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Dreams, Reality, Afterlife


Dreams have always been my primary inspiration. In my first book, Reliquary, I want to lay the framework of the relationship between dreams and reality. They kind of echo off one another and I see dreams as our a second soul where we can wander between dimensions.

However, I feel like my explanation of how one waking person arrives in another dimension is cheap. The idea is that when one dies in a dream, they wake up. When one dies in reality, they can wake up where they were dreaming.

This might work except I’m certain that dreams are not the afterlife. The afterlife is focused broadly in later chapters. However, Reliquary relies on the premise of a dreamer becoming real in another dimension.

I would love some help brainstorming this.


What, exactly, is the afterlife? Are you talking about it in the Christian sense that there's just the one Really Nice Good Place you get to hang out in after? (and also there's a bad place, too). Or is it like Judaism/Jehovah's Witnesses* where you get to hang out on Earth after some point in time?

In Buddhism, there's a bunch of different "realms" and most are not "you're on Earth again but you're a different guy or maybe a fish this time." Like the asura realm and the hungry ghost realm. Some are nice and pleasant, some really suck, but none of them you stay in forever (unlike Christianity**), the only way out is to attain enlightenment. The life after this one just keeps going and going, across all sorts of realms (and sub realms), which you could think of as dimensions.

So: what is the afterlife in your story? Is it a literal plane/place/planet that you go to after some qualification is met? I think if you do something like Buddhism, where there's these various dimensions that you can go to but the final end of the road place (nirvana) is somewhere else, entirely detached from everything else. They do something like this in The Good Place which I think is pretty rad. So your characters can die in real life and then end up in the dream world(s) but still not end up in The Final Good (or Bad) Place.

*Yes I know that, technically, heaven does exist in JW ideology but there is a limited number of slots in heaven and they've all been called...so most people aren't going to go to it. Hence why this little detail isn't mentioned in those books they hand out for free in the park

**Yes I know that Pure Land Buddhism exists but let's not get into that


Ultimately, my (book’s) take on the afterlife is participation in creation. Each dimension encountered is basically a work of art constructed by someone who, after lifetimes of training and moral adherence, is allowed to do this by God. My Tai Chi instructor put it very good the other day, “there are those who devote their entire lives to mastery over a single movement.”

Not to say reincarnation is a thing in my book, but after death a constant phase of discipline and growth. Like the Catholic purgatory of sorts.

what do you think of my problem though of how dreams become real?


(I don't know if you're still wondering about this, but here are some questions)
You mentioned your book- Reliquary, if I'm not mistaken- had the premise of someone who became real in another dimension.
Onto my question: similar to what someone else said, what are the requirements? You mentioned that you thought the idea of simply switching was cheap; I think that it depends. If they can switch whenever they want then, yes, I do think it'd be a bit weird. However, if you wanted Reliquary to be a going-to-another-dimension story that happens through dreams, then I don't think you have a problem.
Another question: can it be repeated? I mean this because I'm curious as to this is a repeating occurrence or a one-time thing. If one can be endlessly transported, and one is aware of it, how would that change their outlook on life? How would that change their values and opinions? On the other hand, if it's a one-time transportation, that can also make for interesting development. How will they act when they know this is their last life? After knowing how easily one dies, how will they spend their next life?
I am assuming that travel through dreams happens when one dies, and not simply every time one has a dream, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
Dreams are terribly fascinating. Have you considered Freud and Lacan's ideas about dreams? They make for excellent ruminating sessions. If Freud and Lacan seem a little too abstract, Hanif Kureishi's novels and essays explore such things as dreams, desires, fantasies, and the interplay between these things. He often draws from Freud and Lacan, too, but he does so mischievously. Not to say that he's wrong, just that his views sometimes annoy tenured pedants, which I'd regard as a good thing. If you're interested, his novel titled Something to Tell You and his essay collection titled Love + Hate have great sections on dreams and desires. In fact, the narrator in the novel mentioned above is a psychoanalyst.

Just thought I'd share in case this interests anyone. :)