There has been a huge buzz in dream circles over Sunday's New York Times article on the popularity of dream groups. Author Kate Murphy visited dream groups around the country and probably spent far more hours on the phone with enthusiastic dreamworkers than she intended. The result is an article that, while not without flaws, presents a good snapshot of the growing interest in dream groups across the social spectrum.
Last year I wrote an article here on "How to Start a Dream Group," to respond to the many inquiries I get from people who want to explore their dreams with others. Given that my own dream group formed out of a book group 17 years ago, and that our dream group is still going strong while the book group folded soon after, maybe there is something to the author's assertion.
If so, I think it says more about our overcrowded lives than about the declining popularity of books. Many people are too busy to read books, whereas dreaming doesn't take any time out from our daily schedules; we simply have to remember them. And in dealing with your busy life, it is a very short hop from focusing on getting enough sleep to thinking more about the dreams you remember now that you are no longer sleep deprived.
It would also be wrong to characterize dream groups as anti-intellectual clubs. Most dream enthusiasts I know have homes filled with books, and they are likely to own several on dreams and symbols that they consult regularly. Dreamers are also writers, and the International Association for the Study of Dreams has links to countless dream blogs and research sites where participants discuss the latest studies of sleep and dreams.
Even if there is a trend toward forming dream groups rather than book groups, I don't think book groups will disappear any time soon. Consider how much creativity is packed into our dreams, and how profoundly they have already influenced literature and movies. It is only a matter of time before the dreams you hear in today's dream group become the next great novels, in which case how will you keep up without joining a book group?