Curriculum and the Dream Paradigm

By Stephen Schafer [09.29.06]

 Curriculum and the Dream Paradigm 

"As we enter the new century, society's agreement on what defines an educated person, what constitutes essential knowledge and common discourse, has essentially collapsed.  As a result, universities in the United States have a problem in the area of curriculum that has been widely recognized.  Curriculum means, literally, a running track, but, in recent years, it has been called ‘a cafeteria with little indication of which are the entrees and which the desserts' and ‘Dante's definition of hell, where nothing connects with nothing,'" (Rhodes, 2001).

An authentic educational curriculum for an incipient millennium must be viewed from the standpoint of a thoroughgoing paradigm shift-from way outside the box.  This essay is a perspective on the nature of the paradigm shift, the design requirements of a curriculum sufficient to address this mind-bending alteration in our perception of reality, and the place of serious games in the new educational paradigm.  It is a recommendation for curriculum design based on a complete reevaluation of the means, methods, and objectives of new-millennium education.   In the United States, the last two decades have witnessed the beginnings of a failure to reform its secondary educational system. At prodigious cost, the process of implementing the findings of this effort has, by now, reached every school district in the country.  But as designed, the reform effort will do little good because it does not even begin to address the scope of the problem.

Lifetimes ago, due primarily to advances in transportation and communication, some observers of Western culture began noticing the unprecedented rate of cultural change.  The atomic bomb marked a quantum leap in the rate of change, but its imprint on the world is old news.  However, the significance of the media age is still obscure to most people.  They revel in its gadgetry, but are blissfully unaware of its psychological, sociological, ecological impact.  The most recent developments in the cataclysmic eruption of the media age have been the personal computer and the establishment of the World Wide Web.  In an unbelievably short span of time, this technology has completely altered human reality.  This unprecedented rate of change has become the primary challenge of our time.  

"It has become a common observation that change is the keynote of the recent past...much less common, but possibly more important, is the observation that the nature of change currently in process may in retrospect well prove to have been more fundamental and far reaching for the majority of mankind than has been experienced for centuries or even millennia," (Markley, 1972).


 We have struggled merely to keep up with the hardware, but have tended to avoid dealing with the psychological-sociological dimensions of change.   The traditional parameters of time and space no longer exist for us but in our habits they prevail.  We still play the game by the old rules.  As in a dream, the media affects our psychological lives according to a whole different array of rules.  A steady stream of randomly placed advertisements pulses through our psyche with the rapidity of thought and the non-locality of a mood.  In the incipient media age, we can alter our personal reality, transcend time and space by pushing a button on a phone or computer, participate in the virtual universes of Massive Multiplayer Games, possess the identities of others, and play God games.  Humanity is experiencing what has been called a paradigm shift in our fundamental understanding of reality, but our response to this psychological shift has been casual at best-willfully selfish at worst.  We deal with the media dream in the same way we deal with any dream-we barely notice dreams and understand them not at all.  Of course, a great deal of excellent research has been done on the subject, and the effort is ongoing in academe, industry, and the military.  But all too often media research is imbedded in the obsolete scientific-materialist paradigm and is addressed to the wrong purposes.

As I will argue, navigating our constantly changing reality is like navigating the realm of dreams, and the trauma associated with such a radical change has Biblical proportions.  By that, I mean that the potentially apocalyptic consequences of such trauma have been portrayed universally in the world's myths.  More recently, the greatest thinkers of the age have warned us of the nature of the problem, and within the media genre of science fiction apocalypse is rampant.  Human thinkers have defined the problems and have provided a great deal of data as to the nature and consequences of this unprecedented shift in the human perspective on reality.  Carl G. Jung, who is recognized as the father of psychiatry, made this observation long before the media age got underway:

"On the whole, I believe I am not exaggerating when I say that modern man has suffered an almost fatal shock, psychologically speaking, and as a result has fallen into profound uncertainty," (Jung, 1933, p. 200).

It seems, then, reasonable to hope that an educational curriculum would at least try to prepare students for this radically altered and constantly changing psychological reality.  At least the questions should be addressed proactively instead of reactively.  In this case, proactive action means avoiding mistakes we have made in the past instead of making excuses for them. To this point education feels it has accomplished something by maintaining an archaic status-quo and serving the training function of industry.  It has becomes tedious after a lifetime of activism to continue advocating the obvious.  If five decades of scientific warnings about imminent ecological catastrophe have fallen on dead ears, how much more insensitive will those ears be to pleas regarding an ecology of Psyche?   Issues of natural ecology should be relatively easy to understand, as they exist primarily on a substantive level-the "physical" rung of Jacob's Ladder.  The psychological levels of challenge are much more difficult to understand and to address.  Imagine, in a reality with the dimensions of the dream, the karma of a cultural persona habituated to lies and psychological defense mechanisms.  Add the fact that Americans cling to materialist values in a world of critically diminishing natural resources.  Include the country's pride in its military ascendancy.  Finally, season the mix with a lethal dose of self-righteousness.  Now, contemplate the scope and immediacy of the psychological challenge. 

I don't think the situation is entirely due to human stupidity.  The willful destruction of our natural world in spite of the vast scope of scientific prescience is stupid, but I think the general non-responsiveness to the media age is more likely due to psychic trauma.  This trauma has resulted in a cultural addiction to psychological defense mechanisms (repression, reaction formation, projection, et al) resulting in neurotic, even psychotic, cultural behavior.

A relevant case in point is the killing that took place at Columbine High school in Littleton, Colorado.  Presumably due to media influence, two disenfranchised students gunned down their classmates and died in the process. This is just one instance of dealing inappropriately with the challenges of the media age.  In an effort to clarify issues of symbolism, the general influence of the media, and the specific influence of games on youth, Henry Jenkins, Ph.D., Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology addressed testimony to the U. S Senate Commerce Committee.  Prof. Jenkins remarks on an important element of the problem:

"Many of the others testifying on this panel come from traditions of experimental or quantitative research into ‘media effects.'  I represent a different tradition in media studies which employs more ‘qualitative' methods, including those derived from anthropology, history, and literary analysis.  My research seeks to address the meanings that get attached to cultural symbols and the ways that people in specific social and cultural contexts interact with media," (Jenkins).

Jenkins makes several important points relative to the influence of the media, but among them, he points out that 1) adults fear adolescents and their popular culture, 2) adults fear new technologies, and 3) youth culture is becoming increasingly visible.  Fear and the use of psychological defense mechanisms to preserve the traumatized persona are fundamental causes of neurotic and psychotic behavior.  It is such fear and defensiveness that obstructs proactive collective efforts on the part of more mature generations to address the problem complex associated with the advent of the dream paradigm.  That there is a degree of discomfort pervading the psychological-emotional persona of my generation is suggested by the President's pandering to "the greatest generation."  In view of the many accomplishments of that generation, it shouldn't require such empty and transparent praises.  At least for awhile, America's cultural response depends on this generation of adults.  We must be the first to grapple with the potentials of the media dream.  We may have trouble understanding the media, but there are many things we do understand that youth, as yet, does not.  Nevertheless, so far we have failed to develop an authentic curriculum.  This failure stems not from any lack of intelligence or ability, but from a nearly enervating fearfulness which generates an endless cycle of excuses, repressions, rationalizations, and a frantic turn to the past for answers.  Fears are entirely natural, but allowing fear to dictate reactive policy is the quintessence of inappropriate behavior.  It tends to all kinds of unhealthy choices leading eventually to mental dis-ease including neurosis, sociopathy, and psychosis.  Dealing with such dis-ease of the American cultural persona should constitute a priority in the development of a new-millennium curriculum.  Again, Prof. Jenkins:

"We thus need to move beyond our technophobic reactions to unfamiliar media and instead try to develop a more sophisticated understanding of what our children are doing when they go on-line.  Research on young people's relationship to digital technology is still at its early stages and may not yet allow us to make meaningful generalizations, but it seems clear that going on-line liberates children from some of the limitations of their immediate environment, gives them access to an expanded range of ideas and information, encourages a more participatory relationship to their culture and their government, empowers them to ask important questions of adult authorities, and makes it possible to distribute the products of their reactive impulses to a much larger public.  In the long term, such shifts in their perception of themselves and the world around them will have a profound impact on their future roles as citizens, worker, consumers, and parents," (Jenkins).


 Unfortunately, ignorance, confusion, and malaise are not the worst part of the problem.  Jenkins references the website where journalist Jon Katz has described fear-based reactions to popular youth culture.

"Schools are shutting down student access to the net and the web. Parents are cutting their children off from access to their on-line friends or forbidding them to play computer games.  Students are being suspended for coming to school displaying one or another cultural symbol...Students are being punished or sent into therapy because they express opinion in class discussions or essays that differ from the views about the events being promoted by their teachers.  Guidance counselors are drawing on checklists of symptoms of maladjustment to try to ferret out those students who are outsiders and either force them into the mainstream or punish them for their dissent.  The various letters Katz has reproduced through his column make for chilling readings because they suggest the consequence of adult ignorance about youth culture and their intolerance of any form of expression that differs from their own norms and values," (Jenkins).

If fear-based, reactionary tyranny is the best response America can muster when faced with the demanding challenges of a paradigm shift, we are in for hard times.  Our cultural response to the terrorist threat and the shutdown of civil liberties under the Patriot Act portend the worst.  The generally fear-based response of our cultural persona suggests an imminent collapse of cultural identity in a deepening spiral of defensive machinations and psychotic responses.

The generation gap has existed from time immemorial, but in our age the gap is tantamount to a state change.  Our youth are among the first to inhabit a reality with the dimensions of a unified field of psyche-the field of dreams-and more than any generation before, in order to put their lives in proportion, they need to understand perspectives from the past. The quantum leap in worldviews has never been so evident as it is today between our culture's youth, their parents and adults generally.  This is the real deal.  However, other than the increased availability of electronic stuff, most policy makers and most people are not even aware of the paradigm shift, much less the ramifications of this new "reality" which has been described as an illusion, a thought, or a dream.   In spite of the self-evident authenticity of the dream perspective (global media based on scientific principles of psyche-physics), people are still wandering through the dream as they wander through their dreams at night-without volition, understanding, or memory.  To wander vaguely through life is not an acceptable posture for mature, free, and responsible citizens.  Most citizens are not even aware of the basic dynamics, qualities, and characteristics of dream analysis.  They are even less familiar with the skills of navigating the dream, and are making no effort to prepare our youth for their brave new world.  The medium of video games has the potential to provide the authentic fluidity of perspective and the dream-like verisimilitude so necessary to navigating the dream.

