Recycling a half-remembered dream (pondering)

So you’re whizzing around like a bird through the air, or hanging out with your favorite fiction protagonist or maybe even getting a handshake from the super charismatic boss of the galaxy  when tragedy strikes. You wake up.

“Wow! What an amazing dream, I can’t wait to write it down or share it with friends,” you’ll think, rolling out of bed beaming with pride. But after a warm shower and a cup-o-joe all too often the second tragedy strikes, you can’t remember most of it.

 

For me this happens all the time and generally bothers the heck out of me. I can’t help but much of the day dwelling on the fantastic but cloudy images left as a residue on my conscious mind. So what is there to do about it? Well quite frankly I don’t know, but I have some ideas I’d like to bounce off of you all.

I figure the best way to teach is by example, so I’ll begin with some dream-fragments I have left from last night. The first is of a friend of mine who every time I looked at him I saw broad shoulders and neat military dress, but every time I looked away he looked slob-ish with a protruding belly. The second is of an particularly shiny void shaped as the human body, it looked proud and wonderful but I was left with the lingering feeling of impermanence .

The first idea I had to recycle these fragments is to write them into poetry, for this I’ll choose the easiest format: a haiku.

Eyes on a proud shape

Such is sight to beauty bring

lo, impermanence

What possessed me to add the shakespearian “lo” to that haiku I may never know. Once I wrote it I couldn’t allow myself to take it out because strangely it makes sense to me. Point being a haiku may be a good way to extract meaning from a rarified dream.

Another idea I had was to use the dream(s) to develop some kind of character description.

In this case I imagine a man with the ability to change the world just by his sight of it. In essence this would derive from the burst of intellectual joy someone has when they discover the word “perception” and want to go around telling everyone how they see the world differently from the person next to them. But I would make this character the literal extreme of that, making it so that he always sees the world more positively despite the knowledge that it may be otherwise.

A character like that could be very useful as inspiration for doodles, short stories, music or make for a neat imaginary friend. I don’t know, heck, do what you want with it.

Any other ideas? Maybe with a bit of creative recycling we can all clean up some disk space off our waking minds and be more proactive dreamers (that sounds pretty contradictory but I promise it’s possible).

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

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Fairytale dreams buried in the database

Today I discovered a treat of the imagination. I have been meaning to use the databases available to me at the University of Florida to find dream research that I could review for the sake of interest. Yet, as I began my first forays into searching the digital collections database I was quickly sidetracked by this curious piece from 1890: Dreams by French Firesides by Richard von Volkmann and translated by J. Raleigh.

Essentially it’s a book of fairytales inspired by the dreams of a bored German soldier stationed in a fort during the long siege of Paris in the Franco-German war.  I read the first four tales, fruitlessly trying to maintain a semblance of professionalism, enraptured by the wonderfully woven stories that seem to be there just for stories sake. The preface of the book doesn’t seem to differentiate between the final product of the book and the direct dreams of the author but I have some reservations about believing that someone could dream so intricately.

Despite the likelihood of some creative liberties being taken with the original dreams, I think the author did a great job of illustrating the wacky characters with great detail. One story in particular that I have read so far would be The Invisible Kingdom. Here’s a quote that had me rolling with laughter as the author described the dream-kobold, a trick-playing creature from the land of dreams:

“He runs into the nearest house, picks up the first man he sees out of his featherbed, sound asleep, carries him to the top of the church tower and throws him over head first. Then he leaps down the tower stairs like lightning, reaches the bottom first, catches him, carries him back home…Then he [the sleeping man] rubs his eyes, looks about in great surprise, and says: “Good gracious, I felt exactly as if I were falling down from the top of a church tower. How very lucky that it was only a dream!” (Volkmann, 1890, p. 23)

I would love to be able to utilize my dreams in such a way. It seems wasteful to have so many diaries of dreams past without drawing some sort of inspiration from them. While the child-like fantasy format seems very appropriate for some dreams, I think that others would have to be given very careful transcribing to be translated into full-fledged stories.  It could be a long time before I’d be able to write so elegantly, but hey a guy can dream. 😉

So I’d like to ask you all, potentially using this book as an example, what do you think of stories written from dreams? Do you think they would help or hurt an individual trying to forge into the world of lucid dreams?

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Videogame culture class crossover

In my 15 credit schedule this semester at University of Florida I somehow managed to squeeze in a class called Videogame Culture. This class, using the lens of one of the top Journalism colleges in the country, looks into perceptions of gaming in the entertainment industry and their overall cultural affect. That pitch aside, I love gaming and an assignment for the class had me look into “how games inspire” which I couldn’t help but answer dreamily. So here it is:

“One of the most notable influences of games on my life has been the content of my dreams. Oftentimes I find myself puzzling over “collect 10 thingymajig” quest with projections of my friends or swarming a Protoss base with my fellow hive-mates. I think that the oddities that I experience in games give me an equal amount of enrichment in my waking life as in my sleeping one. 

