You can read my previous posts on dreams:
I Have A Dream – Outlined several instances where I visit the same place in my dreams again and again.
A Dream Within A Dream – Exploration on the dreams that I’ve had. I attempt to define several properties of my dreams.
Dreaming The Inception – My dreams the night after I watched ‘Inception’
Never intended to write another post on dreams but after the release of the movie ‘Inception’ and it’s surprising commercial success (and the fact that it is probably the most talked about movie right now), I couldn’t resist not writing one more thing on the subject. I’ve written down what I dreamt about the night after I saw Inception over my Tumblr blog. However, for this post I’ll be talking more in depth about dreams and I’ll also be referring to things from the movie so I advise you to stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
Construct of dreams
One of the main criticisms of Inception was that people were screaming “Hey that’s not an exact portrayal of dreams! It’s too formulaic and too restraint! It’s not surreal! It’s not weird! What about the sexual elements?! Where are the boobies?! We entered four guys head and no boobies?!!” I think those criticisms weren’t fair because:
- These are lucid dreamers. They have a certain level of control in their dreams. They are not dreamers who are passively experiencing crazy surreal images/narratives when they are dreaming. Like I’ve said before, I tend to like the latter way of dreaming.
- The dream worlds in the movie were constructed by the Architect. They were grounded in realistic way in order to fool the subject that he’s not in a dream. It’s like a mouse trap with the illusion of reality being the cheese.
So it’s not an accurate portrayal of dreams because those dream worlds were constructed for the purpose of the mission.
Levels of Dreaming
I’ve talked quite a bit about my experiences of “dreaming within a dream” Of course, there is a difference between how ‘dream within a dream’ (DWD) worked in the movie and how I’ve experienced it. In the movie, the concept of DWD is related to the technology of dream sharing where a group of people is connected through some wires which enables them to share a dream space. A DWD occurs when the procedure is repeated within a dream therefore entering a deeper level of the subconscious. The dreamers take turns in ‘hosting’ the dream space they enter. For example, in the early sequence of the movie, Leo and Saito were in Joseph Gordon’s Levitt dream WITHIN the first architect guy’s dream!
For the last sequence please refer to this nice diagram from http://dehahs.deviantart.com
So in the end, Juno was in Leo’s dream within Tom Hardy’s dream within Joseph Gordon Levitt’s dream within Yusuf the chemist’s dream! Here are several interesting comparative points between my own experiences and Inception’s rules on DWD:
1) I’m experiencing it myself so I’m not jumping into other people’s dream while I’m in a dream. I don’t have a dream sharing technology (If such thing even exists!)
2) I always start on ‘Level 2’ (although I don’t really prefer it but I’ll just use the terminology from the movie to make things clearer) and then wake up to ‘Level 1’. Never have I dream about going to sleep except for maybe this one time:
I woke up and I looked at the clock on the wall of my room. It’s still early so I went back to sleep. I woke up and it’s 6pm!! I’ve missed or am late for whatever it was that I was planning to do that day! I went out my house and I’m suddenly in a parking lot. It’s night time and raining. I saw a group of actors gathering around the parking lot and shooting a scene. HOLY SHIT! IT’S THE CAST OF ‘LOST’!! They greeted as if they know me and asked why I was late. Turned out I’m supposed to be in that scene they were shooting! The rain stopped and it’s suddenly a beautiful sunny day. I hung out with Henry Ian Cusick and Daniel Dae Kim (actors who played Desmond and Jin respectively). We went to a parked double decker bus that was actually an ice cream restaurant in disguised. I was talking to this cute lady who was behind the counter and taking my order. I woke up…and looked at the clock on my wall of my room. It’s STILL early so I went back to sleep.
It may sound like a normal ‘one level dream’ but I began to doubt that I even wake up in the beginning. Although I’m really sure that I really did wake up the moment after I ordered my ice cream, I’m still a really hazy with the first moment when ‘I wake up’. Is this an example of me dreaming about going to sleep and dream about something else? A ‘Level 1’ ->‘Level 2’ -> ‘Wake up’ scenario as opposed to my usual ‘Level 2’ -> ‘Level 1’ -> ‘Wake up’ experiences?? I HAVE NO IDEA!!