Within this framework, reformers at the primary and secondary levels of education have demonstrated less-than-oracular insight-they have reiterated the fundamental importance of science and language skills.  Their recommendations for achieving reform objectives are even less spectacular.  Recommendations focus on the implementation of a system of evaluation by testing and an emphasis on preparing students for the workplace.  Already there are serious doubts about the efficacy of standard testing, and there have been questions as to the validity of educating students to take tests.  Moreover, if the second goal is achieved, the educational system (at great cost) will be preparing students for a workplace that is obsolete. These reforms will have little effect on the quality of education in the United States because the reform effort has not addressed the right questions:  

The quick answer to all these questions is, "with the ‘Dream' paradigm."  U. S. Reform efforts at the secondary educational level don't even begin to address the challenge of the dream; and, at the collegiate level, no commanding reform strategy has yet emerged for creating a curriculum that will prepare students for the emergent reality of a psych-ecology.  The means for realizing authentic objectives may reside in the realm of serious games because digital games can be structured as an analog to the new reality paradigm.  I am not saying that serious games should be used as an adjunct to existing curriculum.  I am saying that, used, as primary curriculum, interactive games have the unique potential to address the challenges of the new media paradigm and to reach its audience in a timely manner. 

I need not argue further the fact that we live in a media age, and this media emphasis is intensifying.  James Gee, a distinguished professor of education at the University of Wisconsin, hits the nail on the head when he observes:

"The power of these games is not the clicking.  The power is being able to extend your mind and body into this virtual space, an in that virtual space being able to take on an identity that you can think about in comparison to the real world," (Carlson, 2003).

Notwithstanding their incipient state of development, serious games may be the only educational medium commensurate with the cataclysmic changes in our mediated reality.  What constitutes content in a game curriculum will take a great deal of intelligent and timely thought, and I deal with that issue more extensively in the book.  The salient point I will make about the efficacy of games as curriculum is that they can be designed to be highly motivational, and can include not only classical content, but complex psychological content.  Just as important is the fact that such a curriculum could be implemented in a reasonable space of time-by stages.  A twenty-first century curriculum needs to encompass the skills and issues of "world-building."

Educators are not always on the cutting edge of change.  This is understandable because education is an important conservative force within a culture.  However, it is truly unfortunate that our national effort at education reform has been so reactive and blind.  With regard to their potential to teach worldviews:

"Mr. Gee points out that both the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, and the U.S. army have developed video games.  In Ethnic Cleansing, the National Alliance game, a player runs through a rotted city, killing blacks, Latinos, and Jews.  In America"s Army, a player learns how to work on a team to conduct missions and raids, and screw-ups can lead to jail time at fort Leavenworth.  ‘These groups see this as a cutting-edge way to interact with people's minds-not to teach facts, but to teach worldviews.  And yet schools don't,'" (2003).

It is unfortunate that extremist groups and the military have been the first to grasp opportunity.  If America's educators abjure a more proactive approach to reform and the U. S. fails to address the paradigm shift, there will be no second chance.  I am completing a book that addresses these questions in depth, but as a prospective, the following article establishes the parameters of the argument.

In a nutshell, the thesis of this paper is that the United States needs a new educational curriculum consistent with the paradigm shift that has already altered our worldview.  That view of the world is a unified, integrated field of psyche-physics.  Much depends on the research being done in the realm of physics.  Physics is a fundamental component of any reality model, if only because it has made the media age possible. However, emergent models in the areas of holography and string theory seem to have great potential.  One of the best scientific models for an emerging reality of psyche is the systems approach of ecology.  Only time will tell if the most important reality model available to us now is Jungian dream analysis.   It is gross understatement to say that the collective mind, educated in a scientific materialist worldview, has had difficulty grasping the significance of this paradigm shift. I would argue that serious video games, because of their synchronicity with the new worldview, have the potential to replace the existing educational paradigm with "minds-on" experience.  The emergent pattern is a unified field/psyche paradigm, a psych-ecology that subsumes an entire genus of theory and research relative to the nature of the real:

If the scientific trend continues, human experience in the twenty-first century will be defined as a paradigm of dreams, and very soon we will be forced to make hard choices about the new social, psychological, and legal issues that ensue.  Issues of international law, the definition of life (abortion rights and cloning), medical ethics (right to life and euthanasia), privacy (surveillance), individual integrity (What, precisely, is an individual?), issues of historical fact or fiction in the media, electoral ethics, and all the ramifications of the brave new world are just the tip of the iceberg.  The dream paradigm will challenge all the assumptions of life as we know it.  It is barely surprising that educators and policy makers in general have buried their heads in the sand and abdicated their responsibility to prepare our people for this eventuality.  Antiquated systems and reactive thinking will not make the challenge go away.

Just as dreams have purpose, the media in general and educational curriculum must define its purpose in terms of authentic wisdom.  A self-centered perspective and selfish choices are not the rout to wisdom, and games already have a serious capacity to educate the young as to beneficial choices in a holistic, interactive reality (Role Playing Games based on the mythical Journey of the Hero).  Jung recognizes that the unconscious is accessible to the consciousness when there is an intermediating symbolic system (a medium), and the medium of psychiatry is the dream. The raison d'etre of dreams and of all media including language is to translate contents from a condition of unconsciousness to a condition of consciousness.  A simplistic example of this is that when I communicate with my wife and ask her what time the concert begins, the information she has about beginning time is an aspect of my unconscious.  When she tells me the concert begins at 8:00 pm, it becomes part of my consciousness.  In a conversation, what component "A" wants to communicate to component "B" is unconscious content for component "B" until "A" gives form to subjective content with words.  The definitive purpose of both education and the communications media in all its forms is to make unconscious content accessible to consciousness.  So it is with the dream.

"The dream [has] a ‘purpose', namely to disclose a fact of which the dreamer [is] not or [does] not want to be aware. Such dreams are relatively easy to interpret, for they are ‘parables' which can be translated directly into a warning.  Such a warning is the expression of a dynamic tendency in the unconscious.  This dynamic tendency, the force behind the dream and its utterances, sends new contents into consciousness which in turn-if they have been assimilated by the personality-react upon and modify the unconscious field of forces."

"Of course we must not attribute ‘conscious purpose' to a dream.  Such formulation as the unconscious, or the dream, ‘expressed the opinion' or ‘pursued the purpose', are intended to mean only that the manifestations of the unconscious realm of the psyche are also meaningfully guided by the self-regulative activity of the psyche," (Jacobi, 1973, pp 87-88).


 In the new paradigm, understanding of the media is of priority importance.  The power of the media and research relative to its creative influence on human reality is amply documented.  Among the modern proponents of this message was Marshall McLuhan who stated the principle that the medium is the message which, paraphrased, can be understood to mean, "Humans create within the limitations of the medium with which they communicate."  This is the reason why video games will be the medium of the twenty-first century curriculum-not for any of the reason we might suppose, but for the reason that they are the most efficient expression of media principles yet produced within the scientific-psychological context of the new paradigm.

In addition to understanding the dream and the media, we must begin to know ourselves.  Mythically, philosophically, and practically the purpose of life and education is and always has been to "know thyself."  Psychologically, knowing ourselves is accomplished by expanding our personal point of reference to include more and more of the unknown part of the self-that part we call the Shadow archetype.  This psychological growth process can be understood as the maturation which attends the experience of life.  This maturation process is the plot underlying Joseph Campbell's Journey of the Hero who, in myth, represents the role model for a culture.  Through trial and error, the Hero learns to know his/her true self as the psyche (soul) rather than the limited, self-centered personality.  Until Americans have a more mature understanding of their cultural persona and its responsibilities in an expanded reality, they will fail the tests of this game level.

The metaphor, "life as game," is of ancient origin, and it is very current today.  Principles of the Journey of the Hero are pervasive in role playing games.  Their efficacy in the development of plot sequence (levels) and for deep characterization in avatars and sprites (artificial intelligences) is well known in the game industry.  The journey is a symbol of the game of life, and the successful hero achieves a degree of integration called by Campbell at-one-ment

From the symbolist perspective, the three primary forms of the communications media (the game, life, and the dream) share the narrative structure of the Journey of the Hero.  The objective of the journey is the expansion of consciousness by the translation and integration of experience from the unconscious to the conscious awareness.

"Wholeness of the personality is achieved when the main pairs of opposites are relatively differentiated, that is, when both parts of the total psyche, consciousness and the unconscious, are linked together in a living relation.  But the dynamic gradient, the flow of psychic life, is not endangered, for the unconscious can never be made wholly conscious and always has the greater store of energy.  The wholeness is always relative and gives us something to work on as long as we live.  ‘Personality, as the complete realization of our whole being, is an unattainable ideal.  But un-attainability is no argument against the ideal, for ideals are only signposts, never the goal,'" (Jacobi, 1973, from Jung's The Development of Personality).

"Jung found that most dreams show a certain similarity of structure...they form a self-contained whole, a dramatic action which can meaningfully be broken down into the elements of a Greek play," [1) place/time 2) Exposition 3) Peripety 4) Lysis] (Jacobi, 1973, p. 82).

This shared narrative structure and symbolist content is significant because the rhetorical patterns provide a programmable framework within which connections can be made and from which synchronicity of insight can emerge.  In a meaningful narrative framework, one can identify with self and integrate information and insight from multiple domains.  Among the three domains mentioned, the medium of the game is easiest to understand, and the medium of the dream the most difficult to understand.  Learning the fundamental language of each domain and how they are related should constitute a major objective of curriculum.  When the fundamental languages are assimilated through game play, higher levels of integrated insight become accessible.  Moreover, the mythic structure of the Hero's journey provides ample opportunity for the learning of virtually any material covered by a classical curriculum.  Most important, the Journey has an inherent validity; the purpose of the Hero's journey is to "know thyself" by achieving a harmonization of personality with the unified field of psyche.

Such psychic harmonization can be realized by playing games.  Synchronization requires a rapid and continuous change of perspective which is consistent with the relative, non-local aspects of the Psyche.  Seen as process, harmonization requires continuous alteration of perspective that is consistent with game play.  In this process as in the medium of the "movies" single frames of content are enlightened in rapid succession.  One might say that light adds a dimension to consciousness so that discreet images appear to be alive and to move.  This added dimension may be an illusion, but it is an important illusion that allows us to identify or interact with the medium in a revolutionary way.  The successive focus of light on relatively static images creates an added dimension of conscious awareness.  This process may be analogous to the projection of light upon some aspect of self that is un-conscious-like breathing life into dust. 

