Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, June 01, 2005  

Mind, Creativity, Miracle

I had a dream last night in which I was going to play the romantic lead in a Shakespeare comedy. The actress and I read the play and worked on our lines from a small playbook which also contained a few other plays of the Bard. The typeface was difficult to read in our play at times, while in other places it reproduced more antique styles which were more crude.

At some point in my study of lines, I got misplaced in the book and was reading another play in which a character named Hotentot delivered a long soliloquy against Christian religion and hypocrisy.

The book also had numerous watercolor pictures illustrating the comedy, each in rich purples, reds, and white figures against night moods.

The detail in the book was amazing with directions in parentheses, invented words such as “nfear, nfear, sooth” odd spellings, and annotations. It would be like taking a number of Shakespeare editions from different periods and cramming them all together into one.

After I awoke, I tried to remember which Shakespeare comedy I had been a part of. I kept thinking it was like Twelfth Night, but that it wasn’t close as to plot. The more I thought, the more I realized that it wasn’t one of Shakespeare’s plays at all. It had been completely invented in my dream.

Now, I have had dreams before which were flooded with aspects of encyclopedic amounts of detail (imagine picking up a book as thick as the Yellow Pages and thumbing through it and finding thousands of various articles and ads in it, all original, each with different fonts, graphics, art style, and purpose), but this latest one carries me further in speculation about such things.

Imagine walking into a room with a large bookshelf. Each book is unique in title, author, cover and so forth. You have never seen any of them before. You start picking out books and reading to learn the story. Everywhere you read in it you find a coherent story of characters, description, and plot which interest you. The books are also in different genres, prose styles and quality, and you leaf through a dozen or so realizing that all of them are original and full if you pick any one up to look at.

Generally, my dreams are simple exercises in wandering around, meeting people who seem vaguely familiar or who I care about in open landscapes or houses that are usually larger than they seem. There is some anxiety now and then since I don’t quite seem to know why I’m there or what I’m supposed to do, and then I wake up and think little of what I dreamt.

But these other vivid, encyclopedic dreams of rococo detail raise lots of other questions since no one’s conscious mind is capable of producing the kind of creative universe of such exquisite detail encountered in what I’ve described.

The most difficult mental work I have engaged in is in composing polyphonic music of 4 or more lines all at the same time. That is, while I am writing one unique melody line, I am also hearing all the others in my head and writing them simultaneously or as soon as possible. Each music line unique, each interwoven with the others, and creating unique harmonies in the process.

Somewhat harder than that, though, is to stop in the middle of a work, and then come back to it cold, and then resume the process where you left it without a hitch.

Writing a play can be equally complex as you tie everything together on four levels, compose each scene to be a mini play in itself, for each scene must have its own compelling start, middle, and finish, but carry the action of the plot into the next and so forth, while constructing characters and dialog which resonate symbolically, ordinarily, heroically, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Some scientists do something similar in constructing models or mental images of various natural processes in chemistry, biology, physics, and so forth.

But nothing that anyone does consciously comes close to the oceanic creativity of what I described in my “big” dreams.

So it begs the question - how is this possible? Either our unconscious minds are capable of much more than we thought possible, or some sort of organizing principle which is miraculous must be broached.

What we have at work I will call an Undermind.

Imagine you are someone who knows little of music and never played an instrument, but one day while half awake, you find yourself at a piano and play Bach flawlessly. What would you ascribe such an event to? This is basically what our minds do at certain times in a dream state.

Dreams are clearly a natural experience. On the other hand, all natural experience has at its base, a supernatural origin, in that there must be an underlying metaphysics to all of Creation. Denial of metaphysics is a deep perversion of reason, and clearly a matter of psychological distress, a form of insanity which usually leaves the person functional, but disturbed and alienated, emotionally crippled.

But simply because there is a supernatural order above and below general human experience or daily reality, it doesn’t mean that the mechanisms of our minds cannot be understood in physical terms.

But what kind of mental mechanism can effortlessly create original content in hundreds of books in a mere matter of minutes (or seconds), which no one person (other than Isaac Asimov) could begin to create in a lifetime of hard work?

Time, in this circumstance, must be altered. Not just in the dream state of the dreamer, but in the organizing, creative state. The brain itself operates at electrical speeds which are impossibly slow in terms of normal creative activity. Therefore, something about the Undermind has to work in a manner which is outside of temporal conditions.

For those that insist that nothing can operate outside of the temporal, I’d love to hear an explanation of how the Undermind achieves its creativity in time given the physical limits of our brains.

To throw God in here for a moment, I have to ask, why would God wish to compose any number of “books” in my dream which are culturally exact to me, and tell stories that are usual for books, if God is the organizer here? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to cast God as the Dream Master in every instance micro managing our unconscious or Undermind.

Yet, how tempting it is to imagine that the kind of information and instantaneous creativity readily available to us were our reality to develop further than we normally consider possible?

It is a kind of making which points to unlimited resources, energy, and time in a landscape or universe in which the maker is truly God-like.

Creativity is already understood as a God-like endeavor, but severely limited by circumstances. Even at our the highest pitch of our conscious creative power, that doesn’t come close to what can occur instantaneously in a dream. Clearly, the powers and condition of our Undermind are significant, and impossible to dismiss if we are truly seeking to understand Mind itself and consciousness. For it is a phenomenon which demands explanation.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:13 PM |