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Surrealism

Surreal dream imagery--eruptions of strangeness into a known world: discrepancies of scale, or time, or context. The surrealist movement accorded such dreams a place of great importance, but rather than learn dream's own language, they were more interested in the mystery and strangeness for its own sake--and for its power to jar middle-class minds. To me, their taste for dreams looks a bit like the Romantics' taste for Gothic madness, wilderness and ruins, when (or because!) their bourgeois contemporaries extolled good sense and geometric gardens.

The surrealists' favorite technique, collage, with its weird juxtapositions, sometimes poetic, sometimes creepy, often bewildering, resembles two types of dream: hynogogic images (the vivid, plotless jumbles many people see when falling asleep or waking), and also the disjunctive, bizarre, unsettling REM dreams I call surf-dreams, for they resemble a chaotic surf-zone between our world and the dream-sea. That may sound to many readers like a description of all dreams, but it isn't; experienced dreamworkers often have coherent dreams of other lives, other worlds--as if they've swum out to the sea beyond the surf zone, and found stable islands in that sea: other phenomenal worlds as real as ours. In my own dreamwork (and this site) I focused more on those stabler shamanic dreams than on hypnogogic or surf-dreams. Still, I admit that seething borderzone where worlds collide does have power, especially in opening rigid minds... and now and then, there's splendor in the clash.

RELATED TOPICS: hypnogogic images - dreamwork in general - lucid dreams - transformations - I'm Just Not Myself Today! - weird dream beings - other worlds - See also the full INDEX OF SUBJECTS.

What this site is - Add your dreams! - How to read blurbs - Ratings - Copyright - Downloading - The World Dream Bank has 2300 dreams plus 1000 more pages on dreamwork, shamanism, surrealism, fantasy, worldbuilding, creativity and genius. Site © Chris Wayan 2001-2013.



AFTER A LONG ILLNESS: by Nicholas Christopher; summer 1990?, a dream poem
A surreal dream of a levitating man reeled in like a kite, the night after I’d flown from New York to Hawai’i...
AFTER THE FLOOD AND THE PIG-EARED BABY ALLIGATOR: by Skiznot; 1994-96, an oracular dream
My hometown floods. I swim after some strange fish and find a scientific community where a scaled baby tells me who I am...
THE AIR BURUNDI PAINTINGS: by Wayan; 210K, 7 illus., 2007/1/20, a dream of art and courage
Weird paintings cover a hill town in Africa, demanding I paint them when I wake. Paintings on courage, flight... and defying tradition.
ANIMANGEL: by Wayan, 1983/10/1-2010/7/22! An inky portrait-poem of my clashing guardian angels.
My loud, spiky, tailed angel of change and potential, and my calm, skeptical devil of gradualism, a star-nosed mole...
BABY, I'LL BLOW YOUR MIND: by Wayan; 1995/3/21, a surreal nightmare
Allied submarines attack the giant Nazi toddler who's hunting us with sonar, occupying my playroom...
CAUTION: VIOLENCE AND GUILT
BEET: Five Dreams One Night: by Wayan; 2013/10/30, Halloween dreams as minipoems
Parasites, Rambo, giant beets (or fetuses?), an exhibitionist and a living statue advise me on my love life...
CAUTION: NUDITY
BILLIE: by Billie's Mom; 1945/1/20, a psychic warning dream
My son Billie, his Navy uniform soaking wet, cried "Oh, Mom--it's so terrible!" and shrank into a baby again as I held him...
CAUTION: EXPLOSION
THE BLACK STREAM: by A.W. Fyson Calder; before Aug. 1928, 1931/12/28, and 1938: three predictive dreams
In my dream I looked into a narrow stream that was quite clear yet inky black. This seemed ridiculous at the time...
BLUE HOLES: Wayan; 1958 or early 59. Visionary sculpture by 4-year-old.
This was my first sculpture. I was around four. The rest of the preschool class made bunnies and snowmen. But I'd been peeking at Isamu Noguchi and Henry Moore in my mom's art books, so...
BOSCHTON BEINGS: by Wayan; 11x14" ink drawing, 1983/6/26, surreal nondream tribute to Bosch
This picture does not actually contain any authentic boston beans, just Hieronymus Boschton b...
BRIDGE, MOON, PROFESSOR, SHOES: by Dorothea Tanning; 2003? Poem of a flying dream
The moon invites me to go flying, but I get tired of magic and just want to go shopping...
BUGS AND ROOSEVELT: by Wayan; 1982/5/2, a wild comic predictive dream told as an illustrated epic poem
I become Bugs Bunny and torment Daffy Duck till I learn that in many time-branches the New Deal happened late or never. I decide to prod a reluctant Franklin Delano Roosevelt...
CAUTION: FIRESIDE PETTING, DUCK TORTURE, BAD POLITICS
CAPRICES: by Wayan; 2006-, a trio of nondream variant Earths:
Bizarre alternate Earths--geography turned inside out, seas siphoned away by master soup-makers, or abysses turned into continents...
CHE FANNO GLI INGLESI?: by William Archer; 1917/7/30, a senseless dream.
To help the King of Italy, I become a baker in Baluchistan--learning Norwegian, levitating, meeting quaggas, riding landslides...
CLOWN: by Naguib Mahfouz; early 1995?, a surreal dream.
My town transforms into a circus--trapeze artists, elephants, clowns. At first I loved it, but when I went home...
CORNER TORSO: by Wayan; 1996? A surreal sculpture.
A surreal statue of a naked body spilling out of the wall as if someone's caught between dimensions...
CAUTION: NUDITY
CRAG: by Wayan; 1999; foot-high sculpture of a daydream.
Who sculpts landscape? So I tried a crag with a pool in a hollow on its knee, windows like red eyes...
CRAZY EGG: by a Colorado convalescent; before 1961, a small predictive dream dismissed as absurd or symbolic
My grandmother came in from gathering eggs and showed me one three times as large as usual, and longer in proportion...
CUTTLEBONE: by Wayan; 1999, sculpture, 7", plaster/acrylic; a nondream improv.
If you can't tell what it is from the thumbnail, cheer up. It's indescribable full-size, too.
DALI CENTAUR: by Wayan; 1981/12/12; a surrealist nightmare.
I dreamed I saw what looked like an ink sketch by Dali of a horse--but I was dead wrong...
CAUTION: YUCK
DEAD OR ALIVE? by Nancy Price; 1948, a surreal, poetic dream from the borderzone
Troutmet the moon-pigeon, Burtra the blackbird, a talking acacia, and my dead dad and gardener give me afterworld-advice...
DOG IN A CASSOCK: by Wayan, 1972/2/3, a comically surreal dream-poem
A criminal mastermind gets tracked down by a hound in a brown monk's cassock, who's introduced to me... as the President of the United States?
DOG IN A CASSOCK: by Wayan, 1972/2/3, a comically surreal dream-poem
A criminal mastermind gets tracked down by a hound in a brown monk's cassock, who's introduced to me... as the President of the United States?
THE DOUBLE: by Julie Doucet; Nov. 1992, a lucid alter-ego sex dream.
Looking in a mirror, Julie goes lucid. She changes herself into a man and pulls her mirror-image through the glass...
CAUTION: CARTOON NUDITY
DREAM OF ABYSSES: by Marie-Claude Girondé, spring 2007, a dream-drawing.
Girondé dreams she's floating through the oceanic abyss...
DRINK THE DOVE: by Myoe Shonin; c.1202/9/11, a pre-Surrealist surreal dream
The sparrow died in the ashes, but the dove in my hands became a blue cloud. I drank it, thinking "This will benefit us all"...
ENLIGHTENMENT: by Brenda Ferrimani; 1999/3/9, painting of a non-apocalyptic dream
A crowd watches from shore as a great glowing meteor descends into the sea. I fear a tsunami, but...
EVASION: by Marie-Claude Girondé, summer 2008?, a dream painting.
One pays for soaring high with solitude of the soul...
FACE CROSSING: by Wayan; 1990-91. Nondream but surreal digital painting..
Slightly altered to remove the familiarity, but this is quite real...
FIGURE DRAWING: NOW HOLD THAT POSE: by Wayan; 1989/11/6 digital sketch of model clowning.
Shasé liked absurd, impossible poses, and she held them heroically...
CAUTION: SILLY NUDITY
FILM STARS by Nancy Price; 1948, a surreal predictive/diagnostic dream
I'm a film actress, but the producer isn’t happy with my legs, so make-up takes them away to be redone...
FLUID DREAM CONNECTIONS: by Jenny Badger Sultan; 2003/11/8 and 2007/3/14; linked dreams of pods
A pod of whales in the sky and a circle of children dressed like seed-pods both beg me to interpret them...
FREAKY DREAM, or, HEART IN MY STOMACH: by Ratiries Steelclaw; c. 2004/3/30, a dream comic
I felt like my heart was in my stomach. My friend Lyx opened me up and confirmed it was. She scolded me for eating it...
CAUTION: URP
FREEDOM THROUGH BOXES: by Wayan; an experiment in art & pain, Jan 2005
I've always loved curves, color, dreams, sex, texture... and planning, too.
So one day I drew 100 black boxes in ink--no color, no curves, no erasure! And then I began to seek...
FROGWOMAN MARCH: by Wayan; 2000/11/26, poem of a surreal but almost plausible dream.
Two protesters, under the weight of full scuba gear and flippers, waddle toward City Hall--the first steps of a transcontinental march. Or stagger...
GIRL IN THE WATER: by Wayan, 2000/10/7, twin dreams on... dreamwork?
In a California where the Gold Rush never happened, a girl rides a wild deer over the San Fernando hills to a secret dream-pool...
Then, in a Japantown hotel lobby, that girl floats in a giant aquarium, meditating serene, as local gossips whisper lies about her...
GIRL WITH A PROBLEM: by Wayan; 1997/4/12, a surreal dream.
I date a girl with a mysterious syndrome, but soon I become a monkeyfaced con-man. And SHE becomes...
GRAVE: by Wayan; 1999, a poem of everyday life, if this is your everyday life.
So I looked out my window and saw this guy burying a tiny robed woman in a trench in the street...
GUNNHILDR’S BIRTH DREAM: by Gunnhildr; c. 1150, a surreal predictive dream.
I dreamt I gave birth to a white-hot stone shedding sparks. Most folk would find my son strange...
HER HAND ON THE MANTEL: by Frederick Greenwood; before 1894; a disowned predictive dream
Greenwood dreams he finds a severed hand on a mantelpiece. The next day it happens! But he sees no moral, so he dismisses it...
HOLY ZEN MONK: by Wayan; 1978/4/24, a dream of suicide as political protest
I'm a Zen monk riddled with holes from a weird disease the government denies is real. So as a protest, I stand naked atop a wall and let the air-sharks take me...
CAUTION: SURREAL SUICIDE
HUGE OVOID SHAPE: by Jenny Badger Sultan, 1999/8/13 Magrittesque surreal sci-fi dream
A huge white ovoid like a tethered cloud hangs over a city street. We enter it and search for the crew...
IN THE COURSE OF WORK: by Marie-Claude Girondé, spring 2007?, a dream sculpture
Is that a madwoman riding a horse, or a cougar pouncing on a deer, or are these dream-creatures wildly making love?
INUIT MEDITATION: by Wayan; 1989/11/16, a surreal dream-comedy.
I'm the first tuna to get a scholarship to Stanford. Naturally I sign up for a course in Inuit Meditation...
JELLY REBELLION: by Wayan; 2008/8/19, a poem of a diagnostic dream, Dreamverse #9
I interview my own metabolism. Trouble in Cellville! I've got strikers and usurpers. But at least no invaders...
KICK THE PRESIDENT: by Wayan; 1999/6/1, a dream on consequences.
I win a free game of Kick the President. But what if everyone can see your kick-ass Prez but you?
CAUTION: THIS DREAM IS MONITORED BY THE SECRET SERVICE
KNEADING DOUGH: by Madellyne Waugh; 2009, a punning dream on shame
I'm in the kitchen making a mess--kneading pasta dough on the bookcase. If my mom comes in and sees...
LEATHER BOYS: by Sunshine; 2015/3/17, a Lovecraftian dream
Leather boys flap down from the sky, feeding from giant mustard pots. We fight them with honey and boomerangs. We do what we have to.
LIBERTÉ: by Marie-Claude Girondé, c. 2005?, a dream painting.
"Freedom is a gift you give yourself." But it doesn't always involve seahorses or babycarriages covered in quills...
LIFE FORCE: by Patagia; 2006/8/9 & 8/31, three career-advice dreamlets
Out of a Campbell's soup can poured life force: someone's last breath...
THE MAD UNVEILERS: by Marie-Claude Girondé, early 2009, a dream painting.
The dancers, in a frenzy, stripped themselves. Not just their clothes; themselves...
MARINE GEOLOGY'S NOT IT: by Wayan; 1984/6/2, a dream farce.
After finding marine geologists in my chocolate pudding, I'd rather be a Frenchman and insult my wife...
