Dreamworlds and the Mysteries of Sleeping.

I saw Inception on Friday night, and it was a mind trip, to say the least. It was a very smart film, I thought, and made some assertions about dreams and dreamworlds that I found very astute. It’s worth ten dollars to see it.

I’m not much of a dreamer, and when I do have dreams, I can rarely remember them once I wake up. After I saw Inception, I had the most dream-filled night of sleep I’ve ever experienced. Was my subconscious just kick-started by the themes of the movie, and that’s why my dreams were so complex and vivid that night? Or was it just a coincidence?

To me, dreams are like one of the most mysterious things about life. There may be some science to it, but science itself can’t give concrete explanations for what happens in dreams and why. Psychology attempts to assess dreams and explain them based on what’s going on in the subconscious, but even those explanations seem to be mostly conjecture. So, dreaming is this thing that our brain does when we’re sleeping, but why do dream in the first place? Are dreams an outlet for expression that can’t find a physical manifestation in the waking world? Are dreams just a skewed reflection of the waking world?

One of the most interesting things about the movie was the notion of the architecture of dreams. The architect in the film has to dream the entire landscape of the dreamworld, and do it with enough detail to convince the dreamer that it’s real and not just a dream. In thinking about my own dreams, I realize that a lot of the locations in my dreams (that I can remember) have been based on real places that I’ve seen, but even more locations are entirely unrecognizable to me. Like I’m dreaming and I know that the location I’m in is meant to be my childhood home, but in actuality it looks nothing like my childhood home. How is my brain able to make up the architecture of this location from scratch? It seems like a really incredible artistic feat to be able to do such a thing.

The ways in which the dreamworld can bleed into the waking world is really bizarre as well. Have you ever had a dream and woke up thinking that what transpired in the dream had actually happened in real life? I’ve had about a hundred dreams like that, about relationships ending or people dying, and I wake up with regret or anguish only to realize that it isn’t reality. But it felt so real in my dream, it’s hard to divorce it from reality; there’s such a thin line between being awake and being asleep, and likewise with what happens when awake and when asleep. But at the same time, just because you dream something doesn’t mean it’s something you really desire in the waking world. I may dream about boys wooing me or getting back to together with ex-boyfriends, but that doesn’t mean that’s what I want in real life. And yet, if it’s not something I want in real life, what is making me dream about it?

I keep thinking about a scene from the movie Waking Life, where the protagonist is talking to a fellow with a biker vest on, and the biker is talking about lucid dreaming and recommends that, if you aren’t sure if you’re dreaming or not, that you should try to adjust light levels, ie. flip a light switch and see if the light changes or not. Lucid dreaming seems like a simple enough concept, but when I find myself dreaming and know that I’m dreaming, I’m unable to take advantage of that. It’s like, I am 100% positive I’m dreaming because I know there’s no possible way I could be executing an Evel Kneivel-style jump on a motorcycle in real life, but I still can’t make the motorcycle keep flying through the air; it always lands.

This post is kind of all over the place, but the movie kind of blew my mind and then all of these questions about dreams surfaced, and I just wanted to get it all down. What’s your take on dreams and their significance?


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