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11:48am on Sunday, 18th December, 2016:

Dream World


As I've mentioned before, I don't seem to dream in the same way as most people. In particular, I don't remember my dreams except in certain very specific circumstances: when the dream wakes me up; when waking me up gives me the dream; when I decide to have a dream before I go to bed. I know I probably do have the same number of dreams as everyone else, it's just I never remember them. In the dreams I do remember, I always know I'm dreaming — even though the world can look, sound, smell and feel as real as the real world does. Because I know I'm dreaming, I can control my dream world at will; usually, though, I let them run their course without interfering because they're invariably a lot more interesting that way.

Two days ago, I had a dream in which something odd happened. I won't go into the details, because other people's dreams are always boring and I don't want to bore you more than I am already, but the gist of it is that I came across something in a dream that I'd come across before. I knew all about it, having done a lot of thinking on the subject. Except, I knew I hadn't come across it before — essentially, because it was a bonkers idea that just wouldn't fly (literally, as it involved two-rotor drone-like hoverboards). It really felt as though I had come across it before, though. The thought occurred to me that perhaps I'd done all the thinking about it in another dream, which I hadn't remembered, but I was remembering now because I was in a dream and could access my other dreams in a way I can't when I'm awake. That's not something that's ever happened to me before, and I figured it might be important; I therefore woke myself up, in order to ensure that I'd remember it.

When I thought about it, though, I wasn't persuaded that this was indeed what was happening.

My dreams that involve physical spaces have a kind of just-in-time implementation to them. It's as if the world isn't rendered until I look at it or otherwise detect it. Once rendered, it remains (so it's not like I look at a house, turn 360 degrees and am now looking at a bear), but until I collapse the wave of possibilities into something concrete, the world remains uninstantiated.

Could it be that this was what was happening in my dream the night before, except that instead of filling in a missing part of the world I was filling in a missing part of my memory? In other words, was I constructing the memory on the fly, or was it an actual memory from a dream I'd forgotten.

Well, last night I decided to find out. I decided to have a dream that accessed the same memory, but this time I was going to question the memory more to see what I could learn about its origins.

As a result of this, I'm pretty sure it's a construction. I couldn't find out anything about where it had come from, so I probably did indeed make it up two nights ago because it fitted the dream I was having. It felt like a real memory, but it had no provenance.

Hmm. I'm not sure I like the idea of concocting memories that feel real. I know they're not real, because I don't recall having recalled them before, but who's to say that in some later dream I may dream that I have recalled them before?

I think I'll put a stop to this kind of world filling-in, that seems the more sensible approach.

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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).