CAUTION: DECADENCE
MEOPHAM AIR DISASTER: by G.H.M. Holms; 1930/7/18, a surreal predictive dream
Suddenly, out of the clouds, a man came shooting down, head first, at a terrific pace. He landed on his head with a sickening...
CAUTION: GRISLY
MICMAC TOWERS: by Wayan; 2011/6/12, a quietly predictive surreal dream
I dream squatters build surreal towers in a city of junk. I wake, go to a movie, and see...
MOOD ELEVATOR: by Wayan; dreamed 1982/5/12, a surreal/comic dream-poem warning of one side effect of happy pills
Dinner with the Lightbulb Heads. When we leave, the Mood Elevators welcome us, but won't let us out! And in the struggle to escape, heads will roll--and shatter...
CAUTION: HARSH WORDS ON WESTERN MEDICINE
THE MUSICAL AMOEBA, by Hermester Barrington, spring 1979, a predictive dream inspired by the Incredible String Band
I'm hiking through the Catskills when a gigantic amoeba comes slipping over the hills...
NO ROOM ON THE MOON!: by Wayan; 2014/7/7; poem of a frustrating surreal dream
I want to catch a crescent moon home--Muni's been buying up old moons and running them across town--but tourists reserved all the seats...
NUCLEUS: by Wayan, 1979/3/18, a surreal psychologically insightful dream of the inside of an atom
I dream my theatre friends are particles dancing inside an atomic nucleus--particles that reveal their character, motivations and power. And I'm one too...
OLD HAT: by Wayan; 1988/1/5, a "normal" (i.e. incoherent) dream.
The Goddess gave birth in my workplace. Her fever-dreams become real around us...
CAUTION: BIRTH SCENE, LIBRARIANS' ORGY
ON THE NIGHT RIDE HOME: by Wayan; 1971/11/8, an early dream-poem on breaking through prejudices
As I bike home at night, strange doings--a rat is sacrificed; gemstones delivered; an astronaut shows glowing alien objects; a second rat becomes a... firefighter?
OVERKILL: by Wayan; 640 x 680, 1991. Digital picture-poem-poster.
Now the Evil Empire's dead. We're all safe, safe at last. And all the bombs are gone... right?
OWLOVERS: by Wayan; 1992, digital painting of vivid daydream.
This image bewilders me; my dreams mix sex with warmth, grief, even silliness, but what is THIS telling me?
CAUTION: WEIRD ORGY
PASSIONVILLE: by Wayan; 1982/7/10; a surreal dream written as poem
We're stuck in an empty town whose streetnames are all emotions. And they change. Rage becomes Giggle. Tedium, Terror. Detours, detours...
PEAK PORTAL: by Wayan; 2014/8/27, a dream-poem on half-conscious shamanic possession
At a strange gate between worlds with high and low sea levels, a meddling spirit prods me to clear a path for a salt torrent between...
PIANIST: by Wayan; 1985, a nondream ink caprice.
Love that hair, girl. A very seventies bar-monster...
THE PLANTER OF SEEDS: by Victoria Goro-Rapoport, 2011, print based on recurring dreams
I often dream I'm lost in a strange city, wandering the unfamiliar streets in search of something unknown, and possibly unknowable...
PLUM CRAZY: by Wayan; fall 1973, an early surreal but nondream poem
Plums float through the autumn air, sending us airmail kisses. If we'll accept delivery...
POLTERGEIST: by Wayan; 1983/11/17, a comic surreal dream.
A living camera edits us all: the dappled hawk-man, the slutty candidate, the blue businessmen who give such bad advice when you pull the thorns from their feet. And my sweet sad hell-hound...
POLYGON DREAMS: by Wayan; 2007/4/23, a 32-page comic on the effects of shapes
What if comics panels and layouts weren't so square? I try triangles, pentagons, hexagons, circles, spirals--and some serious stuff pops out...
CAUTION: IDEAS, OCCASIONAL NUDITY, MENTIONS ABUSE
THE RAINBOW SLEEPER: by Wayan; 107K, 2000/9/20, sculpture of a dream ABOUT a sculpture.
In Rainbow Food Co-op, a huge statue of a sleeping woman emerged from the floor, shedding shoppers...
RUNAWAY MOONS: by Wayan; 2011/4/6, an absurd nightmare poem
New moons appear. I try to mash them into a spare Earth, but botch the orbits. So now, runaway moons rumble down a steep San Francisco hill...
CAUTION: ALWAYS SET PARKING BRAKE
SCIENCE IS A BUILDING THAT COMES ONLY HALFWAY TO THE GROUND: by SAO (Shawn Allen O'Neal); March 2001, a painting of a dream-scene.
