Pauline Oliveros - Initiation Dream

Pauline Oliveros - Initiation Dream


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Commend is honored to carry the last remaining original copies of Initiation Dream, a transformative artist book by Pauline Oliveros in collaboration with Becky Cohen, published in 1981 by Astro Artz. 

A member of the San Francisco experimental music scene and beyond, Pauline Oliveros was director of the SF Tape Music Center and the founder of Deep Listening, which she described as her “life practice.”

Initiation Dream is a sensorial spiral of ritual and meditation, both of which are intrinsically tied to Oliveros' life and art. It begins and ends with an essay on the trickiness and joy of collaboration; Oliveros trusts her dream in the hands of photographer Becky Cohen, who magnifies Oliveros’ dream through close up shots of her journal and re-enactments of the dream by friends. Cohen’s abstracted photographs lend an otherworldliness to Oliveros’ semi-lucid words on the page, enmeshed with the earthiness of seeing Oliveros’ handwriting on lined notebook paper, photographed in real-time.

Oliveros grants readers access to the intimacy and revelation of her dream: in it she takes a Tai Chi lesson, then later is closed into a coffin lined with pink material where she can hear her inner workings. The entries are accompanied by expressive bodily shots: [a furrowed brow], an extreme close-up of a face, hands resting on the crown chakra, a still of a conversation that the reader must fill in the sound. In parts, the dream text repeats into a building repetition which reveals hidden meaning: sometimes memory and image match, sometimes not, creating new links of perception.

Throughout Initiation Dream “the background text scrolls along slowly page to page like a drone instrument in raga music.” The dream invites the reader in, and creates mysterious parallels between Oliveros and your own internal life: “The voice seems to be inside my head disembodied. The space inside my head seems to grow...” 

Initiation Dream brings awareness to the importance and benefit of listening not only while awake, but while asleep and dreaming. Oliveros is a seminal composer and innovator whose influence and inspiration can be heard through many releases carried by Commend, and Initiation Dream couldn’t be more at home here as a document of Pauline’s process and a tool for our times.