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Minding Dreams - by Rick Carter


I recently turned 70 years old. A Dream Designer, who turned 70 a couple years before me, has called it “Level 7,” and he used to chide me about not having reached this venerated age level yet. Now that I’m here, I have to admit there is a different perspective that is beginning to dawn on me, for me and in me. Of course, much of this has to do with experiencing my own life’s mortality with thoughts and feelings of my remaining years being more finite. Nonetheless, it certainly feels like a blessing that my free-associative dreaming is still very active.

As I get older, I’ve noticed an increase in my interest about what I experience within the place

in my mind where I get my first glimpses of images as I retrieve them from dreams or memories ...or other places unknown to me, from which it seems like images and words are just passing through in some kind of collective stream of consciousness.

What is particularly interesting to me is when I see the images from within and without at the

same time, sort of cinematically super-imposed but still distinct and separate from one another.

Sometimes they line up like mirror images or just out of sync, sometimes one provides the foreground and the other the background, and sometimes the opposite, and sometimes it’s just a swirling of fast moving or slowed down phantasmagoric imagery.

Part One: Designing Dreams

Tuning Into Dreams

As a teenager in the late 1960s, I enjoyed “Turning on, tuning in and tripping out.” But I never in my wildest adolescent dreams could have foreseen the trip that becoming a Dream Designer has taken me on. This dream journey that I have experienced with four magnificent Dream Weavers and all of my other creative collaborators has been far more wondrous than I could have ever imagined on my own.

What have I discovered over this past 50+ years of Designing Dreams? What is it about each one of the Dreams I have designed that has resonated with me? When you make certain types of choices over and over again, or the choices seem to not even be choices that you’re making, but then you see the results, or you see what you’ve been creating ... it’s almost like you’re finding your own water level. Or seeing evidence of your own sub-consciousness.

What are the things that you gravitate to and naturally seem to pull away from? It’s so difficult when you’re younger to see it all from this perspective. You might have a good sense of yourself within yourself, but you don’t know how you’ll do in collaboration with other people, and especially under the pressures of the work environment.

My pursuits and interests as a young person were quite varied. From drawing and painting and writing and traveling and then philosophizing, continuously seeking transcendental experiences, even being on the receiving end of “messages,” which I thought were profound. I don’t mean weird “messages,” I just mean listening to and being influenced by the music of the Beatles very deeply; to the extent that I, like so many others of my generation, felt I actually understood where they were coming from.

I still do. I marveled at their ability to together form something that was so much greater than the sum of the individual parts in their music; and to express that so magnificently, so that the “message” was not only exhilarating, but overwhelmingly resonant when played and replayed over and over again. And most importantly, that I could keep hearing those musical and lyrical “messages” playing in my head playing over all those years. I think that my being on the receiving end of that kind of a dream-like “messaging” in the late 1960s, especially from John Lennon, reinforced for me something that I felt I learned even earlier in my life about artists.

When I went to see the paintings that artists had created in museums, I remember having a sense that there was a whole group of people, who through the ages have expressed themselves and their visions. Also, writers and musicians. I can recall wondering what was it that they were they doing? What was the point? And I kept visualizing, thinking and dreaming about all of those great works of art long after I left the museums. I felt that those artists had provided me with a gift of seeing the world through their eyes. And I began wanting to do this also.

All over the world, people were creating and there I was receiving the “messages” from their artistic expression about their lives and experiences. There it was, as a physical object as a painting or even words or as sounds that had a been transcribed or recorded, which had traveled over time and space to get to where I could perceive them…and possibly pass along whatever my response was to others.

What Is Dream Designing?

After a Dream is first experienced, each person who “has it” often tries to recall who was in it and what happened…and then perhaps to understand what it was about. But afterwards, what the dreamers are often left with is the memory of images of not just who was in the Dream and what occurred, but also where the Dream took them, and how it made them feel to be there. That is the mind space of the Dream that I’ve heard referred to as the “Dreamscape.”

In our mind’s eyes, we can recall countless dream “places” that we’ve seen, but where do these “Dreamscapes” come from? Who creates them? How are they made? The design of any Dream is very reliant on the creation of a dream world as a setting for the characters and the narrative, as non-linear nor consistent as it may appear.

When I am hired to develop the visual side of a Dream, there may or may not be a fully cohesive idea yet. Sometimes it’s just a few almost random seeming thoughts and/or a series of freely associated emotions that are being developed. No matter what stage the conceptualization is in, it is the Dream Designer’s task to fill in the spaces with all of the details and aesthetics of a fully conceived and realized dream world.

Many creative artists and technicians contribute to what a Dream looks, sounds and feels like. In a collaborative way, we envision and realize all of the settings. But as collaborative in nature as this process is, it always revolves around the choices made by the Dream Weavers. They set the tone. They are both specific and general about what they want to see and hear in the Dreams.

For all of us who work with Dream Weavers, it’s about intuitively getting on board the same boat drifting on a specific stream of consciousness, of which they are the captains. I attempt to discover the “places” that will best serve the Dream Weaver’s visions. I’ve learned not only the habits and preferences of the Dream Weavers I’ve worked with, but the inner intuitive workings of their Mind’s Eyes.

During this process of Dream Weaving, we often like to think we can justify our choices about the look on an “almost” rational basis, but most of the time we simply do what feels intuitively right. I once asked a Dream Weaver where the light source was for the ambient light in a cave? He smiled and said, “It’s from the same place as whatever is heard."

