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We dream, let us say,  a sequence of persons, places and events whose casual linkages reside not in some ‘deep comprehension’ of those persons places or events, but instead are found in the empirical surfaces of the dream. [The dreamer] plainly understand[s], in the dream, how one event causes another. and how, possibly absurdly, two or more events are connected because the first is causing the next ones to occur; moreover, as the dream unfolds, [the dreamer] plainly sees how the whole chain of causation is leading to some conclusive event X; some denouement of the dream’s entire system of cause and effect.  Let us call this conclusive event X, and let us say that X occurred because of some previous event T which, in turn, was caused by S, whose cause was RE and so on; going from effect to cause, from latter to prior, from present to past, until we arrive at the dream’s starting point, usually some insignificant event A; and it is this event that is understood in the dream  as the first cause of the entire system.  But what about the tine external stimulus, the quick sharp noise, the brief ray of light?  To waking consciousness, this external stimulus is experienced as the cause of the whole causally interlocked system in which persons, places, and events arose in the dream.  Let us call this external cause Ω.

Now, what makes the dreamer awaken?  When we look at this question from the point of view of the waking consciousness, we might say that it is Ω (the noise or the light) that awakens us.  From within the dream, however, it is plainly the conclusive dream event X – the denouement – that, precisely because it ends the dream, awakens us.  Taken together, we see that Ω and X almost perfectly coincide in such a way that the dreamed content and the wakened cause are one and the same.  This coincidence is usually so exact that we never even wonder about the relation between X and Ω; Ω is obviously a “dream paraphrase” of some external stimulus invading our dream from without.

For example, I dream that a pistol has gone off, and in the room near me someone is actually shot, or someone has slammed a door.  So there is no doubt that the dream was accidental; of course the pistol shot in the dream is a spiritual echo of a shot in the outer world.  The two shots are, if you wish, the double perception – by the dreaming ear and by the sober ear – of the same physical process.  If in a dream I should see a multitude of fragrant flowers at the very moment that someone puts a bottle of perfume under my nose, it is wholly unnatural to think that the coincidence of the two fragrances (the flowers’ in the dream and the perfume’s in the waking world) is accidental.  Or I dream that someone is strangling me and wake in horror to find that a pillow has fallen over my face.

Or take the famous dream outlined in the psychology texts.  In this one the dreamer experiences the French Revolution, participating in the very beginnings of the Revolution and – for over a year inside the dream – goes through a long, complicated series of adventures; persecution, pursuit, terror, the execution of the King, and so on.  Finally, the dreamer is arrested with the Girondists, , thrown into prison, then condemned  by the Revolutionary council to die.  The wagon rolls through the streets to the guillotine; and he is taken from the wagon and his head is firmly placed on the headrest, and then the guillotine blade falls heavily onto his neck; and he awakens in horror.

It is the final event (X) that interests us: the touch of the blade on his neck.  Can anyone doubt this: that the whole dream sequence from the first stirrings of the Revolution to the conclusive fall of the blade, is one seamless whole,  Doesn’t the entire chain direct itself precisely to that conclusive event (touch of cold steel) that we term X?  To doubt this total interlocked coherence is to deny the very dream itself- and improbable supposition.

And yet the dreamer found, in the moment of his terrified awakening, that the metal bedstead of his bed had somehow broken and had struck him heavily upon his bare neck.  We cannot doubt the whole coherence of his dream from the first stirrings of the Revolution (A) to the the falling of the guillotine blade (X).  Equally, we cannot doubt that the sensation of the blade (X) and the touch of the metal (Ω) are the very same event; but perceived by different orders of consciousness; dreamed and wakened.

Thus, while X is a refelction of Ω in the imagery of the dream, it is clearly not some deus ex machina with no connection to the dream’s internal logic of events, some alien intruder that senselessly terminates the stream of inner imagery.  No, X is a true resolution.  It genuinely concludes the dream. None of this would be extraordinary if the touch of the bedstead (Ω) had awakened the sleeper and if in the instant of his awakening had been enfolded by the symbolic image of the touch , and if this symbolic image had subsequently unfolded into a dream of sufficient length.  But no, it is the external cause Ω which is the cause of the entire dream.  Thus, in daylight consciousness and according to the scheme of daylight causation, this event Ω, the bedstead falling on the dreamer’s neck should precede the first stirrings of the Revolution (A), but in the dreaming time, it happens inside out, and cause X appears not prior to all the consequences of A, and of all the entire sequence of consequences b,c,d..r.s.t) that follow thereupon, but following it, concluding the whole sequence determining it not as its efficient cause but as its final cause, its  τέλος.

Thus, time in dream runs, and acceleratedly runs, towards the actual and against the movement of time, when we think in the Kantian sense of time,  in the waking consciousness.  Dream time is turned inside out.  The very same event that is perceived from actual space as actual is seen from imaginary space as imaginary, i.e. as occurring before everything else in teleological time, as the goal or object of our purposefulness.  Contrarily, the goal seen from here appears, because of our to appreciate goals rightly, as something cherished but lacking the energy of the ideal, but seen from there,  from the other consciousness, the goal is comprehended as the living energy that shapes actuality as its creative form.


The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams