As you read this, you are dreaming, just as you are at every moment in your life. To differentiate the activity of our brains during our sleeping hours is to do our minds a disservice. The only difference is that sleep deprives us of sensory input, so instead we sort and sift the contents of our head until we wake, and we call it a dream, but our dreaming does not stop when we open our eyes. The continual process of navigating our existence requires the creation of a narrative that allows all new information to be put into context. This abstract creation of our mind is our constant dream. The mind is itself an abstract idea born of imaginative thought, which is in turn a concept of the mind, and these two things create a philosophical circle of abstraction that is certain to make you dizzy if you stare at it for too long.
Our minds are also adept at weaving new stories into our constant narrative. These new tales can come from our everyday experience and be labelled “real”, or they can come as fiction via various routes. A film director presents images and dialogue on a screen, a playwright positions actors on a stage with a script, and a novelist lays out pages of words. All these methods create the same result in the mind of the recipient: the creation of a fictional dream that adds to our ongoing dream and enriches it. While watching a film, listening to a play, or reading a book, the focus of our thought is on the story being told to us, and we engage our imagination to make the contents vivid. This new addition to our ongoing dream has a structure born in the mind of its creator, so it allows us to relax and be drawn into it, to be entertained or provoked, to have our emotions aroused, and to ignore the mundane aspects of our lives for a short time. Fiction and fact, truth and lies, whether asleep or awake, are all parts of the same long dream.