Reality Sandwich | Meditations in an Emergency
Over the last few days, I have received several warnings from people that I consider more knowledgeable than most about the potential for a severe socio-economic disruption within the next week. The Arlington Institute, a future trends think tank, has been doing a study of precognitive dreams. Of course, dreams are imprecise yardsticks, but based on past patterns, they do seem to reveal aspects of what may take place. John Peterson, the director of TAI, believes that this data, along with other indicators he tracks, reveals the potential for a severe crisis that could unfold this weekend or early next week. Possibilities include a “terrorist” event such as an electro-magnetic pulse weapon, detonated on the East Coast of the US. Such an explosion could lead to a temporary wipeout of electronic equipment and hard drives, forcing the financial system itself to “reset.” Another option may be some development connected with Iran or Russia.
Friends from within the financial world have contacted me to note that the panicked sell-off of stocks may indicate foreknowledge, on the part of some insiders, of an imminent announcement of even worse news than we have heard so far. This could be related to the banking system, or a military maneuver. One option that has been raised is that the banking system will be shut down next week. The officials may be waiting until after banks close on Friday to release this information, in order to limit panic, giving time for the information to be absorbed (Monday is a bank holiday).
I am suggesting to friends that it may be prudent to have some cash and basic provisions on hand, as the next few weeks may see some disruptions in basic services. Of course, this is still highly speculative and unlikely. However, it seems prudent to make some preparations, however modest.
This was linked to by Bodil, whom I love dearly. Anyway, Ms. Bodil, and the rest of you: please, please do not take this seriously! We are pack animals. When we see other people panic, we panic. There’s no precognition at work here, any more than someone yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is “predicting” a stampede for the exit.
And, I should say this: I love dreams. I love dreams very, very much. I am a dream enthusiast, and I consider dreams to be valuable windows into our souls. That said: do not attempt to use them to predict the future! Certainly, dreams can be looks into subconscious processes that we are far to distracted when awake to recognize. Dreams can hone your intuition to see something right in front of you that you’ve been missing all along. Dreams can probably predict the future more accurately than some TV finance pundit pulling stocks from his nether regions, but in general, dreams cannot predict the future (unless you mean by the fact that they are so damned cryptic they can be interpreted, after the fact, to have meant just about anything).
For instance, I once had a dream that I was aboard the Battlestar Galactica, and Cmdr. Adama saw fit to have us land on a planet with hot springs for some relaxation (before, presumably, resuming our regular duties of running from Cylons). I dearly wanted to take a rest in the springs myself, but some bureaucratic screw-up resulted in my colonial ID card being withheld, without which I could not gain access to the springs. I had to speak with the Commander personally, which made me shiver as he was far above me in the chain of command. None of this has since occured.
I remember a dream where I was battling zombies in a large house. I fought zombies for so long, as part of a team, that I became thoroughly exhausted. I fought zombies until we were finally able to procure a cause and a cure for the zombification, a cure I was so confident in that I kissed one of the zombies, a zombie I had fallen in love with. None of this has since occured.
I remember other dreams. I dreamt that I became part of a secret paranormal society upon arriving at my brother’s alma mater (which I recently transferred to), hoping it was all meant to be an amusing joke and a fun hobby (like a “vampire hunting” club or somesuch), but beginning to worry it was more. I remember a dream where I fought in an insurgency to save “George Lucas’s” people, an ethnicity whose name as such was never defined, who lived in a large jungle gym beseiged by colonists. I remember eating Sonic canned pasta (with meatballs!) while sitting in a bathtub, until I realized that the bathtub had filth in it. I’ve been stalked by Number Six, witnessed the resurrection of Martin Luther King, Jr., been irritated at length by an automated, talking advertisement at a fare box, flown over a Barack Obama street march (one that included the man himself) by holding tightly onto my flying pillow, and been ordered, in no uncertain terms, to fill a bucket with jelly while at Trader Joe’s. (I mean, I had to use a knife to scoop jelly from the jars that were on the shelf. I did not purchase these jars. It was an order!) I’ve even been sent to Hell, noting that it was more boring than agonizing, and realizing that my great regrets in life were more simple sloth (why didn’t I do more things? Why didn’t I call more people back? Why didn’t I stick up for myself?) than outright immorality. In fact, I guessed that’s why I had gone to Hell; I’d let myself become my own worst enemy. (I did get to bring along a few possessions, including a Sonic action figure.) I did have one chance to redeem myself: a trial of my peers, or rather, a trial whose judging panel consisted of household appliances, such as a broom, a vacuum cleaner, and an Atari 2600. (I may have made this up later, but I think the 2600 was struck by lightning and became a beautiful, naked woman.)