Over the years I have learned that there is almost inevitably a way to weave an ethereal creative dream web so that we all, from our different perspectives and points of view, are able create a single whole Dream that is finally incredibly multi-dimensional to behold. We actually get to “mind” that area, as in exploring it conceptually and emotionally. And perhaps even spiritually.

I’ve found that this level actually matters to many of the best Dream Weavers who ask us to collaborate with them; they are looking for us to actually inspire them to find the aspects that are “there” to be discovered that they might not yet have seen or realized were “there“. The point is we are asked to make it feel like there’s a dream world already “there,” which the narrative and various characters emerge into. I’m specifically looking to create dream places within a collaborative group effort that inspire dreamers to feel like they have actually traveled to and have been somewhere.

As a Dream Designer, I search for a feeling of recognition, so that every setting we design resonates not only within the narrative of the Dream, but also within my own Dream experiences. I am responsible not only for the look of each scene in the Dream, but also for helping to evoke the specific “spirit of place,” as well as an emotional reason for it to be in the Dream.

The process of combining the Dream Weaver’s vision with my own personal Dreams and commonly shared perceptions of dream places has formed the foundation of my dream aesthetics. It subconsciously informs and often determines which shapes, forms, textures, colors and other elements need to be present in order to make it all appear convincing to me and yet also inspire a sense of fantasy in sync with the spirit of the Dream’s story and characters.

Almost like a “method actor" tries to discover a part of the character he or she is playing that is already within themselves, I attempt to access what I already know. I tap that emotion or experience and convey it to everyone else who comes together to make a Dream look and feel the way it does.

Within the collaborative creative process, as Dream Designers we are asked to explore, to realize, and to eventually answer the question, “Where are we?” First and foremost, for the Dream Weavers, and subsequently the rest of the creators and eventually, of course, for the dreamers themselves.

I have progressed over these last four decades together with the Dream Weavers and other collaborators, with whom I’ve had the pleasure to dream. I have been fortunate enough to have had a front row seat within fascinating dream sessions that occur during the realization of many Dreams. I have also witnessed - and even been asked to participate in - extraordinary technological advancements in the process of creating Dreams.

What does the process look like? What does it feel like? What does this emotionally or even intellectually express? Where we go, we take others. And once we show where we are, it often becomes clear that this also fundamentally helps to determine “Who we are.” And this, for me, is the essence of what Designing Dreams is all about. They reflect simultaneously both the sum of what we create together and who we as individuals are in the process of a shared Dream.

The Dream Weavers

The Dream Weavers whom I’ve collaborated with the most intensely are known by their single initials: S, Z, C and A, who are some of the most expansive weavers of recent Dreams.

Many dreamers come to The Phantasmagoric to attempt to create the Dreams they want to see “come true.” However, not many get to do this. These fortunate Dream Weavers truly create the Dreams that come to them naturally. They do what they want to do, what is real to them. They may have their inner eyes and ears also on the dreamers, who want to partake in their Dreams at any given time, but when they come to the visual dream design decisions that they make with me, I have found their openness and sincerity incredibly inspiring.

S once said to me, “Some of my best Dreams are not my own.” The nature of our interactions in the creative process of designing Dreams has inspired both of us to “Mind the Dream,” which is located somewhere within the Mind space between where I was and where he was mentally.

One of the things that they have in common—with one another and with me—is a deep love of visual storytelling ideas, combined with a great desire to be inspired by the ideas of others. Our Dream visions are not always something one can illustrate right away. You can feel that you’re having a vision of something before you can fully “see” it. It’s not always an image that comes to mind, but a visual Dream presence or Dream notion that demands engagement and exploration.

There’s always a gap between each one of us, because as individuals we each have our own individual consciousness. When we think and feel, we own those thoughts and feelings. But where do those thoughts and feelings come from, and, once we express them as visions, how are they received by other people, particularly in a collaborative enterprise such as Dream Designing?

After all of those years collaborating with S, I feel that I can sometimes “see” into our conversations about Dreams as they are happening; I can sense when I think he’s about to have a good idea or vision, and that’s because I can start to feel it; the levels of the conversation, the metaphors that we’re talking about, the very words we’re using or the images we are referencing are leading into an area where we’re both start to share a Dream vision; and that is something that other people can also soon start to “see.” When we illustrate these metaphors as drawings or paintings, then even more people can “see” them, and then, logistically and strategically, they can be inserted into the process of realizing the Dreams.

The first time I met S, I remember thinking that the timbre of his voice sounded unique to me, very clear and direct. He spoke literally, not metaphorically nor philosophically. I was fascinated by this, because his Dreams could seem be so lyrical and poetic; his way of describing what he saw or wanted to see in a Dream, however, seemed so pragmatic and specific.

One of my first “close encounters” I had with S was when I was designing a Dream about “a ghost,

who crashes into a house.” During one of our first Dream sessions together, we simultaneously realized that we didn’t know how to visualize this concept. I laughed and said, “We don’t actually know what we’re doing!” “That’s precisely the point,” he replied with an enthusiastic smile.

Whereas S was a few years older, Z was a few years younger than I was. I felt like I eventually became like a middle brother between these two visionary Dream Weavers. After a while, I realized that neither of them had ever truly traveled very much into the real world, as I had. I began drawing upon the metaphors from my personal travels around the world as a young man; as I became more immersed and involved in the creation of the Dream imagery, this allowed for a dialogue to further deepen between us.

