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Mirror, Signal, Automatic, Aubergine...Oops: Baz Science Lesson No. 4

Afternoon Bazzers! We’re back with yet another sleepy blog, where we have  learned yet more about the odd world of sleep: an activity, a true verb, that looks from the outside restful and peaceful, but we are about to shatter that impression with our booklearnin and smarts. Well, we try to with the help and guidance of resident brainbox PJ. As we inch closer to our dreamplay becoming a reality we’re more morbidly interested in the phenomena of sleeping than ever, ‘bad sleep’ if you will, so without further ado let’s dive headfirst into anxiety and dreams –see you on the other side...

We here at Baz have a bit of a downer on Freud, frankly we think the guy had issues: a touch of Narcissism and prone to fantasy episodes but that’s just laywomen’s opinions – and remind us to never use the term ‘laywomen’ again – but we do appreciate some of the ideas he put forward: most specifically those dealing with anxiety.  His theory that society is a major player in the formation of anxiety is something that certainly feels true today: phones, likes, magazines, money, politics.  But Freud being Freud he put it into two neat categories: that of Automatic Anxiety and Signal Anxiety – so the choice is: being afraid of being afraid of something happening to you in the moment and it being terrible, or being afraid of feeling something bad is happening anyway and all that bad stuff is just going to, you know, be really bad.

Good times, are we right, guys?

Freud theorises that these daily worries slip into our unconscious so that at night, an anxiety dream (or a ‘failed dream’) as he called it, is you trying to exorcise the anxiety by sort of living it. We know, super useful; and not traumatic at at all. But that REM state you get into when you’re about 90 minutes into the night will probably bring lovely dreams of being mugged or stuck or that moment of hearing your keys in your bag but not able to find them for an abnormally long time…or is that just us?

Anyway, Automatic Anxiety: what is it? Well, dreams that imagine a scenario when you are ambushed and are helpless to the physical or emotional consequences of it – recreating a traumatic experience – and this is where beardy Freud-y loses us a bit here. He then confidently asserts this is a reflex left over from the experience of both before and during our own births, earning it the name of ‘primary anxiety’. And hey, you don’t get more primary than that.

Well this guy clearly loves a sign... shown here for 'balance'.

Well this guy clearly loves a sign... shown here for 'balance'.

Signal Anxiety, on the other hand, is the sensation of being aware that something bad is going to happen, causing the emotional and physical consequences of a Bad Thing , and that in itself being just as scary as actually experiencing it, so good news – you’re not only going to get stuck on the rollercoaster upside down but you’re going to feel like you were going to before you stepped on it. The body goes into a state of constant preparation, aware that any second you might have to spring into action to avoid the unavoidable fate your dream has cooked up for you. This Freud coined as ‘Neurotic Anxiety’ and we mean….you weren’t kidding, Sigmund.

So how do we get ourselves out of this Primary/Neurotic state unscathed? Well it’s not that easy, really. Freud’s theories of defence mechanisms don’t offer much hope, throwing around words like, Repression, Regression, Projection, Denial…the future could be looking pretty dark, if it weren’t for Sublimation and Rationalisation. Rationality, kids, is your friend and when you employ it to your anxiety dreams through realisation of Freud’s patented ‘Talking Cure’ ™ you can go back to common or garden 'just going back to check I locked the front door' maybe twice, tops. But more Baz in style is Sublimation, where you take that negative energy and instead of wiping it clean away, you mould it into something else that could work for you. Probably Van Gough had anxiety, certainly depression and other tendencies but his art is beautiful and calm. He sublimated like no-ones business, and discounting the ear incident that worked out well. Of course, Freud links this to sexuality and would, at this point in the session, accuse you of having the hots for him, so we’ll leave anxiety there on that fairly positive note.


The main thing is though, enjoy yourself, put on the telly, out on Elbow, have a Pimms, read a monologue, play an improv game and sublimate, sublimate, sublimate/

/Be lazy

(Mood) swings and roundabouts innit?

Just by the way, Baz will always confirm that you did lock the door, cos we’re that kind of friend and we dig you.


Love, Baz x


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Shrinking, Slips, Strindberg - Baz goes Clever

We'd like to take a minute to see if you can make up a short story using just those three words - it may reveal something latent...

Ever had a dream you’ve never understood? So have we. But never fear:  Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are here to make us feel really weird about it! Okay, that might be a bit obtuse, but these two men, just stepping clear of the 1800s , commendably took us two steps forward in understanding psychology, consciousness and self– and unsurprisingly a few steps back with attitudes to women - shakes fist – but, though a no-good pair of scamps, they did a lot in their collective fields to change attitudes to psychology. As we prepare the next outing of our half folk-story half-nightmare take on Strindberg’s Dream Play, we thought we’d indulge in a little light head-shrinking. Oh yes, hold on: This is a Baz-is-going-clever-Blog, with the amazing, super-smart help and brain of Bazzer, our very own PJ! Oh yes, we are taking this seriously. Strap in.

Sit yourself down, can you elaborate on why you think your mother is a hamster? / Freud's        real couch in Vienna at the Freud museum.   

Sit yourself down, can you elaborate on why you think your mother is a hamster? / Freud's        real couch in Vienna at the Freud museum.


One thing the Jung and Freud camps seem to agree on (those yearly get-togethers must be really really fun) is the idea that dreams mean stuff. (Bear with us, we’re easing into this ‘clever’ stuff) more specifically (told you) wish fulfilment – this sounds like Aladdin etc, but basically its your subconscious calling out your repression, your hidden desire to resolve something or a latent desire to act on a wish that we usually have a better handle on in the sunlight. Jung raised Freud one further though and introduced the idea of Archetypes into the game: for example the mother-son archetype, the husband-wife – all wrapped up in a nice package of the Collective Unconscious – or, Social Expectations. Baz, as a rule doesn’t have much time for these Expectations and likes to subvert them when we can – experimental theatre and all that, but the fact that Jung wants you to experience your displeasure, confront your desire, your want or resentment – now you’re talking our language.

Freud’s language and imagery for interpreting dreams goes hand in hand with practicing theatre – the idea that the dream is a wish fulfilment or rehearsal for the real thing – it’s nearly too neat: Freud’s theories of signifiers for example, an image or symbol that pops up in your dreams with multiple possible rationalisations, in disguise, if you will and requires a closer look to be interpreted. In a dream state you’re clearly watching the action, taking in a scene and participating – and is there nothing closer to the act of being an audience member and interpreting the action onstage? He may have been onto something, this Freud bloke.

But then Jung had to throw his spanner in the works (if you read into that, shame on you) and asserted that his Archetypes relay much of the information of repressed thoughts, desires or wants through a set of what he called dream ‘symbols’ or ‘figures’. An innocuous object like a cane or snake could be…interpreted as, er, something else. (you see where we are going with this, move on) much as an old woman, or a shadow have a specific attributed meaning, in the theatre world this puts Baz in mind of Brecht’s Stock Characters he used in his writing – and our assertion that an audience must first understand what we are subverting before we subvert it.

Phew. Make sense? No, to us either. But it is just fascinating to learn about and adapt to our theatrical processes. Our take on Dream Play relies on that universal experience of dreaming, being outside yourself looking in, that intense, often frightening, often joyful experience of feeling so purely. We’ve all experienced it:  it crosses,cultural, linguistic and generational divides. And it can be pretty freaky to be trapped in a game of Super Mario I think we all can agree.

Oh man, after all that knowledge let us destress with a bit of psyche-comedy: Mr Stephen Fry’s joke-non-joke on QI: (p.s slightly NSFW)

Keep on dreamin'

Baz xx

Really, really thanks to PJ for all her hard work and knowledge- the kind of clever where you're not intimidated but want to start reading all books immediately x