Sunday, June 15, 2014

On Dreaming: Guests, Visitors, and Co-Participants

There are a lot of characters that join me in my dreams; I almost never find the landscape void of everyone, not that that would necessarily be a bad thing. My characters are varied, their identities coming from all sorts of places.

Also note: while I refer to these characters as if they are people, human beings, that is not always the case for any of the following categories (yes, including the first one).

Twins & Clones
It may seem like a easy way out, a shortcut into populating dreams with duplicates of myself, but it most certainly is not. Being rather attracted to my own self (at least, more than I'm attracted to anyone else these days) and enjoying my own company at least as much as that of others' (if not more), it's a pleasure (in more ways than one) for me. I like being surrounded by self-copies.

Those copies, be they twins, clones, or otherwise, tend to exist in two different types. The first is self-existing bodies, and the second is as an extension of myself. In the first case, they are separate people who simply look and act like me; same body, same personality, but I don't get to experience their perspective. In the second, they act more like an extension of myself, as if my consciousness inhabited or was spread across more than one physical manifestation, not unlike my right hand and my left hand, except they are not joined to each other by flesh.

Experiencing extensions of oneself, and thereby experiencing yourself interacting with yourself is a very unique experience. If you ever find yourself in a similar dream, I highly recommend taking full advantage of it. You might learn some things about yourself and about how other people perceive you.

Splinters of Myself

This is one of the most common types of personality that populates my dreamscapes, seconded only by the next category. Splinters of myself are not twins or clones as I described in the previous section; I do not have any control over them, they rarely act as I would or look as I do. I use the term "splinter" literally: they are aspects of my personality, usually ones that are conflicting, and they manifest without or separate from the alternate part of myself that interferes with them.

The best example of splinter can be found in my (unfortunately mostly abandoned) story "Bands." This story was one of the many that was found in a dream, but unlike most stories that started that way, this was regularly fueled by additional installments in dreams; it was a serial dream, one of my longest running and longest spanning, occurring over the span of several years.

In Bands, there are three main characters: Paul, Katie, and Chris, and each of them was a splinter of myself, with something "more" thrown in. That more was something ethereal and borderline magical, something beond the normal that the real me, either with all the parts pulled back together or if I'd majored in one and let the other parts of me go, would never be capable of.

They were splinters that were literally living their own lives, and as they told me of their adventures, or I watched in dreams (sometimes through Paul's eyes but usually as an omnipotent observer), I would write them down, compile the pieces, and there was the story.

Somebody I Used To Know

This is defintely the largest demographic of people who populate my dreams. Whether I knew them for only a few hours, or I saw them regularly for several years, they have about an equal chance of showing up and participating in some way. They usually behave as I would expect them to from the impressions I picked up while I knew them, and I rarely have any control over their actions, even in lucid dreams or WBTB events.

When I make note of these people in my dream journal, I generally try to only refer to them by their initials or a nickname that few besides myself know. It's mostly because they are usually people I don't interact with anymore and I don't wish to draw them into being associated with me without their consent. I'll leave them to make that decision, and if they find the dream less than flattering, well, all the better that I referred to them in an obscure enough fashion that they can't accuse me of libel.

They are sometimes main characters and sometimes background characters, but I rarely get duplicates of one person in a single dream. That feature seems to be limited exclusively to myself.

Popular media too often portrays dreams as a place where you can do anything you want in the presence of celebrities and famous people, whether it be socialize, flirt, or something malicious or erotic. For myself, it is only very rarely that famous faces take the stage in my dreams, and when they do, it's usually only in a supporting role to those in the above categories.

Again, when sharing these dreams publicly, I try to leave only initials or limited references of their identity; though it is far less obscuring (and usually easier to guess) than private citizens' names, it still allows for a sense of humility: I'm not publishing the dream to celebrate the presence of someone famous, I'm publishing it to share and complete my dream journal. The purpose is the dream and the storyline contained therein, not the people.

Somebody That I Haven't Met Yet
It's strange, but sometimes my mind seems to invent people. They're not a part of me, not a part of someone else, not someone I once met, or saw off in the distance. They seem to be completely of themselves and no-one else. These people are hard to spot in my dream journals, because I largely describe them by referring other people I know who share or remind me of particular characteristics.

That's not to say that these new people are just people I've met before wearing a new skin; everybody shares some aspects of their personality with someone else; given a wide enough friend-base and a comprehensive index of their characteristics (both physical and behavoristic) I could describe just about any mixture.

If nothing else, I'm hardly ever lonely in my dreams, and when I am lonely, I'm not truly alone. My interactions with people in the dreamworlds are more akin to my online interactions with consensual-reality personages: more cultured, more comfortable, than my face-to-face interactions, where I generally come off as shy and borderline anti-social.

What sort of characters and creatures populate your dreams?