When Z and I collaborated, I often felt like I was a Dream-space reconnoiter; as if I were going out into a Dream space, planting a flag somewhere on a distant planet, and calling back to him, "How about this, what about this place for the Dream?”

Z would often listen to what I was saying, and his eyes would sort of bulge out as he replied, "Well, what I thought you were going to say is ..." He would then say something that was an idea or feeling based on what I had just said to him, but it was frequently something quite different, and often it was wholly conceived as a scene that could go right into the Dream, just as he described it.

"Were you thinking about that ahead of time?" I would ask. He would invariably say, "No, it just came to me when you were talking out there."

Whatever I was saying stimulated him in his Mind to expand into a place that he wanted to go. His mental explosion was inspired by the ideas of his Dream collaborators that he could then turn into his own ideas to put right into the Dream we were designing together. That process in turn freed me—and also many others of his many important artistic partners—from the need to be right. When you're freed from the need to be correct, something special happens where you can be a part of the collaborative process to go further and further into what they or you want to express.

What I have discovered in working with S and Z is that even though their finished Dreams usually appear very coherent, they are both very much “expressionists” in their artistic Dream weaving processes, and they have become more so as they’ve gotten older. They don’t plan everything out in advance, instead they enjoy intuitive spontaneity while realizing their Dreams.

Neither S nor Z like saying no. If S repeats your suggestion, then that usually means his answer is yes. If he looks away for a moment, or changes the subject, that is his way of saying no. When he starts telling you what he “sees” in the Dream that is playing in his Mind’s Eye, he's very specific. Much more, but no less is expected when the Dream is fully realized.

If Z says, "That's talking to me," then you know you've hit the right chord; if he asks what's next or comes up with another approach to a scene in the Dream, then you've got to mentally be on your toes to keep up with where he's heading. In a creative discussion with Z, when someone would bring up a visual Dream idea that was like another previous Dream, he'd just say, “Well, anybody can dream that.” He was always looking for a new way.

The context of what you're “seeing” or trying to “see” makes such a big difference in how you perceive it, especially when you’re trying to transform it into something else for a Dream. Sometimes when I'm scouting in my Mind’s Eye, I have the feeling that I'm “auditioning” ideas and feelings to see if they not only want to be in the Dream, but can they be in the Dream to fulfill a specific purpose.

That means I must have a real filter that disregards what I'm looking at in the broad naturalistic sense of what it is in my own personal “Dreamscape.” I’m only “seeing” it for how it might potentially fit into that specific Dream. Underneath this level are other considerations, such as, what is it for or what’s the reason for it to be in the Dream? Most importantly, what is its spiritual purpose in the Dream? Anything was possible, so when we would come upon obstacles in the process of designing Dreams that were problematic, Z would always refer to them as "insurmountable opportunities".

With the Dream Weaver C, the development of our relationship took a little bit of getting used to each other. One of the amazing things about C is not only that he's a perfectionist who has a very deep level of Dream vision, but that he can do so many people's jobs in the realization of a Dream. Besides being a visionary, he can draw better than most anybody else, particularly when it's in the service of his own his Dream vision. And he also knows how to actualize his vision within a complicated and technically ground-breaking Dream-making production.

One time, I could tell that he was having trouble communicating the Dream imagery in his Mind to all of us. He commented that he felt he probably could do everybody's job better than they could. After a few beats, I said, "Well, why do you think that there is so much for all of us to do?" He looked at me with a quizzical expression. I responded: "Obviously the reason you need all of us is because your Dream is too great for you to realize it alone."

Our dialogue was often about discovering how deep his Dream could go, what the deep subconscious

connections were to him, and then how best to activate a process to realize them. It

reflected a combined Mind space, not just that I had, nor he had, but the whole group that was

brought into making the Dream “come true.”

I also collaborated with A, who is seventeen years younger than I am. She would frequently say, "A bad Nightmare version of the Dream is…", just as a way to get it out into the open so it could be evaluated. Usually they weren't bad ideas for the Dream at all, they were just the first inklings of something that we could all focus on to turn them into a fully conceived scene in the Dream.

This greatly helped enrich the process further, making everything better than it had been up to that point in the Dream sessions. It invited free-associations with other ideas, emotions and whole scenes, all resonating more deeply as we figured out how to construct the overall sequencing of the Dream. Her process was ever-evolving right up until the last moments of the full realization of a Dream.

Part Two:

The Dream Weavers' Dreams


When I was first told by Z about Dreams of a Past Future, there was so much happening in that

one Dream. The Dreamer traveled thru so many time periods that I felt like my Mind was being

pleasantly fried.

While designing the settings for this expansive Time Travel Dream, I frequently referred back to

my first years in college that led to my dropping out and then traveling around the world at the

age of 20. This was where my notion of “turning on, tuning in and tripping out” came from.

For this Dream, I felt like I was “turning on” to new levels of dreaming, which were inherent in the time traveling. And I was getting paid to do it. As I “tuned in” to it further, and I became more familiar with going in and out of different Time periods, that allowed me to “trip out” even further.

It really helped me to invoke the various places that I'd been when I twice traveled around the world in 1970 and 1978. I went far and wide in our real world during those times, always seeking a new Dream experience: First to Europe and East Africa, where I had experiences with Maasai warriors, and then also to India in the Himalayan Mountains with dream gurus. And then to Burma, and Thailand, which was so close to the nightmare of the War in Vietnam. All of my experiences as a Dream traveler were part of something that I ultimately was drawing upon when I designed the various settings for this Dream by Z.

