Something bad may have happened today. I just want to leave, to get away. Where can I go? I want to forget, maybe to ignore, even if only for a moment. Last night I was entering my house and at first I couldn’t unlock it, but then I felt great relief when the door opened. I walked inside and it was dark. The door shut. I can’t see anything and I can’t hear anything. I try to reach for the walls so that I don’t fall. It’s an abyss. I feel lost; I have no control. Then, I wake up. My hearts beating fast, I’m sweating, I don’t know where I am. A couple seconds and I’m in my room. I see the walls, my bed, my window and the light creeping through it. What a relief to see some light after all the darkness. I have dreams, just like everyone else and this was only one of them. If I can’t escape my life, the reality in which I am living in, and my dreams are also not an escape, how do I get away?
Famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, has done a fairly good job at describing dreams, their purpose, and even their necessity. In his The Interpretation of Dreams Freud argues: “…that there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams…every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance, and one which may be assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state.”
So, all of our individual dreams have more meaning than seen on the surface.
Maybe the dark room or the fear in my dream represented something in my life. I woke up with the physical responses of actual fear; does this make my dream more real than it was? Did my fear signify the crossing-over of my dream world into my reality, my life? I know I felt everything in my dream when I woke up, just as if the dream actually happened. So, if the effects are there is the cause also?
Dreams are a part the reality of the individual having them. Then, someone else’s dream would not be reality for me; my own dreams on the other hand are real for me. When I am awake, I am aware of my life, my actions, consequences, the reality in which I live in. When I am dreaming I feel everything that is happening to me in my physical body. The neuron’s firing in my brain, the fear or the happiness.
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are running from someone and you wake up feeling exhausted? I have, I was tired from the running I did in my dream, even though physically my body stayed put in my bed. Or, I dream about eating a tasty looking cheeseburger and I wake up craving a cheeseburger. Then again, if someone else had been running in his or her dream, would I feel exhausted? Or, if someone else had been dreaming about a cheeseburger, would I be craving one as well?
Clearly I wouldn’t even know about another’s dream unless I was told about it. If my friend sits me down and tells me about a terrifying dream she had I probably would sympathize, but I wouldn’t feel the dream so internally as she did. After all, it’s not connected to my subconscious, or my fears. This doesn’t mean that I will not feel something.
This is the way art, books, movies, stories, and even music works. A sudden inspiration for a writer of a new book may result from a scary dream, which is then transformed into a screenplay and then a movie, which I watch. Is the movie scary? Probably. Then again it’s only a movie. I only feel the effects of the movie for a short period of time, after this the effects only remain with the author. If the dream never turns into a form that others can see, is it still real? As Paul Grobstein mentioned in class, chatter, or talk may make something ‘real’, however I’m not sure this is exactly true. The emotions a person is feeling may not be apparent to others, but they still exist within the person. Hence, even without chatter there is ‘individual’ reality that exists for each person.
When I pick up a book I enter a different world, not mind, but maybe someone else’s. The author of the book uses aspects from his or her life to create a world in this work that others can see. By opening up this book and starting to read about a world that is completely unfamiliar to my own, I enter into the author’s imagination. Books are then an example of a way to leave one’s own reality. When I want to get away all I have to do is pick up a book and enter a new world. Movies and other mediums of work can work in the same way. However, this exiting of one’s own reality is again temporary. Though it may sound appealing it is not possible to exit one’s own reality for good. Our reality is connected to our identity. If a reality is gone, then so is the identity.
In Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Alice questions not only the reality of the situation, but also her own identity. In the book the Caterpillar asks Alice: “Who are you?” Alice’s response to this question is “I—I hardly know, Sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then…I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir, because I’m not myself, you see.” (55) Did Alice feel lost and ‘not herself’ because she was in someone else’s reality for too long? Was she not the one having the dream? It’s possible that Alice was in someone else’s dream, possibly the Red Kings…
Then again, Alice is merely a character in the work of the author Lewis Carroll. Hence as a character in Lewis Carroll’s work Alice is trying to be a part of his dream. If being a part of someone else’s reality will destroy one’s identity, is that what was happening to Alice? Is a prolonged ‘unreality’ possible and does it cause a loss of identity?