2008-12-12

The feeling of dreams

We millenia-old semi-mythical dog types spend a lot of time weaving through dreams, the subconscious and the unconscious. It's in the job description. So, when, a couple of days ago, Japanese scientists announced that they'd taken tentative steps to 'read' images in people's brains and display them, I raised an eyebrow. The mechanics involve a lot of big expensive, cool science-y stuff, described in science-y language, but there's a slightly simpler translation here.

The commentary I've seen so far is along the lines of "Cool! In ten years I can show my friends my dreams! In Technicolor®™!"

Does anybody else feel alarmed?

Until now, we coyotes assumed that our thoughts and dreams were very private things, unless we ourselves chose to describe them to somebody else. Considering some of the things I've thought, that's a comfort. Because the idea that others might see them leads my thoughts down a very dark Orwellian alley. Coyote's 116th Law states if such a tool exists, somebody, somewhere, will find a way to misuse it, probably in the name of something like, oh, homeland security. The corollary to Coyote's 116th Law is that such equipment will eventually be consumerized, be manufactured in quantity and then fall into the hands of officious masses of un- or under-trained idiots who think they know what they're doing, simply because they're packing the gear and had a half-day workshop. Think airport security screeners. Or Tasers.

You may also be thinking that the paranoid doggy dreams of imaginary monsters under his bed, but that leads to my point. My dreams are mine, and you very probably can't understand them unless you are me. I don't know what you dream, of a night, when your paws scrabble as if you're chasing bunnies across a pristine prairie, but I'm not convinced that somebody else peeking in on the complicated swirl of oddly dis/un/connected images that is a dream is gonna interpret it with any reliability. I have trouble articulating it because of the nature of dreams themselves, but I suspect that they are far more about individual background, context and feeling than about a fragmentary movie playing on a voyeur's monitor. Without the associated feelings the movie is really out of focus. I also suspect that any equipment freak who thinks he can parse 'em in anything other than the crudest way can dream on. In Technicolor®™.

5 comments:

4th Dwarf said...

Last night I dreamed I bought a cheap plastic kayak for $1000 and instantly regretted the purchase.

While I was trying to figure out how to get the kayak home and had my back turned, someone stole my bicycle seat and carrying rack.

When I went to pay a cabdriver to get me home, I discovered that the government had put my picture on the ten dollar bill. On the same side as Wilfrid Laurier's picture, but smaller and next to the big "10".

Sure it was cool to be on the $10 bill (not as cool as on the $20), but I was upset because I'd licensed the picture Creative Commons non-commercial use with attribution and share-alike and having the picture on money seemed like commercial use to me, there was no attribution and no mention of the share-alike term.

I started trying to figure out how much to ask for each printing of the picture and then I woke up.

I have a question and a comment:

The Question: As you are a semi-mystical sham(an) who has spent awful time weaving through dreams, the subconscious and the unconscious, tell me: should I buy a lottery ticket today?

The Comment: Your essay today made me all nostalgic for the editorials written when Ted Turner started colourizing black and white movies, and earlier when talkies came out.

I'm not alarmed. If anybody wants to watch one of my dreams, I can just come over to your house, and you act normal while I walk around with no pants on.

coyote said...

Buy a lottery ticket. It's the stuff dreams are made of...

XUP said...

I welcome someone probing my thoughts. One glimpse into my diseased mind and they'll cancel the whole project forever.

zoom said...

I wouldn't mind being able to watch reruns of my own dreams from time to time, but I wouldn't want anybody else to have access to them.

Woodsy said...

It's possible that only Nursemyra wouldn't be shocked by my dreams.