To me, Z personified the Big Bang Theory - his Dream universe always seemed to be ever expanding. A little flash of an idea for a scene would hit him like a bolt of lightning, then the visual concepts would grow and grow until they encompassed a full visual approach to the Dream. Z was so open to the give and take of the collaborative creative process that everyone in his presence felt high afterwards. His energy seemed boundless. It was not difficult to design Dream settings for him, because we were all so inspired by his visual appetite. His creative team of collaborators nick-named his exaggerated aesthetic sensibilities as “Z’s Galaxy of Dream-Physics.”

Throughout the Dream design process, I felt that I was almost able to approximate the experience of Time Travel, because of how we kept reinterpreting the same town in different versions. I was launched simultaneously in both directions in Time, which soon became one. Going forward or backwards thirty or one hundred years in Time felt the same to me. The places began to meld together, becoming associated not only by their specific Dream time periods, but also as a sort of continuum thru Time itself, speckled here and there with my own recollections of post-high school Dream experiences and world travels, until I felt as if I were freely flowing within the entire Dream itself.


“God created Dreams, which created Human Beings, whose Dreams created God.”

This sentence, which was spoken in the beginning of Dream Park, came out of a conversation I had with a fellow Dream Designer shortly after I started to design this Dream. I was trying to conceptualize the narrative of Dreams returning to Earth in our time in as grand a scale as I could. I repeated the words to S, and he liked them, so he put them into his Dream.

I mention this not because I have ever before or after supplied words specifically spoken in a Dream, but because it describes how I thought about the epic implications of the theme of bringing back into our present day lives genetically engineered cloned Dreams from another era of ancient history. Especially in the context of attempting to create a commercial tourist attraction with them, as though they could be controlled once they were unleashed on display.

It took substantial foresight and courage by S to self-finance the expensive preliminary research and development required to prove that believable Dreams could be created by computers - and at a cost not too prohibitive. The spectacular imagery within this Dream, created by newly advanced quantum computer graphics developed by a new generation of Dream Wizards, was like a direct mirror of the impact of digital information in all of our real lives.

I was brought onto Dream Park three years before its final realization. The narrative had not yet been fully conceived, just the basic concept about a park that displayed for visitors Dreams from the ancient past, with technology that convinced the present-day Dreamers that they were experiencing the dream imagery as real as it was to their long-ago ancestors. This was very powerful experience to have…with many unknown and frightening consequences for the tourist Dreamers looking for some Dream entertainment and spectacle.

I was in on many early meetings with S, in which we discussed which newly constructed Dreams from the past would work best in our times. It was a great opportunity for me to help fundamentally shape the overall Dream.

We hired numerous illustrators to draw storyboards and depict key settings. We’d show our 3D

computer models and drawings to S, and then he’d start doing his great, little simple "storyboard"

alchemical diagrams and sketches, which conveyed precisely what he wanted to see throughout the Dream. A lot of his ideas went through different variations. Some were cut out altogether, like an extended journey on a river. Then a new dream scene would emerge and then we’d see how long that new one lasted. The process for the creation of the final half of the Dream, which was almost entirely visual, was like a “survival of the fittest contest” of the most potent Dream imagery.

The Dream was initially outlined by S to be experienced like an amusement park ride. In part because of concerns about the cost of creating Dream “creatures and environments” never before realized in modern times; this time by a computer as compared to the old fashioned, “tried and true way of hit and miss Alchemical process.” S decided to tease the Dreamer in the beginning and build up the tension for as long as possible before revealing the power of the ancient Dreams in all of their magnificent glory and fury.

The first part of the Dream felt almost like waiting in line for an amusement park ride and watching a pre-show, which encompassed an exploration of four quite complex subjects. First, we learned about Cosmology. Second, we learned about the process of extracting Dreams from ancient mummies and cloning them to be re-presented for the Dream Tourists. Third, “Random Dream Theory” was explained. And finally, the set-up of the computer-controlled Dream system for the whole park. All of these needed to be visualized and understood to allow the rest of the Dream to be experienced as one long, exhilarating audio-visual roller coaster ride without almost any spoken words.

In this sci-fi adventure-like Dream, it was made very clear from the beginning, that there was no room here for children on this ride. When the first Dream was unleashed, it literally knocked over everything around the Dreamer, and then after a short conversation, the Dreamer was whisked off, like Dorothy in the tornado, towards the mysterious island called Dream Park.

The entire island park was a “dream-come-true turned nightmare,” especially inside of the Dreamer’s Visitor Center, where we designed a pre-historic 3D display of Ancient Dreams in the rotunda. As S noted, “Seeing these fake display Dreams come to life is precisely what occurs here at the climax of the Dream.

From a Dream Design perspective, the main attraction was, of course, the Dreams themselves, because they were what the Dreamer was experiencing. We didn’t want this island Dream Park to have too many commercialized edifices, which would appear shallow or overly self-conscious. This was not actually supposed to be like Disneyland with “fake” Dreams on display.

The Dreamers would want to see the formerly extinct Dreams in as natural a setting as possible. The primary settings were the dream island’s “natural environment,” which was a jungle. Thus, the overall feel of the park needed to be alluring, yet potentially fearful. This was in order to stay in sync with how its conflicted creator was eventually introduced and depicted at the end of the Dream.

