#7 Social Dreaming Matrix during the Covid-19 pandemic. Notes from 21 May

#7 Social Dreaming Matrix during the Covid-19 pandemic. Notes from 21 May


22 May 2020

Participants: 58
13 dreams
Over 40 associations


  • Longing for connection: (how will we connect without shared memories, without touching)
  • The falling apart and estrangement of self: (strange deserted houses; rooms are connected yet detached; Zoom as a metaphor for experience in pandemic; looking into each other’s houses)
  • Loss of Smell and Perfume: (symptom of COVID-19–loss of taste and smell; masks interfere with smell; cannot smell in matrix; perfume as essence of all of us; abstraction of the human subject; perfume as deadly—murdering women, dead babies; perfume as desirable, to be shared with strangers and those less fortunate)
  • Ambivalence in relation to Authority: (authority as cartoon figures; sheep leading the way: “All we like sheep: Leaders and Followers; parents who cannot be trusted; who decides who will live and die; things are not as they seem; masked aggression)
  • The Uncanny: (deserted, strange, scattered, houses familiar as they are strange)

Dream: I am having with a friend, who is unknown in real life. I then run into my ‘real’ friend. She leaves me with her husband while she finds us a table. We finally go into the restaurant and find our table. At the table, there is a child in a hospital gown, coughing. The child’s parents pull away from the table so that I can sit down. As I look around, the room becomes a hospital. 


  • I went to hospital with a broken finger. I was in a foreign country – USA – where I had no insurance. I was terrified. The whole day was spent in unbelievable pain, feeling isolated and frightened. My friend stayed by my side but did not touch or hold me in comfort. I was crying from the apathy and inhumane treatment being in hospital.
  • Children moved away from parents. Separated. Inner connection between parents and child.

Dream: I am in Chile, walking in the streets downtown. The streets are destroyed and vandalised. I am walking alone with an old woman, and we approach a movie theatre. It is a ruin, completely burned down and there is a sense of mourning. The old woman goes into the burned building. There is a man who I ask, “why don’t you let me in?” There is a table beside the man, and on it is a waffle filled with whipped cream and jelly. I buy a waffle and wait for the woman to come out. 


  • Cake – meeting a total stranger who offers half his cake. Accepting the half and initiating conversation. There is no awkwardness.

Dream: It is World War One, on the Western front. I have morphed into my grandfather, who fought in the war. I am in a trench, and I am angry at the Lieutenant. He was wearing a funny hat that was not suitable for a soldier. He also had Trump-like red hair that looked fake. We could not take him seriously, yet we were intimidated by him.


  • No man’s land – a place dug up between two sides fighting, a place where entry or exit is not allowed, a space between two sides, usually related to world war.
  • Cartoon – a man, a white phantom in the jungle looking out of place, with a white horse called Hero. A feeling of being out of place and being ashamed.
  • Returning to Chile – grief, further grief when cake wasn’t available.

Dream: My partner and I had bought a house on a densely populated road. The house was unusual as it had five floors and lots of steps. It was old in some places and unfurnished in others. Each floor felt detached and like a different part. It was a skinny, tall house. There was an opening to a building site because of work happening related to the house. The was no door, so the workers were walking through a shabby curtain. I remember I was not clothed – I was exposed but not ashamed. The woman who had previously lived there had died and left a lot of stuff. Lots of floor padding, similar to what you have when you have a puppy. One room was full of furs and art deco jewellery. The woman who used to own the house appeared even though I thought she was dead. Under the house was a car park with electronic doors, which was strange as it did not fit the rest of the house. This was an underworld, associated with drug running. The final image is of the front door, which had lots of steps up. Across the road, were decorative green Victorian tiles and flowers, like the outside of an old pub, although some were broken. The last feeling was being very claustrophobic. 


  • Puppies – people with new puppies are everywhere at the moment.
  • 12 Grimmauld Place, from Harry Potter. A hidden house that was Sirius Black’s childhood home. Miserable at returning to a childhood home where you don’t want to be.
  • Separate rooms in house – isolation. Looking into rooms and views in Zooms. Lives that aren’t my life.
  • Things are not what they seem. The house and it’s underworld. Authority depicted as cartoon figures. What is real and what is not real?
  • Cherokee story of two wolves.
  • I was 12 and my parents were getting divorced. My soon to be stepfather took me to Hollywood, where he was working. I was allowed to play on the sets, which should have been a huge treat and a privilege. However, walking from one lot to another, seeing completely different scenes, I was terrified by the uncertainty. I was in tears, when I was supposed to be feeling lucky.

Dream: My husband and I bought a house on the beach under the condition that the house was to be left as it was. Excitement at visiting the new house, but when we went, the house was bare boned – everything had been ripped out. I woke up feeling devastated. 

Dream: I was invited to go out with friends, but I had forgotten my money. We went to a café and I was anxious that I couldn’t pay. In the café, out the window, I saw a building with a tree, perfectly framed. Then I realised I had forgotten my camera. I invited my friends to look but they couldn’t see as they were at different angles. I was frustrated they couldn’t see so I borrowed a camera, but it didn’t work so I couldn’t show them. There would be no memory of this. 

