A Dream within a Dream

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

  -- Edgar Allen Poe

Time and space do not exist; the imagination spins, weaving new patterns on a flimsy basis of reality: a mixture of memories, experiences, free associations, absurdities and improvisations.

-- August Strindberg

One of the more durable metaphors about life is that we dreamed up the whole thing. According to Hindu belief, the world of everyday reality is a veil of illusion known as Maya.  Plato likened the sensory world to shadows thrown on a cave wall.  The Matrix films present a high-tech version of Plato’s cave in which human beings dream their lives away in a carefully controlled virtual reality, while their vital energy is tapped by a master race of intelligent machines.  The point of all these metaphors is that we need to wake up.

Wake up from what?  If indeed we are dreaming, then we all appear to be having more or less the same dream. Either that, or everybody else in my dream is part of the dream, and I am the only one having it.  In the Matrix films, the humans are all curled up in pods and plugged into the same virtual reality program.  Assuming we are not connected by wires to the same source, we need to ask who the dreamer is.  Perhaps the dream is that we are all lost in our own little dream worlds, and when we wake up we will discover there is only one.

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