When the Dreamer first arrived on the island, they were introduced to a presentation with a step-by-step process about how the ancient Dreams were now re-created: In an obviously “fabricated Dream” within the Dream presentation, it was shown how the newly acquired DNA of an ancestor, who was Dreaming when they passed away, could now be extracted by scientists, who genetically engineered the code into a renewed and viable Dream experience for the present day Dreamer. In addition, the Dreamer saw how the Dream Park actually functioned, with great attention given to the computerized system that controlled the internal Mind security.

The first section of the Dream was devoted to the exposition of this particular place of dreams in order for it all to come across to the Dreamer as not only a credible wish-fulfillment, but more importantly a place with a convincing verisimilitude that could withstand their skepticism; so that they could more deeply involve themselves in the fantasy that was presented there. In this case, it was a matter of trying to suspend the Dreamer’s disbeliefs so far up in their mental ether that the crashing down of it all in the finale of non-stop destruction became exhilaratingly cathartic.

The design of the interior rotunda of the Dream Center, with the central 3D display of the ancient dreams, was inspired by the Dome of The Rock Temple in Jerusalem. When I tried to think of the most profound architectural space I’d ever been in, I thought of the circular columned design around the large rock, which lies at the center of what is a seemingly eternal religious and territorial conflict between the Jews and the Muslims. At first, the visual & audio display in the rotunda appeared to be like something that you might see in a technologically advanced archeology-cosmology museum, but by the end of the Dream, it would appear to come to life and the Dreamer would be threatened, but of course not killed by it.

A theme that both A Dream of Future Past and the amusement-like park in Dream Park had in common as their places of dreams was that they almost became nightmares. The Dreamer’s future life in the first Dream and the dream island “When Dreams Ruled the Earth” came with a steep price to pay for the Dreamer. Z and S both created a youthful, uplifting, exciting and adventurous tone to their visions. We went behind the Dream facades, saw beyond all of the artifices, in order to see that these fantasies, and perhaps all imaginary of “greener pastures,” were not easily sustainable, even within a Dream world.


Hearing Z’s rough outline for his Stupid Dream was like receiving the gift of a little bit of alternate dream consciousness about the nature of Dreaming. From the beginning, the Dreamer was told that they were

considered to be “stupid” just for going along with this Dream at all. And yet the Dreamer was never asked nor forced into a situation to do or think anything that was actually “stupid.”

The whole point was to follow one’s heart, despite what other “characters” in the Dream might say or do that they considered to be “more intelligent.” It all came down to what the Dreamer actually did or didn’t Dream. So, there was an on-going, ever mysterious elemental progression of the Dreamer’s own character development; they never entered into any situation with a preconception of how it should be, and they never were left afterwards with any sense of overwhelming disappointment, fear nor bitterness.

Nonetheless, the Dreamer felt deep personal sadness over their losses, such as the deaths of a best friend, their mother, and the lover in their Dream. Whenever someone was taken away from the Dreamer, however, they were replaced by someone else, finally a new child at the end. Every “character” who touched the Dreamer amounted to someone significant for them, and vice versa. The challenge was for the Dreamer to journey to that Dream place where what they thought about was not as important as what they deeply felt emotionally in their heart. Because the Dreamer’s heart was always true, the designers of the Dream could always use that as the guiding principle or basis for all of our aesthetic choices, despite what someone else who was “smarter” might think.

During the visualization process, I became aware that in the overall design of the Dream, we were trying to create a Norman Rockwell-esqe aesthetic, because we wanted to depict a healing Dream of emotional and even spiritual reconciliation. I personally hoped that this theme of “timelessly” wanting to return home could be enhanced by this setting, which like “home” for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, was an almost “spiritual place” that Dreamer always could return to throughout the Dream to regain their emotional bearings and values after journeying far and wide.

After the death of the Dreamer’s “best friend” and their mother and the love of their life, the emotionally philosophical question that was posed was whether what happens in Dreams was random or pre-destined? That was “The Field of Dreams” that could only be comprehended intuitively. Being smart or stupid made no difference. They were the same. This was also where Z’s humanist point of view came across, because he didn’t go to one side or the other of this philosophical/spiritual equation. The Dream Weaver walked the Dreamer right down a middle path, when a voice from the grave quietly whispered, “Perhaps it’s a little of both.”


In the beginning, there was the late Dream Weaver name K. Back in the late 1960’s, he began to develop a fairytale Fish Dream. The picaresque narrative, which was in the form of a hundred-page illustrated manuscript on parchment, had been worked on by numerous Alchemists over the past few decades. This “Dream story” followed the journey of a little fish, who was following an artificial “stream of consciousness” on a quest to “become real” like a “true Dream” sometimes does.

The first time S mentioned this project to me, he showed me the diagram drawings that K had created with concept artists over the course of three years in the early 1990s. They provided almost a visual mandala for the Dream experience he intended to create. It was a sporadic journey that he outlined, with many gaps, which S had to fill in with his own conceptions for the journey of the Dream. In its entirety, the ever-expanding progression of imagery comprised an awe-inspiring, philosophical and emotional trip deep into what I viewed as “the mindful heart of the Dreamer.”

