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Siri Hustvedt + Jaak Panksepp

Hallucination and Dreaming

Sunday, March 6, 2011
6:00 PM–7:30 PM

“I am deeply attached to my pre-sleep cinema of ghouls and monsters, shifting faces and bodies that grow and shrink, to my own nameless cartoon characters who flee over mountain tops or jump into lakes, to the brilliant colors that explode or bleed into gorgeous geometries, to the gyrating dancers and erotic performers that entertain me while I am still conscious but falling toward Morpheus. Except as a spectator, I play no role in this lunatic borderland. It is a world distinct from that of my dreams, in which I am always an actor, and therefore it is more closely allied to my Lilliputian experience. I watched them, but I felt no need to interact with them. They were simply there for my viewing pleasure.” –Siri Hustvedt
Writer Siri Hustvedt is a migraine sufferer and will often experience aphasic dreams. As she enters the slumbering state she will have hallucinations. As she says, these “are anomalies, no doubt, tics of the nervous system that affect some, not all, but they could well help explain more general human qualities—who we are, what we feel, and how we see. I suspect that everyone has a few Lilliputians in hiding. It may be just a question of whether they pop out or not.”
Siri Hustvedt is a novelist and essayist with a PhD in English literature. In both her fiction and nonfiction, she has explored the ambiguous boundaries between the imaginary and the real, waking life and dreaming, and the brain and the mind. Her novels include The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, and What I Loved. Her most recent book is a neurological memoir of her seizure disorder, The Shaking Woman: A History of My Nerves, which was launched at last year’s Brainwave. She has also been published in The Best American Short Stories 1990 and 1991, The Paris Review, Yale Review, and Modern Painters. This marks Hustvedt’s third appearance at the Rubin Museum.
Jaak Panksepp is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychobiology, emeritus, at Bowling Green State University and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Ohio at Toledo. His present research is devoted to the analysis of the neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms of emotional behaviors, in the emerging field of affective neuroscience. The specific focus of this research is to understand how separation responses, social bonding, social play, fear, anticipatory processes, and drug craving are organized in the brain, especially with reference to psychiatric disorders.
He has written over three hundred scientific articles dealing with basic physiological mechanisms of motivated behavior. He is the co-editor of the Handbook of the Hypothalamus and Emotions and Psychopathology. He has also written Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions.