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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/108

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

or the personages or the circumstances of my last dream. The most diabolical nightmare may succeed a most delightful romance. In short, not only is the form of the same dream incoherent, but our successive dreams are incoherent as to one another. This was what struck Pascal when he wrote: "If we dreamed the same dreams every night, we should be affected by them as we are by things we see every day; and if an artisan was sure to dream every night, for twelve hours, that he was a king, I believe he would be nearly as happy as a king who dreamed every night, for twelve hours, that he was an artisan. . . . But because dreams are all different, and the same one is so diversified, what we see in one affects us much less than what we see when awake, because of the continuity of the waking life, which is not so continuous and even, however, but that it changes, too, though less abruptly, if only rarely, as when we travel; and then we say, 'It seems like a dream to me,' for life is a somewhat less inconstant dream."

What are we to say to this distinction? I do not believe it is necessary to take it seriously, any more than the others. When is it that we pass judgment on the discontinuity and incoherence between our successive dreams? Not while we are dreaming them. When I am dreaming, I seem to be pursuing a life that has always been the same. I have no sort of an impression that the present dream has been preceded by different dreams having no connection with it. I have, on the contrary, exactly as I have when awake, the impression of an indefinite and single series of events, of an unrolling of them without arrest and without break. There is, therefore, on this point, no difference, but another resemblance between the dream and the reality, and the same impression of continuity and unity prevails in both. It is true that the aspect changes in waking, and our several dreams then appear detached from one another. But what of that? Are we sure that we shall not awake some day from what we now call the waking state, and find then that that state, continuous in appearance, was in reality composed of a series of separate, incoherent, and incongruous fragments?

Thus we are all the time coming upon the same illusion. We judge of the dream, not by what it is, but by what it seems to have been after we have waked. Instead of observing the impressions of the dreaming man while he is dreaming, we take notice of what he thinks about them after he has waked up. This is to falsify the comparison of the normal and dream life by regarding the normal life while we are in it, and the dream life when we have come out of it. The several other difficulties on which psychologists have insisted are capable of solution by the application of the same principle: the seeming suspension of the will; the want of correspond-