The Private Worlds of the Mind

On the morning of July 13, 1985, as I noted in my journal, I woke with an exceptionally clear recollection of a dream. In it my wife, Elizabeth, and I were in a high-ceilinged Victorian room with brown walls fashioned of rotating metallic discs. From there, we moved outside onto New York City's Park Avenue, where a group of elderly men were gathered for what seemed to be a parade. However, in a minute, most of them moved away. Elizabeth and I remained there, atop a steep hill, looking down on 34th Street and other city streets below. Up the hill (was it Murray Hill, which I remembered from a visit to the old Murray Hill Hotel in 1946?) marched a company of soldiers in World War I uniforms. They wore bright green sashes across their chests in the manner of certain Civil War regiments. We had a panoramic view of what appeared to be the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station, which I was familiar with in my youth. The railroad station and the cityscape were bathed in an eerie green light. There was snow on the ground.

This is one type of private world—a fantasy world—that everyone knows at one time or another. From birth to death, we are constantly shaping and reshaping our visions of the world, creating worlds inside our heads. We do this even as we proceed with our normal daily activities, in a purposeful fashioning of an overall image of the various worlds that confront us or impinge on us, in daydreams and reveries, in...

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