Dream: I was back in my hometown. I was at a new café and I wanted to get cash. I left my bags at the café and when I got back, they were fine. Then the café was full of people and I suddenly couldn’t find my bags or wallet. I was panicked. 

Dream: I was screaming – a long, slow, loud scream out of frustration and fear. 


  • No memory. How do we remember? How do we share history and connect shared memories?
  • Having a hard time following – frustration.
  • Memory stick – outsource memories.

Dream: On a bus with sister in law and her family. Driving through Cape Cod to get to a boat for a sightseeing tour. Sister in law gets annoyed when she sees manatees swimming under the boat. Could also be warblers or narwhales. On boat, sitting in 2 rows, waiting to take off. I ask my niece and partner “where’s my child?” “We left her behind.” Evokes memories of strict boundaries on children imposed by my mother in law. Sister in law and I search for my child, unsure if she is a baby or older, and the boat takes off without us. The rest of the family is on the boat, whilst we are left behind. 

Dream: In a room with a sweet, nice, old lady, a friendly stranger. We start talking. I have a bag full of compartments. In each compartment are various bottles of perfumes – samples for me to try. The bottles are exquisite, made of metal and glass with complicated mechanisms. The old lady wants one. I am willing to give her one but then I’ll never know what that perfume would smell like. I am sad to let them go. They all look good. 


  • Perfume – loss of smell and taste is a symptom of COVID.
  • Perfume and smell are of an essence – the soul.
  • Working with botanical perfumery. People ask for help. Talking about perfume, reading books, literature helps to understand.
  • Perfume masks, wearing masks during COVID. Babies from birth to the age of 2 shouldn’t wear masks. Babies can sense perfume – a soul.
  • Thinking intensely about work with the essence of the person, essence with the organisation – soul, quintessence – fifth element, unknown, ether, different from the other four because they can be seen by the senses, but fifth can’t: unknown aspect.
  • Giving the perfume to the old lady – act of sharing and giving, many people in this space who are currently sharing what they have and sometimes what they don’t have. Long time ago, working with people who were really poor, yet they were still able to share the little things that they had.
  • A story in Indian culture – running in search of perfume that he thinks is outside, but is actually within himself, in a pocket.
  • Fifth element – reminded of film fifth element, world is threatened with destruction, the only thing that can save it is mystical connection with each other.
  • The mask – a sense of invincibility. Barrier. Boundary. Safety it engenders against the outside world.
  • The book and film, Perfume – the way that the 13th note was created was by murdering women. Earlier dreams – trenches, soldiers, dead babies, sacrifice.
  • Number 5 – a dream about leading five sheep on long leads. Waiting. To wait for the proper attitude.
  • The lack of perfume at the moment, everything is masked and overpowered by smell of sanitiser and alcohol. Sadness going out when I’m able to – no smells. Lack of people, lack of life.
  • Talk with a friend: we don’t need any deodorant because we do not meet any people anymore.

Dream:  Very early on in lockdown in New York, walking along east river and trying to gather thoughts on what was going on, saw man down on one knee proposing to a woman, feeling grateful, Brooklyn bridge in background which all of a sudden exploded. Man didn’t do anything. Kept on with his proposal. Dream flashes into people trying to leave Manhattan island, but there’s no way. Bridges and tunnels closed, swimmers are stopped, no one is allowed to leave the island. There is a boat and a process is announced. Everyone is lined up, counted 1,2,3,4,5. At the end, the 5th person is allowed to leave the island on the boat but everyone else have to stay. Husband and I not chosen, relief, because we both stay together.


  • Long dreams – the need to tell stories that go on and on. Dreamt there was an apocalypse. But that was all. After the dream, there was actually nothing and it didn’t really matter.
  • Sweet smell of sanctity – last smell of the dying.
  • The house – nothing left that people bought – was there ever anything in there? Or had it just all been taken out?
  • Dream – dawn chorus, moving from flat I’d lived in with my mother and we were moving back to house where my parents were together. Everything is stacked up, waiting by the door to move. Got the car, (I actually crashed it in real life), took the things downstairs, twilight feel. Sense was clear – needing to get on with a task, not to be frustrated. Familiar theme in dreams, I hadn’t remembered in a while now. First dream from matrix last Thursday, house under construction. Empty spaces. More associations – unfinished house. Frustration.

Dream: There was a pile of stuff in the middle of the room – needed to move it to a place we were going on vacation, asked son for help, pile kept on changing from something small, stroller, trying to make it small so I didn’t have to burden the son with too many trips, impossible even though it was not a lot of stuff.


