“Dreaming is a Private Thing,” Isaac Asimov , 1955 – Jessie Weill, is the manager of a firm specializing in private dreamies (similar to films or DVDs) that can be viewed at home by individual users. He encourages a ten-year old boy to sign up as a provider. Meanwhile, one of his best producers is thinking of leaving the business for the sake of his family and his sense of self–but Weill doubts the dreamer will be able to give it up. Other business: The government has asked for his assistance in cracking down on under-the-counter pornographic dreamies. Meanwhile, his assistant announces a potential threat to his business–the public “dream palaces” in which dreams may be shared simultaneously. Weill seems less concerned about the latter, as he knows that “dreaming is a private thing.” Whether this is said ironically is left for the reader to decide.
Comments: Read in New Dreams This Morning and The Best of the Best, ed. Merril.Themes of dreaming, vr, privacy, consumption, media saturation, children, voyeurism, economics (commodity, competition), imagination, and wonder. Parallels with cinema, with the science fiction author (and with Asimov). See the more detailed review by Jon Charles at “Isaac Asimov “Dreaming is a Private Thing” (excerpt):
“In the world of ‘Dreaming Is a Private Thing’–a world without a global communications & information network like the internet–dreamies are a revolutionary step towards this goal of planetary connectedness. After all, what’s more personal than the subconscious? Uniform experiences shared by thousands, even millions of people across national boundaries–being so personal and direct, dreamies don’t even need to be dubbed into different languages–must have a uniting, smoothing effect. Movies, being open to debate and interpretation, not to mention the linguistic and cultural misunderstandings that preclude total meme-assimilation (we’d all be American by now if those weren’t a factor) pale in comparison. A good dream, regardless of its artistic merits, can sweep the world in a week.”
See also this excerpt from Asimov Reviews:
“This is a gentle story. Robert A. Heinlein accused Asimov making money off of his own neuroses in it, however, since it ends with the pathetic description of Sherman Hillary, perhaps the most talented author of dreamies in the world, who cannot live a normal life because he’s always off in a corner, making up a new dreamie no matter where he is or what he should be doing. Asimov admitted he was guilty, but it doesn’t matter…”
Author: Wikipedia: “Isaac Asimov…(January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was a Russian American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards…Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the ‘Big Three’ science fiction writers during his lifetime.”