The Dream was divided into three parts. After numerous scenes, which depicted all the routines of underwater life amongst the other schools of fish, the Dreamer is abruptly swept away in a current and, from then on, it’s on a quest in search of uniqueness and an individual consciousness. It is on a quest for that which it doesn’t have – an authentic identity of its own.

After the Dreamer, who is following after this little fish, wanders through a series of places

that come one after another in a quick and seemingly in a free-associative succession.

These experiences define its progress towards elevating its own Dream consciousness

into that of a Dream worthy of becoming “real.” Within a cage-like prison under the

water, the Dreamer is told that “history repeats itself” and that it is now caught in an ageold

war between “sub-conscious creatures and real-life creatures.”

The color of the central heart of this Dream was blue, “like melancholy.” When the Dreamer finally arrives at the final destination within a building with “Weeping Mothers,” it enters a circular room where it encounters its own creator, the “Visionary Father,” who created the fish as a way to travel within his own fabricated “stream of consciousness.”

The Dreamer now finally becomes “self-aware”, the supreme example of Artificial Dream Intelligence (ADI), created by a human being. With no place left to go, the Dreamer submerges along with a school of little fishes, in an act of complete surrender and gives itself over to the collective subconscious of all Dream Worlds where all facts are transformed into fantasies.

I felt that the continuous flow of Dream places in The Artifical Dream, some fantastic, some horrific and most a little of both, created an evocative map of an existential Dream subconsciousness, as it attempts to progress into a transcendental state of mind capable of experiencing a pure Dream State. Cushioned at the end, by a womb-like love, free to pass to wherever the stream of consciousness took it, this state of mind becomes the ultimate resting place of all Dreams.

In the end, there was still K, who had created a lyrical Dream about a consciousness which journeys to encounter its own legacy. Now, even after K had passed away, his own artistic Dream legacy had been carried on by S, who shared his vision and co-authored “The Artificial Dream.”


C is one of the few truly visionary Dream Weavers alive today. In addition to his enormous talent, he also had a reputation for being quite a formidable, detail-orientated and a demanding perfectionist. This intrigued me in terms of trying to figure out how I might help him make a Dream.

I began by reading C’s elaborate notes, which he called a “Dreamscape,” before I had my interview with him. It became clear that what he was doing was creating an entirely new Dream world. In his notes, there was a line that one of the Dream characters said, “When you Dream everything, you see nothing.” I thought, “What does that mean?” And I realized that I was so overwhelmed with all of what I was visualizing that I couldn’t see anything. I gave myself over to that idea that there was too much for me to see. I would have to find a new inner way to “see,” as C described in his notes, the distant and yet very personal Dream world he envisioned.

There was something so fundamental about C’s version of A Seeing Dream, in which the Dreamer was transported to a different “Dreamscape.” This concept was actually at the heart of so many Dreams that I had designed up until then. They all had drama created out of the Dreamers’ mental journeys, while traveling into some “other” place that was very different from where they started off. One aspect of Dreams that I’ve always personally looked at and into when I begin designing is where’s my portal? Where is it that “place” that I’m going to start from? Sometimes it’s inward. But in the case of A Seeing Dream, it was both inward and outward simultaneously. Because not only was the Dreamer projected to another planet in the future, they were also going to it through an interior mode, going somewhere else through an altered Dream state.

The primary idea that I perceived C’s “Dreamscape” was that this journey was like combining the movies The Wizard of Oz and Apocalypse Now, because there was the same arc in this journey. The Dreamer started on Earth, then space traveled to the sealed human world on a distant planet. “You're not in Kansas in anymore,” I thought to myself as I finished reading the notes.

Perhaps because I have my own dualities in my consciousness, I understood that C had two very different sides in his Dream consciousness. He had the militaristic side. And he had a very wise, accepting philosophical side that could “see” the spiritual level that combined everything and made a conscious connection between all living things. I felt that his dream and waking-life quest was to integrate these two sides of his consciousness, which seemed so opposite; they could even seem to be a war with each other. The goal was to combine them into a singular point of view that could fundamentally drive his Dream forward to have a spiritual epiphany.

I think that what C wanted to express through his depiction of life on the distant planet, in regard to the connecting to the spiritual force there was revealed not only in the bioluminescent imagery that was shown in the Dream, but by the journey that it took for the Dreamer to learn to “see.” As it was stated in the Dream, to “see” was the ability to look into, not just at the surface.

The following is from a letter of encouragement I wrote to C at the beginning of our journey:

"This is going to be a little difficult to put into words. The only reason I'm writing is that is hard to find the moments to talk at any length during our hectic work-days. Although I may not always physically be there, I am 'seeing' you.

This is what I 'see': During your personal real life and dream experiences, you discovered how to dive deeper and deeper, at times even risking your well-being to break through and finally be resurrected from the greatest depth of your soul. What you've come back with is a magnificently detailed vision of another Dream realm, which you are now trying to recreate and to realize within the atmosphere of this planet.

You have 'seen' a distant planet, inhabited by a life form capable of great sharing, community, compassion, understanding, insight and faith. You have also 'seen' an incredibly brutal and destructive force that attempts to not only exploit but ultimately to destroy this Dream world. In between these two is the Dreamer, who becomes a seeker who transfers from one side to the other of his Dream state, in order to truly 'see' and to realize his destiny as a leader. One of the most significant ways, it seems to me, revolves around the importance of the quality of the other planet’s life processes. The result is that they are an incredibly vibrant, strong, resilient, compassionate, and clear-headed form of life.

