Dreams, the Collective Unconscious, Joan Rivers and Andy Taylor

Joan Rivers circa 1967

Joan Rivers circa 1967 (Getty)

On the night Joan Rivers died, I dreamed of her, her and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran.

Well, this is something that happens. Us common folk dream of celebrities all the time.

Yes, yes. I agree. However in this instance, I had no idea Joan had had surgery, was in a coma and had died. The dream stuck with me for days because it was slightly bizarre and yet felt very based in reality. For me it took place mostly backstage. I haven’t worked backstage since my very early college years (read: before drinking age), and even then I never worked a show for anyone super famous. But my reality is that I’ve been all over stages and dressing rooms and green rooms.

The dream was also very persistent. The theater was sometimes an amphitheater, that was the only bit of inconsistency, which I’ll just call a quirk. The event lasted for hours in the way that dreams can compress and expand time at will. At the beginning, I was ushering Joan and Andy around backstage. Then I was trying to blend in with the stage crew and performers because it felt like I had snuck backstage or very seriously didn’t belong at least. There were chorus line dancers and circus performers. There was a nervous stage director lecturing everyone to do their best. I was terribly afraid I’d get caught, but then Joan and Andy were coming off stage, done with their onstage performance. They knew me! And I hadn’t “dreamed” that I was their escort! (Meta moment: being afraid I had imagined or “dreamed” something in the dream.) We walked out of the theater together. Joan was hilarious the whole time. Andy smiled a lot and was charismatic. It was mostly an enjoyable dream, and I thought about it for days.

Then three days later, I heard about Joan River’s death. And I did the math and had a moment of unreality. I had dreamed of Joan the night of the day she had died. I immediately looked online to see if Andy Taylor was still among the living. Whew. At least I wasn’t some celebrity death dreamer. And though the images here show both of them in their youth, Joan and Andy were very much their proper age (in 2014) in the dream, just as I was.

Book cover of Andy Taylor's autobiography WILD BOY

Book cover of Andy Taylor’s autobiography WILD BOY

I also started thinking of all of the non-famous people in the dream. What if someone out in the worldshared my dream but was in the chorus line or was the stage director? What if it was a group dream? What if  I was just some anonymous person trying very hard not to be noticed and called out in someone else’s dream about Joan and Andy? Maybe they saw the performance and had no knowledge of the escorting I was doing. What if when I’m dreaming about someone famous, they are dreaming of me? I’d probably be just an “extra” in the cinema of their dreamlife. But what if…?

So what?

So what?! So what if group dream is really possible? What if it used to be common and we’ve forgotten? What if you could dream about a friend or family member who is some far distance away and, like making a phone call, they share the dream with you? I know some people who swear by shared dreams. I like to believe in the possibilities.

Also, if the collective unconscious of mankind is the reservoir of all the experiences we, and those before us, have ever had, then where do dreams and waking merge and disjoin?

Erin, you be cray-cray.

Perhaps. Perhaps, I dwell on strange things and get fascinated by the fantastical. But really, I just blame my brain doing its gymnastics for some future fiction writing project. If you join me, I promise to try to share a dream or two with you.

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