When dealing with light and shadow, usually the Shadow principle is interpreted in pejorative terms that include fears, doubts, blocks, and wounds.  We tend to repress the Shadow, and we reject its proffer of help, for there is a positive aspect of the Shadow.  It encompasses all our most exalted hopes, dreams, and potentials.  According to Carl Jung, these unrecognized aspects of self, both positive and negative, employ the principle of compensation to bring themselves to our attention, and these compensatory messages are communicated through the media of dreams-both sleeping and waking.  It is by use of the media that we learn, evolve, and grow-that we gradually change our perspective with more light.


 Enlightenment has always been the objective of education, but the nature of education and the process by which cultures sought it have been quite different.  Life experience has always been the primary guide to enlightenment, and Nature has been the wise teacher.  In the modern age, Nature has been displaced with man-made environments and the "workplace" had displaced wisdom as an objective of education. More than one observer has characterized this inconceivably unfortunate trend as the enslavement of the human mind and spirit.  That educational reform has perpetuated this trend is more than a little disappointing-not just because of the prodigious financial losses associated with failure; but because, according to some observers, the consequences of our failure to adjust will be dire.  It would seem that our reform educational objectives remain the same-achievement of our full potential-but our sense of self and what that potential may be has shriveled.  The strictures of the scientific-materialist paradigm have clouded the human mind, dulled its spirit, and dashed its hopes and dreams. Many have argued that if humanity does not adjust to its new parameters of potential self, humanity will probably not survive.  Failure to adjust is portrayed universally in the apocalyptic myths and more recently in the media genre of apocalypse based on scientific projections (atomic holocaust, global warming, et al) Jung observes:

The modern man has lost all the metaphysical certainties of his mediaeval brother, and set up in their place the ideals of material security, general welfare and humanness.  But it takes more than an ordinary dose of optimism to make it appear that these ideals are still unshaken.  Material security, even, has gone by the board, for the modern man begins to see that every step in material "progress" adds just so much force to the threat of a more stupendous catastrophe.  The very picture terrorizes the imagination (Jung, 1933, p. 204).

In a psychological environment, terrorization of the imagination results in cognitive annihilation.  This non-survival usually begins with symptoms that take the form of anti-social, neurotic, and psychotic behavior.  Civilization can only tolerate so much insanity before it collapses.  So, aside from the threat of apocalypse by collision with a meteor, the human challenge is to avoid, if possible, the complete collapse of civilization due to uninspired human choices. 


 The majority seems to have figured out how to rationalize their responsibility for such collapse, but this is cold comfort since it begs the important question.  We have avoided responsibility by repressing the problem and, perhaps, projecting responsibility onto the terrorists.  Repression and Projection are psychological defense mechanisms-cognitive processes employed by the human mind to protect the self-image.  Psychologists and a few educated people armed with knowledge of the psyche may have a fair understanding of the issues and trends of the day.  But the vast majority of citizens are ignorant, fragmented, and essentially powerless within the dream.  

Worst of all, our educational system has put a governor on enlightenment.  A number of ill-advised and reactionary policies implemented over the years have dimmed the light in our classrooms.  This symptom of darkness is reflected in the popular media where dimly lit stages cover many deficiencies of art.  So far, educators have not attended to their responsibilities with due vigor.  Many thinkers have warned that we are facing a life-or-death crisis-complex.  Many would agree that in some obscure way, solutions reside in the realm of metaphor where the patterns of reality are seeded, the medium of dreams is cognized, and the DNA of biological structure is precipitated.  But beyond lip-service, no one in the educational curriculum business seems to understand or value the role that the media and symbolic language play in the process of enlightened reality-formation.  The products of such a curriculum are dark magicians that wield mostly destructive power. 

For at least the last sixty years, the best thinkers of the age have been warning us, but their scientific prognosis has rarely been integrated into the sphere of practical education.  Eminent thinkers in all disciplines point to a new-millennium reality-view in which all aspects of that reality are holistic, interactive, and, in some way, "conscious."  One would hope that these parameters would have been addressed in every educational field ranging from the conceptual to the substantive, epistemology to teleology, economics to advertising, physics to biology, mediated reality to natural reality, computer science to psychology-but they have not been addressed.  Ecological emphasis should have achieved priority status in our curricula long ago.  By now, principles of function in a unified field of psyche-physics ought to be priority areas of concern throughout the field of human endeavor.  Instead, when we look at such fundamental educational areas as medicine, law, business, engineering, public policy, economics, industrial policy, foreign policy, ad infinitum, we find them emulating specialization, profiteering, compartmentalization, and pride. There is precious little content that can be considered authentic within a new-millennium paradigm.  Our educational perspective remains insular and defensive in a reality that is universal, interactive, and inclusive.  In a variety of ways, the many voices of enlightened thinkers have called attention to the need for a radical change in our thinking to accommodate the radical change in our reality-a reality that now appears to be "organized mind-stuff."  No matter how you cut it, we have failed almost totally in our efforts to prepare the nation's youth for a paradigm in which reality is a thought.  As Carl Jung says:

"It would be so much simpler if we could only deny the existence of the psyche.  But here we are with our immediate experiences of something that is-something that has taken root in the midst of our measurable, ponderable, three-dimensional reality, that differs bafflingly from this in every respect and in all its parts, and yet reflects it.  The psyche may be regarded as a mathematical point and at the same time as a universe of fixed stars.  It is small wonder, then, if, to the unsophisticated mind, such a paradoxical being borders on the divine.  If it occupies no space, it has no body. Bodies die, but can something invisible and incorporeal disappear?  What is more, life and psyche existed for me before I could say "I," and when this "I" disappears, as in sleep or unconsciousness, life and psyche still go on, as our observation of other people and our own dreams inform us.  Why should the simple mind deny, in the face of such experiences, that the "soul" lives in a realm beyond the body? I must admit that I can see as little nonsense in this so-called superstition as in the findings of research regarding heredity or the basic instincts (Jung, 1933, p.  184)."

Given the challenge, the prospects for serious games in education aught to have priority status.  Throughout the world, there has been a virtual explosion in research relative to the efficacy of using serious games in education.  Such research will play a critical part in the development of my thesis, but, as yet, no research has addressed the salient point I wish to make in this prospective.  That point is that serious games as curriculum have the potential to heal culture, humanity, and the planet. 


 This is a prospective: and, as the reader knows, a prospective is not a proof.  It is a speculation about the future-in this case, hopefully, the very near future.  A prospective is a hypothesis that is unproved but logically feasible.  If successful, this prospective will serve to generate a great deal of discussion and research based on a set of what some might consider an unusual premise-complex.  However, it is only an ignorant posture that would consider them unusual.  Such ignorance could only be attributed to an outdated educational curriculum based on the scientific-materialistic paradigm.  Most of the elements of this study's premise have been scientifically and logically authenticated in myth, linguistics, literature, philosophy, science and the media. The following hypothesis relative to the efficacy of a game curriculum appears to be consistent with standard logic.

I.  Human reality is like a dream.

II. A cultural dreamer exists and can be viewed in terms of classical correspondence theory.

III. A culture's media constitutes its dreams.  Moreover, the flexibility and indulgences of the free press allow the media in the United States to expresses the infinite content of a rich collective psyche.

IV. A cursory analysis of the media of dreams leads to the prognosis that the personae of many cultures including the United States suffer from symptoms of disease.

V. The existence and causes of psychological disease in a culture are consistent with symptoms and causes of disease in an individual.  Syndromes of cultural psychological distress can be observed and addressed using the Jungian principles of dream analysis.

VI. The objective of dreams is Compensation (harmonization) in the psychic field (as defined by Jung).  The media dream can be viewed as compensation for cultural imbalance.  Educating a populace to recognize this and respond to the messages sent by the media dream will tend to the harmonization or correction of psychological problems in a culture.  Compensation is a teacher that operates in the psyche of healthy as well as disturbed individuals.

VII. The media dream can be augmented and understood according to the methodology of Jungian dream analysis-as the dreams emerging from the psyche of a people.  Jungian methodology is based in three types of dreams and three principles.  Dream types are based on different gradients on a continuum of dreams arising mostly from the unconscious to dreams rising mostly from the conscious state.  The three Jungian principles are:

VIII. Jungian principles of dream analysis can be programmed into a serious role-playing game based on Joseph Campbell's Journey of the Hero.  The parameters of analysis (i.e. dream principles and types, character types, clinical case studies, player self-analysis and objectives) would be keyed to an array of symbolic

Archetypal content programmed with a degree of psychological authenticity.  The efficacy of role playing exercises for psychological growth and problem solving is well established, and Role Playing Games (RPGs) provide an obvious application format.  RPGs have enormous untapped potential for motivating students, incorporating synergistic curricular content, and improving content retention.  Most RPGs are already structured according to the implicit process of initiation that the Journey represents.  Game levels, their mechanisms and trials could easily be adjusted to incorporate significant curricular content, and the achievement of increasingly difficult levels would constitute mastery of the subject.  However, going beyond analytical processes, mastering a level would put a premium on a student's ability to apply learned principles synergistically.  Not only is roll playing and Journey structure built into RPGs, such games are predisposed to the incorporation of mythic content and value structures.  Such predisposition, if honestly deployed, would tend to maintain multi-cultural integrity.  Such games would be superior in their potential to motivate student/players by virtue of a quantum leap in player identification, plot complexity and depth of avatar and AI verisimilitude.  At the same time, the player would achieve significant levels of specific knowledge in areas of language, science, math, psychology, and logic.

IX. Due to interactivity, the medium of games has all of the dimensions of the medium of dreams and can reinforce the dynamics of navigating the Psych-ecology.  The particular medium of games has the potential to trigger a more authentic (intensive and synchronistic) interactivity within the personal and collective psyche.  For this reason the game medium would constitute a quantum leap in potential for realization of the primary objectives of education: erudition, civility, and wisdom. Among the authentic skills that would be developed are:

The use of games as a significant aspect of curriculum would result in a much better understanding of the dynamics for navigating the Psych-ecology.  Game experience would corroborate the nature of personal responsibility within the dream-game of life, and a collective understanding of dream dynamics will eventually result in a more enlightened "real life" cultural expression. 

X. Programming a serious game with a data base of correspondences is feasible because cybernetic structure (specificity & control theory) and the structure of language are the same.  Because of the fundamental dichotomy of the human brain and reason that requires "mediation" between two elements, the law of correspondence is inherent to all media:  Language (metaphorical resonance & Aristotelian definition of metaphor), physics and biology (Alfred North Whitehead's hierarchy of organism, Molecules of Emotion, and Biology of Belief); mathematics (equation & harmony, calculus, trigonometry, and Pythagorean theory of color and sound); dreams (archetypes, coincidence and synchronicity in the waking dream and Jungian psychology); myth (the TAO); and games (interactivity).  The media establishes proportionality.