3) I don’t think this is intentional on Christopher Nolan’s part but I notice that the further down the dream level you are in, the further it gets from the realm of reality. For example, Level 1 was constructed to be close to reality with its urban setting. While Level 3 was a hospital that looked like a fort in the middle of nowhere!! I’ve noticed the same thing with my DWDs:
- Level 2 – A character dies in one of my favourite TV shows.
Level 1 – Woke up and I saw the same character die on TV and I told my brother that I dreamt it!
Reality – Woke up.
- Level 2 – A wrestling match between Shane McMahon, Goldberg and Peter Petrelli from Heroes.
Level 1: woke up to write it down in my dream journal.
Reality: Woke up to find out that I DIDN’T WRITE IT DOWN BECAUSE IT WAS JUST ANOTHER DREAM!!
- Level 2 – A road trip on New York with friends.
Level 1 – Woke up and writing down my dreams while in McDonalds with my friends.
Reality – Woke up.
You can see how Level 1 reality is more realistic/believable than Level 2 dreams in terms of the settings (eg. Wrestling ring/bedroom, New York/McDonalds) and the people (eg. TV characters/my brother).
4) I’ve never experienced a more than 2 Levels of dreaming. Hell, I don’t think it’s possible!!! Unless you watch too much TV/movies or play too much video games! That is how I always like to explain the cause of DWD…because I watch too much TV and movies.
“You have very….adventurous dreams” “That’s because my life isn’t that adventurous!” That may be true but I tend to think that it’s because I watch too much TV and movies. So certain aspects of movies and TV shows gets deeply ingrained into my subconscious to the point where my dreams tend to follow movie formulas. The following example is one of most memorable dreams I had when I was a young:
My friend’s little brother has been kidnapped by a group of mafia/gangsters. Nobody dared to volunteer for a rescue mission except for me (don’t know why I volunteered…probably because I was a bad ass!). CUT TO – Another friend of mine getting stalked by some perverted guy. She tries to escape from her stalkers so she volunteered to join me on my mission. CUT TO – We arrived at a lavish party hosted by the evil mafia. I stood up and shouted at the head mafia boss. I demanded that he release my friend’s little brother or else he will pay the price! The mafia boss laughed and ordered his men to kill us. Crazy gun fight!! I gave my friend a gun but she said she didn’t know how to shoot. “Then what the hell are you doing here?!” “I was just finding a way to escape from my perverted stalker!!” I gave her a quick lesson on how to shoot. She managed to kill a few bad guys. I continued dodging bullets and killing few men. BULLETS FLYING! GLASS SHATTERING! PEOPLE SCREAMING! I woke up….checked the time, still early in the morning. Got back to sleep but I couldn’t continue my kick ass dream.
That dream had a typical action movie written all over it! A rescue mission? Check! A bad ass hero? Check! Evil gangsters? Check! Crazy gun fights? Check! A female partner? Check! Hero’s love interest? That girl was someone I had a crush on so that’s a Check! The way it was sequenced also felt cinematic with scenes suddenly cutting into another scene.
Another interesting dream I had recently borrowed one particular cinematic technique. There were three ‘scenes’:
1) My mom asked me about whether I went to eat at this restaurant with my friends. I didn’t go but I decided to lie at my mom. With every question she asked, I made up some story to answer it.
2) Its raining hard and there is a flood. Water started to violently flood the restaurant that was referred in the previous ‘scene’.
3) A Voyager space probe flying past the planets with me narrating my intention of creating an exciting fantastical account of the Voyager space probe into a Sci fi tv show
Those three ‘scenes’ were intercutting between each other in my dream! The relation between the first two ‘scenes’ were obvious: I was lying to my mom and it is evident that I was lying because that restaurant was actually flooded. As for the third ‘scene’….that’s an idea I had when back when I was 3rd grade or something. It also proved that an old idea is never gone but just got lost somewhere deep within your mind waiting for it to resurface.
“You Never Really Remember the Beginning of a Dream”
That was a line from Inception where Cobb made Ariadne realize that she was in a dream. It’s a common thing for dreams to start abruptly and drop you in a middle of things. And usually within a dream, you just assume that you know the situation, the people and the backstories related to the situation in the dream.
