Sunday, December 9, 2012
Déjà Vu Dream
Have you ever had déjà vu in a dream?
I was between the dream world and the conscious state. I could see the bedroom around me but in some distant place I also experienced myself walking through a doorway. An enchanting old woman with flowing hair passed by me in a motorized wheelchair. I turned toward her. Instantly, there was a sort of conscious realization that I had seen her before; that this chance encounter was some sort of "glitch" in the dream program. At that precise moment our eyes met and she winked at me. I smiled as I jolted myself awake.
Who was she I wondered. I remained still so as not to completely disrupt the flow of thoughts coming from the dream state. If I stood up the dreams would fade into that pure energetic mist that flows through the cavities of my mind. I thought back to the dream. Each stretch backward becoming more and more difficult. Like a fading memory of a dream I once had but cannot touch. I have seen her before. Many times I think, at least four or five times that I could remember.
I went into the bathroom to wash my face. As I looked in the mirror, I noticed that the fine lines around my mouth were more pronounced. I thought back again to the old woman whose face was marked by the ebb and flow of time. A thought disrupted my racing heartbeat. What if that old woman was me? I looked at myself again in the mirror. If I were her, I would be happy to see myself like this, even with these advancing imperfections. I smiled again. The concept of time travel crossed my mind. The marriage of the flesh with machine. The complete indulgence of our conscious awareness playing in a virtual program. Why couldn't we time travel in our own mind? Go back and do what I might have just done here early this morning.
Let's examine the idea of time's motion and flow by comparing it to a dream. What does it mean when you're in an elevator in a dream and the elevator moves? Simply that the elevator is located at once place at one moment in time and at another place at later moment in time.
At time t, the elevator is on the rez-de-chaussée (ground floor). At later times t2 and t3, the elevator is located at places further up: the premier étage then finally to the penthouse at the very top. The motion of the elevator is defined in reference to time: the elevator moves by being located at different places at different times. If at every moment the elevator stayed in the same place - the rez-de-chaussée - then we would say that the elevator did not move.
Ordinary objects move with respect to time. So if time itself moves, it must move with respect to some other sort of time. But what sort of time would that other time be?
Let's think this through more carefully. Time seems to move by the present moment moving. At this moment, the elevator is on the ground floor. It is noon. Later the present moment reads 12:30 p.m. on the clock next to the elevator. Later still, 2 p.m., and so on.
Since motion is defined by reference to time, the present moment, if it is moving, must have these three different locations at three different times, t1, t2, t3, just as the moving elevator had three different locations at three different times. But the picture of the elevators is confusing. It mentions the times noon, 12:30, and 2:00, but it also mentions three other times, t1, t2, and t3. These are the times with respect to which the present moment is moving. But like I asked, in what sort of time does time itself move?
One possibility is that t1, t2, and t3 are part of a different sort of time, call it "dreamtime". Just as elevators move with respect to something else (time), time itself moves with respect to something else (dreamtime). Most motion takes place with respect to the familiar timeline, but time itself moves with respect to another timeline, dream time.
If ordinary time moves, so too would dreamtime. If in the future I have the option to travel back in dreamtime, I might have chosen early this morning as a destination dreamtime arrival. Of course that means that dreamtime would also have to move with respect to yet another sort of time, dreamy-dreamtime. That time must also move, which introduces dreamy-dream-dreamtime. If I can believe in time, I can believe in an infinite series of time.
Of course instead of being part of dreamtime, perhaps t1, t2, and t3 are just part of ordinary time as shown on my Sleep Cycle App and/or the digital clock display on my cell phone. In particular, t1, t2, and t3 could be the times noon, 12:30, and 2:00. According to this view, time moves with respect to itself.
Although the concept of dreamy-dream-dreamtime might seem a bit much, there's something strange about ordinary time. Noon is present at noon and 2:00 is present at 2:00, but that doesn't capture a flow of time. So, let's compare time to space, from present to here. Consider the spatial locations in an elevator shaft connecting these delightful little boxes that play music connecting the ground floor up to the penthouse. Anyone on the ground floor can truthfully say "This is the ground floor". Likewise, anyone on the penthouse level can say "here is the Penthouse", noon is present at noon, and so on. But space doesn't move. The line in space connecting the ground floor to the penthouse is static. The mere fact that members of a series are located at themselves does not make that series move, whether that series consists of points in time or locations in space.
Going back to my thought on glitches. Glitches can be accidental, systemic, or deliberate. An accidental glitch, like déjà vu in a dream, is one that is unintended, and difficult to anticipate because it has no systematic explanation. It just happens from time to time, or rather, from dreamtime to dreamtime.