I was speaking to a guy sitting on a sofa, and we were scrolling over some messages in GMail. One of them caught my eye and I became very adamant that it was important.
me: "There...that's the one. I need you to forward this to Sam Worthington. He's a researcher for IBM, he's the one who'll know what to do with the information."
But when the guy tried to forward the mail out of the GMail account, there was a popup message. It said something approximating: External additions to the database for this type of account are not allowed unless you have at least 10 votes.
me: "Dammit, forwarding is an additive operation to the originating domain. That's because it puts a copy into Sent Items, so you aren't going to be allowed to do that. Time for a workaround..."
Somehow I knew how to reach into the screen, where I morphed the content of this message on a stack of papers, which tore off into my hand. I folded them into an envelope with some odd markings on it and handed it to him.
me: "Deliver this by hand instead. It's now broken from the history, but there should be enough context. Just tell him it's from me."
guy: (taking the envelope) "Okay, I'll try."
I have no idea how I did this thing with the physical envelope or what I was talking about. But I sort of snapped back to being confused and aware of myself at this point.
me: "Ummm, so you seem...friendly and like you know who I am, but I don't recognize you. My experiences aren't contiguous, so I don't know if we talk often or not. Do we?"
guy: "We've only spoken occasionally. A handful of times."
me: "Why not more often?"
guy: "Simply because I can't find you. No one can. Your technology ensures that the actual location of your systems are impossible to determine, and if they were ever determined they would move. It's why you are invincible...BUT remember every superhero has a weakness in direct proportion to their strength. Yours is a necessary selective amnesia, because if you knew too much about what you were doing then others could potentially scan and trace from what you knew."
me: "I got mugged and beaten recently and I sure wasn't invincible then. What are you talking about?"
That is unfortunately true, by the way. I've spent this month recovering from a bad violent attack...while it wasn't as bad as a shooting or stabbing, it was easily the most physical damage and bleeding I've ever had in my waking life. I'm mostly all right now, probably have a scar or two on my face from now on but no big deal...I'm fine.
guy: (shrugging) "You have experienced yourself how many times you've been killed, gone straight through the horror of death yet the next day you are unscathed. What other evidence do you require?"
me: "That's in dreams though. And you're talking about amnesia, how can I be held responsible for things I don't remember doing?"
guy: "Your core programming is always to protect others, yet you do so while rejecting any framework of actually having any trust in those others. You are just like that famous story about the genie and the rabbit. He will grant the rabbit absolutely any wish he wants...except for the wish to become a genie."
me: (angry) "That's the exact opposite of what I do. I specifically seek to educate people about the process I use to do things, so that I'm not holding any secret knowledge over their heads, I hate it when people hide things."
guy: "You miss the point. Whatever you may claim your intentions are, it is impossible to lay bare that part of the process you have purposefully hidden from yourself. The genie finds he can't grant the wish because he doesn't know how to. He is--after all--just a manifest of the genie factory, which never gave him the schematic for how he himself became a genie. He still has the power of a genie, despite that ignorance."
me: "But why keep it a secret?"
guy: "Let's watch a clip from a movie to illustrate..."
I have taken an unusual degree of creative liberty in reconstructing the gist of the above conversation about genies. Though the topic of a genie not granting a rabbit the wish to become a genie was the focus, my memory of our exact exchange by which the other ideas were exchanged is quite fuzzy here. e.g. "factory" is a word I made up to try and fill in the essence of the message.
We walked into a room which was staged to look like a dog pound, where some sort of play was going on. There were 3D anthropomorphic dogs which could talk; and we could stand among them unnoticed. The plot was there was some dog who was a shoe-in for Best In Show and won every year. Yet he had been captured by mistake and couldn't get out in time for the show, so the "evil" rival dog was going to end up winning.
Somehow several of this top dog's friends had managed to break into the pound to speak with him, but they couldn't get his cage open. A small mutt was insisting on a modest (but embarrassing) favor trade with the trapped dog. This favor would somehow keep the top dog from getting screwed by the fact that he was locked in the pound, but the result would mean that the scrappy dog would qualify to participate in the next year's Best in Show. The other dogs would know that the trapped dog had swayed the votes to get him in, which would look bad for his status because the mutt was "obviously not a show dog".
me: "Uh...what? This reminds me of Bolt...kind of...but more with the plot of Cars. But what does this have to do anything? Can't you just tell me some relevant facts in my particular situation, that would be much more direct and effective!"
guy: (in a mocking voice) "If you'd just give me information I could be so big and important, don't you all get it? How big and important I would be?"
me: (annoyed) "That's not fair. Sentences are built on a structure...are you going to say that if I begin a sentence with the word 'I' then that means 'all I think about is myself'? I'm trying to communicate here, and you're just being antagonistic!"
guy: "I'm exaggerating a little, fine. But it's only to shed light on your weakest reflexes. You need to stop asking the wrong questions; what you should be doing right now with your focus is more like this..."
He led me to a very tall and skinny gray skyscraper with no windows. It had a sign on it that read something vaguely like "Functional Dimension Transformations: Practice Course". Inside we began running rapidly up ascending staircases that went in a squared-off spiral. After each level in the staircase it seemed to get a bit harder to find the turning points; it started out normal but became more like running through a Funhouse or Escher drawing. Gravity wasn't always down, and seemed to change based on where I pushed my concentration.
This very much reminded me of the obstacle course in Congratulations, Babies!...though that was brightly colored to help cue things. There were no coloring cues at all here; every direction was just grayscale.
I kept pretty good pace with him up through the floors numbered around 13 or so. By then, it became a harder puzzle to realize how to actually find the branching points to the next level. I got to a limit in following him where he seemed to disappear "downward" into a chute that was hung like a picture onto a wall at what appeared to be the end of the staircase. I was afraid to jump into it because I might get stuck in a claustrophobic space.
Getting over my fear, I instinctively leapt and rotated gravity from what had been down into what had been sideways. As a consequence I fell down the same chute into a room where he was.
guy: "See, now you're getting somewhere."
He kept going forward. But unfortunately where I'd landed after that was too tough to figure out how to make any further moves from, and I awoke a little panicked.
The name Sam Worthington sounded somewhat familiar to me, but I couldn't have told you who Sam Worthington was without looking it up. I thought it might be someone I've met in real life. But it turns out that's the the name of the British actor who played the cyborg Marcus Wright in Terminator Salvation:
Marcus Wright is a mysterious man on death row for murder who donated his body to Cyberdyne Systems for experimentation. His last memory is of his lethal injection on death row, and John is at first unsure of whether Wright is trustworthy. Worthington compared Marcus to Dorothy Gale and Alice due to being "this person waking up in another world and [then] tries to find himself". (...) Marcus is wounded by a magnetic land mine. Attempting to save his life, the Resistance fighters discover that he is in fact a cyborg with human organs, a mechanical endoskeleton, circuitry, and a partially artificial cerebral cortex. Marcus believes himself to be human, demanding to be released so that he can save Kyle from Skynet, but John believes that Marcus has come to kill him and orders his destruction. However, Blair releases him and helps him to escape from the base. During the resulting pursuit Marcus saves John's life from Skynet hydrobots, and the two form an alliance—Marcus will enter Skynet's headquarters and attempt to disable its defenses so that John can rescue Kyle.
The same actor played Jake Sully, the character in Avatar who fights against humanity to join the Navi as a remote-controlled biotech hybrid member of their race. I saw Avatar but not Terminator Salvation. Read some of the script just now and it has some interesting stuff about immortality at the end. In fact, my ignorance of who Sam Worthington was along with the tie-ins are strong enough with the subject matter of the dream that I'll mark this as "verified".
I'm still sad about how weak the cases are that I apply that tag to, but I guess I have to use it for something.
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