XI. As comprehensive curriculum, the proportionality inherent in serious games has the potential for teaching an array of knowledge comparable in depth and scope to existing curricula but based on a synergistic (proportional, harmonious) organic approach to acquisition of knowledge rather than a linear rote-memory approach.   This synergistic approach has been advocated by many and defined as the single critical missing dynamic in our system of education.  The holistic principle of synergy must play a major role in any new-millennium unified field/psyche curriculum.  Most of our critical problems today can be traced to the fact that Americans are educated to take things apart but not to put them together again.  Principles of intelligent insight such as Abraham Maslow's Peak experience, Pythagoras' Eureka experience, Gestalten, and analogical intelligence testing are grounded in the principle of synthesis.  Right/left brain coordination and speed of analogical insight are measures of the principle.  Synthesis is the key to minds-on experience, retention, and motivation.  It is the creative, synthetic choice that carries a psychic charge, and personal identification with the choice that results in memory (retention).  Serious games have the potential to alter the state of student motivation and retention by quantum leaps.

XII. As a medium susceptible to the dynamics of language, physics, and analytical psychology, a curriculum-game designed as a Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) could trigger a state change (quantum leap) in the psychic field.  In the unified field of physics, superconductivity is called a state change.  A comparable state in the psyche is called metanoia,[3]  Metanoia might be a psychic state comparable or analogous to the insights of a patient experiencing dream therapy, a peak experience, or epiphany.  Such a state might also be studied from the standpoint of research in fields of science other than psychology: Holography, chaos theory, string theory, and research on Bose-Einstein condensates in human tissues.  A curriculum based on the potential for such a change of state in the unified field would be in synch with the emergent paradigm of the new millennium.

Obviously, in an article this length, one cannot effectively make such a complex argument.  A more detailed development of each point appears in the follow-up article and the book.  In summary, relative to creating a curriculum game:


 The Psych-ecology

Explanation of the principle: (Focus of Identification)

The term Psych-ecology applies to a world of patterns that can be navigated with the medium of symbolic language.  It is a term I use to elicit a reality of metaphor, psychology, and science.  The dynamic patterns of the Psych-ecology are derived from the ancient principles of Hermetic philosophy, Gnosticism, and symbolic language. The term is meant to elicit the field of Psyche-dynamic thought forms and metaphorical-emotional resonance.

Metaphor must be understood as the quintessence of the human reality-the very medium that makes human culture possible.  It is axiomatic that the patterns of metaphor are the patterns with which humans construct their reality-including the digital reality.  Suggestions and proofs of this fundamental law of human reality can be found throughout philosophy, literature, and science.  "In the beginning was the word," is an explicit statement of the law.  Figuratively paraphrased, the statement signifies that the beginning of the human perception of reality was the human fall into duality or separation in which "words" (the media) became necessary.  In this state of being, humans were constrained to use symbolic language as a medium of communication about what is real.  The parable in which God tells Adam to name the creatures in the Garden is another instance of the principle.  The metaphorical significance of the parable might be that by using symbolic language to name things, humans assist God in the creative process.  Whatever might be, it is axiomatic that humans create their world with symbolic language and the dynamic of symbolic language is metaphor.  Qualitative metaphorical resonances and quantitative mathematically formulated proportions are consistent with one another and constitute the seed patterns of human perceptions of reality.  So, the term psych-ecology is meant to convey the mythical, metaphorical, mathematical, and scientific authenticity of the dream paradigm.  In short, it refers to an eminently practical methodology for understanding reality as an illusion.

In the age of quantum physics, cybernetics, the media, holography, and massive multiplayer online games (MMOG) humans are already familiar with the real-life change in perspective from a solid four dimensional reality to a unified field of psyche/physics in which all of our old habits of mind have become obsolete.  One important consequence in this change is a vastly expanded and inclusive range of communication; i.e. anyone can be accessed instantaneously from anywhere in the world.  This is just one example of the quantum leap in our collective realization of the integrity of the human family and the world.  When, finally, we realize this integrity in other dimensions of human psychic function, we will have successfully accomplished the paradigm shift.  The process is ongoing and usually gradual, but whether the process is slow or fast, this increasing inclusiveness is the story of the evolution of human consciousness.  It is the story of the mythical Journey of the Hero in which the psychological perspective of the hero changes from the persona (the relatively selfish person) to the more comprehensive and less self-centered perspective of the soul (psyche).  The significance of this quantum leap in human quality resonates infinitely and touches everything in the unified field of psyche. The crisis of personal and collective responsibility and personal and collective governance is a crisis having to do with the collective focus of human attention.  If the collective persona of the U.S. is poised on the brink of a quantum leap from a self-centered focus to a more enlightened, mature, and inclusive focus of attention, the interactive game curriculum could serve as a springboard. The key to focus of attention can be understood as an intensive physical-psychological interactivity, and because of their essential interactive component games are a state-of-the-art medium. 

Given the parameters of the emergent reality and the urgent need to prepare students (and the population at large) to survive and navigate that Psych-ecology, interactive digital games appear to offer the most timely and cost-effective potential of any alternative.  If the medium is the message, the message of a game curriculum would be the expansion of a student's perspective or enlightened focus of attention.  I am not advocating that game play replace all other forms of pedagogy.  Rather, I am arguing that games should be considered as a core element of curriculum and should be considered a priority for research and implementation.  Using broad theoretical strokes, a curriculum game could incorporate:


 The objective of the curriculum game is cultural healing through educated and enlightened insight.  The means for achieving this objective is the Role Playing Game, and the method is based on programming the curriculum-game with the parameters of the Journey of the Hero.  The Journey portrays the expansion of personal perspective and focus of attention from that of the relatively self-centered individual to the more inclusive and comprehensive perspective of the Cultural Persona.

Within the Psyche, the Cultural Persona corresponds to the individual persona on multiple levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Jung alludes to the authenticity of a "cultural persona" and its susceptibility to healing:

"Now the doctor in me refuses point blank to consider the life of a people as something that does not conform to psychological law.  A people, in the doctor's eyes, presents only a somewhat more complex picture of psychic life than the one of its aspects the psyche is not individual, but is derived from the nation, from collectivity, or from humanity even.  In some way or other we are part of an all-embracing psychic life, of a single "greatest" man, to quote Swedenborg.

And so we can draw a parallel: just as in me, a single human being, the darkness calls forth the helpful light, so does it also in the psychic life of a people," (Jung, 1933, pp 209-210).

"All the world's a stage and all the people merely players."  Just as a play has a cast, a culture has its citizens-each playing her part in the drama.  Though the members of the cast may come from different cultures, speak different languages, believe in different religions and philosophies, they are all part of a collective persona-the cast in a particular drama.  As constituents of that persona they speak a vernacular language, have composite habits of thought and action, and a constituent identity.  Collectively, on opening night the entire cast may experience physical symptoms of tension.  When the audience applauds at the final curtain, the cast will experience a collective elation that is tangible.  In or out of character, the cast of Chicago has a personality that is distinctive and recognizably different than the cast of the Lord of the Rings.         

However, in addition to their constituent persona as part of a cast, individuals may function simultaneously in a variety of personae from other constituencies.  As the character dons each mask, the patterns and qualities of her personal dynamic will vary.  A person functioning as a constituent of a family persona may adopt the primary role of "mother," while in her neighborhood group she might play the role of "block leader," and at her job she might play the role of "teacher."  Simultaneously she has the potential of all these personae, but the roles emerge as dominant according to the dynamic patterns of a particular domain or environment.  Each of these domains has its own predispositions, rules, laws, values, and memories.  All personae exist in potential, but only one at a time can be dominant. 

A cultural persona has a particular personality of its own, and the dynamics of the collective personality correspond to those of the individual.  Because its constituents share the patterns associated with being human-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual states-the cultural persona will have a corresponding structure-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  This structure is not the same thing as a stereotype; rather, it is highly complex and versatile.  If two angles are the same in an infinite number of right triangles, the sides of all the triangles will be proportionate.  Each triangle will have the same proportions that correspond to all the others.  Advertisers know this and pollsters probe the various subtle bodies of collectives as a matter of course.  They assess the collective self-image (usually physical), thought or opinion (mental), feeling (emotion), and values (spiritual). According to the principle of correspondence, the cultural persona also plays many roles and has tangible physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual characteristics.  Functioning as a military superpower the cultural persona behaves one way, and responding to help the victims of natural catastrophe it behaves another way.  On the world stage, the mask of the prevailing political administration (specifically, the face of the president) becomes the protagonist, while at regional or state levels, the persona shows a more diverse countenance.

Just as we assume the hypothesis that thought is dynamic but don't carry the hypothesis to its logical conclusion, so we assume the existence of a cultural persona but don't think of it as really real.  Actually, we assume the existence of a cultural persona in nearly everything we do, and it is very real.  The substantial power of the media is addressed to a collective audience.  Political polls are addressed to a cultural persona.  The validity of statistics is based on populations. Advertising is addressed to target groups.  The communist and democratic principles are essentially collectivist, and the whole premise of civilization itself assumes coherent parameters of a collective persona.  Depending on the extent and degree of correspondence between the two, a collective persona does, indeed, have definitive impact on constituent persons.  To verify the fact, one only need refer to the psychological effects of the present War on Terror and its multi-level (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) impact on every constituent persona.  Other examples of the principle include the principle of law, the phenomenon of propaganda, the Nazi phenomenon, the perennial conflict between Israel and the Arab world, colonialism, ethnic identity, feminism, racism, ad infinitum.  It is hoped that this study will convince educators of the validity of incorporating such a seemingly metaphysical dimension to the educational curriculum so that students may equip themselves to understand and use the dynamics of the psych-ecology and to navigate their everyday human illusion of reality.

I like to think that the Cultural Persona of the United States of America-near the end of its journey-is the hero experiencing the mythic Ordeal.  Its challenge is to know itself, to evolve beyond its selfish, personal expression, and to realize its authentic expression as a World Server or soul of the world.  Knowing itself means achieving a critical mass of enlightened consciousness among the components of the Cultural Persona-us.  The well-known seer and prophet, Pogo, once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."  The "enemy" within us is that aspect in each of us and all of us that is limited, ignorant, fearful, and unwilling to evolve or unable to achieve her full potential.  Only when our psychological limitations (lies, wounds defense mechanisms) are addressed will the psyche of the Cultural Persona cross the threshold of Initiation leading to greater potential.  Only when the cultural persona is functioning with a relative degree of harmony will it be capable of addressing the problems of its consummate challenge.  With a "healed" perspective, the cultural persona will see authentic, practical, and lasting solutions that would not be apparent to a more limited and self-serving perspective.  Perhaps, with effort, the American Cultural Persona will succeed to authentic leadership in the world.  Such leadership resides in the office of the World Server, not the tyrant.  If the cultural persona realizes this concept at all, significant realistic improvements in our dire situation could be spontaneous.

In the Media of Dreams, I provide considerably more detail relative to the specifics of a curriculum game, but for now I will address some salient points.  In order to design a curriculum-game with authentic psychological parameters, the synchronicity of psychological patterns will need to be addressed and related to the programming patterns of cybernetics.  My assumption is that if the patterns are interactive, the game player will be able to use them interactively.  All of these psychological patterns are expressed as symbolic language, and are therefore susceptible to symbolic synchronization.  If this fact of reality is understood and accepted, our worldview immediately becomes holistic. 

We can begin contemplating the holistic reality based on the synchronicity of various symbolic media.  The term media has many uses, but if we define the word media as language used for conversation between or among states of being, the term applies not only to radio, television, print, and the internet, but to all forms of symbolic language including the languages of chemistry, biology, physics, electromagnetism, string theory, and psychology in its many variations.  For example, English, German, Spanish, metaphor, analogy, correspondence, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, geometry, permeable membranes, thought, emotion, sound, color, Gestalten, behaviorism, and dreams are media.  One could even say that the personality is the medium between the relatively intangible and the relatively tangible states of being-between psyche and substance, between the unknown and the known, between the soul and the spirit.  One might also understand that the language of dreams is a conversation between the unknown and the known, psyche and substance, soul and spirit.  Is it logically valid, then, to say that the personality equates to a dream?  Such questions must be contemplated when arguing the efficacy of a game as curriculum.


 The Trigonometry of the Psych-ecology

"In the beginning was the word," and humans create their metaphorical reality with symbolic language.  Symbolic language not only pervades and mediates our human reality.  Symbolic patterns constitute our reality.  As humans emerged from some un-formed, un-conscious condition or state of being, we translated our perceptions into symbolic form.  Like God, we made our world day-by-day.  Like Adam, in order to contemplate these separate things, we named them and proceeded to assert moral judgment on those symbols we had named.  We decided our creation was "good."  Therefore, it can be said that the human approach to understanding the parameters of psych-ecology is essentially symbolist in nature.  Life can be understood as a curriculum in which we gradually learn to understand and employ its media.  We call this employment creativity, and once we have learned the basics, we use the media to create our reality which, by the nature of the unified field of psyche-physics has an influence on all other dimensions of "reality."  This kind of thinking can drive one insane, so I intend to limit my psychotic potential to a discussion of the quintessential value of the metaphor.  Metaphor is the language of everything and at some time in the future may be recognized as the "theory of everything."  As Aristotle pointed out, metaphorical proportion can be expressed as mathematical equation, so metaphor is consistent with math and cybernetics. 

We create our figurative reality with metaphor. "Metaphor is probably the most fertile power possessed by man" (Jose Ortega y Gasset).  Metaphorical comparison is indispensable in a relative reality where everything relates in some way to everything else.  All figures of speech achieve their effect (formulate and communicate some concept) by means of some kind of relative association or comparison.  I must assume that my audience understands the principle and preeminent value of metaphor, but since so much of my argument depends on this understanding, I must define the term.  The terms metaphor and figurative language are essentially synonymous, but there are many classes of metaphor.  For example, antithesis is contrast, hyperbole is exaggerated comparison, metonymy is the transposition of the name of one thing for the name of another related thing, i.e. "Crown" as in "The lands of the Crown."  I will emphasize two classes of metaphor: analogy and correspondence.



Analogy is a particularly valuable metaphorical type.  Analogy is a comparison between two things because of a third element that they share.  In the sentence, "Time is like a river," time and river share "flow."  A river sometimes flows from higher to lower ground, and time sometimes flows from the past into the future.  Once the time/river analogy has been established, we can talk about the flow of time and the currents of history."[4] 

Remember we have defined the term metaphor as a proportion established between two dissimilar things (that have something in common) for the purpose of discovering an "unknown."  Analogical thinking has always been a measure of intelligence in tests.  An analogy is a type of metaphor that has nearly mathematical characteristics.  In the mathematical formula:

                        A/B = C/D (A divided by B equals C divided by D)

A/B is being compared to C/D as a proportion.  The "equals" sign tells us that proportion is what the two figures have in common. Because we know that a proportion exists, we can use certain mathematical rule.  If three of the values in the formula are known, we can discover/calculate the fourth unknown value.  The proportion of A to B is the same as the proportion of C to D.  Therefore, If A = 2, B = 6, and C = 10 we can calculate that the unknown D has a value of 30.  Of course, we all know this.

In Aristotle's formulation A is to B as X is to Y a similar proportion exists.  But does the term "similar" mean the same thing in rhetoric as in trigonometry?  Is there a significant consonance as to the meaning of the word in the differing contexts?  If so, this may be of interest to navigators of the dream.  Using grammatical rules, Aristotle's analogy might be stated thus:  Life is to old age, as day is to evening.  If any three of the values (concepts represented by words) are known, we can calculate the fourth value.  So, if we have some experience with the nature and qualities of day, night, and old age, we can discover the nature and qualities of life.  Using the above ratio, we can calculate that life is to evening, as day is to old age.  Manipulating the formula further, we may also create (or reveal) concepts like: "the evening of life" or "day's old age."

With this tool of analogy (just as with the tool of mathematics) we can communicate with a high degree of accuracy about very abstract and qualitative aspects of the unknown-aspects that would be vague or incomprehensible without metaphorical proportion.  Using metaphorical proportion to communicate about life has much greater potential than using only the word life to communicate about life.   Using complex and subtle mathematics, humans can discover natural laws that alter their reality.  Similarly, using complex and subtle language humans can discover natural laws and alter their reality.  We all know this too, but in a more obscure way.

Ironically, for purposes of communication, metaphor is more useful to most people than math.  Metaphor comes naturally to them. The following example employs metaphor to communicate clearly what, to most minds, numbers cannot communicate effectively:

Planet Earth is 4600 million years old.  If we condense this inconceivable time-span into an understandable concept, we can liken Earth to a person of 46 years age.  Nothing is known about the first 7 years of the person's life, and while only scattered information exists about the middle span, we know that only at the age 42 did the Earth begin to flower.  Dinosaurs and great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the planet was 45.  Mammals arrived only 8 months ago; in the middle of last week man-like apes evolved into ape-like men, and at the weekend the last ice age enveloped the Earth.  Modern man has been around for four hours.  During the last hour, Man discovered agriculture.  The industrial revolution began a minute ago.  During those sixty seconds of biological time Modern Man has made a rubbish heap of Paradise (From Greenpeace pamphlet, 1989).



We create our figurative reality with correspondences.  Correspondences are elaborate, highly specific metaphorical systems that function as practical tools for the navigation of both "solid" and subjective realities.  Elaborate systems of correspondence such as The Great Chain of Being influenced the thinking of Europeans for centuries.  The statement, as above, so below, summarizes the cosmological principle of the ancient Hermetic mysteries from which derive most human myth, philosophy, and science.  These days, very few people know what figurative correspondence is and even fewer can explain it.  Though they seldom even recognize the term or think about its significance, its influence is pervasive.  If it were not for systems of correspondence we would have no television; no computers; no navigation by land, air, or water; no science; no genetics; no technologies; no language; no culture.

Maps area medium of correspondence in which a proportional relationship exists between a symbol and the matrix of reality.  On a traditional two dimensional map, symbols marked on correspond to actual locations on the surface of the planet.  A precise correspondence is established between these two things according to an exact scale.  If the established correspondence is not exact, the map is useless.  Just as poetry has multiple levels of meaning, so do maps.  Maps may be symbolic representations of roads, geographic characteristics, demographic characteristics, history, or a plethora of other aspects.  Observe that the map shown in the figure has more than one level of meaning 1) relative location of roads and cities, and 2) highway information.


Graphs are correspondences in which symbols marked on paper represent complex concepts such as "price level" and "wages".  Graphs allow us to plot conceptual correspondences in patterns that may be analyzed and interpreted.  Observe that the graph set shown, like the map, has multiple levels of potential meaning.

Figure 2

Correspondence is used extensively in the business world, as illustrated by the statistical sheet for "Truck Pockets".  Even this simple correspondence has several levels of meaning.  The first level is the graphic representation of the shape of a truck box.  The second level of representation is the correspondence between the letters (A, B, C) and the size of two different box models.


 The circle and the cross are the oldest symbols known to man.  Used in most cultures, they have had a variety of meanings, but generally they have served as semiotic expressions of a fundamental and comprehensive human "reality":

"In astrology O represents the human spirit, the inner individual (as opposed to the personality, the outer individual, the individual as he or she is perceived by others).  As a symbol for the human spirit O is the opposite of matter, ┼, the physical body, and earthly life.  Both graphically and semiotically O and ┼ are almost diametrically opposed.

In western ideography O is a general symbol for the eternal, the endless, that which is without beginning or end, all possibilities (within the confines of the system in which it is used). According to the law of the polarity of meanings of elementary graphs, it can also mean nothing...

In pre-Columbian America the sign (┼) seems to have been associated to the four points of the compass and the weather gods.  In the earliest Chinese ideography it appears as a sign for perfection and 10, the most perfect number.  In astrological symbolism ┼ is the graphic symbol for matter, the earthly life, the plane of physical existence...The alchemists used ┼ as one of the sings for the four elements represented by the four arms.  Their point of intersection they perceived as conjunctio, quinta essentia, the fifth element, etc.

Semiotically the stem of the cross, the vertical beam stands for the heavenly or spiritual, whereas the transverse beam represents the material plane of existence (https:/

Why is this important?  It is important because symbols are the medium of human "conversation," the medium with which human beings navigate their psychological reality.  The circle/cross is the semiotic basis upon which maps are structured, and maps are quantifications with which the unknown can be navigated.  The symbol is the foundation for trigonometry. Therefore, the ancient age of the symbols and the comparable meanings attributed to them by diverse cultures from time immemorial suggests that humans have navigated similar worldviews.  Clearly, these ancient symbols attest to some relationship between the psychological and "material" dimensions of the human weltanschauung.  The complex astrological systems used universally in human culture can be understood as maps for the navigation of a Psych-ecology.  Though it is usually fragmented, the myth of the Twelve Labors of Hercules is the most complete example of the Journey of the Hero through the zodiac-a universe of qualitative psyche.

