Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The History At Home | 12. The Importance Of Dreams

no better jobs

presented danger
& prevented dreaming,

rats groom themselves,
excessively talk, surf, text,

pose, watch, sing,
harvest medical jargon

to supplement abundant
pharmaceutical buffets

essays never on-time,
test well, manage the gpa

to snap, groom, snap,
blog, real world

encounter, upload
more debt. photo

after laptop party
in real time, graduate,

refuse work
sleep undisturbed

wake to produce
more photos

to upload
these children,

have you seen
them and their thousands

of happy happy sexy sexy friends
bringing down the establishment
one revolutionary pixel at a time?


Lately, I’ve been watching some of the new graduates of the Facebook Generation. They are the new dropouts. Only this they aren’t tuning out, they’re tuning in - to Wonderland.

Our furnace broke today. So, I spent a good portion of it at a friend’s house. I’ve been sick now for three weeks. My friend and his children haven’t seen much of us. I brought along my laptop - so I wouldn’t be underfoot. I don’t know what I was thinking.

On the way over, I thought it would be nice to do a take-out lunch. (After all, the spouses go out to lunch almost everyday. What do we get? Sandwiches!) I announce that if we order within a 1/2 hour of me walking in the door, we’d have lunch on time. So, we hurry to log on and order food.

While he’s on, he thinks to check his email. I pull out my laptop. He logs out of his email and looks up. I’m busily typing away...so, we both browse, compare sites, and chat a few more minutes. Suddenly, we look at each other awkwardly. I smile and say, “Maybe we shouldn’t spend our time together being socially antisocial.” And we laugh.

I learned recently that Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo believes dreams:
+ “are a training ground in which animals and people alike go over the behaviors that are key to their survival;
+ are a dojo for perfecting waking activities;
+ help us recognize dangers more quickly and respond more efficiently;
+ are a theater of threat rehearsal.”

Experiments were done rats which allowed them to sleep, but not dream. Once they were prevented from dreaming, they were unable to respond to the world in the most basic, gut-level, survival instinct manner. Eventually, the most they were able to do was groom themselves.

Dreaming - that time when the body is relaxed; taking in the least amount of stimuli; drifting. Whether sleeping or waking - people need a certain amount of time to dream. All animals need a moment to “contemplate one’s navel,” as my grandmother used to say. According to this psychologist, dreaming allows us to prepare to respond properly to real world situations.

I’m beginning to feel as if the household is a little over stimulated. Since I got sick, the dependence on media has heightened. It seems as if I am the only creature in the household who remembers what to do without electricity. When I just want others to have some non-media interactive play or creative interaction, I am greeted with blank looks.

Okay - to be fair - my husband has to work. I was sick in bed. The tv is an excellent baby-sitter. But, in addition to lots of other wonderful toys, my son has the equivalent of the world population in Playmobil toys in his room. Does he go there and play with them? No. Suddenly, he wants to sit on a chair and watch me perform 2 hour long puppet shows in which he is an important guest star.

I think we need to exile our television, playstation and dvd player. I also think we I need to lock Daddy’s laptop up - (during the hours of before work, work end and bedtime.

Restrictions don’t apply to me. My laptop - only gets used: during the 45 minutes before the house is awake; when I’m cooking meals or people are watching the same episode of something for the 80th time. (This makes a whopping total of 4 hours a day with frequent interruptions for meal and snack service; ass wiping, pissing company or random fear of a previously viewed episode.)

I’m looking at my house. I’m looking at these young adults. Suddenly, I realise the question remains -

Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

After all - who had time to dream then? And who has time to dream today? And isn’t this one of the reasons that Martin Luther King, Jr. has become the Black History everything to everyone? He had a dream.

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