Experiments in collective dreaming, November – December 2009
Miguel Almagro, Paul Cowdell, Merl Fluin, Aniano Henrique, Patrick Hourihan
1. The collective dreams: Cut-ups of individual dream texts
As she reached the last line of the song, she put her hand over my mouth so she could sing alone. She looked at me to indicate that this was nothing to do with my singing. I was reading a newspaper with the headline that Julie Andrews was terrified to give the song a greater dynamism at its end. Friends sitting on large comfortable leather chairs looked as though they thought this was about my singing. I was inside a room with a nice naked woman in the bed, under the blanket. After that, some noise and movement near her stomach made me think that there was an alien inside her body, and then a very beautiful bird flew out from underneath the blanket, but the bird started to scream and say some words which I couldn’t understand. Black smoke had darkened the sky. I could hear the sound of flying engines, the sound of the fireworks camouflaged the noise. Behind the curtain of smoke I spotted stronger lights moving in our direction, getting brighter as they approached us. I pointed with my finger at the aeroplanes, thinking they were part of the show. Two projectiles made impact with a nearby building, blowing up everything. I could feel the heat of the distant flames on my face. More planes were bombarding the city. We all started running downstairs looking for protection. I ran fast down the four floors to the street covered with an oily film. Picking up a hammer, I smashed part of the body shell and was horrified to find it full of blood and shit. Eventually we turned right, into the heart of the building, and went through an arch covered with a curtain. When we came into the central room, there was a large group of people watching a speaker at a flipchart. They all turned to look at us as we entered. There were lots of rabbits running around in the grass and through the fences, which Alis managed not to run over as we went slowly along. The campsite owner referred to them as her ‘guinea pigs’. We heard small children. Each room was separated from the next by a kind of arch. We had a gone a long way round the building, speeding up. It was very strange that there were no people (some of whom may or may not have been my sisters). Suddenly I could see a flight of rickety stairs, winding and making their way around the branches and ever upwards. As I started to climb them, the feeling of wanting to get higher grew, and I could soon start to see the sky. Reaching the top, I was inside a lorry (truck) cabin, a really tall large-scale lorry, three or four times bigger than any normal lorry. I was not driving and beside me were two or more persons whose identity I can’t remember. I was really pleased to see them after all these years, and very amused to see them driving this massive rig which somehow suited them so perfectly. I was with a former workmate, Lisa, and another female friend. They were both pushing pushchairs containing small children. My hands were shaking but I tried to focus, looking through the viewfinder. I could see that the enemy was myself on the front getting ready to shoot us again. I had to decide to kill him or save my girlfriend. At the last second I shot and killed him, blowing off his head. I ran looking for Tessa. Now the creature had become even bigger, no longer an insect but something a bit like a schmoo, with a pear-shaped fleshy body. Many of its bodyparts, though, were also inorganic – it had a long hard curved plastic tube coming out of its mouth, and many metal joints, clips, small parts etc in its body and between its legs, which were weirdly conspicuous as my mother wrapped the creature up inside a piece of cloth. Some of them said ‘We are here because we are going to kill you,’ and I saw one of my old friends taking a huge knife from the back of his trousers. Very disturbing and scary at the same time. I just said afterwards ‘I’m going, if you want to do that it’s up to you.’ We left on the bike, my friend without a face and I, and when we arrived in front of my house he just said to me ‘Never trust in the mirrors.’ I had gone into a house just across the road from this spot. I was applying to look after an elderly woman’s house. I was looking out of a large window with a night sky and a powerful moon. The air was full of flying and screaming in the hall outside the door. A caterpillar was out there too. I went out to help the children, carefully closing the door behind me.
