I just watched Amy Hardie’s recent film The Edge of Dreaming, a documentary about a year in her life during which this science documentarian and self-proclaimed skeptic becomes haunted by a series of dreams that appear to foretell her own death before the year is over. The film becomes an exploration of neuroscience, the meaning and function of dreams and of death (she interviews neurologists and dream researchers Irving Weissman, Adam Zeman, Mark Solms, and others), and the relations that connect and give our lives meaning.

The film treads carefully over the question of what dreams are, leaving open various interpretations: that they are the mind’s meaningless narrative elaborations of random electrochemical brain activity, the efforts of the mind to consolidate new experiences with memories, the uncensored emotional and intuitive currents of our lives turned into neural/narrative pathways, etc.

I watched it knowing almost nothing about where it will go, or even if the filmmaker survives, and I think the film is best seen that way. But it’s worth mentioning that it takes an unexpected, though (thankfully) understated, ecopsychological twist toward the end: it suggests connections between Hardie’s awareness of the damage done by coal mining to the otherwise beautiful Scottish borderlands where she lives, and the extended field of uncensored intuitive currents that dreams allow access to. The latter is a variation of interpretation #3 above, which the film ultimately favors (structurally), and which echoes ecopsychology’s central thesis — that we intuitively/unconsciously sense what’s wrong with the ecological relations making up the world around us.

View full article »