I’ve been having random dreams lately. I like dreams. Why mess with dangerous drugs when you can have psychedelic experiences in the comfort of your own bed?
One thing I’ve always been struck by in the dreaming experience is what happens when you try to read. For me, one of two things happens: either I can’t read at all, and I’m looking frustrated at meaningless squiggles on the page; or else I feel myself understanding the text, but without the normal sensation of recognizing letters and words.
It seems to me that the part of my mind that is doing the dreaming doesn’t actually understand what reading is.
I had a similar experience last night, except it was about playing guitar. I was on stage, playing rhythm guitar in a charity concert with an audience of children. In France. As you do. Now, in real life, I can play guitar a bit, and there is a distinct and familiar mental process where you form chord shapes and play them.
But in the dream, it was quite a different feeling, almost as if I was a non-musician trying to imagine what playing guitar would be like.
What it all suggests to me is that my mind contains different “subsystems” that can be partly autonomous. As it happens, that has become an almost mainstream idea in current neurological and psychological research.
Some scientists (in particular, Sue Blackmore) go even further and suggest that there is no real “master” system, and the experience of “being” a single consciousness is an illusion. I’m cool with that. I mean We are.