The Time Exchange
Chapter 8

Smoking cannabis may have acquainted me with what I call "an ally" dream. I call it an ally dream because that's what Castaneda's Mexican informant Don Juan called the elemental force which a warrior may be lucky enough to encounter. A warrior will enter into a life and death struggle with his ally while awake, but this differs from my experience in so far as it happens during a particularly threatening dream I struggle to regain consciousness from. Don Juan associated the ally with the hallucinogenic substances a warrior may use, and it occurred to me that maybe I could associate cannabis with this effect, but I tend not to give much credence to this because I've only ever encountered the "ally" in these dreams I've been having.

I suspect that a medical practitioner would characterise my experience as a fit of some kind, and that's certainly how I described it to myself when it first started happening many years ago. I would be asleep and dreaming of nothing in particular when I became overcome with a torrential mental storm of an indescribable nature, from which I would really struggle to extricate myself and return to wakeful consciousness. This has happened to me as many as two or three dozen times over the last thirty years or more, and I'm sure my death will involve something of this sort because it feels life threatening whenever it happens to me.

I recently dreamed that I joined the old Mexican on a hunting party the purpose of which was to find an ally for me but which ended in failure, and which seemed to have sorely disappointed him. So maybe my struggles with the ally are over which is a good thing really because surely these fits can't be any good for my health.

Having an ally in my dreams meant that I could follow the behaviour of my dream body more easily. I could have longer and more elaborate dreams which were easier to remember, but it also meant that my dream body could follow my waking behaviour more closely. I began to see details of my waking life emerge in my dreams, so that my dream body and I began to have a more constructive dialogue.

And in case you're wondering about my dream body, it's really no different from yours. The difference in my case is that I probably take it a little more seriously than you do, and I also probably feel a greater sympathy for it. It's a person, like a friendly if somewhat feeble one who deserves sympathy and respect like anyone does. In any case my dream body began to show me interesting things about our relationship.

Being able to recognise my dream body in my waking life provided me with a satisfactory explanation for some of the hallucinations I've been telling you about. In particular I'm talking about incidents like the one in the cafe with the girl, and the one with the TV compere. Having a relationship with my dream body meant that I could expect my dreaming to emerge in my waking, but perhaps more importantly I could expect the dreaming of other people to emerge there as well. That incident in the cafe with the girl was part of my dreaming, but crucially it was also part of hers. She was dreaming when she met me there that day, as was the TV compere that evening when I was smoking cannabis at my friend's house.

In the case of the TV compere the relatively sudden transition from a state of sobriety to one of intoxication defines an interesting discontinuity which may provide us with a way of interpreting my experience. The relatively sudden emergence of the compere's dreaming in my consciousness suggests that both his dreaming and my intoxication were frequencies which a smoker may tune into. We were both radiant beings emitting a constant stream of energy, and this was subject to tuning just as any other source of radiance was. Add to this the time displaced broadcast of a recording which could have taken place any number of days earlier and a tuning of the resulting flux could only be expected. Evidently a little puff of smoke makes a difference which may be a matter of some subtlety, but which is nevertheless monumental in terms of the experience of individuals.

The situation with the girl in the cafe was essentially no different. The physics were virtually the same with the exception that the onset of the aberrant perception was more gradual, and it was harder to predict when this sort of thing was going to happen. Also I expect it takes a more cooperative discipline to set up something like this so that it has a more definitive purpose, perhaps simply the demonstration of a principle in this case.

Having observed a number of similar incidents I began to wonder just how many of the people around me were dreaming when they had encounters with me. It wasn't just the mere possibility that my life could have been constructed in this way. It was the spooky ghost I had been hanging out with that was of most concern to me. I had no way of controlling this feature of my life, and at the time it seemed like there was no end to how warped my life was becoming.

"Well, everybody, Mike. They're all dreaming." Hymen replied when eventually I voiced the question.

Old Nyth nodded in agreement and went on to say "No one has ever been this far out before. It looks like you've begun to make your way across the time exchange, and there's just no one else out here."

Now, there are a couple of things I should point out to you. Firstly, let me assure you that the dreaming effect Hymen was referring to was neither permanent, nor was it continuous. It was intermittent which suggests to me that it had more to do with my own psychological constitution throughout the years in question, and less to do with the conscious behaviour of any earthly individual or group. This is not to say, of course, that these people couldn't be dreaming when I observed them in this way, but I doubt that they were conscious of their behaviour at such times.

I'd also like to point out that I wasn't particularly surprised to observe my life adopting such a twisted form. When I climbed that pyramid in Egypt I scarcely realised that I had become a volunteer in its grand cosmic plan, but in retrospect I have to acknowledge that the symbolism was kind of obvious. I was an adventurous youngster on holiday in a foreign land, but before long I had become haunted by a ghost who had its own objectives to achieve, and no qualms about taking advantage of an opportunity to achieve them.

