Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In an ordinary dream or... Descartes on steroids.

May 1

It started two years ago. Consecutive nights’ dreams began to cohere with one another, continuing the events of previous nights’ dreams just as waking real-world day-to-day experiences continue the events of the past. The dream world became much like the waking world, mundane, predictable interconnected one dream day with another and realistic. I would dream about going to work at the newspaper stand, just another day, with the usual customers, watching the buses and taxis, the normal hustle and bustle of downtown life. At the end of the day, I’d go out maybe for a bite to eat, catch a movie, or simply go home and relax. I would hit the intertubes, catch up on email, social networking, call the folks, or siblings. Normal days. Nothing strange going on. I mean, never. I wouldn’t have normal dreams where you find yourself flying or doing other things that defy physics. No tell-tales that I was dreaming.

So, I’d go through all this literally every day, and then I’d hit the hay and drift off to sleep. Then I would wake up, and go through a similar typical day of my life, come back home, eventually go to sleep, and repeat the cycle. The days were not exact copies of each other, or anything like that. They were just similar, as are days in any person’s life. Same month and day of the year, repeated. Otherwise these days were routine, with minor variations. And there were connections between every other day, if you get what I mean. If I promised Fred a lunch for tomorrow on day 1, let’s say, he’d show up for that lunch on day 3. If I promised Lucy lunch on day 2, she’d be there on day 4. Connections were between every other day, even if each pair was the same calendrical day. See?

At first, I found it easy to keep track of what was ‘real’ and what was dream, but I must confess now, two years later, that is, 730 days and nights later, I’ve lost track. I began to lose track pretty early. People thought I was suffering from some sort of dementia. I’d see Fred, and could not remember if I was in the world in which I promised him lunch. Do you see? I can no longer tell which day is which, and what is expected of me. Maybe this pattern may break, and my dreaming periods may return to normal...er...abnormal. Until then I’ll just have to do my best and cover my bases. I’ll have to record my promises, and other people’s expectations in a log book. I’ve found that memory isn’t going to do me any good. The days are too damn similar to one another. This is going to be a lot of work... Should have thought of this sooner. A lot of ramifications of not having thought of this sooner. Get the book! Get one in both worlds!

Oct. 1.

Now things are beginning to return to normal. Then again, the more I think about it, I don’t know that I can say that. You see, about two months ago, a more normal pattern began to emerge. Alternate days began to exhibit the normal dream weirdness. I’d see the occasional cab fly by, or tornadoes bearing down Main Street. I’d see this, and say to myself, ‘Oh, so this is the dream bit. I must really be at home and sleeping.’ Well, I eased up on worrying about expectations from others in that world. But, you know what happened? They reacted. Some got angry, others concerned. So, I wasn’t sure that those days were not in fact real. Had to keep with the damn logbooks.

Because I have long since lost track of which of each pair of days is the real one to begin with, I can’t with complete confidence say that the weird ones are not in fact my waking experience, and that the real world is not in point of fact going screwy. The only indicators I have are the bizarre episodes that happen during those days. But, given that my dream life went normal for such an extended period of time, that in itself was the real world going screwy, wasn’t it? So, how can I confidently assert that the present weird days are only dreams? I didn’t have the logbooks to go by back then. So, just to be safe, I’m writing everything down and keeping promises even during the screwy days. Damn. I better double down on the log books. Fred, Lucy and the others must think I’m strange. I have to write everything down.

Nov. 1.

Am I being experimented upon by some mad scientist? Is someone dosing me with drugs? Is God messing with me? Heck if I know. And, I really have no way of finding out. All I can do is ask others, and rely on what my senses tell me. But, if I don’t know what day is dream and what day is reality in the first place, that does me no freaking good at all! But, why worry? Just treat all days as if they are real. Write everything down so you can keep track of alternate days...

Dec. 1.

To pile bad news onto bad news, what I have feared has come to pass. You see, once the normal pattern re-emerged, I worried that it might ‘reverse polarity’ if you will. By that I mean that I began to fret that at some point the weird and normal days would switch, I’d get two in a row that were nuts, and then the pattern would reverse. Well, that has happened. The end result, I have a long string of pairs of days I can remember where the second member was the weird one. That stopped with the two in a row. Next, I now have a long string of days where the first day is the weird one. Problem is, now both strings went on for so long that I have no way of telling which is, or was the waking day way back in the good old days when I was normal, before they, or he, started experimenting on me and messing with my mind. Maybe I’m just going mad. I have no way to tell. My doctor is just a part of my dream, or is he? I’m finding I have no use for the distinction between dream and reality. I have to act as if every day I experience is real...just in case. I certainly don’t want to hurt real people, even if I have no way of telling which Freds, Lucys and etc... Are in fact real. Stick with the logbooks no matter what. Stick with 'em.

