Dreamspace

Of late I’ve been thinking of dreams. For me it’s at least a mental space of internal perception where anything is possible (and certainly much more). Dream is as close as you can get to pure creativity. It’s a wonder that we get to do this at all, and how peculiar it happens only while we sleep. It suggests something very interesting is happening while we’re out.

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In a dream, one has godlike powers. Not just of creativity or absolute control, but also the ability to pass right through the absolute boundary separating the possible from pure impossibility. And without even slowing down, like a neutrino through a stone wall. Once I dreamed that I was still living in an apartment I used to have in St. Louis. Yet at the same time it was my bedroom in the house where I grew up. It was not confused. It really was both, simultaneously, and I existed in both places, and they were a unity, and I was both myself as an adult and as a teenager. It was a clear violation of the principle of non-contradiction, yet there it was. It worked. When I woke up and remembered the dream, I was astonished.

Dreamspace is introspective, even when it is just the world recapitulated, because it is your world, no one else’s. Some dreams seem to carry such intensity and profundity, such an overload of meaning, that it’s as if you have accessed transcendent substance in some sense, that your mental fabric is, only briefly, of material too subtle and fine to be of this world. And yet, there you are. You haven’t left the natural world, but you’ve accessed some wellspring of meaning and symbol and even ritual deep within yourself. I’m completely dissatisfied with the two English words I know of to describe this experience: spiritual, religious. I think it is hypernatural, not supernatural. To be connected to the natural world–the cosmos, the totality of all being–not just rationally, but entirely. To be this way isn’t to go beyond the world; it is to be utterly of the world, and not off somewhere else.

What do dreams mean? I’ve stopped asking why. Why-questions are semantically vapid in dreamspace. It’s like asking why a tree. It need be nothing other than purposeless beauty, unharnessed to a causal story. On the other hand, maybe it’s part of being consciously aware.

Sometimes the dreams are lucid. This is a very special experience. I am aware that what I experience is not the waking world of objects–things thrown in my way–but a world of unitary subject–me and other things within myself, in a way. Though I am aware, the me-world is not consciously constructed. If it were, I would understand the mechanics, and I don’t. I do see that it’s a kind of reciprocity between my conscious cognizance of the dream experience and some subconscious process within me generating that-which-is-cognizable. There’s the me acting in the movie and the invisible me directing it. In lucid dreams, one is actor/director, though the relation is inverted: the actor commands the director. Somehow this presentation of dreamspace has exceptional vivacity, and rather than seeming somehow abstract or sensually attenuated, the experience is just as strong as anything I perceive while awake. These dreams are rare and never last long as I’d like. Once I realize what’s going on, I get excited, and then wake up.

I’m curious why evolution equipped us with this counterintuitive capability. Or does it have survival value? All the explanations I’ve read seem to me to be just-so stories, made up, as if with a shrug, starting with “I don’t know, maybe it’s because…” Dreamspace begs for scientific and introspective exploration.

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