Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled life)

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Ellie
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Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled life)

Post by Ellie » 02 Sep 2010, 16:08

Title stolen from the Post Punk Kitchen forums.

Talk about your nocturnal hallucinations here.
We stood outside the club: the girl, the guy, and me. They were friends of mine. It was twilight, the sky flat grey, and quiet, the parking lot deserted. Music and flashing lights leaked through the edges of the club's door, guarded by a beefy, tattooed bouncer.

"I don't want to go," I whined. "I can't afford it." I was upset about $200 I'd spent in a completely different dream earlier in the night.

"You have to. It's amazing. Anyway, it's free to look." She thrust the promotional postcard in front of my face. LADIES IN LEATHER GLOVES. Some kind of erotic performance. Sure enough, it was free to look, but for an obscene amount of money, the ladies would touch your face and let you smell the leather scent of their gloves. The opening act was a "beltie show." I wondered what that was.

"This place is terrible," the guy yelled over the noise coming from inside. "I got in a fight there last time. Someone took a bite out of my hand and they didn't stop him. Someone took a bite out of my head." He pointed to the bald patch in his scalp, to the divot where his thumb joined his palm. He might have been Tory from Mythbusters. "This place is terrible."

I woke up.
I should have listened to Warren. He was right again as usual.

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JD
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by JD » 02 Sep 2010, 16:36

Last night I dreamt I had a baby daughter. My girlfriend was there, as were a couple other vague, unspecified persons. None of them really acted in the dream - it was mostly me playing with my happy, laughing baby daughter. She was only a day or two old in the dream, but looked and acted older, e.g. trying to crawl already.

It was very unusual, as I almost never have dreams like that. Most of my dreams are very strange and fragmentary; at worst they involve visions of skyscrapers on fire.

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Stevo Darkly
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Stevo Darkly » 02 Sep 2010, 17:39

Today during my daily mid-afternoon energy ebb, I think I dozed off for a second. When I blinked back to life, I heard a voice in my head saying, "If you don't stop using that thing to write the letter 'W,' I'm going to kill you!"
"I don't know if you can call it a stereotype when I was in a room full of people actually doing it." -- Keith S.

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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by JasonL » 07 Sep 2010, 16:09

I dream pretty much every night as follows: disjointed images my brain tries desperately to string together into a narrative based on recent memories or emotions or visuals I saw IRL. It's mostly the same sort of hopeless act as seeing faces in wood grain or pancakes or whatever, and no more than a handful of images can be linked even pseudoplausibly together, so I get 2-3 mini nonsense narratives each night. The connection is that they are strongly visual and only rarely tactile. I'm susceptible to strong visuals in horror movies for that reason - yucky images become persistent features of my dreams, and the brain not being able to contextualize them very well causes me a lot of anxiety as I go in and out of REM sleep.

I completely forget the narrative by the time I put shaving cream on my face, but I might remember the strongest visuals without the dumb story.

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Warren
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Warren » 07 Sep 2010, 16:51

You fools! We are not meant to remember our dreams. Our dreams are the garbage thoughts that are getting cleared out of our heads while we sleep. If you make an effort to remember your dreams, your head will be filled with dumb thoughts.
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by thoreau » 07 Sep 2010, 17:55

My most vivid dream ever was sophomore year of college. As background to this, I should mention that this was the semester when I finally ended a drama-filled relationship, and spent many weekends in one of the drearier libraries on campus.

I dreamt that there was some weird library. It was haunted, and everybody knew it was haunted, but people went there anyway. The books were all full of strange, dark, insane stuff. There was no due date, but you knew that if you didn't give back what belonged to the library something bad would happen to you.

As you walked in there, the walls would change and re-arrange themselves, things would make a noise behind you and vanish before you could turn around, the layout would shift, and it was easy to get lost. Strangely, though, it was generally well-lit. It was important to be gone before dark, but I dreamt that I went there on Halloween night for some reason and there was just a completely ordinary guy working the checkout desk. It scared the hell out of me to see somebody so ordinary there. I knew something was wrong.

From the outside, it was a very large, rectangular building with few windows and an old-looking exterior. Not so different from the university library when I was in college. There was one long stairway that went all along the west side of the building. You entered on the ground floor by walking up this stairway and it took you to the upper floors. There was nothing on the ground floor except the stairway entrance. The rest of the ground floor was sealed off and it seemed like dark, undead things were in that windowless floor. All of the books were on the upper floors.

