Where is my mind?
This is a post about the strangest dream I ever had.
Before you roll your eyes and tab away, let me clarify that this doesn’t go into detail about the actual dream, and I’m not here to describe inane parts of my nightly hallucinations. Instead, this is about… well let me get right into it.
The dream was a murder mystery. A classic whodunnit, with a detective and an extended family in a mansion on a dreary moor, with clues and hints, revenge and motives, a regular potboiler for the masses. And then, at the very end, the detective strings together the improbably chain of evidence, and calls out the murderer in front of the rest of us (It was the butler of course).
I woke up pleased. It’s very satisfying to have a complete dream, especially one that isn’t “bad” by any means. I woke up and got on with my day, enjoying the afterglow that follows these things. But around lunch I started thinking about it more, and I couldn’t get a more fundamental question out of mind.
Who wrote the mystery?
When you watch one of these movies or read one of these books, it’s a game being played between the author and the reader, the performer and the audience. Of just enough details being revealed to keep it interesting, teasing clue upon clue, until the final reveal lays it all out and the story resolves itself. The author takes care to pace it well, but never to reveal so much as to ruin it before the last minute. This is what makes Agatha Christie good at her job (and what makes the Pink Panther Sequel pretty terrible.)
So, uh, how could that work if it all happened in my own brain? Surely, I, the “author” (and director, actors, the whole shebang) knew all the details that were going to present themselves? Why was it such a surprise to me when the detective pointed at the butler and linked them to the scene of the crime? Why hadn’t I, the audience already figured it out (when it was I, the audience, who had already put together the scene?). It’s really creeping me out, that there could be a secondary Pi in my head, pulling and controlling some strings without letting the conscious Pi know anything about it. This “person” already controls my heart and lungs, and potentially also my creativity and instinct and… oh. Perhaps the identity and consciousness I do have are part of the illusion of control so I don’t go insane trying to co-ordinate everything else as well.
I’ll try to stay on his good side.