To wake up and discover you are still a child and have what the child wanted, dream and reality together. (From The Memory Book)
- What's new?
- Well, at Starbucks, these days, on the left side and the right side of the entrance are two men who talk to themselves, there used to be just one.* They don't speak to each other. Or, needless to say, listen to each other. And there's the young guy at Beverly Canon Gardens who has set up shop selling, tastefully framed, the original American Declaration Of Independence.
- That's rare.
- Yes. He's willing to offer a good price, though on the internet it is going for 3 or 4 billion dollars.
- Is he selling anything else?
- He might have a couple more in his suitcase. Remember the watchmaker from Switzerland I told you about?** Tonight I saw him sitting at the document seller's table, arms crossed in a significant fashion, the document seller doing the same. Turns out they are masonic brothers.
- How do you find these people?
- They find me.
- Anything else happening?
- I have this recurring dream in which I know there is a friend, a love, someone from my past who I can't remember but who is going to reappear and save me, get my life back on track.
- What's wrong with your life?
- It's stuck. You know how in science fiction stories what happens in a dream world affects the real world, or sometimes the other way around, what happens in the real world affects the dream world, or sometimes both?
- Well, that is not what I mean. I mean that I had my dreams, and for the first half of my life had absolute contempt for reality. I didn't have the slightest wish to change reality, and wasn't at all afraid that reality would deprive me of my dreams.
- And the second half of your life?
- I saw that artists could make make a reality that incorporated their dreams, but I wasn't an artist. So what was I to do?
- Make an art out of life.
- Yes, make an art out of life, but how does one do that?
- Romance and adventure. Get into trouble, fall in love, get out of trouble and get the girl.
- And if you are too shy to throw yourself into love and adventure?
- I don't know. What's left, if you're not an artist and not a hero?
- What used to be called philosophy.
- Are you admitting to being a philosopher now?
- I'll tell you a story. Or rather, go on with the one I was telling. I had this recurring dream of a forgotten friend or lover reappearing and saving me...
- From a life you can't be a hero in or make art out of.
- Yes, reappear and save me from my incompetence. And last month, out of the blue of my computer's screen comes an email from the Swedish girl I was in love with when I was in my 20s.
- How old was she?
- 19. She was really wild, we went travelling, she disappeared. A few years later she reappeared, she was living in San Diego. We met for a day, she disappeared again. I tracked her down a few years later, she was living in London. We went travelling, she disappeared again.
- I sense a pattern.
- And last month, the pattern reasserts itself, and after an interval of more than 25 years, she reappears again. The dream become a reality, with the friend I had forgotten reappearing.
- To go by the past, not for long.
- I was most curious to know how she remembered me, that person I was 25 or 30 years ago.
- She probably remembered a dreamer who didn't see or care about patterns.
- You're right. I told her how I was living, and she didn't believe me. A dreamer like me needed money, and needed social class to protect him. If I had neither money nor social class...
- Why did she think you had money?
- When we met I was living and working with my father. He was wealthy at the time, had a successful business.
- Go on.
- So, according to her, if I had neither money nor social class to protect me for my life of dreaming, I would either have to stop dreaming or be dead. Since I wasn't dead...
- You were a liar. What was your answer?
- Maybe you'll like this. My answer was that I'd figured out how to get dreams to directly change reality without ever being separate from reality.
- And of course you're going to tell me how dreams change reality.
- They do it by existing within reality, by opening it up, finding possibilities that were already there and setting them free.
- And how do you do that?
- How else if you're not a hero and not an artist?
- By philosophy.
- Think about the accusation my Swedish friend made against me. I must be lying, because dreams were not reality; because my dreams required money; because my dreams depended on inequality in social relations, on a class structure. But then: if possibility existed in physical reality, of a different understanding of the physics of things that included both alternatives of a world seen as a whole and of individual, separate things; if possibility existed in economic reality other than exchange between enemies, of instead gifts between friends; if possibility existed in political reality, in which the reality of economic generosity became the means of political organization, and the end aimed at of political organization became gaining sight of a physical world of things seen without separation,*** then?
- Then your dreaming would have remade reality. Did your dreaming remake reality? Physical, economic, political reality?
- You see me here before you, still existing, still alive.
- But judging by your constant complaining, maybe not for long. Do you claim your mere thinking of these possibilities actually changed reality so as to let you go on living when otherwise, I agree with your Swedish recurrently absconding friend, you should be dead? Or did you in actual fact act on your thinking?
- I acted. Though I didn't except ridiculously have adventures, I got married and I did a kind of business,**** I talked and thought my way through such that my romantic and heroic incompetence was overcome.
- Philosophy opened up possibilities in economic and political reality and kept a dreamer like you alive and in your dreams. Really truly?
- You see the evidence before you, living and breathing.
- You live to tell the tale. I don't have to believe it.
- I'll work on telling it better. Until then, here's a reading list:
You Have To Have A Story
Noam Chomsky & Mental Things
The Tools To Remake Our Lives
When We Love
P.S. The woman of my dreams wrote: "You and what we call reality don't seem to be on the same page. Normally, this is something that I quite like. (Really.) But it does require absolute freedom and funds. Without freedom and funds, not quite understanding reality can and will always result in complete disaster. So - you see - it's a bit scary. For real. Have you ever heard of the term "slumming"? This is what you were doing. Checking out poor people like some sort of sociological study." Listen: Dreamer
* You Crazy, Man!
*** Means & Ends
**** Married To The Business Of Buying