are attempting to realize for you and actually explore them rather than turning it into a video game adventure.

      Plus of course with his incredibly extensive understanding of myth, fairy tale, religions and other systems of symbols with which man had projected his most profound thoughts (and unconscious contents) out onto the world, he was able to reach deep parts of the unconscious and transform himself. His theory, which I believe is absolutely true, is that in the ages before science had switched us to a rational materialist and very reductivist approach that disenchanted the world and removed the depth of meaning from it, religions and myths etc were the ways people explored and came to understand the unconscious. This also included astrology, alchemy, the Tarot, the I Ching, and many other occult or arcane mystic approaches such as Gnosticism and the Kabbalah.

      Well, I guess I've veered off the topic of surrealism - sorry about that! But I think this is very relevant, as it gets at the heart of what lies behind the surrealist symbolism. And from your D&D talk I'm getting a very strong Stranger Things vibe. Waiting patiently for the second season to drop - excellent show!
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 09-12-2017 at 02:54 PM.

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      I also want to add - a dream is never free of the input of the unconscious. Even if you're asserting loads of dream control, if you have that ability, it's still the unconscious that's creating the scenario. Its just that you have more volitional control over your own actions and reactions. So lucid dreaming, as many spiritual explorers have pointed out, is actually an excellent way to get in with your intelligence still intact and interact with the unconscious more fully than in a completely unconscious dream.
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 09-12-2017 at 02:58 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Wow, a lot of good info there to absorb. I had never thought of Lovecraft as a surrealist but I suppose it fits. One thing I've noticed about him- the horror always comes from underground or the distant past - well except for when it comes from outer space, but then I suppose any of them can stand in for the unconscious. And if we include Lovecraft, then I suppose that opens the door to Poe and Ambrose Bierce and a whole slew of Romanticists.
      Yeah, Lovecraft isn't usually categorized as a Surrealist, but his less-popular non-horror work, like the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (basically a Lovecraft fantasy adventure story), actually takes on quite a few elements of it (most even take place inside of dreams). I first began seeing the surreal qualities of his work when reading the Silver Key shortly after reading Breton's Surrealist Manifesto. Both books actually delve into a lot of the same topics!!

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      In a way I agree with you about lucid dreaming taking some of the unconscious element out of dreaming. In fact, I believe that's why when I was in here a couple of years ago and doing well as far as having more lucid dreams, I suddenly decided quite abruptly and unexpectedly that I actually liked non-lucids better. From that point on not surprisingly I stopped having lucids. However I don't think it's that simple or clear cut. Which is why I'm back and trying to achieve lucidity again. For instance in his writings about Active Imagination, Carl Gustav Jung said that he needed a more conscious way to explore the unconscious realm that normal dreams can afford, because usually the sleeping mind is too weak and unaware to do more than serve as a rather simple observer or follow along with whatever the dream script is.
      I do understand, though I'm rather content as an observer. Heck, most of my dreams are what I call "third person dreams", where I am not even a character in the dream, just someone watching.

      I actually randomly achieved lucidity in one such third-person dream, despite not having a self. I just continued to watch and kept thinking things to myself like "Wow, this is a really weird dream!!". XD

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      So he developed his techniques for active imagination, which for all the world sounds to me like WILD. He would go into meditation essentially and watch the shifting kaleidoscopic images 'behind the eyelids' until they began to form images and become more solid ad real and then when a coherent landscape of some kind formed he would step into it and begin interacting with it. He was careful not to try to assert any control, he restrained himself to only responding to the characters who showed up, asking them questions and responding to them, and he said it's important to negotiate with them - not to fight, argue, or just ignore them, but to be sure to assert your own personality and not just let them do whatever they will to you. In this way he says you can be led deeper into the scenarios that the dreams are attempting to realize for you and actually explore them rather than turning it into a video game adventure.
      That is an interesting theory, and possibly worth trying out.

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Plus of course with his incredibly extensive understanding of myth, fairy tale, religions and other systems of symbols with which man had projected his most profound thoughts (and unconscious contents)out onto the world he was able to reach deep parts of the unconscious and transform himself. His theory, which I believe is absolutely true, is that in the ages before science had switched us to a rational materialist and very reductivist approach, religions and myths etc were the ways people explored and came to understand the unconscious. This also included astrology, alchemy, the Tarot, the I Ching, and many other occult or arcane mystic approaches such as Gnosticism.

      Well, I guess I've veered of the topic of surrealism - sorry about that! But I think this is very relevant, as it gets at the heart of what lies behind the surrealist symbolism.
      Also interesting thoughts on early divination practices.

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      I also want to add - a dream is never free of the input of the unconscious. Even if you're asserting loads of dream control, if you have that ability, it's still the unconscious that's creating the scenario. Its just that you have more volitional control over your own actions and reactions. So lucid dreaming, as many spiritual explorers have pointed out, is actually an excellent way to get in with your intelligence still intact and interact with the unconscious more fully than in a completely unconscious dream.
      I do understand that, but eh, asserting any order seems like it would detract to me. I've had some lucid dreams, but nothing really seems to have added to the experience.

      Plus if it is one of the dreams where I am a different character, then lucidity would definitely, at the very least, lose the ability to continue exploring a dream as someone else.

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