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THE LIMIT OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Dreamed 1974/3/13 by Chris Wayan

Dream: A forbidden cave leads to a door between universes.

I'm deep in a limestone cavern, a well-lit tourist attraction. But one small shaft is off limits. Looks artificial, an access shaft to maintain the lighting... but it isn't. What it accesses is unknown. Not because people don't go in to find out. Many have. And some come back. It's just that they come back glum and silent and refuse to talk about it.

And a day or two later they go insane.

And a day or two later, they die.

I go in.

Down. The shaft widens into a small, natural cave. The soundtrack has that whiny sort of music suspense films use to suggest spooky revelations. Why am I stuck with a soundtrack, can't I just do this alone?

A slanting shaft to a deeper room, and a third, deeper, smaller. A last eerie pocket with light shifting around, rocks seeming to crawl. A tiny window. I look through and see a vast stone room fading into dark. The Void.

Then the Narrator cuts in over the spooky music: "This is the limit of human exploration, human experience, human survival. Beyond, you cannot go."

So that's why they go mad. They went too far. I peer into the dark a long time.

When my eyes adjust, I see something in the void.

Stripes.

Wait.

Vertical stripes. They slowly resolve into iron bars. At the end. The Void ends.

Faintly, behind them... something moves, slightly.

Faces.

Strange faces peering through at the void... at me... at me, beyond the limit of nonhuman experience!

I go back up through the hall that I now know is a bridge to other worlds, not the end at all. I tell seven or eight friends, bring them down to show them. We go out in the world to tell everyone.

And start going insane. Three, then four of us go under...

So it was true! Is the space between the universes so toxic, then?

A cold part of me observes my friends going insane and dying, watching for a pattern.

And finds one. When we leave the here-and-now in thought, we can't return. Our minds drift off somewhere in the void between worlds. The madness begins.

So: no planning, no images, no dreaming, no speculation--on pain of death. Focus tight on life, or lose it.

I tell them. My friend Leona, alone among them all, believes me--and we two survive.

It's not the limit. The Voice was wrong.

With discipline, we can go on.

NOTES

So our dreams find us as weird and irrational as we find them.

Jung's most famous dream showed his own mind, his own dreams, as a house. It was modern upstairs, with a Renaissance ground floor, medieval basement, Roman cellar, and a Stone Age crypt. His dream about dreaming critiqued Freud's simpler view of dreams, of the unconscious. But this dream revises Jung! Dreams don't just lead to the evolutionary basement, but to a gate. To other beings, in other realms. It's true the threshhold's deadly--hard to cross. But this dream tells how! Be very, very concrete. In deep dreaming, theory is fatal.

But not exploration. We can go on. There's a whole world on the far side of what we think dreaming is. Which isn't what it is, at all.

Darkness. Creatures peer through iron bars. Only their eyes are clearly seen.


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