I can 'see' that there are many lessons you are attempting to teach us all through this Dream experience, both in the process of creating the Dream and its ultimate finished creation. We who are traveling along with you on this journey are looking forward to be led by you into this sublime world we've just seen glimpses of and now truly want to believe in.




From the time I first began to work on Joseph’s Dream, S expressed his primary desire to discover a way to depict the essence of who Joseph was and why his Dream spirit is so relevant as a guiding light today.

There was a sense of haunting in this portrayal of the historical Dream Weaver Joseph during the last three months of his life. He is daunted but not defeated by the tremendous the toll from his battle against great physical, mental and spiritual forces, in order to finally establish once and for all times, the freedom for human beings to Dream. And now it was we who were somewhat haunted by the responsibility in our times to be worthy of the great sacrifices made to free all people and to provide “a new birth” for this planet Earth.

As a designer of what is essentially a portrait, I realized that this would not be a Dream in which the settings should ever distract attention away from the primary characters in the drama. Thus, I set out to find and create a naturalistic but richly textured “spirit of place,” within which to depict this Dream.

S rarely talked about his Dream Weaving process, but I did ask him to try to describe it to me. I’m paraphrasing his response about Joseph’s Dream: "If I was to try to give it words it would be as a Dream metaphor. I was in a rowboat out in a large and deep lake, simply casting a line out over and over to try to catch a fish…I kept throwing it out there until finally he got a little tug and it was through my question about his voice: What did Joseph’s voice sound like?”

It is part of the historical record that Joseph did not have a booming voice, he had quite a high voice. S heard a recording of a now extinct dialect, which was not literally accurate to Joseph’s ancient voice, but it was a type of dialect we don't hear anymore. Of course, there are no audio recordings from Joseph’s era so long ago.

Again, I am paraphrasing S’s words: “When I heard this recording from the past, it was if I got a little tug on my fishing line, and I began reeling it in. After about six months of reeling it that voice as I spoke aloud Joseph’s written words, I realized that I no longer could tell for sure whether I was reeling in Joseph or Joseph was reeling me in."


From the time the first Star Dream burst into our world so many years ago until today, its vision has evolved exponentially far beyond the normal internal mental boundaries of most Dreams. Over the years, this Dream has become accessible and adaptable to multiple interpretations by each generation. Already so full of colorful visual wonders, populated with charming characters, peppered with rip-roaring emotions, graced with a sublime spiritual philosophy and elevated by a magnificently expansive sense of scale, it inspires our collective imagination.

The design of Star Dream is not just a selection of images which illustrate the settings of the Dream. The imagery lives and breathes in a dialogue with not only the Dream’s tone and narrative and characters, but also, I believe, with our global culture over these past almost four decades. As Dream Designers, we played in this Star Dream galaxy, we explored it, we expounded upon it, but it was always a mystery that the great Dream Weaver L originated. He is the one who metaphorically and literally begat this time and place in our Dream imaginations.

As a Dream Designer, I knew that for me to truly discover what Star Dream is and what it is not, I would first like to meet with its creator. When I first met with L, I already knew that we would be embarking upon inter-generational hand-off. I was hoping for some guidance as to how he viewed the process of letting it all go and where to explore further. In a ver Alchemist-like manner, he mentioned something to me at the end of our talk which struck me as significant: “When I was a younger Dream Weaver,” he told me, “Everything appeared to me as if he was looking through binoculars, the Dream imagery was very close and very vivid; now that I am getting older, the imagery now appears as if the binoculars are turned around and I am seeing everything from a greater distance with a deeper perspective.”

I thought that this was a profound metaphoric point of reference visually for him to express about his Dream process to me, because I think it represents why he's been able to let hi Star Dream go…to truly see if it has life beyond his vision of it all. L has introduced the dimension an afterlife in his Dreams. Not man Dreams have this additional dimension. The first question that I felt needed to be asked of the new team of Dream Designers we assembled was, “How strong is This Dream?” Not just as we might think we have seen it demonstrated in previous version of Star Dream. But in the present day, what is “this Dream” for us now? What does it mean? Not just what you say it means, but what does it truly mean to you? Each designer began to simultaneously explore their individual responses and collectively we all began to answer not just with words, but with our Dream Designs.

By going on what started off an aesthetic Dream pilgrimage, we discovered collectively that we were going back, in order to move forward. And eventually we began to grasp what it was that we wanted to bring into this new era of Dream Designing. With the young Dream Weaver J in the lead, she wanted our version of Star Dream worlds to feel tangible, so that the Dreamers could truly believe that they truly are somewhere, in an actual future time period, but one that is very close to ours. I think the secret that the Dream Weaver L always understood intuitively, and even spiritually, is that we can't predict very accurately what will be in the future, but, then again, it should always reflect our present life and times. This message to us is how L, in letting us take over from him, is now becoming “more powerful than” perhaps even he ever could have Dreamed. His long binocular lens that we are now continuing to express is actually now a whole galaxy of Stars that, as it always has been, is very close within our Dreams.


In order to visualize an entrance into the deeper levels in Dreams, I would often imagine looking into the reflection in an imaginary pearl, which was introduced to me through a Jungian guided imagery process that I first learned in my mid-thirties. What I could see in the reflection became a portal. I could enter into the light, and then find the next emotional associative dimensionality of the waking dream imagery.

