Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dreams, Forgetting, Capitalism, Game

Lest you think Loren has staged some kind of coup d'état around here, I'm posting this quick thought.

A few nights ago, I had the first dream I could remember in a long time. It was more disjointed than usual, and also more topical-- there were elements from my current work life in there, plus people I know and news of the day (via The Daily Show, of course).

To summarize: in the dream, I had to go on a business trip to Iraq (because, y'know, they love the web apps over there), and before I left, I went out with some friends and wanted to sing a karaoke song for my wife. Only I couldn't remember the title of the song, even though it was a well-known Elvis tune and I'd sung it just a few days ago in real life. I kept trying to think of the song title in the dream, but then it was morning, and when I walked outside it was into a street of ruins and rubble. I think a car picked me up at some point, and there was something about missing my flight and not really wanting to go to Iraq, but after that my memory gets hazy.

The recurring motif seemed to be forgetting things, which has been bothering me of late during preparations for The Game. We collect a lot of data and supplies, but we're so busy that we don't always keep them organized. So we end up losing track of things that become important later. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it always has-- I don't like losing things or misplacing things. It's one of those irrational, emotional responses, probably born out of various things I witnessed or experienced as a child. I blame my parents.

Last year, one of my friends sold off most of his considerable DVD movie collection. This was partly to pay the rent, but also to unencumber himself:
It has been said that a thing only has the power you give it. Recently, I have been realizing that I have given far too much power to the things in my life, allowing them to weigh me down and prevent necessary change. So I have decided to take back that power by selling off pretty much everything I own that is not irreplaceable.
There's a sort of innate tension in all of us, I think, between "having stuff" (as George Carlin might put it) and "having something to lose."

On one hand, it's good to have nice things, useful things, and to own them so nobody else messes with them (cf. the tragedy of the commons). Ownership is a powerful concept.

On the other hand, owning something means that you have to protect it from would-be thieves. And you might envy the lifestyle of those criminals, perhaps even glamorize it in popular dramas, thinking that there is always more stuff in the "hoard" of accumulated human artifacts that you're free to borrow as needed, because the fat cats you steal from are too rich for their own good anyway.

But the latter notion is false. Without the people who work to build a civilization, there is nothing for the thieves to steal. You can't have rustlers without something to rustle. And maybe the system is imperfect and unfair, but deciding whether you're going to exploit it, repair it, or ignore it says a lot about your character.

My point is, I don't feel silly for being somewhat attached to certain things. I recognize that they can be replaced, and collecting wealth is not my purpose in life, but it's part of my life.

In the end, the only real value is sentimental value. There are things that we would do for love that we would never do for money.

The Game, for example.

Back to it.


LC said...

I know this looks like a conversation between Curtis and I but so be it.

1. I reads somewhere that dreams slip away by the second so unless you're furiously capturing it just as you wake up, I think it's natural that some of it will slip away. I also have a pet theory that things that don't make sense in your dream, your brain rationalizes them, and if it can't or it's too difficult, it "forgets" them or makes them hazy. It's like your ego intercepts the thoughts before they hit consciousness and turns them into haze because they don't make sense.

About sentimentality, I think the value placed on this make things like Alzheimer's and dementia such incredibly scary prospects. I wonder if one loses their memory, does that mean they also lose their identity? I'm guessing not since part of identity (in addition to history) is how people react to us in the present. Pretty weird identity though if you have absolutely no historical context.

CKL said...

I can usually remember when I've had a dream, even if I don't recall the details.

Memory and identity are very powerful themes in fiction. In Blade Runner, the replicants have false memories of childhood which are indistinguishable from their actual memories of adult life. In Memento, the protagonist's inability to create new memories fundamentally alters his relationships with other people.

This is also why just about every television show ever made has "the amnesia episode." If a character can't remember who he is, how does he know who he is?

Quantum Leap made this implicit in its premise, at one point even declaring that Sam couldn't do what he had to do if he knew everything about who he was. The show had other problems, especially toward the end, but the "leap home" episodes were particulary poignant.

I am definitely scared of going senile, but that's a different discussion altogether...

lahosken said...

B-but, a non-trivial portion of my physical possessions are Game ephemera!