Over time I believe gaming and dreaming have evolved to have a kind of symbiotic relationship in my life. The language of games is very similar to the language of dreams. You don’t really know why you’re doing what you’re doing but it’s your quest and the point is to enjoy and learn from the experience. 

Some less linear games that I play like Starcraft and League of Legends are often the sites of my dream when my subconscious  feels like putting me on trial. Other games like Amnesia and System Shock 2 have given me nightmare-fuel for years to come. Most of all, I relish the dreamscapes I’ve gotten to experience inspired from the worlds of Mirror’s Edge and Katamari Damacy as they are some of the wackiest and most memorable I’ve had.”

I find game dreams very interesting, and would definitely like to expand on the ideas proposed in this short post in a future discussion. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

Fishing for meaning in an ocean of dreams

Lately I’ve had an unusually high density of dreams of the nautical nature. Within the past week or so I’ve had three separate dreams that involve fishing as the main plot point.
To give some background I have been fishing since I was about 13 as it is my go-to bonding experience with my grandfather. Ironically neither of us are very good at fishing and we end most outings having caught/released fish too small to eat but happy to have spent the time with the water. Being a 21-year-old now means that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in a Hemmingway trance staring at the beautiful yet unyielding ocean. However, now that I’m in college I live too far from the water to make an easy trek so it’s been a long time since I’ve gone out fishing. 

Now on to the dreams.
I’m out on a anchored speedboat in the middle of a vast ocean. I have my very familiar grey fishing rod with me and cast it out to sea. I wait, the pressure building as I attempted to anticipate the movement of creatures hidden just below the waves. My line pulls taut and I know I’ve caught a big one. For a moment I worry that the rod I brought isn’t strong enough to hold but I end up reeling it in with relative ease. I pulled it up next to the boat and found that it was a marlin about half the size of the boat and clearly heavier than me. Throwing an arm over the side I began trying to haul it up on the boat when I realized there was a princess in the water. Dressed in a fluffy pink dress reminiscent of Princess Peach she was swimming towards the boat to get a better look at the fish. The distraction gave the fish the opportunity to thrash about and break the line. To my surprise he went straight for the princess and casually consumed her before sinking back into the ocean. 

And another one…

I’m in North Carolina on a vacation with my three female younger cousins. We’re in a jacuzzi on the balcony of a rental house overlooking the snowy deciduous forest scenery. All four of us have a fishing rod and are fishing in the middle of the jacuzzi. My grandfather comes out of the house and tells us that there are no fish in the jacuzzi. I got the sudden sense that the jacuzzi was too deep and fearfully got everyone out. I tried to help my 16-year-old cousin put away her fishing rod on the way back into the house but it continually warped into impossible shapes as I tried to secure the hook on the line. Giving up on the rod, I watched as a minuscule child with a somewhat purple hue, who I did not recognize, toddled its way to the jacuzzi. With a quick scoop I saved the child from falling in. I woke up with a strange sense that the tiny child represented my unborn daughter.

The last one is nice and short…

I was lost on a pier. I had the vague inkling that I was there for a purpose but had forgotten it. I saw a large rod left baited leaning against the railing. I cast it out just to see what would happen. For some reason as I cast the line I took the perspective of the bait and went diving headfirst into the water. The shock of this woke me up. 

 

My dreams have been pretty gracious in letting me experience a favorite activity of mine from the comfort of my bed. What do you all think of the fishing in dreams? Is it some kind of metaphor for facing the unknown or something else entirely?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts below. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

 

Let’s start dark

Nightmares are, if nothing else, a great selling point for people to gain an interest in their subconscious. There’s something about waking up shaken and under rested after a nightmare that calls attention to the hidden musings of the id. Personally I think this a very healthy experience, and my assumption on the matter led me to make the statement “It began, as most metamorphosis do, with a nightmare.”

After doing some research, mostly skimming the abstracts of nightmare-related scholarly articles, I discovered that this notion is not necessarily shared by the scientific community. The first results I received oft cited the connection of nightmares as a possible indicator to disorders such as PTSD and schizofrenia (For example this article published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2010. http://www.aasmnet.org/Resources/bestpracticeguides/NightmareDisorder.pdf). This article offers the existence of “nightmare disorder” as a symptom and offers medication options for treatment. According to the article 80% of PTSD sufferers report nightmares related to their disorder. Nightmare disorder is said to affect 4% of the U.S. adult population and potentially cause sleep avoidance, deprivation and the exacerbation of underlying psychiatric distress and illness.

