“I don’t know. Why do things happen as they do in dreams?”

Things are a bit confused. Things start blending together. I’ve been sleeping a lot.

I remember at one point I was hanging out at one of the community colleges which I used to attend, and ventured into an old and by then largely-unused electronic music lab where I experimented with the equipment and recorded a little tune which I rather liked: Kind of fast paced, heavy on the percussion and bass, a bit different than the stuff I normally record. I went ahead and dropped it onto an audio cassette, and every once in a while I uncover it again and give it another listen. I’d convert it to digital and link to it here if it had ever actually existed. I usually only remember it when I’m dreaming, and spend a while in the dream trying to remember if it was real or not, and usually in the dream it turns out it was, which it isn’t.

Probably. I think. I’m pretty sure.

Games are so like dreams. I think that’s why I like them– games, that is, though I suppose it could be the other way around. We’re in these profoundly cold and uncomfortable seeming places but are still wrapped in the comfort of a warm blanket in a dark room, and external sounds bleed in around the edges of our experiences to influence them in uncanny ways. Microwave beeps and shuffling and coughing and television watched in the next room sneaks into our games the way the howling of coyotes in the desert found its way into my dreams when I was camping with my dad as a kid, a weird kind of background music to whatever drama unfolds therein. The big difference, I suppose, is that because dreams are so malleable they tend to end up embracing all of these influences and integrating them. I can’t remember what form the howling took in my dream– it was a long and strange story, and the feeling of waking up to realize that the sound of my dream had followed me into the tent has stuck with me, but I can’t remember the story itself.

Some people will tell you the story doesn’t matter if you can’t remember it, but we forget everything eventually. Even if the story we are told or tell ourselves is immediately soaked into our fabric without a trace, it’s still there, it has still changed our composition, and whatever we compose in the future will bear its traces, if only ever so slightly.

Some people will tell you that a bad story is worse than no story. They are half-right. A bad story is better than no story at all, but just as nature abhors a vacuum the human mind abhors an absence of narrative. Given a world with no story, well, we will tell a story to fill it. Given a series of unconnected experiences, we will thread them together.

The holes in the story we build around the experience will be filled by the howls of coyotes, the muttering and laughter of our friends and family, the flushing of toilets and the subtle rhythm of our own heartbeats. And, though we may misplace the thread we use to bind these experiences together, it’s always there to be found, in the corner of an abandoned library you visit once a year when you dream about your grandparents’ house– no, not the real one, the one that’s bigger and stranger, the one that extends into five dimensions, the one where the wallpaper climbs into the ceiling and out through the sky and you are worried that if you touch the walls for too long you might be washed up it and out into space like a spider down a shower drain. That one.

It’s there.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream

  1. Miles said:

    A question that comes to me any time I have a recurring dream: Have I documented previous occurrences of this dream anywhere? Is there any evidence that it is actually a recurring dream? Or was the sense of dreamy déjà vu actually just a component of this dream? Could I have dreamt a real-world backstory to my dream?

      • Miles said:

        Oh, I told you about that dream?

      • Miles said:

        That’s because I never had it.


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