The Arithmetic of Dreams: Add It Up

I have often wondered how the subconscious influences our consciousness. And a question in search of an answer is: What is the Subconscious? We can speculate endlessly about its connection to Consciousness, but it is somewhat difficult to actually go there and form a mathematical equation, for example, of its properties. We just know it’s there. And dreams are often how we access it. Or, as in my case, in one example, the last image I produced before slipping into unconsciousness, 2 watercolor paintings I would not live to reproduce, while hovering between the two. And yet, there is a pattern that often comes through dreams that informs us what is of importance to us, at any given time, as long as our memory does not fail us once we awaken.

It’s an ideal way to address conflicts – if only you can have your therapist, for example, travel with you there. Roles often change. Projection is rampant. And so is substitution – essentially whatever is necessary to put the pieces of the puzzle into some coherent pattern.

I remember when I did observation while in my singular semester in graduate school at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, a campus that housed the most promising minds in these areas, tucked in a bucolic setting outside of Chicago. What an exciting experience! Curiosity at its peak. Adolescents! And Creativity. For Science also involves heavy doses of Creativity. That’s when breakthroughs occur.

Immediately I thought that the principles applied at IMSA could be applied at any school, since children and adolescents are naturally curious, observant and creative. But instead they are bogged down by futile attempts to measure and gauge intelligence through inferior testing principles – for what reason? For funding? Unacceptable. Shame on any system that holds this as the ideal!

The challenge is to teach children how to think – for themselves – and not demand they parrot irrelevant information for the comfort of sustaining social conformity.

One of the reasons, I failed graduate school was an assignment that asked us to produce our personal philosophy of Education. Mine was rejected. And as the graduate student next to me said when I told him this was: “How can you fail one when the assignment explicitly states to provide your personal philosophy of education?”

I hadn’t thought about that, until he mentioned it, but he was right. It’s an exploratory assignment, and properly outside any grading system. If anything, the response – or the grade – is a neutral one. It was at that point that I realized this program was not about teaching but about screening people for the profession. The professor ultimately admitted that when I confronted him on the last day of the semester. He had rejected my essay on Education and told me to rewrite it. And my refusal to comply was based on the premise that the only way I would be able to rewrite my personal philosophy of Education was when – and if – it changed. And it hadn’t changed. Thus I could not and would not comply with his demand. Because of that he gave me a “C” as my final grade. He had succeeded. He was victorious. I had been flushed from the system.

Back to IMSA.

At the time, I had a cousin who was (and is) a mathematical genius. He studied in France and has been on the staff at the Aegean University on the island of Samos. He discovered this concept called “Nest Algebra.” I looked into it, and I can’t say I understand it, but it has been highly influential among University mathematicians world-wide, including the U.S., especially at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois.

At IMSA, I approached one of the mathematics staff and I simply asked him if he had ever heard of Nest Algebra. He hadn’t. And then, I decided to ask him a question that had been puzzling me ever since I was watching my older son playing with Legos (a staple in our house). Ted would build elaborate constructions with Legos, cities, they were. And one day, the following popped into my mind. When you take two discreet units and merge them into a single unit, you now have one, so we assume that 1 + 1 = 2. But maybe 1 + 1 = 1? That was the question I put to this teacher. But instead of explaining how I had arrived at this conclusion, I posed it differently to him, essentially as an equation. “Why doesn’t 1 + 1 = 1?” And his response was: “That’s an irrelevant question.” And my response to that was: “I thought all questions were relevant.” And that was the end of our conversation, since he did not respond to my final question, but instead, walked away from me.

Below is a picture snapped of me snapped during twilight at the Athens airport. Unfortunately I don’t have the original picture, but did have it Facebook – Big Brother – and could only copy the link.

Hopefully it works.
But wait …
I outwitted Big Brother!

My ex-husband at the time recalls seeing what appeared as lightning, startling him, as he took the picture. It wasn’t until we looked at the photograph that we saw what we saw.

The most common and revealing explanation was: You were smoking a cigarette. It’s cigarette smoke.

I’ll just leave it at that.
No comment.

But it was an astrophysicist – a PhD student in Athens – who saw it differently. He was curious about the time the photo was taken (4:30 AM) and suggested this was very likely a form of energy usually undetected by the naked eye. Electricity, perhaps. (He also ruled out cigarette smoke.) Now that is interesting.

My mother died when I was 16. I am now 61. She still inhabits my dreams. It took me years to reconcile the finality of Death and it was through her guidance and demonstrations (after several failed attempts) to reach my level of receptivity and understanding. It was Mother Goose to the rescue. Humpty Dumpty, specifically.

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.”

I was like, wow, I get it.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein hadn’t worked. We had attempted (through dreams) several re-writes of that, but to no success.

Oftentimes, she just appears with strange messages. Once, she had hooked me up with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, when both were dead. They had reached some agreement that she would now serve as my literary agent. Oooookay, I said. Not gonna attempt to argue with that one. Dead women managing my literary career.

And then, last night, there she was again! This time with Oprah. I am neither a fan or follower of Oprah. But there she was. She had come to view my Art. She was in sweats and far from the elegant person portrayed in film, television and magazines.

And I’m going …
“What brought you here?
Why are you here?”

And she said:
“I wanna see your Art.”

And I said:
“But it’s locked up. It’s in storage and surrounded by a chain link fence.”

And she said:
“Show me.”

And I said:
“Yeah, but why are you here? What brought you here?”

And she said:
“I got a letter about you.
From your mother.
Five years ago.”

“Ohhhhh,” I said.



6 thoughts on “The Arithmetic of Dreams: Add It Up

  1. I wrote and posted it this morning. Too bad you can’t see the image. That is SO frustrating when Facebook controls your media! I only reactivated my account there to get the picture, but I can’t seem to retrieve it and put it back in MY library, not Facebook’s, where it belongs! But that’s another post altogether. You can see what is really irking me here. It’s not questions about the subconscious, but invasions by outside, concrete forces and systems!!!


  2. This is a very interesting post. I have often experienced the arrival of the unconscious/subconscious/intra-conscious into my conscious mind as stuff that can be rendered in writing or drawing – which I have done. The period of between sleep and wakefulness, and the dreaming time have always been very fruitful for me. It never occurred to me that this could be measured in any way because being very intuitive in effect eliminates the need to measure. I was not able to see your picture probably because I am not on Facebook or other ‘social’ media. But ‘energy’ force/fields, orbs etc., are and have been tricky to define and measure. It seem to me to be more of a personal belief or personal experience than actual science. Similar to telepathy which inexplicably I have also encountered.
    Even though I never had a brain for math, and on a different but perhaps related plane, I do understand very well how 1+1 can give 1 as the result. It is just another concept of the operation and very attractive. ( I cannot tell how old your post is (date??) but I wanted to reply because it evokes a lot of – exactly – personal experiences… that had no measurable explanations but existed nevertheless ).


    1. Plus, I have always found my instincts to be a better guide (much more reliable and accurate) and problem-solver than any attempt to rationalize and/or logically reach a conclusion. Not that I don’t use reason. I just don’t have much faith in it. And rationalization? Hitler rationalized. That should tell you something. Some of the greatest rationalizations are based on delusional thinking. And that is scary. Very.


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