Sunday, October 18, 2009

Celebrity Editorials

Thought experiment: When the nation's two leading newspapers publish op-ed columns by Bono (The New York Times) and Rush Limbaugh (The Wall Street Journal) in the same weekend, what does it say about the well-being of print media that it is soliciting celebrities for their "insightfulness". (In case you are wondering, I have read both columns; neither of them was the worst that I had read in either paper--for the Times that prize would go to most anything by Paul Krugman or Frank Rich and for the Journal it would go to Sarah Palin's column last month on the health-care debate--but was the fact that both columns were "not terrible" the reason why they were printed?)

Friday, October 9, 2009

On the Ridiculousness of Obama's Peace Prize

Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is remarkable: Remarkable because the Nobel Prize Committee has just hit a new low. I don't know when it began (though I suspect that it was when Jimmy Carter won the award earlier in the decade) but the Nobel Peace Prize has simply become a passive aggressive cleaver with which the Parliament of Sweden comments on American foreign policy. If nothing else, I suppose, it demonstrates that America still has a huge impact on the world. The Nobel Prize Committee is apparently so concerned that they have awarded the prize to a president in advance, based on what he has said he will do, rather than what he has done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Does a Dream Constitute a Whole, or Partial, Experience?

I should preface this post by noting that one of my pet-peeves is when someone relates his or her dream to me. There is a reason why, when God created us, He did not put a television screen floating ethereal above our heads so that people could watch what we thought: Because the head is private space, and it shouldn't be leased to strangers on a whim. I have no desire to step inside someone else's head, and I don't want anyone else to take me there. After having said that, I'll now say that I am discussing dreams in this post, and I have decided to use two of mine as case studies. So, if you are at all like me, dear reader, then please, read no further. Also, for Freudians or any others who are like to see a sub-conscious symbol at any turn, I have no interest in these subjects and my readers--if there are any--probably do not have an interest in these topics either; please comment elsewhere. What interests me is how the dream applies to our conscious modes of experience, not how it reflects subconscious desires (if these do, indeed, exist--I am no expert.)

Now all of that is cleared up, so let me begin by restating the question which is the title of this post: Does a dream consistute a whole, or partial, experience? (And to this let me add the sub-question of whether or not this experience is applicable to the real world.) I cannot address this topic myself, as my only expertise is as a dreamer myself.

Most dreams that I have had in the past have occurred more like montages and most I have not recalled in the morning (though I seem to have wakened with the sense that I had sensed something during the past night). This was not so with a dream that I had (or, should I say, experienced?) more than a year ago--I do not recollect the date. In this dream, I had a son out of wedlock. I realize that this would be seriously unethical in the world in which I actually live, but in the microverse of the dream, this issue was hardly raised. It was a dream which inhabited the bare facts rather than the contemplative ideals; the only reason that I mention the birth was out of wedlock was because it drives home the unexpectedness of the experience.

In the dream, I remember the white tile of the hospital, who was in the room and why, even the features of the muling infant. And I also remember that either I--or the alternative persona who I was inhabiting in the dream--was at first upset with the inconvenience of the responsibility but, when confronted with the reality of fatherhood for the first time, underwent what could only be called a rebirth through this birth; a certian moment of epiphany in which I realized that my identity would now be redefined and, though I had little experience in this new life, i knew from the alienated recollection of the past that this would be the happiest moment that I would ever have.

Since I could obviously not replicate this dream in the real world without serious ethical hazard, the only way to discover whether this constitutes a genuine experience (even though artificially induced) is to ask the vast web of blog-readers who are fathers whether they remember this sort of experience when their first child was born. In other words, since it happened in an alternate reality--one of which the mind alone is king--is this experience false, or was the sensational reaction genuine?

The other dream I mean to pose more as a thought experiment: I recollect taking a taxi home from my former place of work (The University Inn) in the middle of winter. The taxi is crammed with seven different people so I am forced to sit on the floor with no seatbelt (something which could not happen in reality, as it would be against safety regulations). A blizzard has broken out. Then, just twenty paces from where I am to step out of the vehicle, the taxi skids. I view the process by which the driver loses control through the backwindshield; I see the car tracks like a straight line in the snow become jagged and then curved as the taxi careens into the creek on the other side of the road. I first I do not believe that this could be a reality; people die in accidents all the time, but I never thought that I could be involved in an accident; then, through the backwindshield, I see the black tree branches pass against the white sky and I tbink, finally, some peace! and I close my eyes (an act which wakes me).

Is this how I would react were I confronted by this experience in actuality? I wonder. And i hope that you enjoy wondering about it also.