by John Jekleman
NBL Melly Torpedoes
It is inaccurate, even unfair, in a way, to be called (or for me to call myself) "fictional." A more satisfying term would be "imaginary," for I am no doubt just as real to my creator (David Beck) as he is to his creator (God). And yet, does my creator treat me as an actual, physical entity? Or, to put it another way, is my creator a moron? Of course not. He realizes that I exist largely as a handwritten name on a variety of pieces of paper, and as a somewhat undefined image in his mind's eye, as well as that of his brother, Patrick, and his friend, Gregg Pearlman. This fact makes me no less real. Reality, at times, can be fairly subjective anyway. Am I real in my own eyes? Who knows? But despite my failure (thus far) to take corporeal form on the planet Earth -- of which I, as a native of the fictional (or imaginary) planet Clariyvl, have never even heard, I still exist. In David's -- or "Dave's" -- heart, in his mind, I am as real as certain loved ones, and far more real than, say, Barnet Lantor.
And this is the case even though Barnet Lantor, if he exists at all, no doubt does so in more far-reaching realms than in his own mind. But -- and this is a key point -- who cares? In the mind of David Beck, Barnet Lantor exists almost entirely as a phantom of a memory of a bozo -- an absolute bozo whose face Dave can't even remember. Is Barnet dead or alive? Who cares? Am I dead or alive, or have I ever even existed in any way, realm, plane, or whatever? All but three people on planet Earth -- which I've never heard of -- would say, "Who cares?" Of course, that's still better than "Well, no. He's imaginary."
I will repeat: This fact makes me no less real. And I will also repeat: Reality, at times, can be fairly subjective anyway. In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams, a writer I've never heard of from a planet I've never heard of, the corporation that publishes The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a sign that says, in effect, that the Guide is definitive, and in cases of discrepancy between the Guide and reality, it's always reality that's got it wrong. This doesn't prove anything, but go ahead, tell me that reality doesn't have at least an element of subjectivity. I dare you.
One's world isn't reality itself. One's world is his or her perception of reality. (To paraphrase an ancient saying widely used in prehistoric Melly, "There is your reality; there is my reality; and there is reality." Much debate centers on whether your reality or mine is closer to actual reality, but does it matter?) For three people (on Earth, anyway), reality consists, in very small part, of a "notion" of a baseball player named John Jekleman. Those people wouldn't recognize me in a crowd because they've never seen my actual face, even in their minds' eyes. But I exist in their reality, in their world, nonetheless (in varying degrees of importance). Dave's World, however, isn't the same place as Gregg's World -- or Patrick's World.
And their respective worlds -- or "each's world," as we never say on Clariyvl -- isn't the only world they inhabit. I realize that doesn't make much sense, structurally. What I'm saying -- let's take Dave for the purposes of example -- is that Dave's World does not consist solely of what he sees, hears, and otherwise perceives. It also consists of his beliefs, his feelings, and a variety of other things that lie, in several levels, below the surface. This world encompasses the conscious, unconscious, and subconscious, but it intersects the "worlds" of everyone else on the (to me, fictional) planet Earth.
But Dave is the creator (of me, anyway). He is, to me as well as all of my imaginary cohorts (such as, but thankfully not limited to, Vince Rinehart), The Slurng. (This is taken from an episode of a television show called Interstellar Journey; the hero, Captain Miles R. Slurng, encounters a super-powerful, mobile computer ("Ronad") which believes him to be its creator ("You are The Slurng"), although its actual creator was a scientist named Dillard Goyslurng. Pardon the digression.)
Let me restate that, largely because any point I was trying to make was almost certainly lost in the preceding digression: Dave is the creator. But in what world do I exist? Why, the world of his imagination, of course. How I perceive my own existence is largely irrelevant to Dave -- and how he perceives my existence is largely irrelevant to me (though not entirely).
What does such a world encompass? (And what qualifies it as a "world" anyway? I don't know. Maybe no one does.) How about imagination, wishes, fantasies, daydreams... dreams. Hey, let's call it Dave's Dreamworld.
Here in Dave's Dreamworld, I am real. So are his imagination, wishes, fantasies, and daydreams. (It's hard not to draw comparisons here between this situation and another program I'm fond of, called The Dusk Region, in which the "boundaries are that of imagination.") So why would anyone deny the reality of his dreams here? Well, I suppose that would have to do with Dave's ability to control his imagination, wishes, fantasies, and daydreams -- but not his dream dreams.
But in our waking worlds, there are plenty of things we can't control. This doesn't strip them of their "real" status, though; I mean, Barnet Lantor is, on some level, anyway, as real -- maybe even more real -- than I am. So we can't strip our dreams of that "real" status either.
That is, we can't go around discounting our dreams as wisps of silliness, flights of fancy, opportunities to temporarily alleviate the debilitating condition known as DSB ("Dreaded Semen Buildup") when other outlets are unavailable. Remember, each of us has his or her own world, and one's world is his or her perception of reality. Now, I realize I keep waffling between the singular ("world") and the plural ("worlds"), but there's a huge overlap; the main difference is that our Dreamworlds exist in our own minds -- which really provide our only (or, at least, most readily available, if not most reliable) frames of reference.
This isn't to say that perception is the only reality. Of course that's not true. Nor am I saying that what's "really really real" doesn't matter. But each of us has his or her own perceptions of what really is reality, and that's the best we can do. Even when, say, Dave is awake, his subconscious sends him messages about his reality, and these help shape his perception of it. But when he's asleep, his subconscious, and that pesky ol' unconscious, bombard him with messages that are, at the same time, more and less easy to understand than what he perceives in his waking world. This can lead to frustration in some people, especially people who take their dreams seriously and wake up going, "What did that mean?"
In other words, dreams can be monumentally annoying. How often I've wished that my own dreams would sometimes say, "Listen, Jage" -- which is my nickname -- "here's something you gotta know, right here in living color. Sit back, for I will provide you with a really important, concrete message which won't require any analysis or interpretation on your part." But no, my dreams instead represent, say, my desire to whop mammoth home runs as, say, a bowling-pin-shaped beach ball that talks. With a lisp. Or something. And it's up to me to try and figure that out -- or, if I can't, to relate the dream to someone else who can maybe shed some light on the subject. Once in a while I'll come up with a flash of insight, which makes me feel good and as if I've really learned something important.
That's why dreams matter. That's why our Dreamworlds are real. Our lives consist largely of trying to figure out who we are. Sure, you'd figure that a big, strong, talented, imaginary baseball player such as myself would have no problem with this kind of thing -- and, of course, I don't. But not everyone has such a luxury. For most of us, it's a continual journey, the destination of which, as things change in our lives, is elusive as hell. But we try.
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