I was a child again, looking up amazed by the explosions of colours all about us. Fountains of light illuminated the dark night and the other roofs in front of us. The explosions were loud and I was afraid, then I noticed that my mother was holding my hand and I could see my father right next to her also looking up at the fireworks. Other neighbours were also around enjoying the show. I could smell the gunpowder, at the time unfamiliar to me, but my hands were getting covered with the oil and the smell was sickening. One of the beetles slipped from my hands and fell to the floor with a heavy thud. Every time we tried to lower our voices to speak discreetly, a workman brushed right up against us. He was stretching building site tape around a hole in the ground and a telephone box. I called through the door to my mother for help, because I was now too afraid to deal with this on my own. Mum came out and a doctor was looking at her surprised with a bullet in his hand. When I asked him if she was all right, he said that the bullet inside her came out through her bloodstream. She was laughing, telling me that I did not believe that she was superhuman in her dreams. A panic broke out when we spotted a large hairy caterpillar crawling across the floor. Afterwards I saw some other bizarre buildings and some highways open to traffic just ending suddenly in a river or something like that. I noticed that in the streets all the cars had no wheels, they were like snowmobile machines slipping on the streets at an amazing speed. One of the adults caught the thing with a pair of tongs. Everyone was horrified at the idea that we might have an infestation of the things. Upstairs, we looked out of the back window. She pointed out into the garden to a greenhouse, and told me that she kept a lot of her things out there. Then I noticed that the room I was sitting in had walls that were shelved with hundreds of brown shoebox-like containers. Feeling very panicky, I caught more of the insects and found a way of dismantling them, and started to store the body parts in the boxes. The picture showed a boy wearing a wooden tunic, while a stick struck him on the chest. The campsite owner was a rather sour little woman with short grey hair. Urban scene: I was inside a car going into this town, the only access road to which passed inside an old power station. All the time some street was passing inside and through some factory and past the window of my vehicle, and I could see some workers and the production in the factory. In the next second I realised that I was already outside the building. I was somehow able to walk on the treetops and view the new amazing landscape. The air was full of fantastic and exotic birds in flight. I was in a large open air carpark, riding an old lady’s bicycle with a friend whose face I can’t remember. He was seated on the back seat of the bike. In some corner of my home town, a guy just started to run after us and we stopped. It was my old friend with two more friends from different periods of my life. Dreadlocks were growing like a climbing plant from beneath the bottom of a closed door. They were growing so quickly that I could actually see them, writhing and climbing. Some of them had thick dark fingernails at the ends. I was looking at a black and white comic. I managed to climb up, open the door and get into the passenger seat. Alis drove out of the carpark and through the grounds of a massive camping site where I had been staying. I went out into the garden to have a look. Along the edges of the garden were huge stone walls, with open window spaces, like gothic church cloister walls. Through them I could see a school to the right of the garden.
When I looked back at the house, it was very narrow. This was odd, because the front had been of standard width. There was no text, just single frame portraits of Princess Diana as a wolf. I was in a sitting room, on a sofa next to the singer Lal Waterson. She and I were singing a duet. On the left of the garden were some lean-to structures, with workbenches. I looked briefly at these, then moved towards the greenhouse structure at the end of the garden, which backed onto some open scrubland. In a house full of people, including my mother, and several babies and children, I twice stopped at a page in a book showing wooden body armour for children to wear while fighting with sticks. The children were adults again when I got out and met Tessa. The city was covered with soldiers running everywhere, tanks, guns, helmets. We also ran, and we approached a soldier in charge. He told us that everything was under control, nothing to worry about. We were so superior that it was like a training exercise for future, more intimidating, enemies. But on the front I could see the enemy assembling a machine gun and firing at us. A soldier next to us, who was shooting at the front, died, and Tessa was hit by a bullet. I found myself taking the position of that soldier and pointing the gun at the enemy. We were on an escalator in Harrods. I said ‘Let’s go to the second floor.’ When we got off the escalator it opened onto a series of long empty rooms running in a circle around the edge of the building. My friend Alis pulled up to give me a lift in a huge lorry. She was sitting up in the cab drinking coffee. Inside there were many wooden drawers. These contained things belonging not just to the woman I was applying to, but to other local residents, too. After that, another similar lorry got closer to us. It was a police lorry vehicle and everybody was very impressed, not because it was the police, but because we couldn’t ever have imagined that another similar vehicle could ever exist. After that the lorry trailer of the police beside us was transformed into a level of a building with a row of windows. I was walking through a dense forest and started to climb one of the trees. There was a sudden urgent sensation of wanting desperately to get to the top of the tree, but after climbing for a while I still could not see any sky above and became very despondent. The person showing me the garden pointed out which drawers were hers. I opened one, and found a dark fur wrap. This movement I found frightening – it was like the out-of-control bumping around of a daddy longlegs. I could see men and women walking at the same pace close to the windows. Some of the guys gave me a silver revolver and I was shooting in the head every person walking in those windows, but even after a deadly shot in the head, the person would still walk five or six steps until they dropped dead and stayed out of my sight. I was standing on a street corner in Penge, talking to another woman. She was saying ‘I know you’re heavily involved.’ As we watched, the caterpillar turned into a large insect shaped like an enormous hornet, its body honey-coloured at the front and stripy behind the wings. It jumped up and flew low to the ground in short bumpy hops, as if it was too heavy to take off properly. An arrow pointed under the arm of the armour, and bore the caption ‘Elasticated Sides’. This we immediately recognised as a particular kind of creature, disgusting and frightening and very dangerous to babies. In a rather squalid crowded room containing several babies’ cots, beetle-type insects were casting large shadows on the ground below. But suddenly I noticed that the insects were quite large, about the size of a grapefruit. I caught one in a net. The body was hard and dark blue in colour and had a human voice, like an old witch, screaming and laughing loudly, and after that he started to attack me in the face, and then I woke up.
2. Portraits of the collective dreamer: drawings by Paul Cowdell, Merl Fluin and Aniono Henrique, and boxed construction by Patrick Hourihan
3. Tentative conclusions
The remarkable preponderance of eyes and/or goggles in our portraits of the dreamer – which were all drawn/constructed separately and without any previous discussion – leads us to the preliminary conclusion that our group egregore may take the form of an enormous disembodied eyeball, and/or have special optical powers.