None of these have since occured.
I’ve had a thousand variations on the “naked dream.” I’ve lived in a thousand permutations of every home I’ve ever lived in, and visited a thousand permutations of every school I’ve ever been to, including ones I barely remember. (Last night, I returned to my middle school to find that I was so popular, people deferred to my judgment when I changed clothes in the middle of the classroom.) I’ve met famous people, I’ve met dead people, I’ve seen loved ones go insane, I’ve seen people I thought were awful turn out to be all right. Once, in elementary school, I dreamt that my school could secretly turn into a giant robot, though the long hallway to the art room made for a single, awkward arm.
None of these have since occured!
I know that divining the future from dreams is meant to be something allegorical and imprecise, but that’s exactly the problem: they are so allegorical and imprecise, you can divine absolutely anything, especially when fitting them after the fact as allegories to what actually happened. Rather, I think dreams are wonderful and valuable because you get a look at how you think of the world, what goes on in your mind when your brain is so bored, it makes up a fully interactive world around you. (I once had a dream that ended when I exited my bedroom into a vast, white abyss; the dream didn’t go that far!) I’ve learned a technique—one that I haven’t been able to use very often, sadly, since I seem to be the only person for kilometers around who doesn’t think the recitation of dreams is boring—of analyzing dreams that goes to their heart by asking the dreamer himself or herself to define the dream’s various elements, because dreams are about the meanings you attach to things, not what some buck-fifty “dream dictionary” from the impulse aisle says they mean.
But also… I have such trouble tapping my creativity when sitting at a desk or at my computer (partly due to my over-analytical and overly critical mind, the enemy of any writer on a first draft, and the writer’s best friend on a second), that the fact that my mind turns off for eight hours a night and passes off things that are completely absurd as fact is downright beautiful. In fact, that’s what really gives me a problem with ascribing the paranormal to our everyday night stories… you don’t need to “make” dreams beautiful. They are beautiful. They are wondrous and sensuous, they come from the innermost recesses of our creativity and how you see the world. Social rules, laws of physics, laws of sheer causality are suspended for an obnoxious, nightly romp through the ephemeral. That’s lovable. That’s glorious. That’s spectacular on its own. I don’t need to dilute its beauty through supernatural explanations; its beautiful because it comes from us, and we, ourselves, are beautiful.
(And God made us in God’s own image, endowing us with awesomeness, etc.)
In fact, I’d really extend this to why I dislike “the paranormal” in general (besides the fact that, were “the paranormal” proven true, and thus scientifically relevant, it would be, well, normal and thus defeating its own definition). You don’t need to make the world beautiful. It is beautiful, and looking for supernatural explanations distracts you from the real explanations that are themselves beautiful. The paranormal is junk food for the brain; the paranormal is a trick that makes you see the world in simple terms rather than one given glorious complexity (I would say, by the Creator). The paranormal is a distraction from what’s really fun and exciting, but requires commitment and skepticism: cold, hard science.
That’s what I don’t like about peddlers of the paranormal who say they are somehow bestowing some essential mystery upon the world: the world is essentially mysterious, and if you want to be on the forefront of that mystery, join the ranks of scientists (and the armchair enthusiasts like me) who are constantly speculating, hypothesizing, forming great theories and knocking them down, all in pursuit of knowledge at the very edge of human comprehension. Don’t boil it down to “negative energy” and psychic predictions and enneagrams and all-seeing gurus. Go for the good stuff, the hard stuff, the rewarding stuff. Go for science.
(I will also say that this is why I don’t like pop psychology dividing us into the “left-” and “right-brained”; the good Lord gave you two lobes, dammit! Science is a wonderful art, and art, an exacting science. Do both with a spirit of purpose, and a childlike enchantment with the unknown!)