In the golden light of a primal Eden, my friends and I flock naked through emerald glades like wild deer, until the tower approaches...
SEX FLOWER: by Wayan; 480 x 640, 1996, unfired clay sculpture painted with acrylic, 9" tall.
Robe or petals? Head or lilybud? Face or tongue or clit or slit? An eerie hybrid of person and flower...
CAUTION: SOMETHIN' HAPPENIN' HERE, BUT WHAT IT IS AIN'T EXACTLY CLEAR
THE SHRINKING POPE: by Sorcha; 2005/4/1, a Jane Bond dream
I’m the only one who can stop the plot to kill the Pope--but if he keeps shrinking like that, will it matter?
CAUTION: RECOVERING CATHOLIC
SILKY'S INVERSION: by Wayan; dreamed 2014/4/24, a surreal painting of a surreal dream of a surreal painting
My anima, a black mare, is upside down, hanging on the ceiling! Rears downward. And she's changed sex! Not a mare today, a stallion! A gay, humanophilic stallion...
CAUTION: VERY QUEER FLIRTATION
SKY-THAW; 2012/6/8 by Wayan; a comic, surreal, political dream-poem
While watching two rooftop actors (one a chicken) I noticed the icebergs in the sky were melting at last...
STEAMROLLER: by Richard Wilbur, late 20th Century; an embarrassing dream.
As the steamroller flattened me I tried to rise above it all and my body became quite a lovely stained-glass window...
THE SWORDSMEN: by T.A. Williams; late 1930s, a surreal dream.
Dusk. A plain. A troop of swordsmen approach me, draw their weapons... and toss their spinning, shining swords to the stars...
TANGUY: by Wayan; 1963-4, childhood surrealist drawing.
Not a guy with a tan. Yves Tanguy was a sailor who became a Surrealist. When I was nine or ten, his work inspired me to try my first landscape drawings...
TARTAN ACID SPIDER TORPEDO: by "Thomas Mountain"; 2008/1/31, a cliffhanger dream.
I get speared by Irish warriors, slipped an LSD dose, chased by giant spiders, torpedoed--but hey, I'm not bored!
THEY FEED THEY LION: by Philip Levine; late 1960s; a dream-poem
A phrase spoken by a workmate triggers two dreams, the parents of this poem; it emerged a few days later as you see it...
CAUTION: POLITICAL RAGE, SURREALISM
THREE SEVENS: by George Antheil; summer 1932; a psychic dream in a dreamlike time
I dream I play 7 and win three times at Monte Carlo, wake, tell my friends, and head for the casino with witnesses...
TOASTING FORK: by Charles Dickens, August 1843, a surreal tragicomic dream.
A gentleman clad but in a sheet notified me that an old friend had died of a terrible disease. What disease? Well...
TRIBUTE TO JOAN MIRO: by Wayan; 1984/2000. Erasable crayon, 14 x 17", nondream
Nearly abstract but not quite. The snake, the quill pen, the secretary bird, and the rose.
TROUT BECK by Nancy Price; summer 1933, an aerial comic dream-epic
I'm carried off by a crane, to meet birdfish, singing sheep, fell-spirits, mad shopkeepers and devil-bulls...
TWENTY OF ME: by Robert MacNish; before 1830. A dream of multiplicity.
I possessed ubiquity: twenty of me, and each possessed by my same soul, so I could not say who I inhabited...
TWISTED!: by Wayan; 2003/6/23, 18 images; a nondream experiment
I twirled pinups into surreal not-quite-abstracts, to see just how twisted sex could get...
CAUTION: NAKED PRETZELS
THE VEGETABLES OF SHADOW: by Wayan; 1999/10/4. Nondream surrealist art technique.
Make silhouettes of your beloved vegetables; then listen to the spaces between...
CAUTION: LEWD SQUASH
WINGVOW: by Wayan; 101K, 1994. Digital collage of dream figures
Here's an incantation to induce flying dreams. "Bring me wings NOW, or forever hold your peace..."
THE WORLD NEWS: by Nathaniel Hawthorne; 1843; a dream-job (and career advice?)
I dreamt the world itself hired me, at a generous salary, to report its great affairs exactly as they happen...
YOUR TURN: by Julian Green; 1933/10/18, a surreal but fair-minded dream.
I was nineteen again, riding my horse down a bad road in Virginia. After three hours, my horse spoke up...


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