We might go so far as to say that the combined symbol of the circle and the cross is the DNA of linguistic morphology.  Semiotically, it is the seed, medium, and paradigm with which humans create their metaphorical reality.  From this we might infer that the human reality (both the reality of nature and the reality of imagination) is psychological because what we call "Nature" is a construct of relative sensory perception and relative interpretation whereas what we call the reality of the image-ination is a construct based on metaphorical symbolic language.  Based on scientific fact, it becomes increasingly clear that what we understand as "reality" is much like a dream or an illusion.  Further, the pattern that humans have used to express this illusion is the symbol of the cross within the circle.   The Norse rune hagalaz, encompasses this concept:[5]

Figure 4: Hagalaz

 "This is the sign of the primal reunion of cosmic fire and ice-the poles of the multiverse-in the energized, yeasty seed-form; the cosmic hailstone, or "hail-egg," that gives rise to Ymir [the form shaped from the union of the extremes of fire and mist in magically-charged space].


 Hagalaz is the framework of the world, the pattern upon which the multi-verse is fitted out by the triadic root of consciousness-Ódhinn-Vili-V.  The H-rune contains the complete model of absolute potential energy, as it holds the full dynamism of fire and ice in its form.  From this harmonious balance of all-potential, an internal evolution can take place within its space.

Numerical symbolism is very important for hagalaz.  Nine is the number of completion, fruition, and dynamic wholeness in the Germanic system.  All of this comes together in : H : (9).  Nine is the number of worlds in the branches and roots of the World-Tree, Yggdrasill, which is the innate pattern present in both the seed and the full grown tree.

The H-rune is the pattern of completion implicit in the seed of every evolving or growing thing.  As the whole yew is contained in a hidden genetic code in the berry, so too is the completed, transformed cosmos held in the world-seed.  Hagalaz is the code-the pattern of becoming and completion.  This is the hidden form of perfection toward which all conscious shaping (creation) is directed...This is ultimately a multi-dimensional model," (Thorrson, 1987, p 121).

Like the Norse rune for the mother, the symbol of the circle and the cross holds the full potential of fire and ice (duality and form) and constitutes the seed form of human reality encoded with the dynamism of symbolic language-the word, the medium.

Directly related to the concept underlying the symbol of hagalaz (geometry of the sphere) is the use of the O+ in the study of myth.  The symbol is used universally to symbolize the journey of the sun through the heavens.  The symbol is associated with the mythical Sun Gods because, symbolically, they travel the same path as the sun.  It is the selfsame symbol basic to the astrological charts which are used by modern astrologers, and the symbol still expresses the same basic worldview based on symbolism and geometry.  Joseph Campbell named this mythic pattern the Journey of the Hero.


 Carl G. Jung employs the symbol with a degree of sophistication comparable to the priest-sorcerers and scientist-astrologers of yore.  With the empirical science of Analytical Psychology he explores the dimensions of the Odyssey of his patients-the Hero journey and the road of trials leading to healin.  He is recognized as one of the foremost navigators of the psyche.  Hagalaz is just one of the forms taken by the symbol of the cross and the circle. Below is a composite of the Buddhist Tao and the Jungian functions of psyche.

Figure 5: Tao

Very briefly, the fundamental elements of Jungian psychology include the functions (thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition) and the principles of co-incidence, compensation, conditionalism (patient-centered therapy), amplification, and the prospective aspect. These parameters of the dream are also parameters of the media, and it is by way of this parallel that analysis of the media-as-dream becomes possible.  The parallel is explained in more detail in my follow-up essay.

The "reality" symbol O┼ is used in many modern contexts to express essentially the same meanings that have been communicated since time immemorial.  The symbol is inherent in mathematics.  With it we express trigonometric function and geometry, itself; and, as we have seen, it expresses the calculus of time-the all and the nothing.  The Stanford research Institute uses the same fundamental symbol to address complex global problems by assessing them at four levels: Psychological, normative, process, and substantive).  Business, industry, and academe employ the symbol as graphs to navigate the human sociological reality, and people everywhere use the symbol to read maps.  Universally, humans employ symbolic media to understand and navigate a psychological reality.

Worldviews such as astrology are holistic concepts in which numerous levels of correspondence exist for the purpose of discovering complex unknown values.  Traditionally because it was a relatively known factor, the human physical body was used as a medium for discovering unknowns about the cosmic physical body, and because it was relatively known, the cycle of the sun was used as a medium to discover and communicate about unknowns such as the evolution of human consciousness.  The archetypal Hero, like the role model of today, was a cognate of the cultural persona.  If this seems somehow strange or primitive, if it seems like an instance of "personification" as it has been rationalized so often, we can blame our current scientific-materialistic paradigm for our limitation. Because denizens of that paradigm could not see clearly beyond its limiting parameters they viewed the great civilizations of the past as through a glass darkly.

Joseph Campbell quoted from the Gospel of St. Thomas:  "The kingdom of God is here now on earth, but men do not see it."  This statement might be understood in terms of modern physics and paraphrased:  "The unified field is here now, but men do not see it."  Carl G. Jung coined the term Archetype, and said that archetypes as he defines them are similar to the electro-magnetic fields of physics.  Jung also said that dreams and Greek drama are similar in structure.  Joseph Campbell said that, "The patterns and logic of fairy tale and myth correspond to those of dream...Dream is the personalized myth, myth is the depersonalized dream; both myth and dream are symbolic in the same general way of the dynamics of the psyche."  Based on the above ideas, we can begin to formulate a kind of metaphorical trigonometry in which the " = " sign means "corresponds to." We have the following formulae:


 In addition to the fact that astrology and trigonometry share the fundamental principles of geometry, of course, the concept of proportion is central to trigonometric formulation: 

"Two triangles are said to be similar if one can be obtained by uniformly expanding the other. This is the case if and only if their corresponding angles are equal, and it occurs for example when two triangles share an angle and the sides opposite to that angle are parallel. The crucial fact about similar triangles is that the lengths of their sides are proportionate. That is, if the longest side of a triangle is twice that of the longest side of a similar triangle, say, then the shortest side will also be twice that of the shortest side of the other triangle, and the median side will be twice that of the other triangle. Also, the ratio of the longest side to the shortest in the first triangle will be the same as the ratio of the longest side to the shortest in the other triangle.

Figure 6: trigonometric triangle

Using these facts, one defines trigonometric functions, starting with right triangles, triangles with one right angle (90 degrees or π/2 radians). The longest side in any triangle is the side opposite the largest angle.

Because the sum of the angles in a triangle is 180 degrees or π radians, the largest angle in such a triangle is the right angle.

The longest side in such a triangle is therefore the side opposite the right angle and is called the hypotenuse. Pick two right angled triangles which share a second angle A. These triangles are necessarily similar, and the ratio of the side opposite to A to the hypotenuse will therefore be the same for the two triangles. It will be a number between 0 and 1, because the hypotenuse is always larger than either of the other two sides, which depends only on A; we call it the sine of A and write it as sin (A), or simply sin A. Similarly, one can define the cosine of A as the ratio of the side adjacent to A to the hypotenuse.

These are by far the most important trigonometric functions; other functions can be defined by taking ratios of other sides of the right triangles but they can all be expressed in terms of sine and cosine. These are the tangent, secant, cotangent, and cosecant."

Figure 8



I believe that the metaphorical formulations and psychic resonances of the collective persona mentioned above can be quantified and animated at levels of sophistication in which verisimilitude approaches authenticity.  Recent research relative to the quantification of subjective states-psychological/sociological analysis of facial expression and body movement-clearly indicates that methodologies are already available for use in serious game design (Katherine Isbister, 2006, pp 143-181).  The capability to quantify and program highly sophisticated subjective states is imminent.  Therefore, I would like to bring the reader's attention to the work of Cambridge Professor, David Foster, PhD (1985) who has provided us with a way to navigate the Psych-ecology.  He calls it an approach to cosmic software with which he argues the translatability of metaphysical-psychological concepts into practical cybernetics that can be applied to the programming of games.

Discussing the relationships between the world of ideas and the world of physical fact-what he calls the Dimensions of Logos-Foster rationalizes a continuum that relates the inner world of mind and imagination with the outer world of behavior in speech and action by means of "symbolic coding."  Foster uses the term code which I understand as the "medium" by which the critical interface between idea and fact, between imagination and thing becomes possible.  In Jungian terms the code language is the dream, but in the present discussion of cybernetics I will use the word code because it is the term used by programmers.

Against a background of time-space dimensionality, Foster defines the world "out there" as Panoramic Space-Time (pST) and the world "in here" as Imaginary Space-Time (iST).  From Greek meaning "comprehensive view," pST-iST exists as a continuum much like the Jungian Psyche.

"Example of Independent pST and iST.  I am driving a car from A to B so there is not doubt I am involved in pST ‘out there'.  But at the same time I am worried about my bank account and am wondering how to improve my money affairs.  This has nothing to do with driving the car and takes place in iST ‘in here'.

Example of Co-incident pST and iST.  I am reading a very interesting book.  There is no doubt that the book is ‘a thing out there' and so in pST.  But the reading of the words is triggering all sorts of inner thoughts and images and associations, and this is taking place ‘in here' in iST.

So we find that our mind can co-incide with the external panorama or it can be independent of it.  As the cyberneticians would say, we can be ‘on-line' or ‘off-line' to reality.  The question arises as to whether we can find a symbolic representation which holds good for both cases.  Fortunately we can, and it was invented by electrical engineers whose currents and voltages are sometimes co-incidental (in phase) and sometimes independent (out-of-phase).  The electrical engineers use the terms real and imaginary for the two aspects and have a symbol ‘i' for manipulating the mathematics of the imaginary (I = √ -1)" (1985, p. 105-110).            

In the form of a graph, Foster designates the horizontal axis as Imaginary Space-Time to accommodate events "out there," the vertical axis to allow for events "in here," and the area included between the two axes an iST-pST continuum. Within this graphic framework he discusses "reality vectors."

"Real events consist of Reality Vectors into the Continuum such as are represented by A or B or C and which have different angles corresponding to different relative amounts of ‘out there' and ‘in here'" (1985, p 110).

"The nature of reality: Reality is an experience now.  At one end of the Continuum spectrum it could be ‘looking at a house, now' dominated by pST.  At the other end it could be thinking about what happened to Julius ceasar 2,000 years ago but noting that such musing is also now in the iST of imagination.  Thus one does not discriminate as between reality ‘out there' or ‘in here' since either can be valid reality if it relates to experience now.  This erects the relativity observer to an eminent position since only an observer can state ‘now' and keep on stating it with the lapse of time" (1985, p 112).