It was pretty clear to me then but it is only all the more clear to me now that the Galaxy intended to make contact with us here on Earth. I happened to be selected into the role of medium, and the perceptual distortion I was experiencing was the natural consequence of negotiating the practicalities required by an endeavour of this kind. Yet in spite of this perceptual handicap the Galaxy was able to make it clear to me that time has suddenly become very short for every creature on this planet, just as it seems to have run out completely for those countless species which have so recently become extinct. In order to compensate for this evaporation of time the Galaxy established a time exchange here on Earth where creatures with an abundance of this commodity could exchange it with those who are now so desperately short of time.

Time may be stored in the paradigms we use to construct our beliefs about the world, and exchanged with other interested parties for no more than the promise of an alliance of some sort. The host model of Earth and its implicit regression are examples of such paradigms, but really every physical thing is a paradigm which can be used to store time just as these abstractions do. I mentioned earlier how the pelvic region of our bodies represents the beginning of time in an infinite regression of universal summaries. Well the North American continent also represents the beginning of time in the global system of representation and the two diagrams are united by the sharing of their common identities.

While the North American continent resembles the pelvic region of our human bodies, and is thus a depiction of the genesis of time, there is an even more poignant representation of the beginning in this vicinity. In view of the location of the sex organs in the pelvic region of our bodies and their identification with the beginning of time, there is an intriguing correlation on a global scale in so far as the Gulf of Mexico and the Antilles archipelago represent a pair of mating gametes. The Gulf of Mexico depicts the ovum of this mating pair and the Antilles represent a fully motile sperm cell which is intriguing in this context because with Cuba's imminent entry into the Gulf of Mexico they together depict the very instant of conception.

Sexual reproduction first developed in the primitive oceans of Earth more than a billion years ago, and in the case of the Gulf and the Antilles group of islands the geological figures are themselves only a little more than a hundred million years old. But the cosmic event they depict harkens back to the very dawn of creation itself, a span of something more than thirteen billion years or so, which means that in this part of the world we are confronted with a truly daunting stretch of time.

Now, I'm going to get a little personal with you here because I suspect that being suddenly confronted with such a vast segment of time has got to affect your perception just as it affected mine long ago when I first stumbled upon this conception. I believe the only yardstick we may use to relate to an interval of this magnitude involves perhaps a somewhat involuntary recognition of our mortality, so it involves a very personal perception indeed. It may not be a subject which you would like to dwell much upon, but making a connection between death and such temporal dimensions was always my experience, and I'm sure it will also be the case for you.

If you happen to be a family person then in some respects your feelings about death will be more complicated than such feelings are for a solitary type like me. For those of you who have your most cherished Earthly sentiments invested in the creation of a family death will be a most unwelcome intruder, and one who dares to contradict your precious beliefs about the world. But for a solitary person death may be an individual's most faithful and trusted companion, and let me also point out that the whole geometry of space is different from a solitary person's point of view.

If you care deeply for your family then as a matter of practicality you will develop a fairly inward looking view of life. You locate the very centre of your being outside yourself without doubt, but the centre of your attention will nevertheless remain within the small group of those cherished ones who are so dear to you. This will not be the case for those who intend to remain alone in life. The centre of attention for such solitary individuals will remain firmly within the self, and will coincide with the location of the heart which beats at the centre of the circulatory system.

This is a particularly significant distinction when combined with the infinite regression, and the theory's bearing on the fundamental nature of the body, because it locates the individual in a fairly intrepid context indeed. If the body can be seen to represent a map of the entire universe, and the heart a relatively diminutive representation of the beginning of time then the individual may enjoy a context which parents and children may find distressing. Such individuals will identify with the universe and cherish the radiance emitted by the body which expands beyond the horizon where it diminishes slowly but nevertheless remains virtually deathless. Contrary to the inward looking view which families may enjoy an individual will occupy the centre and look outwards upon the starry universe where its vastness will be an inspiration.

In the context of my dreaming I suggest that looking beyond the horizon in this way made it clear to me that death doesn't have to be the terrifying figure which is depicted by most of society. It can be a much more subtle and sensible character who has an important role to play in life. It could be a nightmare or it could be a pleasant dream you may encounter when you go to sleep at night. But more importantly it's a figure who is at work in your waking lives each day, and who doesn't have to be the passive observer of your life when it could be the active agent of your destiny.

Or perhaps it's more respectful to the sensitive identities concerned to say that the dream body adopts the guise of death at different times during our lives, and that it is the dream body who negotiates the fulfilment of our destinies. In any case death is the unique character I'm drawing your attention to here because death provides me with a way of relating to you the mechanism at the heart of the time exchange.

If you're much older than the very young then you've probably known someone who has since departed from your world. You may or may not have grieved depending on how close you were to the departed one, but nevertheless on the basis of this experience you probably feel that you are more or less fully acquainted with death. You lose a loved one, you grieve, you get over it, and you wait for a time when death will finally catch up with you. You do your best to ignore death while you go about the fulfilment of your dreams, but without realising that you have a very one sided view of the matter.

There's nothing wrong with this view, of course. Indeed, a robust economy depends on most people's rigorous adherence to this view, since the alternative has a tendency to result in psychosis which won't suit most people's goals in life. But for some of us it's just not as simple as others would like to make it out to be. With the global ecological crisis now looming largely on the horizon for us all perhaps it's time for a little flexibility in this view.

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