Social Dreaming Matrix Notes #8

Social Dreaming Matrix of 12 November 2020, 9.30-10.00 followed by 10 mn review. The 8th in the Deepening Creative Practice programme, this one taking place between the autumn season and the winter season.

9 participants

10 Dreams (of which 2 fragments)

11 Associations

The matrix opened with a series of five dreams:

  • The dreamer was in their childhood home, a large, empty, shipping container has been placed inside the gate. They knew what was in there, told by their oldest brother. The dreamer had parked their car to block the gate. A fire brigade arrived, pulling them into the house in preparation for an emergency. The dreamer moved their car to let the fire brigade in. Another brother arrived. The dreamer didn’t move their car to let them in.
  • The dreamer was sitting in a gallery to attend a workshop. They were looking at photographs and art works on the wall. All of them were backlit images representing hidden corners in domestic spaces. The workshop was about to start. It was like a dream in a dream. They realized that the workshop would require a lot of knowledge, and that they would forget everything afterwards. But it didn’t matter, because they knew that the imprint of the experience would stay with them.
  • The dreamer was in a warehouse office space. Big plant chest there, and also big living spaces. They were staying there with their sister and her family. There was the sea and the possibility to swim. Mattresses on the floor. Conversations were about what to wear, clothes or wetsuits? Somehow, they had to return the wetsuits. There were piles of return boxes outside of the office space, with loose return delivery slips. They worried that all would become mixed up because it was so loose.
  • The dreamer was staying with their partner, son, sister-in-law and part of her family somewhere on holiday. Spent a couple of days together. When time came to go, the sister-in-law was picked up by someone new, who happened to be her new partner. The dreamer was confused, because the now ex-partner had really felt as part of the family. They wondered why the sister-in-law had not bothered to tell anything about the separation and the reconfiguration of the family during those days together.
  • The dreamer was an orphan, adopted by a woman who didn’t love them, and resented them because they were an orphan.

The dreams are followed by 2 associations:

  • About family in the dreams and the sense of what is happening to family through these times. What is family, and what does being part of a family mean?
  • About remembering. What gets remembered, what is being kept, and in what form. Who decides what happens to the memory of the past? Does it matter how we remember, if imprints will stay? Association with a radio show and the lines of “we are living in the dreams and fantasies of our ancestors.”

Two more dreams were presented:

  • A friend told the dreamer that they must remember him, ‘tap me on the shoulder if you see me’, he said. Later the dreamer was walking on a pavement with scaffolding above and around them, it was like walking through a tunnel. The dreamer was sure to see their friend in front of them, he had punk-like orange hair, he was squatting on the ground. The dreamer tapped him on the shoulder, saying I remember you, but it was not him, it was a woman, who looked at the dreamer intensely, saying “You don’t remember me, do you?” The dreamer felt scared of her.
  • The dreamer was sitting on an airplane next to Donald Trump, and next to a very successful businesswoman. They wondered why Trump and the woman would be flying in economy class. When getting off the plane, the dreamer noticed how dirty the plane was, and wondered again why Trump and the woman would be flying with this plane. They were about to leave when Trump offered his hand to shake. The dreamer didn’t want to shake it, but they did because it felt uncomfortable to refuse him.

The dreams were followed by one association:

  • About being contained, wanting to be contained. About things within things. Going inwards, staying close to relatives. About the fear of being forgotten.

Another dream was presented.

  • The dreamer’s phone was vibrating into their pocket but making no sound. They were not able to answer the call, but from the phone came the voice of their brother. It sounded like an official announcement, like the list of dead persons. But the words were words of colours and things. The list was never-ending, and had a monotonous tone, intonation, and pace.

Followed a series of seven associations:

  • About yesterday being Remembrance Day, related to the two World Wars, and lists of soldiers being displayed on the monuments. And about the discussion about what remembrance days really represent, focusing on the world wars, and the need to include other dead persons to be remembered within the rituals of Remembrance Day.
  • About containment and the existential need of containment. Are names on monuments a containment? And for those names not on the monument, what does it mean about their existence?
  • About the title of the recent Tavistock Institute Lunchtime lecture “A Forgotten Giant”, and thinking about whether you can be a giant if you are forgotten. He had been very influential, but  maybe not acknowledged for contributions made.
  • About the canon, and the dominance of certain kinds of people in the canon, and about the forgotten masters and masterpieces in history, because they didn’t belong the that certain category dominating the canon. About questions of gender and race.
  • About the last SDM being a day before they were visiting their father’s grave with their sister, and about today being the day after his death’s anniversary. About being emotional and confused about their relationship with him, and how it has to do with remembrance, who is remembered and how, and how the theme is very present in the matrix.
  • About watching the news and hearing Boris Johnson saying again “every death is a tragedy and we mourn every death”, and being so tired of hearing that line, because it doesn’t feel meant in any way. About the need to have a deeper discussion on what it means to have so many deaths in a country?
  • About what it might be like to shake hands with Donald Trump, and why it might be important to do that.
  • About the first public appearance of Trump after the elections being at Remembrance Day, at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The matrix ended with two dream fragments:

  • The dreamer was washing their hair way too often. They knew they didn’t need to wash it, but still had to wash it.
  • The dreamer woke up with the words of the dream: “Who comes gunshot; Who comes first person for food”


The matrix felt like a dream in itself.

Members felt very filled-up, the space felt filled-up, over-flowing.

More in it than yet possible to grasp.

For one of the members, it was their first time experiencing a social dreaming matrix. It felt amazing. Nobody shares things like this in their environment. The experience will stay with them for a while.

Dream within a dream, association on association, can we remember it all?

It feels like a reminder of how full our experiences are every day, and how we allow to let it pass by.

There is something in it about sense making and putting things in containers.

The matrix was giving an experience of the work that we do in organisations, the value of the work, and where we are. How difficult it is to support people, to stay with what they are doing, whatever that might be.

There was strong sense of solidarity, a sense of how deeply interconnected we really are, how the matrix helps to make sense of fragments.

A member was reminded of a song “I feel like a motherless child”, which is sad, but also gives a sense that we can be mothered, parented, without getting it right. Without having to remember it right.

A member was reminded of a journalist who got in touch about people who are dreaming about work, and that they want to write to her that social dreaming is a way at entering the subject.

It would be interesting to look back at the notes of all the SDM of Deepening Creative Practice, will be interested to read and to notice what has been forgotten.

Reminded of a radio show featuring Yuval Noah Harri and his graphic novel “Sapiens, A graphic History”

While writing the notes, I’m struck by the continuation between this matrix and the previous one, in which we moved from places of seeing to places of mourning, now entering spaces of remembering and spaces of containment, working our ways through the task to face existential pains, and to find ways to hold them, to attune to them so that pain can transform and become a companion in our sense-making process.

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