[personal profile] wingedbeast
Thanks to the comments by Antigone10 over on the Slacktivist open thread where I shamelessly self-promote my blog and book, there will be an Other Case for What Dreams May Come. For now, we're continuing from the Case I made in the Case previous.

To review for those who haven't read the previous, I argued that the movie What Dreams May Come would be better off remade with the main character, Chris Nielsen, is, instead of the main character, a viewpoint character for the purposes of framing and exposition on clinical depression. The main character should, instead, be the wife, Annie Collins-Nielsen, should be the main character as she navigates an afterlife that is built by her own mind... one that suffers from clinical depression. She would eventually get help, from Chris, that would enable her to escape that Hell and/or work on making an afterlife that isn't Hellish.

There are two reasons why I don't think the concept should stop there. This should be made into a television series (or Netflix and/or Amazon Prime series) with multiple seasons. That gives us the opportunity to explore far more of the potential than even a series of movies.

In the first two seasons, a What Dreams May Come series can focus on the first reason I think this idea should keep going. There are just so many ways for our minds to become our own worst enemies, so many ways for a soul to create a hell for itself. And, none of the most proven methods of dealing with the multitude of ways that can happen include "just be more (insert religion here)." (And, yes, that still counts even when you say "it's not a religion, but a relationship".)

Some topics would need a great deal of care, of course. And, that care should be taken. I would be hesitant, to say the least, to broach the topic of schizophrenia in such a series. It can be looked at, but only with much study and no reaching for easy answers.

In other cases, there have to be points of failure and even cases where the concept of success is a question. Take a narcissist in such an afterlife. They create, for themselves, the world they desire, the world they want, a world full of people praising them, bad guys that are destroyed easily despite nobody else being able to do anything. It's entirely closed off and obviously unreal, but it would be completely up in the air as to whether such a soul could tell... or care. Are they suffering? Are they missing out? Are they capable of experiencing anything deeper than what they give themselves?

In some cases, success is in comprehension and communication. The aneurotypical may no longer have the... neuro to deal with, but they are still who they are... and that's not worse... or better... but different.

In order to give a full exploration, we should have a team of people who find their satisfaction in their various heavens to be improved when they know that others aren't in Hell. At least one member should be aneurotypical, with their own world providing sensory-data in the style and presentation most comfortable to themselves. The artist couple of Chris and Anne should have a capacity for presenting complex emotions in visual and tactile expression. At least one psychiatrist can be on hand to train the team in therapeutic techniques and exposit on psychological conditions.

They're not alone or isolated from other people's afterlives. Even without the limits of physical reality, there's only so much we can create for ourselves. So, quite naturally, there's an afterlife community, sharing creations. Some are doing what our team does, trying to help people get out of their personal hells. Others are doing various other things that they think improve the experience and satisfaction of the afterlife. (Special thanks will go to Greg Weisman, who will reconnect with the writers and make sure that Gargoyles never ends... and, since it's heaven, I'll get to hug and scritch Bronx.)

Our team, though, must be of diverse faiths. And, there has to be one atheist. (Note: The atheist should not be an asshole. We are not, speaking universally, Dr. House, the professor from God's Not Dead, necessarily dismissive of the intellect of people of faith, etc. etc. I'd just like to see this set of prejudices not reinforced, eh?) The reason there would need to be one atheist in the mix, as well as other faiths, is the second reason I think this idea should continue.

In the previous case I was clear not to blame the movie we have for how it treated the question of God. The answer given was "I'm sure he's up there" and that was enough to move that aside while we went to the matter at hand. Well, if you have more time, it becomes less and less acceptable to just ignore that element.

I made a joke about the song "What if God was One of Us?" and called this kind of afterlife Morman Universalist Multiverse. That's because, in the afterlife proposed by What Dreams May Come everybody is a god. Everybody makes their own world and, the better you get at it, the more depth, texture, and scope you can give that world you create.

That means that if there really is a God as conceived of in the three Abrahamic monotheistic faiths, he really is one of us. That gives us the opportunity to look at God as though one of us. Strip away the on-high worshipful attitude and look directly at the character being described.

Yes, I know that some will say "all good and all loving, who can object to that?", but those people are ignoring other elements of the description. So many Christians conceive of God as a being that views your entire existence as having only the purpose of glorifying himself. What kind of person would that be?

Nothing concrete need be given. The ambiguity of whether or not God exists can be maintained. (Note: Another trope I'd like to avoid is the "oh, that could be a miracle" trope, wherein there's no other explanation, no miracles needed for this story.) But, looking at some of the stories from the perspective of God as a stranger on the bus are valuable, particularly in looking at who we are if we view that as good... and worthy of emulation.

After all, that is also one of the ways we have of cutting ourselves off and making a hell for ourselves and each other. It's worthy of examination and this premise is a great lens for that examination.
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