Is the nightmare itself a disorder? I would contend that the nightmare is less a disorder in and of itself as opposed to the projection of an underexposed psychological weakness. Whether this indicates a disorder or simply insomniac tendencies is something to be addressed on a case by case basis. I think the labeling of “nightmare disorder” deserves careful critique due to the risk of over diagnosis. 

Another study, More Than Just a Bad Dream by Frederik Joelving, proposes that nightmares may make the dreamer more susceptible to anxiety as opposed to acting as an “emotional release.” A major point of this article is that those who report troubled sleep fall prey to anxiety easier than even those who experience troubled real life events like the divorce of parents. Joelving cited an article about REM sleep deprivation by Tore Nielsen, director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory at Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal, as evidence of his point. In this study those deprived of REM interestingly showed better adaptation to negative-emotion inducing photos overnight, a point which Joelving expands upon to say that dream-states don’t necessarily make a person more resilient.

Were I able to read the full article I would feel more confident about my response to it, but here is my first impression. I appreciate the attempt to gather some hint at the association between nightmares and anxiety using meta-analysis but I feel the studies used don’t justify the topic of the paper. Joelving cautions at the lack of proof of a casual relationship between the two factors at the end but the overall message of no REM being better than REM with nightmares seems too dismissive to me.

What do you think about the role of nightmares? Purposefully jarring messages from a concerned id? Or anxiety-inducing affliction on a roaming mind?

Dream on little dreamers,
EB

Obligatory “Whoops I didn’t post for 3 months” post.

Hi long time no see,

To the people who subscribed to this dreaming blog in its fledgling stages I applaud your boldness. I apologize that I have lost my focus and this post is my preface to what I hope will become a meaningful growth of this forum. My lack of posting does not necessarily translate into a lack of interest in dreams, and I have plenty of new dream journal entries for post ammunition.

Now if you don’t mind a personal touch I’d like to tell you what brought me back, as I think it will help for you to understand my confidence moving forward. Encouraging words from friends and family have always been the backbone of my motivation, yet a few extraordinary things happened in the past day that I cannot bring myself to ignore. It began, as most metamorphosis do, with a nightmare. The details of this nightmare are not important past the fact that it kept me up most of the night with an entrenching feeling of no control over my dream-state. This is something that was largely unsettling to me, a person with at least 4 years of lucid dream practice under my belt.

Apparently the net-effect of this night showed on my face as I was stopped on the way back from school by a concerned acquaintance. He asked if something was wrong and I dismissed him saying “It’s not the best day, but it’s all in my head.” Pursuing the topic he asked “Well what do you want?” After a moments deliberation I replied “well I don’t know…nothing really.” “Then instead of just worrying about nothing all the time just pick something you want and go and get it” he said.

His response caught me off guard to say the least, but the beauty of reality is that it doesn’t always have to work in the realm of abstract symbols like dreams. I knew within moments that what I wanted was to give this blog and my readers the attention they deserve. I’m glad to be back, expect a post later tonight.

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Dissected Dreams

Dream interpretation is as subjective as the dreams themselves. There is no one way to go about interpreting a dream, but there are a few good things to keep yourself reminded of in the process. 

Carl Jung began a discussion on this topic in Man and His Symbols (1964) by emphasizing that there are two different things encountered in dreams. There are signs which are always less than the concept that they represent and symbols which always represent more than their obvious meaning. 

Signs in dreams are typically things which contribute to an overall theme in the dream, whereas symbols give the dream a “point.” The tricky part is determining what is a sign and what is a symbol as relevance is not always linked to importance in the time of the dream. Arbitrary objects can be key symbols while main characters or scenarios can be just signs to continue the plot. 

In Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) he references the mystical feeling of dreams in our morning recollection of them. He continues to mention that the great majority of dreams will lead us back to our everyday life rather than release us from it. The content of dreams is determined by the personality, age, sex, education and habits of the person who dreams them. In that way it is essential to look not at the symbols as having some kind of set meaning but rather look for your own reaction to said symbols. 

What I mean to get across through all of this is that when you’re attempting the process of dream interpretation it is not the dream you’re interpreting, but yourself. Stigmas of everyday life do not apply in dreams and you should avoid applying them. If you have sexual contact with a friend from years ago in a dream try not to immediately interpret it as a fantasy and consider your own meanings of sex and that person. 

After all, in dreams and in reality not everything is what it seems. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB