Musician and Dreamer
APPOINTMENT WITH THE WISE OLD DOG
A Bridge to the Transformative Power of Dreams
This improbable book, “Appointment with the Wise Old Dog: A Bridge to the Transformative Power of Dreams,” elicits intriguing paradoxes. Its subject is the psyche, although the author, an internationally recognized musician and writer, possessed no psychological credentials. Its content is the distillation of thirty-five years of intensely private, inner work that generated nineteen diaries, six volumes of dream journals, a collection of forty-three dream paintings, and a grassroots movement that resulted in the distribution of more than twenty thousand DVDs. Its artwork emerged without the benefit of a single drawing lesson. Its origin arose from a personal life-changing conversion in which a self-confessed agnostic, without either psychological or spiritual moorings, was struck dumb by a dream, at the age of seventeen, and found himself on a lifelong pilgrimage towards an experience of the sacred.
What motivated David to take on the task of realizing this improbable book? David hoped his book would provide the necessary, comprehensive complement to his well known 1998 DVD, “Appointment with the Wise Old Dog: Dream Images in a Time of Crisis.” Profoundly expanding on the DVD, this book contains the foundational work–his forty-three dream paintings and commentaries derived from a lifetime of numinous archetypal dreams—so that David’s cancer experience becomes only a part of his whole life’s story, a coda to his thirty-five year inner journey.
In 1984, after more than two decades of solitary inner work, David entered into Jungian analysis with Dr. Liliane Frey, a close colleague of C. G. Jung, in Zurich. This wise analyst guided him towards a fuller understanding of the symbolic meaning of his dream paintings, thereby supporting his intuitive way of engaging with his dream figures through direct dialogue.
Reaching deeply into his palette—diaries and dream journals—the challenge, as he stated in A Note on the Dream Paintings, “. . . is to allow the unconscious imagery to flow, unimpeded.” The thematic structure of the book reflects the course charted by the unconscious that moved in a predominantly circular pattern with dream motifs reappearing decades after their first appearance. Nonetheless, a chronological order is also evident in Chapter I, Mairi, and Chapter VI, Alfonto’s Domain. Within these fundamental thematic structures the images seem to find their meaningful place and interconnection. In his nineteenth and final diary, David writes, “Linking and converging in dreams and waking visions, these archetypal images have shaped my life in known and unknown ways.”
David’s intention in painting his dreams was not to create “art,” but to give form to the elusive images that arose from the depths of his psyche. His paintings were created with a child’s spontaneity and audaciousness. Each one took him about five hours, after which he still appeared to be caught up in the dream. When he showed me a drawing, he often expressed surprise at discovering that the dream had continued its story in the appearance of a new character (animal or person), or the deepening of the landscape through structure and color. In essence, David entered into a profound meditative state where the conscious mind no longer inhibits the movement of the unconscious images. Often he lacked all memory of adding to the original dream material. Largely freed of rational control, by re-entering the dream state as he was drawing the image, the dream was free to continue to tell its story.
Music always meant so much to David, a conductor, writer and listener, so that it was natural that music entered into his dreams, significantly deepening the attitude he needed both for the medical challenges he faced and for his whole inner journey. David’s living experience of music reached the archetypal reality of the collective unconscious. Often, music went far beyond the ability of words to realize the meaning of his dreams, visions and active imagination. For David, music was the source of continual inspiration, belonging to his deepest experience of psyche and soul.
From his seventeenth year onward, he allowed himself to be guided by those archetypal images, moving inexorably towards their inherent goal of wholeness. In the end, I trust David kept his “Appointment with the Wise Old Dog.”
Music: Mozart String Quartet #19, Opus 465, Andante Cantabile
Performed by the Guarneri Quartet