One notable dream that I had when I was kid involved me saying farewell to all these wonderful animal characters that I’ve had many adventures with. It was a tearful farewell and I got so emotional about it. The funny thing is that I never remembered any of my adventures with them…I never had any dreams about them before! The dream abruptly started with a farewell to these animals that I was supposedly having many adventures with without actually knowing what those adventures were exactly. It’s like watching an emotional ending of a TV show without watching the whole series.
Here’s another and more recent example of a random non-beginning dream that I had:
I’m in a hotel room with three other people: two guys and a girl. We’ve been staying in the hotel for a while and we’re waiting to go another city. On each city that we’ll visit in our road trip, we get to stay on one of our friend’s house. I told the others that it’s impossible for me because “I have no friends.” One of the guys took pity and said “don’t worry, we’re your friends.”
That last part of the dream is really interesting because they claim to be my friends yet I DON’T REALLY EVEN KNOW WHO THOSE THREE PEOPLE WERE IN REAL LIFE!!! They weren’t friends that I know nor fictional characters from TV or movies. They were just three random people (a guy in red shirt, a girl in green shirt, a guy in black shirt). But I seemed to be fine and have some “unseen backstories” with them in my dreams. Although, I do think they were mash ups of different people I know but that would still make them a bunch of random strangers!
Dream Time vs Real time
According to the movie, Dream time is slower than real time (eg. sleeping for 5 minutes feels like an hour in the dream world, which feels like a week in a dream world within the dream, etc). Is there any difference? Yes. Is there a specific time difference? I don’t think so. Normally, I wake up and check the time to see that it’s still early in the morning so I go back to sleep. I would have some elaborate dream that feels long only to later wake up again, check the time, ONLY 5 MINUTES JUST PASSED!
Here’s a recent example:
– I wake up, check the time, still early, go back to sleep.
– I have a conversation with a friend
– **more dreams but I couldn’t recall it clearly**
– I’m a soldier in a computer game going around shooting opponents. It’s a fast paced FPS Counter Strike/Battlefield/COD type of game. The ‘map’ is Machu Picchu, a famous archaeological site in Peru.
– I have a restaurant by the seaside. It’s late and I’m closing it down. Strangely, I strap a balloon around my waist and I was floating around.
– I wake up, check the time, WTF?! ONLY around 15 minutes?! All those dreams felt longer!!!
Well that’s it for now! Inception is definitely the most talked about movie this year and if you haven’t seen the movie yet then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! GO WATCH IT NOW! And if you have….GO WATCH IT AGAIN!! Honestly, I’ve only seen it once and I’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now!
To close it off, I’ll leave you with this weird ‘dream’ that happened to me just few days ago:
It was a sunny day and I was walking with my friend in the middle of a road. It was crazy with cars, parades and marching bands yet we didn’t have any problem because they always gave us space to walk. We were having a conversation about last night (thus giving this dream some sort of time frame) UNTIL…..
*my phone vibrates*
Woke up and that same friend is calling. She asked if I could join her for lunch. I barely opened my one eye to peek at the clock on my wall. I closed my eyes again and said that I’m not coming but I’ll probably meet them at a later time.
She said, “Ok! Sorry to wake you up”
I said, “What if I’m still asleep?”
She said: “Hahaha!”
I said: “What if I’m in a dream within a dream?”
“HAHAHA YOU NEED A TOTEM!!”
“You could be my totem”
If you call me and say ‘I love you’ then I know it’s fake and that it’s all a dream
if you call me and say ‘get up, go take a shower, you smell’ then it’s reality
ermm…i think you should go back to sleep…i’ll see you later ok, BYE!
I didn’t even say bye and slept for a few more hours…..
Or was I asleep all that time?! Obviously, I wasn’t fully conscious when I say those things….or maybe I was?! so was that real? Or was that a dream?
Read my previous writings on my dreams:
Here’s one where I outlined several instances where I visit the same place in my dreams again and again.
This one is a much more elaborate exploration on the dreams that I’ve had. I attempt to define several properties of my dreams.
My dreams the night after I watched ‘Inception’