Wednesday, 24 January 2018

What if it was all a dream?

Suppose the following;

The cosmos is the dream of a particular, single meta-being. This being is unconscious now, we don't know how long it’s been asleep and we don't know when it will wake up but we know, absolutely, that it *will* wake up.

All this is known without question, it's provable in some simple and obvious way.

How would this affect human culture?

In Lovecraft this is a nightmare scenario, but in real life probably people would just adapt to it. It’s a rather rough religion but its noticeably more hopeful than pure materialism (unless you are Sam Harris and the illusion of transcendence is the REAL monster).

If you knew that you were a fragment of another beings sleeping imagination, would it change, in any material sense, anything you do or anything about the way you act?


There would, I think, be three kinds of death.

The first would be the mild death, this would be like a character being cancelled from a TV series or serial comic, only to come back in another form or in another continuity.

Because everything is the giants dream, no-one and nothing is ever truly completely lost, they could, in theory, just be brought back into reality and all our thoughts and memories would accept this as normal like people in dreams don't react to any strangeness in the dream.

So one attitude to death is that the person isn't really dead or fully gone, because nothing ever is, and you, or someone exactly like you, may interact with them in some future continuity or reality. They are 'dead for now', or 'dead in this continuity'.

The second death would be the 'fully forgotten' death. In this case, the giant has completely lost interest in that person and is no longer going to re-create or renew them. They are like an unpopular character, or a character on an old 1950's TV series where the original tapes have been lost, and no-one recorded them, but a few people sort-of remember them. In this case the dream goes on but they are utterly void.

An interesting thing is that people in the dream wouldn't know if any particular death they witnessed was a type one or a type two death. So a prayer would be for the life of a particular loved one to be so interesting or relevant to the giants dream that they are certain to be brought back at some point, in some reality, in some way. And the aim of a life might be to be worth remembering (for a Giant meta-being, whatever that means).

And then the final death would be 'The Giant Wakes Up', a kind of apocalypse for this reality in which everything goes.


When the Giant wakes up will its dreams then become thoughts or will they be wiped out and forgotten like most of our dreams?

Would it be so bad to be a forgotten dream? It could be like being transformed into a being of mighty extra-reality purpose. Dreams are a bit idle and purposeless but perhaps, when we wake up and the substance of dreams transforms and becomes thoughts, they become filled with energy and direction? In this version of the apocalypse, everyone and everything gets broken down and re-energised, but now full of illumination, drive, direction and unquestioning purpose, everything would become what it was meant to be and maybe that would feel pretty good? If so it’s good for the giant to wake up.

Or, maybe we are transformed like a caterpillar, mulched up into goo & genetically re-combined and the new thing made of our substance isn't really us in any meaningful way so we pretty much die like idle forgotten thoughts. In this case the great waking-up is pretty bad (though still divinely mandated so just shut up and deal with it "materialists").


In this reality the status and nature of dreams is a vital subject. Do dreams affect us once we wake? If we remember them do we learn anything? Do they affect us even if we don't remember them?

Some think the dream is a prophetic one, and an important prophecy as well, so that everything we do has, not only serious purpose in the outer world but also a kind of transcendent purpose, even in that reality, that we are engaged in seeing into the future of a reality beyond our own.

Others think it’s important for us to generate some vital new idea, like a generative dream that a scientist or artist might have, and argue that this must be the reason as why else have a dream of such complexity? The Giant must be dreaming of something consequential, dangerous and important. If we can somehow embody or represent that idea, we can maybe make a thought that will save another world.

Some people think we should work to make sure the Dreamer has a pleasant dream as this makes them less likely to wake up, thereby extending out existence, and if they do wake up they will have pleasant memories and will be in a better mood when they go about their 'day' whatever that is, so our lives will have some positive effect on 'the real'. Some want the giant to have a pleasant dream because, why wouldn’t you? If you can’t do anything else you may as well make things more bearable for your meta-creator.

(A minority points out that we have no idea how long the 'sleep' has gone on since all our thoughts, memories and records could have been created a moment ago and we wouldn't realise, and could be re-created on a moment-by moment basis and we wouldn't know that either, so any conception of the 'length' of the dream is meaningless.)