Jan 1.

Happy freaking new year! It seems that each thing I fear the most comes to pass. Now, the pattern of weird to normal days is completely unpredictable. Sometimes days alternate weird/normal like normal (you know what I mean), other times I get a few ‘normals’ in a row, then a few weird days, then a long series of randomly patterned weird and non-weird days. In fact, now that I think of it, I don’t know that these days and nights are in fact days and nights. How much time has really passed? I sit in bed about to go to sleep. It seems that I’ve lived through a day, but have I? If it’s a dreamed day, how long did that dream really take? How many days are contained within a single dream? Have I written what I need to write in the correct logbook? How many logbooks do I have? Do I have a clue?

I stare at an entry and have no way of telling exactly what earlier ‘day’ it really refers to. The logbook system is now a complete shambles. I have no damn way to tell. The logbooks do me no good, even though I’ve carefully numbered them, thinking that would help me keep things straight. I stare at one of them now, stupidly.

Number 1 it says. Fat lotta good that does me! Helpless. I have no way of telling how many days occur in between any two days that are continuers of each other, because the logbook contents are so alike, and the patterns now so unpredictable. My head hurts. I’m never going to get to sleep! Even if I do, it’s more of the same. No rest. No rest! I’m going to go insane. No. I am already insane. Only one way out. Poison? Gun?

A violent shaking “Bob!” More shaking. “Bob! Wake up. You’re having a bad dream.”

You come to. Wipe your eyes, struggle to sit up in bed. The too-soft mattress is not helping.

“What? What?”

Your wife is sitting next to you, rubs your back. “Dear, you were really having a bad dream weren’t you? Legs were kicking, talking about Fred and Lucy.”

Foggily, you remember that the last thing you did before you both hit the hay was watch an I Love Lucy rerun. Coincidentally you both say,

“That’s the last time we watch Lucy before bedtime!”

A wave of relief washes over you. “It was only a dream. A horrible dream!” You catch yourself laughing.

“Well, it’s four in the morning, let’s try to get that hour of sleep we have left.”

She lays back down.

“Yes. Sounds good. Let’s do that.” The relief is palpable. Wow. Just wow.

You lay down, turn to your left side, and eye the alarm radio. The red display reads 4:01 am. The last thing you see. Except for the small hardback volume next to it. On its spine it reads “Logbook One” There is a pencil laying on top of it.

Your eyes shoot open, you sit bolt upright.

Gun legislation and false dilemma

A very interesting article from National Review, highlights an example of the Fallacy of False Dilemma, vis-a-vis gun ownership.

Coyotes in the State of Nature

The key section:

People have a visceral reaction to guns, which is why the reactions to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago have been so emotional. One extraordinarily telling reaction came from David Ignatius of the Washington Post, whose response was headlined: “The Supreme Court Gun Decision Moves Us Toward Anarchy.” Mr. Ignatius wrote: “My biggest worry with Monday’s Supreme Court decision is that by ruling, in effect, that every American can apply for a gun license, the justices will make gun ownership much more pervasive in a society that already has too many guns. After all, if I know that my neighbor is armed and preparing for Armageddon situations where law and order break down (as so many are — just read the right-wing blogs) then I have to think about protecting my family, too. That’s the state-of-nature, everyone for himself logic that prevails in places such as Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Mr. Ignatius here is remarkably forthcoming: He is not worried about guns in the hands of criminals, but about guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, people who are willing to apply for a permit and jump through the bureaucratic hoops re­quired of gun buyers. His nightmare is not an America in which criminals run amok with Glocks, or even an America in which gun permits are handed out liberally, but an America in which “every American can apply for a gun license.” Never mind the approval of licenses, the mere application gives Mr. Ignatius the howling fantods. It is wonderfully apt that he references the “state of nature” in his criticism, imagining a Hobbesian version of life in these United States: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, permeated by the aroma of cordite. Mr. Ignatius, like Thomas Hobbes, is casting his lot with Leviathan and makes no apology for it.