Figure 9: iST & pST (David foster, p 111-112)


 Just as Jungian dream analysis is a coded way of quantifying the personal unconscious of the patient, the iST-pST continuum may be a way to quantify, synchronize, and program states of complex psychic awareness.  Such complex states could be portrayed in a curriculum game with the authenticity of dreams, and with the same healing potential.  Before discussing the Dimensions of Logos, Foster discusses the corresponding Dimensions of the human Being.  His analysis demonstrates a potential correspondence and discerns a mathematically coded relationship between various levels of collective consciousness. A fundamental correspondence has been established among a number of dynamic elements.  This might be useful in the theoretical understanding of critical mass as it pertains to healing a cultural persona within the psych-ecology (in-phase co-incidence of iST and pST as well as the principle of Jungian co-incidence). 

            "In considering the transmission from the world of ideas to the world of physical fact, there appears to be a bridge between the two-a sort of ladder of language with three rungs:

            In this three-rung ladder the central key transition is a code [medium], for it is coding that... is the critical interface between idea and fact, between imagination and ‘thing'.  Thus the code links upwards to ideas and imagination and downwards to physical reality." (1985, p 107)

            The following table of correspondences may be helpful:

Higher language code     Ideas & imagination        Unconscious                 Logos  

Median language code    Idea to word                   Dream                           DNA

Lower language code      Physics & chemistry      Physical behavior                       Physics & Chemistry

            Foster concludes his chapter on cybernetics with the following summary:

Humans have always used the medium of symbolic language to structure and navigate their illusion of reality, but in the emergent 21st century paradigm, the medium is undeniably the message.  Though both mythically and scientifically it is self-evident that human beings use the medium of spells to create reality, they have trouble understanding the significance of such skill and responsibility.  The following quote is the most poetic and comprehensive as to the purpose and challenge of a new-millennium curriculum:

 Reality and the Power of Spelling

"...people wandered the earth and their dreams fitted the contours of the earth perfectly. Whirlwinds of light, the people moved upon the open hand of the earth. When they died, they disappeared completely, vanishing like dreams into the very depths of emptiness. Then the Fire Lords taught the people numbers and alphabets. The people learned spelling--and with these spells, the world changed forever. Dreams became bigger than the contours of the earth. People still died, but they did not disappear completely anymore. Their dreams remained behind... History is their enduring spell, etched in fired clay, chiseled in basalt, inked into parchment, printed across bond paper. We have seen these spells change the earth we once knew into a world of dreams we do not recognize. Why are we here?" (A.A. Attanasio, 1999, p 142).

The purpose of a twenty-first century curriculum must be consistent with the human imperative to know self and to take mature responsibility for our gift of spelling.  The poet is capable of expressing complex ideas simply. The above passage, replete with meaning, exemplifies this skill. With a few cogent phrases the poet defines the evolution of human consciousness, the source of human creativity, and the millennial evolutionary challenge. Later, Attanasio confronts the dilemma of our current crisis of education: "The more we talk, the less we are. We become nothing but the shadow of words." The media dream and the game curriculum represent potent spells with which we may still recover, at a higher level of development, our appreciation of the dream and our understanding of ourselves as a dream.

The new millennium holds the potential for the emergence of an elegant poetry of transcendence-an opportunity for humans to overcome the limitations of the vulgar.  Symbolically, the circle and the cross encompass the human condition and the human mandate.  Symbols have served humans well in their effort to understand reality and the part humans play in that reality.  The symbol has been a starting point for grasping the significance of the fundamental paradox of reality.  It is expressed in the Tai chi of Zen Buddhist philosophy where the paradox is expressed as, "Everything is no-thing, and nothing is everything."             

The symbol of the circle and the cross is a beginning point for studying the parallel myths of reality (including the myth of science), for understanding the human/cosmic reality as a dream (an illusion with purpose based on thought and feeling), and for understanding the human responsibility for lucid dreaming.  From all indications, Logos has a plan and a purpose and human beings have a significant part to play in the plan.  The plan seems to be that we learn to play the game-to use our unique human skills of limitation-the gift of naming-to increase our understanding of wholeness, to expand our sense of responsibility, and to help further cosmic evolution.

These would be extravagant claims, if they had not been reiterated so frequently by so many of our best human exemplars-both ancient and modern.  Only for a brief time has Western Civilization been retrograde[6] in its adherence to a paradigm of scientific-materialism, but this retrograde is only a necessary illusion that is quickly correcting itself.  The consequence of this retrograde experience has been that collective humanity has discovered a set of important keys for understanding responsible human creativity within the reality of the dream.  Humanity has been the apprentice and is now becoming the sorcerer.  As Marshall McLuhan said, the medium is the message.  In the book, The Medium of Dreams (Stephen Schafer, 2006), I discuss the media as the scientific-sorcery wielded by collective humanity to create their illusion of reality within the paradigm of the dream.  Next, I argue that a unique form of the media, the video game, has the potential to be a twenty-first century curriculum.  Finally, I demonstrate how programming games according to the parameters of Jungian dream interpretation might have the power to heal the cultural persona of the United States.

Human divinity was proffered by Christ who said, "You shall do greater things than I," Like a god, the literate citizen of the twenty-first century must wield the power of the word.  Like an effective novelist s/he must establish verisimilitude and create her own reality with the compelling power of words.  S/he must create her science fiction worlds with a synthesis of images from mythology, metaphysics, and science. They are worlds where dreams = reality just as E = Mc².  Subsequent to the "dreamtimes" of aboriginal humanity, and progressively into the long age of letters, humans have thought they understood reality.  Somehow reality was a solid dream.  Consequently we have misconstrued many of the messages of our greatest teachers. Only recently as Western civilization has pressed the reality paradox to extremes has humanity made the solid dream real by way of its media.  Within a relatively brief period of time we have discovered that solidity is, at best, relative. Even worse, "In the scientific world the concept of substance is wholly lacking... For this reason the scientific world often shocks us by its appearance of unreality. It offers nothing to satisfy our need for the concrete," (Sir Arthur Eddington).

 This revelation has, indeed, shocked us. We have begun questioning everything we thought we knew about reality. Consequently, the idea that reality no longer exists has, during the past few decades, become a cliché.

"The 'antirealist' view which has come to be known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory after the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, who advocated it most strongly, is influenced by the bizarre and shadowy nature of quantum-level events, where nothing in particular can be said to exist in any fixed place and everything is awash in a sea of possibilities" (Zohar, 1990, p 22).

"Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle arose from the problem of trying to follow and describe the actual movement of a subatomic particle along its discontinuous path. In a realm where reality appears to consist not of any fixed actualities that we can know but rather of the probabilities of all the various actualities that we might know, the harder one tries to scrutinize the movements of any given particle, the more elusive it becomes. The elusiveness is one major problem raised by quantum movement; the other is the fate of all those lost probabilities" (Zohar, 1990, p 30).

At sub-quantum and psychic levels, reality takes on an abundance of strange characteristics. Suffice to say, as Sir Arthur Eddington did that on those levels, "Reality looks more like a thought than a thing." Reality becomes relative, adjusting itself to the personal predisposition of the observer.  This is the reality an authentic curriculum must address.

As to our personal reality, the implication is that, like the novelist, we create our own. It seems we must create our own reality in order to be real, but each person's reality is relative and unique. Most of us can guess that reality is greater than our own fantasy of reality-that some sort of collective fantasy also exists-but in order to go beyond our personal fantasy to touch the collective fantasy we need information from outside our self. This is where media and communication come into the formula. Actually it's a chicken or egg issue of first things and interactivity because a fantasy without words is so nebulous as to be non-existent. We need words even to construct our own dream, and we only develop a medium of language through interaction with others.  Before our personal dream becomes coherent enough to be considered real, we must engage in communication with others in order to verify our perceptions. Now, another problem arises. Being unique, the way we use words is unique. The dilemma is that we must communicate with others to verify our own existence (to survive), but because we are each unique we don't speak the same language. Not being able to speak with one another intelligibly, we cannot verify that we exist.  By older standards this would seem to be a paradox , but Jung has demonstrated that Psyche knows more than we do.  Whatever Psyche is, it uses the medium of dreams to harmonize, compensate, and amplify itself and us.[7]

It is at this point that the true significance of the dream suggests itself.  The dream is an image that precedes the sense of self and the art of communication with others of our kind.  The dream is the original medium and it is shared by all.  Like all oracles, dreams are words and phrases in a language that allows us to communicate with the Unknown.  Apparently this wasn't a problem before people started writing and working with numbers. Somehow, like the angels, they understood that reality was a dream. Somehow the dream was sacred, but when we discovered the power of "spelling" we experienced separation, the paradox of limitation, unbounded personal potential and limitless responsibility.

Perhaps soon, Homo sapiens will take responsibility for its divine destiny-to become the sorcerer who casts the spells of light.  We have nearly succeeded.  The old gods have been replaced by new gods, and the new gods have been displaced by Homo sapiens-or so s/he thought. But we have deluded ourselves, and our present human condition is polluted with the communicational inefficiencies of separation. Separately, we are imperfect deities, and delusion is the effect of that imperfection. Paradoxically, what is required to dispel the delusion is to accept the authenticity of the dream.  Our twenty-first century curriculum must be characterized by more humility, more light, and a priority focus on rhetorical skill. The careless, arrogant ways in which we have been using words and numbers to create our reality has nearly been our undoing. We are presently only the shadow of words--not their light. Being an imperfect deity, I don't expect to have all of the answers, but at least some answers may reside in a game based curriculum.

 The Human Reality is Consciousness

In summary, ancient philosophers and modern scientists are in basic agreement about the nature of human reality. They understand that people are "whirlwinds of light." Long ago, Plato said "Thoughts are things." Today, tangibility or "thingness" has to do with being a photon (a unit of light). Sir Arthur Eddington made the definitive modern judgment when he said, "Reality looks more like a thought than a thing." Scientists haven't yet admitted that thoughts are photons, but the evidence is compelling, and since events happen in all directions these days, I may have missed the pronouncement. In a word, reality has become insubstantial, and people have always feared such things because non-substance is vague and mysterious. Most of us have labored mightily to limit our personal reality to things we thought we could understand--material things we could see and feel. Of course, anyone who thought about it carefully could see that emotions and thoughts were also real, but being less tangible they were suspect as things. They were considered elements of the mystery, and the mystery was feared and reviled. Only the most courageous among us pursued the mystery, and the information we had about it was available only to the highest priests and initiates. If one showed any interest in such things as mathematics, language, magic, or other black arts s/he would be at dire risk of life and limb. Habits die hard. 

