Saturday, June 1, 2019

Dream Science Is Poetry, It Seems

There is no theory of dreams.
There is no theory that works,
That sends us to sleep

Bearing in mind predictions
Of what we will dream—
And for what reasons—
That proves accurate.

If astronomy
Had been the science of dreams,
We’d still be struggling

To predict the next eclipse,
To correctly distinguish
Stars from comets and planets,

Still be arguing
Which went around which,
The earth or the sun,

And we’d be nowhere
Near a universal law
Of gravity, never mind
The curvature of spacetime.

Here we will present
Everything known about dreams
That is certain: we dream them;
We cannot help dreaming them.

Do they encode our futures?
Likely not, although they do
Promise more feelings and dreams.

Do they interpret our past?
If desperate, half-starved bears
Can be said to interpret
A midden, then yes.

Are they random? Do they help
Organize our memories?
Are they bookkeepers?
Librarians? Quietly

Insane? Everything makes sense,
In complete contradiction
With other sensible things.

Dreams are pre-Darwinian.

They’re pre-agricultural,
And pre-religion.

We can see where they come from,
Scribble down bits on waking,
Tell incredible stories
Of worlds when we’ll control them,

Read them out of other brains,
Manipulate them, steer them,
Retreat into them,
Never to return.

And then, after a long night
Reading and writing,
Monitoring patients’ brains
Blossoming on machines,

We’re so tired we start dozing,
Only to wake up startled
By our terrifying dreams.

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