Saturday, November 04, 2006

William Burroughs' "Immortality"

Here is the link to an online version of the text "Immortality" by William Burroughs. As I mentioned in class, this version is somewhat abbreviated. I'll be reading a longer version aloud in class on Tuesday before our discussion. After you have read the short text at the other end of the link, return to this post and read the follwing extended version of the conclusion of the piece as well:

"We are such stuff as dreams are made of."

Recent dream research has turned up a wealth of data, but no one has assembled the pieces into a workable field theory.

By far the most significant discovery to emerge frm precise dream research with vounteer subjects is the fact that dreams are a biological necessity for all warm-blooded animals. Deprived of REM sleep, they show all the symptoms of sleeplessness no matter how much dreamless sleep they are allowed. Continued deprivation would result in death.

All dreams in male subjects, except nightmares, are accompanied by erection. No one has proffered an explanation. It is interesting to note that a male chipanzee who did finger and dab paintings, and was quite good too, went into a sexual frenzy during his creative acts.

Cold-blooded animals do not dream. All warm-blooded creatures including birds do dream.

John Dunne discovered that dreams contain references to future time as experienced by the dreamer. He published his findings in An Experiment with Time in 1924. Dream references, he points out, relate not to the event itself but to the time when the subject learns of the event. The dream refers to the future of the dreamer. He says that anybody who will write his dreams down over a period of time will turn up precognitive references. Dreams involve time travel. Does it follow then that time travel is a necessity?

I quote from an article summarizing the discoveries of Professor Michel Jouvet. Jouvet, using rapid eye movement techniques, has been able to detect dreaming in animals in the womb and even developing birds in the egg. He found that animals like calves and foals, who can fend for themselves immediately after birth, dream a lot in the womb and relatively little after that. Humans and kittens dream less in the womb and are unable to fend for themselves at birth.

He concluded that human babies could not walk or feed themselves until they had enough in practice in dreams. This indicates that the function of dreams is to train the being for future conditions. I postulate that the human artifact is biologically ddesigned for space travel. So human dreams can be seen as training for space conditions. Deprived of this vital link with our future in space, with no reason for living, we die.

Art serves the same function as dreams. Plato's Republic is a blueprint for a death camp. An alien invader, or a domestic elite, bent on conquest and extermination, could rapidly immobilize the earth by cutting dream lines, just the way we took care of the Indians. I quote from Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt:

"The nation's hoop is broken and scattered like a ring of smoke. There is no center any more. The sacred tree is dead and all its birds are gone."

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