Others think fuck no, make it a Nightmare. It’s hard to wake up from a nightmare, you always remember a really nasty one. If we are going to have an effect on the real, it may as well be a strong one, plus fuck the real if they made us like this, but also (calm voice) could a 'bad' effect also be a 'good' effect, like a moral lesson? like a Scrooge situation where whatever it is wakes up and realises they should be less of a dick.

The Mundanes say all of these suppositions are stupid and that this is a commonplace dream of a hyper-being, they use statistics to confirm this.

And of course it’s always possible that someone, somewhere, is the point of view of the Dreamer. Some say that’s stupid as why would an omni-intelligence incarnate as a micro being in a dream of such scale. The dreamer must be aware of all things that are happening everywhere as the dream is built around them. Others say, no, it could happen, you could dream you were an ant in a hive and dream the whole hive at the same time. Also who the fuck are we to say what may or may not be possible for a hyperbeing capable of imagining the whole cosmos simultaneously (presuming they are actually doing that and not just imagining a small section of it and 'painting the backgrounds'.)


Thinkers try to understand the nature of the outer-world by examining the nature of this one
just as our dreams mimic and transform the 'real world' is this reality a surreal version of another? By examining the dream, could you work to understand the Real?

Our dreams have weird physical laws and strange, unpredictable events, so if our 'reality' is proportionately more 'dreamlike' than the Real, but looks the same, does that mean the Real is a place of ultimate Iron-hard mundanity from our point of view, and all this "physics" shit is actually pretty whacky compared to the real entropically-locked Cosmos?

And if the Real is really more real in exactly that way, then does that mean that Cosmos is dying faster than our own? And if it is like ours, and dying, then is this the death-dream of a Final HyperBeing? and the reason we haven't woken up is that the giant is having a heart attack or orbiting a black hole or something and that there will be no waking up except into ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION?


  1. This whole setup - where the giant who has been dreaming the whole universe finally wakes up, and everything that we thought of as 'real' gets reconfigured as component parts of a higher reality, retaining its specificity while having its meaning and value enhanced to cosmic levels - is basically what happens in plates 94-9 of William Blake's 'Jerusalem'. He also does many different versions of the 'cosmic dreamer wandering within his own dream' concept, as both Albion (the giant) and the embodied personifications of his fragmented personality traits and mental faculties end up wandering around his dream-world (i.e. our reality), within which they variously manifest as godlike beings and apparently ordinary people. (Enitharmon, who from our perspective is effectively the goddess of space, sometimes manifests as a ragged madwoman wandering the streets of great cities. That bit has always stuck with me.)

    One day I will do a proper post on adapting Blake's cosmology to D&D. It has Druid Spectres and everything!

  2. >By examining the dream, could you work to understand the Real?
    If to use a personal example, yes - nightmares taught me about my fears the things I didn't suspect before.

  3. Kinda reminds me of Rêve du dragon, except that there is more than one dreamer there as the dragons dream the world collectively. Yeah, that's a big difference.

  4. Another faction, the Fatalists... "What if we are in a thought instead of a dreaming? The role of everyone is already predefined in this thought being weaved by the dreaming demiurge."

  5. Perhaps we already woke up, or woke up a while ago and are drowsing again and that which was once so clear is becoming trippy and laden with portent. Individuals who made sense in their concrete and contradictory individuality become Jungian caricatures.

    This explains a lot.

  6. No, useful, handy for when your wir-healers wander through the brain of some dreaming titan and have a chat with its factions of ideologues, handy to have an entire nation that believes this and acts accordingly even though your characters have empirical knowledge to the contrary, excellent

  7. At the risk of belaboring the obvious: the glossed-over slips and breaks in continuity, the unusual flow of time, the mix of the portentous and the inane that characterize a dream also sound a lot like the typical D&D play experience. In which case is the giant at the table? And what happens at the table when the giant wakes?

    1. "What happens at the table when the giant wakes?"
      He goes get pizza and laugh at the silliness of his dream.