Talk and Demonstration / “Dream-Parliament,” with Matthew Spellberg, Cat Powell, and David Leo Rice

Date: Thursday, 16 March 2017, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (map and directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary

Listen to an audio recording of this program, or download the file by right-clicking here and selecting "Save link as..."

A scientist alone on a glacier dreams of the future, and it sends him down a ten-year path to try to commune with the dead. A marquis paints watercolors of his dreams so that he can invite others to join him in exploring them. A clan on an island in the Bay of Bengal sing their dreams to one another every night, telling and re-telling their visions until the visions are all one.

Dreams are some of the most private experiences humans know: no one can follow you into a dream. And yet, humans have long felt a need to make them sharable. Across history, dream-songs, dream-dances, and dream rituals have arisen, complete with complex protocols, to make it possible for people to share their dreams. Our own culture is poor in such techniques, but in this it is the exception; elsewhere, there have been dream-circles and dream-recitations, dream-predictions and dream-journeys, conventions for making dream-paintings and inducing dream-initiations. In remote places, such practices continue.

Join us for an evening, organized by Matthew Spellberg, about the long history and possible future of dream-sharing, with some case studies and experimental exercises. We’ll introduce you to some of the many strategies by which dreams have been negotiated and enlivened so as to become a part of waking life; we’ll discuss some of the last refuges for dream-sharing in the present, including among Arctic hermits and spiritual recluses; and we’ll give a demonstration of some old and new dream-sharing techniques. Often when we talk about dreams now, we think about interpreting them, but at this event we’ll be looking instead at the possibility of full immersion in the dream-world of others—its places, feelings, colors, smells, movements, and gestures.

Audience participation, discussion, and drinking will be welcome.

Optional: Send us a dream to use in the demonstration! It will be completely anonymous. Please write to

Matthew Spellberg is a scholar of dreaming and the imagination. A five-year project on the dream-life of hermits and remote communities is nearing completion. He is a 2017 Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Cat Powell is a writer and teacher. She is currently completing a fiction MFA at Columbia.

David Leo Rice is a writer and animator from Northampton, MA. His animations have been shown at festivals around the world, and his first novel, A Room in Dodge City, is available now.

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