  • Tennyson’s poem about the deserted house – life and thoughts have all disappeared. Real loss. Wanting it to come back.
  • Experimented in Milan – never in the past have I smelt such nice fumes in the flowers and trees – thanks to COVID I could discover this. Never before had I paid attention to this.
  • Sheep on leads. Usually sheep are herded. Visualised sheep leading and showing the way.
  • Sheep leading the way – early days of lockdown, seeing animals appearing in towns, sheep arriving villages and deer in front gardens, struck by how powerful it was – a taking back of, something that was once theirs. The manatees – association, thinking about water and freedom. Freedom vs confinement, frustration vs pleasure. Freedom and animals.
  • Animals in gardens, wild ducks flew into my back garden, stayed for half an hour until flying away again.
  • Animals leading other animals – first dream of WWI – doctors and nurses and security guards, lions led by donkeys during COVID.

Dream: Being at a store that trades cars, someone had thrown a cell phone. There was a sign saying it was forbidden to throw cell phones. Manager was upset. Hit by 10 guys last week. Manager goes out where they were, to calm them down he was offering popsicles, ice became red and green, manager becomes my wife and she picks up cell phone and transfers the music to save the couple of songs, we may have a party later.


  • A story from a colleague: there is a canal at the end of his house where he and his friends were once having a barbecue and listening to music. Geese got out of canal and joined them and listened to the song with them. When it finished, they went back into the water.
  • Animas: puppies, dog – companion. I took the cat to the vet. The vet told me a lot of domestic cats don’t like owners being at home because they’re in their territory. Cats are having a hard time with the lockdown.
  • Scents, essence, purple azaleas in dream – returning to home – nectar is deadly, has been used to kill people and in death threats.
  • Experience with home in the country – bringing dogs from the city. The neighbour came over and said there’s another new alligator in the lake, so be mindful, look out for your dogs.
  • 1,2,3,4,5 dream – process of decimation, 1 in every 10 soldiers in the Roman army would be killed as punishment for a loss in battle. Percentages – 2 in 100 persons being killed by pandemic.
  • Party: a lot of feelings that when everything is going to end, we’re all going to throw one big party. However, this is not coming anytime soon.
  • Number 5 – painting a series through the crisis, the number 5 represents out of 12 a stage in the human development cycle – claiming selfhood. Essence, and selfhood. The real self. The mask. We have a different mask.


  • Reference to magic, mystical movies – an experience that we are going through. Mysterious nature of things we can feel. Follow mystical realm, we can’t find them.
  • Reference to 5 – conversation around essence and the number five.
  • Occurrence of the café. Shows up as a place you can go to.
  • Given too much food – stuffed full of food. Getting indigestion. Struck by how little silence. Impossible to maintain social distance between dreams and association. Difficult to get a sense of essence. I can’t smell my patient. I can’t smell the matrix. Struck with the words.
  • Overwhelmed through the whole matrix – too much, a lot of sadness, swimming in a really heavy sea, trying to keep head above the water.
  • A shared feeling of sadness. Connecting with the senses and perfume, how much can we use our senses now that we cannot touch that much – also sad.
  • Perfume – had another quality, evaporating. How long does it stay? Memories and a picture that was not taken – the road that was not taken – which wolf are we going to feed? Can we do something active to remember and to learn? Is it going to be by lack? The number 5 – Israel, hamsa, the hand, protects us. Matter of luck or something we can actually do?
  • Weirdest notion of the matrix dreaming up all the various different essence and components of what it needs itself, new kind of matrix for the challenges we are looking at. Fifth element – love that brings us together in this kind of work, sense of smell that connects us to our deepest memories – Gordon’s dream of the blind architect. Inside out experience.
  • Fed up with stuff. Continuous dreams and associations and all the rationale, trouble with microphone – disconnected, struggle to get back into it and to feel the rhythm – really trepid rhythm. Frustrated in last 20 minutes – prefer more space and silence. Taking a minute to digest.
  • For several minutes – fell off ship and zoomed out, couldn’t go back (can dreams can go on without me?), when I came back, the dreams had continued. Melancholic and sad tune of the associations, penetrated into the matrix, many deserted houses, many feelings of helplessness, association – five floors, five floors of the zoom screen, little rooms that are connected yet not connected, a lot about the senses that we lack in the zoom communication, the smell, the touch. Sexuality was hardly mentioned. Suppressed.
  • Interesting that so many animals came up, lots of different animals on land and sea. Lions versus the donkeys. Sheep coming into town, looking for something to lead them. Does this speak to our authority? Who’s in authority today? Who’s making decisions? Grief – parallels with authority.
  • Sadness associated with not being able to experience senses – smell, sight – claustrophobic.
  • No man’s land. The space in between. Authority, do we self-authorise ourselves to come to this place of no man’s land? Playing – fighting. No man’s land fight or play?
  • Noah’s ark – how smelly it must be. How little social distancing there is.
  • Longing for touch – the couple happy to not be evacuated from a dangerous island so they can stay together – powerfully demonstrated in the sheer existence of the matrix, as so many people want to dream together.
  • Representations of impotence and helplessness – the missing wallets, the missing camera etc.

Blog compiled by Debra Noumair, Yosi Triest and Lucy Walker

Image: Responsibility by Juliet Scott, 2019

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