Dream Machine

Central to the work of Beat luminary William S Burroughs, this class is organized around the Dream Machine and the psychedelic visual phenomenon, which it channels. While simplifying,
Neuroscientist Dr. John R. Smythies cogently defined this phenomenon stating, “if the eye is stimulated by a flickering light the visual field becomes filled with a wide variety of hallucinatory geometrical patterns, as well as, in some cases, more formed scenes.” Within this five-week course, we will investigate this particular form of visual field manipulation and the stroboscopic flicker device, commonly referred to as a Dream Machine, that produces it. The first three weeks will trace the artistic uses of the Dream Machine in the work of Beat luminary William S Burroughs as well as the fore-father of the 1960s counterculture, Aldous Huxley. In the last two weeks of the course students will build their own Dream Machines. Readings will include selections from Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception, William Grey Walter’s The Living Brain, and WillIam S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch. Nik Sheeham’s documentary on Dream Machines entitled FlIcKeR will also be shown.

Topics relevant to the course will include:
Neuropsychology, Beat Literature, Stroboscopic Devices, Post-Modern Philosophy, and Occultism.

Method: shared inquiry, close readings, workshop
Schedule: April-May
Location: Boston/Cambridge/Somerville
Fees: Negotiable
Teacher: Christian Greer & Eric Buck

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