Life Magazine -or- The Beatles on the Cover of the Rolling Stone

Understanding Dreams, Understanding Media

The effects of media on dreams, is a vast "dark continent" in terms of dream research. The International Institute for Dream Research website is dedicated to exposing the deleterious effects of media on our dreams. Charlotte Beradt's work "Third Reich of Dreams" stands as a monument to understanding how Hitler "brainwashed" a whole nation. For Marshall McLuhan "Understanding Media", the radio is the "tribal drum" for the global village. Hitler used this tribal drum to en-trance the German people. Listen to McLuhan; "In a radio speech in Munich, March 14, 1936, Hitler said, "I go my way with the assurance of a somnambulist." Quoting a listeners metaphor about the comparison of two forms of media the radio and the book, the radio listener says; ‘I live right inside the radio when I listen. I more easily loose myself in radio than in a book.' Listen then to the tribal drum of music in the "Global Village" where you are reading this interpretation. As the dreamer's dream below shows us, music has the ability to place us in a trance state of consciousness and dreaming. In his own words; "It doesn't matter what the words are. Maybe this feeling I have is what he's trying to show me." 

This interpretation is about the trance like effects of media and the feelings of ecology, music, popular culture, religion, yoga, politics, history and consciousness in dreams.

George, 63 American Artist

I have just awakened from a bizarre dream.

I remember being in an Indian Temple devoted to a branch of Hinduism that worshipped elephants. There's a picture taken by Life magazine in the 1950's of the back of an elephant sitting down next to a little girl, who is trying to put her arm around him.  It just makes me cry.  I don't know why. Sometimes you can find this picture on greeting cards. Are you familiar with it?

I am not of Indian, or Asian origin.  In my waking life, I am not what you would call overly sentimental.  Still, it's difficult for me to look at carvings of elephants without tears.  I know too much. They are becoming extinct.  They've been treated cruelly throughout Asia, Africa, and every circus you could ever name.

This was Ganesha, the "elephant way" of practicing Hinduism.  There is an Indian man, maybe the temple keeper (not sure), who tells me I can stay but if I choose to leave I cannot come back in again. He has a long, long handlebar mustache which is curled up on the ends, like that of an ancient mogul, or someone rich, Indian, from the 1800's. His Indian clothes are encrusted with gems. I stay for a while, gazing at all the beautiful gem studded rainments for the elephants. I know that I can stay longer, but I choose to leave because I do not want to become too attached to anything, or to the temple itself. 

Once I am outside, I am facing a storefront - which serves as a window to this temple.  I see holy religious objects and one elephant who guards the window.  He's not very big, and he stares at me from one side of his face while peeking around a corner. He thinks he's being really sly. I think he's really something - adorable, funny, worth loving and respecting as something more than a beast of burden. I'd like to go back in again just to pet him, make a fuss over him. The man comes to the window and says he will give me the chance to ask a question. I ask, "How should one practice the (I'm pretty sure this is the word in the dream) Mahabaram?" (which means the Elephant form of Hinduism). 

He begins singing and invisible instruments begin playing. Lots of drums and cymbals. I don't understand any of the words, but the music and his singing (classical Indian) are so beautiful that I am completely wrapped up in the sounds. "Maybe", I think, "It doesn't matter what the words are. Maybe this feeling I have is what he's trying to show me."  I extend my arms and flatten my body against the window to absorb as much of this music into my being as possible.  I don't remember, in the dream, how the music ends.  Suddenly, it's just not there anymore. 

I know this dream is terribly odd, but I hope you can help. Thank you

Mark's Reply: Life Magazine -or- Understanding The Beatles

Marshall McLuhan gave us the tools for "Understanding Dreams". In his book, "Understanding Media", McLuhan writes at the beginning of section 20/The Photograph: The Brothel Without Walls; "A photograph of St Peter's at a Moment of History" was the cover feature of Life magazine for June 14, 1963. It is one of the peculiar characteristics of the photo that it isolates single moments in time. The TV camera does not."

The dream can take on both media characteristics of the eye as photo camera, and as TV camera, registering the cultural and natural images of life on Earth. The modern cell phones have these media features built in as well. The covers of Life magazine during the epochal time you mention was very dedicated to "photojournalism". Other dreams received by the International Institute for Dream Research speak of the "Kodak Moment" (read interpretation). As well your concern about animals on our planet is shared by others as well and finds expression in the dream interpretation "Silent Spring in the Global Village".

Your dream takes on an added depth psychological and media dimension that is unique as it is related to those two other dreams and interpretations. Music plays a very important role in your dream (and its interpretation). While Hindu music or Indian classical music might seem to be the first ideas that come to mind, I believe we have to dig alittle further. Given your age and interest in Hinduism, music, "save the elephants" politic (closely associated to "Save the Whales" movement), it would seem logical to me to think that you're a Beatles fan. The Beatles especially George Harrison, took such a musical turn embracing Hindu music and culture making the Hare Krishna movement popular to the Western world. Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" sang praises to the god Krishna. In this context, further such re-tribalization of music in the Global Village was found when Paul Simon in the 1980's would mix and grapht "Pop" music with African sounds in his Grammy award winning album "Graceland".      

The Beatles can also be found a number of times on the cover of Life. The other magazine cover the Beatles can be found on is "Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone is devoted to music, liberal politics and popular culture, all of which seem to be ingredients of your dream. In your dream you state; "I don't remember, in the dream, how the music ends. Suddenly, it's just not there anymore." You seem to be asking, as so many others in the world, "Why did the music stop?", your dream perhaps provides an answer. After the commercial and critical failure of the "Magical Mystery Tour" film, the creative differences in the band became too great. The creative writing that was on the wall was obvious, the Beatles days were numbered. Then they were no more. Harrison was on a Hare Krishna trip, Lennon reportedly embraced "primal therapy".... After the philosophical split, Lennon and McCartney would later exchange musical blows through their music. Evidently McCartney's "Ram" took shots at Lennon, while Lennon's "Imagine" took shots at McCartney. Yada, Yada.    

The Radha Krsna Temple -or- On the Cover of the Rolling Stone

Hare Krishna has become iconic in popular culture. The temple in your dream may have an allusion to the Radha Krsna Temple which houses the "International Society for Krishna Consciousness" which disseminates the practice of yoga. Other dreams Altered States -or- Dream Yoga sent to the IIDR website speaks of the use of yoga in dreams. In this sense, the archetypal Eastern inner guru of your dream, finds a similar Western allusion to Dante's dream guide in Divine Comedy.

From this Western tradition, your dream temple may then have an allusion to the ancient Greek Asklepian healing temples, where in their dreams he (Asklepius) would come to advise those seeking to regain their health . From a popular music culture perspective Roger Payne recorded and produced the popular Songs of the Humpback Whale providing a lyrical background for the Star Trek film "The Voyage Home", which addresses the growing ecological crisis enveloping our planet. The Star trek crew must attempt "time warp", to travel back to the end of the 20th century. The crew visits this "paranoid" culture of San Francisco with its "colorful metaphors", to retrieve two Humpback whales in an effort to re-populate the species that had died out in the 21st century due to commercial whaling which drove the whale into extinction. Only the song of the Humpback whale can answer the communication of an alien probe that threatens to destroy the Earth of the future. Kirk suceeds in his mission with alittle help from his friends and saves the Earth for ecological annihilation.

Perhaps a final McLuhanesque musical note about the Life and Rolling Stone magazine covers, the American popular "tribal drum" song by the band Dr Hook and the Medicine Show "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" (watch video), seems to fit the American "postmodern trance" of the musical, religious, political, commercial and narcissistic sentiment of your dream.


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