Interest in these subjects denoted a satanic inclination which was unhealthy. One may assume that the sub-quantum realm, gravity, the electromagnetic field, strong and weak force, the genome, and the collective unconscious were always there; but, in the past, when this reality intruded itself upon our awareness it became the subject of superstition, legend, and myth-which we interpreted according to our current prejudices. At any rate, originally our awareness was conceived within the mystery, but words brought us out of the closet where we were able to see ourselves in the light of day. That created the problem of separation, fear, loathing, and the need to communicate. We talked to one another for a long time and were able to agree about such "facts" as, "Humans do not fly; and if they try, they end up like Icharus." Everyone contemplates reality of some kind at some level, but our personal and collective reality is limited by what we agree about what words mean. We limit reality with the words we use, and those who adopt similar limitations become constituents in the expression of a cultural persona. For a long time, the words most people used were confined to literal expressions about what we could see and feel; but, increasingly, we understand both our personal and collective reality in terms of symbol and abstraction-number and figurative language. Accordingly, our consciousness has expanded into dimensions that before, for all practical purposes, were non-existent.

 Who am I, where am I, and why am I here?

Who am I, where am I, and why am I here? People have always wanted answers to these questions, and any teacher worth his/her salt has tried to throw some light on the subject of knowing self. Now it is even more important to know ourselves, because the reality we build upon this foundation (future or any other direction) is entirely dependent on the responsibility we take for who, where, and why we are. The answers to these questions define our very reality. In order to know or attempt to understand our increasingly subtle reality we must first define ourselves. We must ask ourselves, "Who am I?" Am I my body? My thoughts? My feelings? My memories? My dreams? My plans? My job? My race, religion, family, history, sexual orientation, taste, likes, attitudes, sensibilities? Finally, we must transcend all these limitations and learn to encompass all.

We cannot find the answer without the medium of words. We are what we think we are, but who we think we are depends on words. An idea, our perception of our self, our self itself is constantly changing--constantly fluctuating to encompass, correlate, and understand new experiences. Yet, no matter how smart we think we are, most of us cannot help but think of our self as our body. It is a long-standing habit; but, of course, an erroneous and misleading perspective on reality.  Who we are resides in the emotional, psychological, and spiritual realms and includes insubstantial things like dreams and memories or dreams and memories of emotions. Such things are hard to locate, so we still tend to pretend they are not real. But simultaneously, we recognize that without plans, dreams, objectives, love, a sense of value, etc. we cannot be real human beings. The significance of our new scientific understanding of our personal reality is that it is subjective and non-local-even mental. Up 'till now we have simply assumed we were real because we seemed solid; but, as Attanasio says, our spells have changed the world we once knew into a world of dreams we don't recognize.

A new millennium curriculum needs to inform students with the skills of the psyche. We need to begin thinking of ourselves as ideas (heavily colored by emotion) rather than physical bodies. This suggests that we must change our primary perspective on the personal self from a focus on the physical body to a focus on the mental body. We are insubstantial abstractions, and had best get used to the truth. We have always been insubstantial abstractions, but most of us have simply not appreciated it. We didn't realize it (make it real). Others, like Plato, did appreciate it. In addition to his axiom that thoughts are things, he said that, "Thought finds its way into action." Jesus said, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Emerson said, "Thoughts rule the world." Thoreau said, "Our thoughts are epochs in our lives." Disraeli said, "Nurture your minds with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes." Pythagoras discovered the key to the mental reality in number and symbol, and any philosopher, saint, genius, or bard before or since, who has employed figurative language in the form of analogy, parable, or metaphor has understood the power of symbolic language to turn dreams into reality--to focus and mold human consciousness.

More recently, Einstein, with the formula E=Mc² proved the "reality of dreams." Accordingly, during the last fifty years our reality has changed drastically. It is an entertaining irony that our quintessentially materialistic, modern science has proven beyond a doubt that nothing material exists. Conversely, previously non-existent thoughts are now easy to perceive as things-"The stuff of the world is mind stuff." Physics is become metaphysics.  Certainly, if thoughts are things, words are also things. Using this perspective of mind and employing number and symbol, scientists have been steadily transforming our concrete global culture into a virtual reality. Now that we have a basic language of dreams, everyone on the street can accept its possibilities and get involved with the mystery-television, computers, omnipresent telephones, electronic dictionaries-love, justice, honor, and so forth. The transition probably began with the invention of printing, but we took a quantum leap when electricity was captured in the vacuum tube. After the splitting of the atom, we jumped to the development of the transistor, and then progressed rapidly to cyberspace, genetics, and a tenuous physical exploration of cosmos. Because of these rapid leaps and expansions of reality, knowing ourselves and deciding why we are here have become the human imperative.  Our educational curriculum has something to do with the process, and serious games may be the only medium that is up to the job.


  1. Attanasio, A.A. (1999). The serpent and the grail.  New York: Harper Prism.
  2. Beller, Mara (1999). Quantum dialogue. The University of Chicago Press.
  3. Blamires, Steve (1998). Celtic tree mysteries.  St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellen Publications.
  4. Campbell, Joseph (1973). The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton: Bollingen.
  5. Campbell, Joseph (1991).  The power of myth.  New York: Anchor Books.
  6. Capra, Fritjof (2000). Tha tao of physics. Boston: Shambhala.
  7. Chappell, James, M.D. (2005).  A Promise Made, A Promise Kept. Detroit Lakes, MN: BL Publishing.
  8. Coles, Robert, ed. (1997). Carl Gustav Jung: selected writings. New York: Princeton University Press and Random House.
  9. Conway, D.J. (2002).  By oak, ash, & thorn.  St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications.
  10. Eddington, Sir Arthur (1935). The nature of the physical world. Cambridge University Press
  11. Foster, David (1985). The philosophical scientists. New York: Dorset Press.
  12. Freeman, David (2004). Creating emotion in games. Boston: New Riders Publishing.
  13. Fromm, Erich (1951). The forgotten language. New York: Grove Press, p vi.
  14. Glassner, Andrew (2004). Interactive storytelling. Natick, Massachusetts: A.K. Peters.
  15. Gleick, James (1988). Chaos. New York: Penguin Books.
  16. Graham, Alan (1994). Statistics. U.S.: NTC Publishing Group.
  17. Grasse, Ray (1996). The waking dream. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books.
  18. Isbister, Katherine (2006).  Better game characters by design, a psychological approach. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers-Elsevier.
  19. Jacobi, Jolande (1974). Complex, archetype, symbol in the psychology of C. G. Jung. Princeton: Bollingen.
  20. Jacobi, Jolande (1973). The psychology of C. G. Jung. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.
  21. Jeans, Sir James (1930). The mysterious universe. Cambridge University Press.
  22. Jenkins, Henry (1999). ([email protected] )
  23. Jung, C. G. (1933). Modern man in search of a soul. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.
  24. Jung, C. G. (1974). Dreams. Princeton University Press.
  25. Katz, Jon (1997). Virtuous Reality New York: Random House
  26. Lipton, Bruce (2005). The biology of belief. Santa Rosa: Mountain of Love/elite Books.
  27. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1967). On the Bhagavad-Gita. England: Clays. University Press and Random House. 
  28. Markley, O.W. (1972).  Unity With Diversity: Toward Social Policies for a Future world Order.  Center for the study of Social Policy Stanford research Institute.
  29. Meadows, Kenneth (1997).  The medicine way.  Shaftsbury, Dorset: Element.
  30. Nomenology Project (1999). The hidden truth of your name. New York: Ballantine Books.
  31. Orwell, George (1946).  A collection of essays: politics and the English language. San Diego: Harcourt brace, p.156-157.
  32. Pert, Candace B. (2003). Molecules of emotion. New York: Scribner.
  33. Pinker, Steven (1997). How the mind works. New York:  W.W. Norton.
  34. Postman, Neil (1984). Amusing ourselves to death. New York: Penguin Books.
  35. Reeves, Byron; Nass, Clifford (1996). The media equation. Stanford: Center For the study of Language and Information & Cambridge University Press.
  36. Rhodes, Frank H.T., Ph.D. (2001). A Battle Plan for Professors to Recapture the Curriculum.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 14, B7-B10.
  37. Satinover, Jeffrey (2001). The quantum brain. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  38. Seielstad, George A. (1983). Cosmic Ecology. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  39. Schafer, Stephen (2006). The medium of dreams. ©
  40. Sharma, Hari; Clark, Christopher (1998). Contemporary Ayurveda.  Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.
  41. Smith, Huston (1991), The world's religions.  San Francisco: Harper.
  42. Storm, Hyemeyohsts (1972). Seven Arrows. New York: Ballantine Books.
  43. Talbot, Michael (1991). The holographic universe. New York: Harper.
  44. Thorsson, Edred (1987).  Runelore. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser.
  45. Wallace, Robert Keith (1986). The Physiology of consciousness. A joint publication of Institute of science, technology and public policy & Maharishi international university press.
  46. Whitehead, A.N. (1926). Science and the modern world. Cambridge University Press.
  47. Zohar, Dahah; Marshall, Ian (1994). The quantum society. New York: William Morrow.
  48. Zohar, Dahan; Marshall, Ian (1990). The quantum self.  New York: William Morrow.


[3] A fundamental transformation of mind

[4] In our treatment of metaphor, the Oxford Companion to the English Language (pp.653-655) is an authority frequently referenced.

[6] In astronomy, a) designating motion, real or apparent, in a direction contrary to the order of the sings of the zodiac, or from east to west. b) moving in an orbit in a direction opposite to that of the earth as it revolves around the sun.

[7] David Foster (1985) See argument in chapters: Approach to Logos & Where Angels Fear to Tread.

For seven years, Stephen Schafer has been a faculty member at Digipen Institute of Technology   His primary responsibility there has been to teach Composition, Mythology for Game Designers, Creative Writing for Game Designers, and Elements of the Media and Game Development to students in the RTIS program.  To a degree, all of his classes reflect his longtime interest in human motivation, mass communication, and cultural transformation.  Over the years, Professor Schafer his augmenting his knowledge of psychology, language, mythology, and literature with studies in physics, metaphysics, comparative religion, marketing, and the media.  During the past ten years he has specialized in research relating to the part symbolic language plays in cultural transformation.  He is currently completing two books, The Media of Dreams and a textbook, The Alchemy of English. 

Return to the web version of this article
Copyright © UBM TechWeb