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

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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

How I Take Impressions Literally

A Dream

I was in my grandmother’s house with my brother. It is a modest brown home in the suburbs. Inside the home was an old friend of mine behind a confectionary stand. He was dressed in the bright red uniform of my middle-school where I last saw him. He was offering to sell us some baked goods he had but we politely refused. In response he began to eat the treats he had for display.

I watched him in disgust, I wanted to call out that it was not very wise for him to eat the things he was selling. What if his boss were to see him now? I said to him that he should stop. He asked me to follow him and walked towards the front door. He slipped his hand between the door and the frame and pulled aside the wall as though it were a curtain. 

Outside there were fireworks in the sky. We soon found ourselves in a line leading into a neighboring home. The house was made out of glass allowing us to see inside. People were strewn about on couches in the house. At the front of the line there was a secretary calling out numbers of people allowed to go in. Next to her Oprah was signing in a choir-like voice for the entertainment of those waiting in line.

My Thoughts

Sometimes strange characters find their way into our dreams. It can be difficult to bring these characters outside of the dream realm as your mind stalls due to the inconsistencies in their assets. Why is someone from my middle-school in my grandmother’s home? Why is Oprah, a talk show host, singing choir on the street? These are the types of questions that are interesting to ask during the interpretation stage, but crucial not to ask before you’ve recorded your dream.

It is hard to use post-dream rationalization without tainting the content of the dream with your conscious input. A useful mechanism for me is to take all impressions literally, which is to say that anytime I think I may have been somewhere/done something in a dream then I accept that as true. Although I say I was in my grandmother’s house that was only an impression that I had at the time, had I tried to observe specific details in the dream to validate that assertion I would likely have been met with disappointing evidence.

Whether it’s old friends or off-beat celebrities it is a good habit to take your dream projections as they come. Trying to read too much into your dreams before you write them beginning to end can make you blank-out on other characteristics of your surroundings. Just a thought.

What do you think about taking impressions literally? Are some things better left unexplained? Or do you think there is always an explanation shrouded by imperfect recall?

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

A key to the past within

It may seem obvious that dreams would draw from the past. Many characters and objects found in your dreams are taken directly from your past experience. But what about when it is not your personal past that your dreams seem to draw from?

Freud termed this “archaic remnants,” a phrase meaning psychic remnants that lie in the human mind from ages ago. This term is used to explain why certain archetypal images seem to reoccur in many peoples dreams. Images such as an evil snake or benevolent angel could be traced back to this psychic residue. 

Is it true or is it theory? I couldn’t say at the moment. I would like it to be true as it would give justification for a future fantasy like that found in Frank Herbert’s science fiction series “Dune.”

In the story of Dune there is a guild of characters known as the Bene Gesserit who essentially use a perfected recall of the memories of their ancestors. This allows them to have super-intelligence and become almost immune to the turmoils in the large scope of the series. 

If we are to ever truly learn from history it is important to internalize its lessons on a personal level. Personally, I’d like the human race to reach the level of the Dune series for a lot of respects (they are really fantastic books by the way). 

In “Man and His Symbols” edited by Carl Jung these “archaic remnants” that we find in dreams are the link between the rational world of consciousness and the world of instinct. 

It would be an interesting future to say the least if we all became better at observing and learning from these instinctual lessons of our subconscious. 

 

That post was a little bit rambled. I hope you don’t mind. What do you think we can learn about the archetypes of our dreams? Do you think dream’s images have the potential to speak from our biological past? 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB