The Real, the Unreal, and the Irreal in The Dream Society
I may have hit a wall of incomprehension — or perhaps even incredulity — in my previous posts and commentaries on the meaning of “The Dream Society”, and how the logic of this Dream Society is now playing out in all the strange and surreal events of the present, inclusive of the Trump phenomenon. So, I’ll redouble my efforts here to try to clarify what I mean in saying that the “market”, as now presently imagined, has become the manifest domain of the Jungian “collective unconscious”, and that this “Dream Society” can’t even be comprehended except in those terms. If, in the past, the so-called “real economy” trafficked in “real estate”, we might say that the market of the Dream Society trafficks in “irreal estate”. And if some indigenous cultures sometimes speak of “the White Man’s Dreaming”, then that dreaming is what is now made explicit and manifest in The Dream Society.
Before I do the deep dive into the meaning of the Dream Society, we have to be clear on the terms “real”, “unreal”, and “irreal”. The irreal is not synonymous with the unreal. Dreaming is a fact. Dreams are real in that sense. But what transpires in dreaming is irreal rather than real or unreal, you see. If therefore, the “real economy” once trafficked in “real estate” — that is, in actual physical products — the “irreal economy” of the Dream Society trafficks in what I call “irreal estate”, which are “meanings” in terms of “brands”, images, fantasies, myths, magic, or “spirit”. Even the phrase “irrational exuberance” as applied to the market now recognises that “the market” is no longer “real” or “rational” at all, or that the economy now is almost completely dependent on what are called “bubbles” and “perception management”, which is just another way of describing what Algis Mikunas refers to as “technocratic shamanism” in his essay “Magic and Technological Culture”, and which is quite evidently, also, an aspect of the Dream Society.
So, it is quite important not to mistake the “irreal” for unreal, although some aspects of the “collapse of reality” also have features of the unreal, and that what Stirk refers to as “the Triumph of the Irrational” in reference to Technology as Magic, has, as it’s counterpart, the irreal, which is probably related to the word “eerie” as well.
Now, I’ve also stated that we can’t really understand the Trump phenomenon either except in relation to the Dream Society, and that was brought home forcibly this morning upon reading something about that
“Former White House staffer Omarosa Manginault Newman in her new book Unhinged: An Insider Account of Trump’s White House describes the world around the President as a cult in which he creates his own reality. She told the New York Times on Sunday: “I think it’s incredibly important in Trump world that you protect yourself, because everyone constructs their own reality” and “People around him try to reinforce that manufactured reality”.
Well, that’s something that Gary Lachman writes about in his book Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump. But it is also completely Dream Society logic, as are matters like “meme magic”, which are what Trump’s incessant tweets are — spell-casting, and seemingly pretty effective spell-casting, too. But much of the precedent for this was prefigured in Rolf Jensen’s book The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business.
This “shift to imagination” is extremely important to understand in relation to the reconstruction of the “market” as being identical with that which Jung called “collective unconsciousness”. In fact, it’s quite impossible to understand the “Dream Society” at all in this sense except in the context of the market as the collective unconscious or, for that matter, the resurgence of myth and magic and its appropriation by and as “marketing 3.0” (or “holistic branding” or “spiritual branding”, and so on), and especially the exploitation of Jung’s archetypal psychology for the purpose. None of this would make much sense at all unless the “market” were, indeed, the same as “the collective unconscious” and the domain of the irreal. In fact, the Dream Society is somewhat inconceivable, too, without this breakdown of distinction between subject and object, between fact and fiction, and between the real and the irreal. The “market” in Jensen’s Dream Society is total, and is total environment, or what we have been describing in “the field concept”.
Most uncanny and eerie about all this, too, is how much “The Dream Society” of “imagination” resembles, albeit in aberrant and perverse manifestation, William Blake’s Golgonooza, “city of the imagination“. It might be most revealing, in fact, to compare Jensen’s The Dream Society with Kathleen Raine’s book on Blake’s Golgonooza too, keeping in mind Henri Bortoft’s distinction between “authentic and counterfeit wholes”. (I’ve read both books, but never to compare them in that sense). Equally eerie and uncanny is how much Jensen’s “market mysticism” (as I’ve called it) and his “Dream Society” seem to affirm what cultural philosopher Jean Gebser described as the “irruption” of older factors and energies of myth and magic hitherto dormant or latent in our psychic constitution (that is, all those matters equally ascribed to Jung’s “collective unconscious”), but using an inappropriate business or economic model or paradigm to impose “market discipline” on this irruption.
As mentioned earlier, Jensen’s “post-rational” market and the Dream Society are definitely “post-modern” in conception. It is also definitely “post-truth” inasmuch as it’s chief artifacts are “stories” and narratives that do not necessarily have to have any relation to truth or fact. They just have to seem meaningful or “spiritual” in the bizarre sense the Jensen seems to understand that. The “image” is all that matters. In other words, the underlying metaphysical justification for the Dream Society is that “perception is reality”. And while “perception is reality” is true, to a great extent, it also matters whether your perception is clear or clouded with delusion, or transparent or opaque, as Gebser puts it (or revelation or velation). “Perception is reality” is a pretty obvious enticement to the manipulation of perception and the images or “collective representations” (as Owen Barfield calls them) or the manufacturing of “reality”, or “social construction of reality”, and to magic or Mikunas’s “technocratic shamanism”.
So, you can see why William Blake felt that “cleansing the doors of perception” was such an urgent task, which is equally Gebser’s “diaphaneity” or the “transparency of the world”. In fact, maybe it’s the very dangers of this “Dream Society” and its sorcerer’s apprentices that will compel us to undertake the task seriously, or be enslaved by it and in thrall to it. As the German poet Hölderlin once expressed it “where the peril is greatest, there lies the saving power also”, or Rumi: “the cure for the disease is in the disease”. And that is especially the case with “the Dream Society” and now especially the need, as Paul Levy puts it, “to awaken in the dream”.
In fact, becoming masters of what is called “lucid dreaming” may be even a survival technique. (It was certainly the first task that Castaneda had to undertake in his apprenticeship to don Juan).
I have to say, too, that I’m pretty much in awe of Jean Gebser’s prescience in his insights into how these older forces of myth and magic are once again becoming animated and active in us and the culture, and his warnings about this and the need for insight into their manifestations. Given the unnerving events of the day, can there remain much doubt about this at all?