too much typing—since 2003



Peculiar dream last night: I was sitting on the couch, listening to music, when I noticed that the digital readout on the CD player had stopped. (This being a dream, I didn't notice the music itself...) I shortly realized that this wasn't an electronic glitch, because everything had stopped: the trees outside the window were frozen motionless, the cats were completely still, and so on. And I realized that "I" - in this instance my consciousness, and visual point of view - could move outside my body, which remained seated, motionless, on the couch. I could go anywhere, view anything, nearly instantaneously (from my perspective) - but time itself, it appeared, had stopped. I realized that, in fact, I had died, and that this is what death was: consciousness was inhibited from moving forward in time, though no longer limited in space to one's own body. It seemed both peculiarly liberating and dreadfully final: from my perspective, nothing would move, change, or evolve again, and everything was frozen in that moment's tableau.

I suppose (and now I'm thinking about the dream: this wasn't part of it) that one could find plenty of interest just in exploring that moment so thoroughly (a literalization of Eno's "Long Now"?), but it seemed an odd twist on the conventional notion that one's "soul" or perceiving self might persist beyond death, in the sense that it could take in events happening after that death.

And in my waking life, I don't believe in an afterlife or in any such entity as the "soul" (consciousness is an emergent tendency of the complex neural net of all our senses and perceptions: something like that), but the emotional logic of imagining a "self" beyond one's body is evidently compelling enough to work itself out in dreams.

(Another subject entirely: thanks to Puala-Bear for this link, to Greg Palast's blast against Reagan hagiographizing - a word every bit as ugly as the process...)


velvet lane said...

Jeff, what you describe is the classic "out of body" experience. I wonder if you were even really asleep.

2fs said...

I suppose I could've been half-asleep... But does the typical OOBE involve time stoppage? I mean, I'm pretty sure we're simply talking about a dream that incorporated a (non-typical, perhaps) notion of OOBE - not sure why that would have happened, but then dreaming is the brain's shuffle-play mode...

velvet lane said...

Time-stoppage would make sense, as the soul is timeless.