13 December 2010

How Far We've Come

Why is it, do you think, that some of the scariest, most heart-stoppingly terrifying dreams we have consist of things that we don't seem to be part of, but are rather watching on a movie or TV screen? Spectacles that place us in no immediate (dream) danger, and yet enable us to identify with the danger of a dream-character on a screen.

At least that's been the pattern of my experience. Moreover, not only do I know it's only a dream, but I know the dream is one in which I'm not in the least a participant, but merely a spectator. And yet there I am, grimacing and recoiling as if it were all happening to me. Funny, but I don't get anything like that feeling of Clintonesque pain when watching a real-life film, regardless of how much the characters may suffer, or how much their suffering may "plead" for my sympathy.

And certainly no one I know would dare accuse me of having cornered anyone's market on compassion.

So what do you think? Is sympathy - at least at the subconscious level of dreams - really all that strange to any of us humans ? Is self-identification, even with the sufferings and torments of an imaginary character, really as foreign to our natures as the Enemy - or any other economist - would have us believe?

But then again, which human nature are we talking about - the one that was given to us? Or the one we've re-set and re-configured, times beyond counting, in the interests of something we call Growth and Profit and Progress?

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