Last week’s post was on coronavirus, collective desires and Mass-Observation. Surrealist friends have since drawn my attention to two ongoing projects to collect coronavirus dreams from the general public.

One is the blog I Dream Of Covid, which apparently is already well known, although I hadn’t heard of it before my friend alerted me. The idea is that dreamers simply submit their coronavirus-related dreams, and the site owner selects some for publication. The selection criteria are loose, but they include the idea that certain dreams are “representative of larger dreaming trends”. The site’s tag cloud suggests that dominant dreaming trends include anxiety, crowds, family, rules and transit.

The other is the Facebook group Dreaming In The Time Of Corona. It’s a private group where members can share and discuss their coronavirus dreams.

Recording one’s dreams is a basic daily practice for Surrealists and occultists alike. It was also a minor but important strand in the work of the Mass-Observation project during the 1930s and 1940s. This obviously had roots in the Surrealist origins of M-O itself, but the interest in dreams continued long after M-O and Surrealism parted ways.

Volunteers were asked to include their dreams in the material they collected for M-O; they are still held in the M-O archive at Sussex University. They include the mundane and everyday, but given M-O’s interest in “public coincidences”, they of course also include dreams about national and international events.

In particular there is a collection of dreams about World War II, Hitler and the experience of the Blitz. Some of these were published in Tom Harrisson’s 1976 book Living Through The Blitz; others are reproduced in an academic article by Tyrus Miller, in a special issue of New Formations on “Mass-Observation as poetics and science” from 2001. I don’t by any means share all of Miller’s theoretical preoccupations or conclusions, but the material is fascinating. There are doubtless other discussions and publications of these dreams that I don’t know about too – I don’t keep up to date with academic literature any more.

In light of all this I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed that I haven’t had any directly covid-related dreams so far. Admittedly I did dream about a zombie apocalypse a few nights ago… but that’s a common dream motif for me. In the depths of my brain, snafu reigns.

With thanks to Sebastian Osorio and Steven Cline.

Image credits: Nigredo image in the public domain; Living Through The Blitz cover reproduced under fair use.

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2 thoughts on “Mass-Dreaming

  1. Thanks for the links! My dreams have also been getting increasingly dystopic/post-apocalyptic, even more than usual. Last night I was living in an unknown city following some unknown disaster. All the power was out and people were squatting in houses, hoarding resources, striking out against anyone who looked at them sideways. Bands of miscreants roamed the streets and alleys looking for trouble. I was alone, just trying to find safe shelter and there was none to be found.

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