As I now imagine this light of the pearl, I see my father’s face smiling at me. This place that I find myself in immediately becomes a very recognizable; because he was the person, when he was alive and even after he passed away when I was 28 years old, who led me into having the need to discover my own dreaming process. This was how I was introduced to this light. He was often there accompanying me to help me to find an identifying image or authentic feeling. Whatever it was, it always had a feeling of his buoyancy, along with my own desire and need for a dream of my own. It was all to be seen and felt within that pearl’s reflection.

My father was such a big part of the dream world that I discovered and created in my Mind as a child, especially pretending to be a swashbuckler and fighting with a dream sword that he created for me, which made me feel powerful. I could use this sword in my sword fights with my cousins and friends, and I became a hero in my fantasy world. He also built a large playhouse, which became a castle or a fort. He was the carpenter who designed and built them for me. There was a very deep relationship between his own dream imagination and my own. I think that when I lost him as a young man, and then traveled around the world as I did afterwards, and felt some of the darkness without him, all of this formed a rite of passage that in some ways I have been playing out over and over and over again. Through this process of Designing Dreams that I’ve been experiencing, I’ve understood something about how strongly I seek that light, and also when I’m in darkness how threatening it is to me.

Dreams themselves are a dance between the light and the dark. When you go into a dark space, a light projects out onto a 360 degree mental screen around you, and then reflected from this mental screen comes magnificent imagery and sounds that takes you somewhere as though you’re really there. For me to be able to experience these various dream places that I helped to create reflected back to me has provided me a way to better understand my own life, especially when the Dreams sometimes have helped me to take “trips” that I would not have necessarily taken myself on. Once they were presented back to me, I could take them in, and then find my own equilibrium with them, and even balance the ups and downs in the sometimes roller coaster process of discovering and helping to create them.

Often, I felt like I was living in the Dreams, and I think that’s the part that I have realized has been the most important. In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was after, I was just dreaming and experiencing. In retrospect, after I’ve had time to reflect on all of these Dreams as memories, and I’ve also seen how other dreamers have responded to them, then I have been better able to integrate my personal experiences with the Dreams themselves.

As I look in that light now, I feel like there are “messages” that come forth: When you’re facing darkness, having a guide there who can help you to see it differently, and perhaps shine a little light into it is amazingly helpful. To be able to shift my point of view and my Mind, so that I actually could begin to better understand whatever was scaring me by asking the question, “Who gives these frightening dream images their power?” The answer was almost always me. I was always the one who was providing the negative force which was coming back at me in the Dreams.

So often the Dreams that I’ve worked on have had this very epiphany: While they were also often outside forces, the negative aspect that was being presented as an obstacle forced me to recognize how much I needed to go deeper and find something of my own being within me, in order to get through the passage and eventually even feel better off because of the dream journey I’d just experienced.

Within the stories of the Dreams, sometimes the key to finding answers to a dilemma was to very directly seek help and ask for the help of others or even a guiding spirit. This was something that I also earned from the Dream Weavers, whom I’ve collaborated with, because they were also seeking my help. They were open to my ideas and feelings. This was very powerful for me:

In as potentially an egotistical process as weaving a Dream can become, to discover that these Dream Weavers, who were concocting these great adventures, wanted my help…and how open they were to what I would have to say…this was very inspirational in my development as a Dream Designer.

Over the years, I felt that I discovered a fuller vision and voice inside of me that could express the emotions of my heart, and not just how clever I thought that I was with my Mind. It actually helped me to better understand the types of emotional “messages” that my father and mother were both very good at conveying, about life’s lessons, and also about a process, expressed over and over again, about following not only my Mind but also my heart.

For me, when I think about an imaginary pearl, it's all about how it all starts with grains of sand that are irritants within the oyster shells-like Mind’s Eye. This type of irritation is not a bad thing. It's part of the drama that you have to experience in a Dream, in order to somehow create a vision that eventually holds together and even appears solid; and then it can become so strong that it can attain a polished reflective surface that actually is like a real pearl; and then in it you can see reflected light; and if the light should start to reveal different images, it's like watching Dream cinema.

When we’re in a Dream, we’re not even moving anywhere, and yet we feel like we have moved so far, and sometimes get to travel to places beyond our imaginations. The marvel is that I have not only gotten to visualize all these things in my own Mind’s Eye, but I have found a collaborative way make these Dreams appear real. Although I have had a part in their creation, I also get to watch them. Who else is watching? We all are.

A lot of this relates to philosophical notions that my father, my mother and my grandmother have over the years instilled in me; and now I try to instill those in others, because, like I was saying before, if you get a “message” from someone, as I did from them or from some other source, like The Beatles and some of the movies I watched when I was young, particularly The Wizard of Oz, I internalized these audio and visual “messages” so deeply. Then once you’ve heard it, you can’t help but want to pass it on.

In doing this process of Dream Designing for so many years, I’ve become very aware of where I’m coming from, and thus that’s part of that “message” I received. And now I want to pass it on to whomever picks up on what it is that we’ve been creating in these many Dreams. I was asked recently, “How do you design Dreams? For me, I think that I’m basically just “doing “in the process of designing Dreams that which I had done for me. It’s actually a lot like “the golden rule” that my mother always told me about: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s usually seen in relationship to a moralistic equation. I feel that this process I’ve just described is more like passing on the gift of Dreaming.

Just the other day, my mother, who is now 96, once again passed along her philosophy about Dreaming: “Dream the impossible, wish for the possible.”



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