Sunday, February 28, 2016

Or would you rather be a mule?

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, a veritable butterfly, enjoying itself to the full of its bent, and not knowing it was Chuang Chou. Suddenly I awoke, and came to myself, the veritable Chuang Chou. Now I do not know whether it was then I dreamt I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.

You're a man.

In the first place, while mammals dream, insects don't even sleep as we do. They may be in state called torpor, sort of like you after Thanksgiving, but their little buggy brains don't function the way ours do even in sleep. It is extremely unlikely that insects dream at all. So you're not a butterfly dreaming you're a man.

Even if butterflies could dream, how would they know enough to dream such a thing? Bugs have a very limited concept of the creatures around them, unless they are excited to attack. A butterfly wouldn't know what a man was even if you sat him down and talked about it all day. He could only think of it in butterfly terms, which, let's face it, are pretty limited.

And I don't want to start any fights here, Teach, but I really doubt you ever did dream you were a butterfly. You know what I dream about? My boss is a pest and I don't know how to do my job, I'm on a stage and never saw the script, my fly is open at a funeral, I missed the last bus to someplace I was supposed to be yesterday. I don't dream of being any other kind of animal. How could I? My dreams take my experience and my anxieties and put them through the paint mixer and pour out some stupid concoction based on that. Being a very non-human creature is completely alien, and doesn't come up on Morpheus's Wheel of Fun. Unless you've actually been a butterfly in this lifetime, I flat-out don't believe you could have dreamed you were one.

If you're going to keep up that story, I'm going to want to know how you felt looking at the world with compound eyes, and sucking up your lunch with the ol' proboscis.

No, I smell a rhetorical question here based on a fabrication, and I'm not going to play this game, Teach. Come back when you have a question based on the dream about falling off your house, or your mother catching you naked on the golf course.

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