The staircase didn't wrap around like a stairwell. It just went along the edge of the building, diagonally. You could kick a ball from the 4th or 5th floor (I forget how many floors it had) and it would roll down the entire staircase. Big, wide stairs on a gentle angle, like something you might see in the lobby of a fancy hotel or theater or museum.

Sometimes, when walking up or down the stairs, you'd find yourself back at the floor you started at. The building was evil like that.

There was a small room at the top, sort of like a penthouse, and that did have its own stairwell. And in that room was my ex-girlfriend. She lived there. We didn't say much. There were lots and lots of big dogs in that room for some reason. I'd go there and the dogs would swarm around me, and I'd get frustrated and leave.

At the end of the dream, I found myself walking down these stairs with my ex-girlfriend, hand-in-hand. I got to the ground floor and exited the staircase. Then I looked at her, and realized that I was standing outside a haunted building with somebody that I'd vowed to never see again. I knew something was very wrong with this, so I ran away while she cried.

Then I woke up.
Last edited by thoreau on 07 Sep 2010, 19:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Stevo Darkly
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Stevo Darkly » 07 Sep 2010, 18:38

Warren wrote:You fools! We are not meant to remember our dreams. Our dreams are the garbage thoughts that are getting cleared out of our heads while we sleep. If you make an effort to remember your dreams, your head will be filled with dumb thoughts.
Naw, that idea's been discredited. We covered this in an earlier version of Grylliade.

... Hmm, a version that doesn't appear to be around tanymore o link to. It was in connection with a discussion of the cerebral cortex of the spiny anteater, I believe.
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Jake » 07 Sep 2010, 18:40

Stevo Darkly wrote:It was in connection with a discussion of the cerebral cortex of the spiny anteater, I believe.
Man, we talk about a lot of different stuff 'round these parts. Kind of mind-boggling, really. In a good way.
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Stevo Darkly
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Stevo Darkly » 07 Sep 2010, 18:41

We also talk about the unusual testicle placement of non-placental mammals and rabbits. Or I do, anyway.
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 07 Sep 2010, 18:42

My most recurring dream has something to do with a matrix and sensibly taking the blue pill.

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Warren
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Warren » 07 Sep 2010, 18:46

Stevo Darkly wrote:
Warren wrote:You fools! We are not meant to remember our dreams. Our dreams are the garbage thoughts that are getting cleared out of our heads while we sleep. If you make an effort to remember your dreams, your head will be filled with dumb thoughts.
Naw, that idea's been discredited. We covered this in an earlier version of Grylliade.

... Hmm, a version that doesn't appear to be around tanymore o link to. It was in connection with a discussion of the cerebral cortex of the spiny anteater, I believe.
As I recall the "discrediting" consisted of; "Warren's wrong".
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by GinSlinger » 07 Sep 2010, 18:54

I don't dream.

But when I/O do, it's of electric sheep.

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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Ellie » 07 Sep 2010, 18:58

I mostly have stupidly obvious dreams. Like, I'm worried about money lately, so I keep dreaming shit like "Oops, I accidentally bought a house, how will I pay the mortgage?"
I should have listened to Warren. He was right again as usual.

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Stevo Darkly
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Stevo Darkly » 07 Sep 2010, 19:02

Warren wrote:
Stevo Darkly wrote:
Warren wrote:You fools! We are not meant to remember our dreams. Our dreams are the garbage thoughts that are getting cleared out of our heads while we sleep. If you make an effort to remember your dreams, your head will be filled with dumb thoughts.
Naw, that idea's been discredited. We covered this in an earlier version of Grylliade.

... Hmm, a version that doesn't appear to be around tanymore o link to. It was in connection with a discussion of the cerebral cortex of the spiny anteater, I believe.
As I recall the "discrediting" consisted of; "Warren's wrong".
Naw, in this case there was a link to discussion forum over on Science Blogs that mentioned a guy who had the idea that dreams were basically the brain's garbage, best discarded and forgotten, and then there was some discussion of evidence against this. I think it had to do with the fact that the world's two surviving monotremes, the echidna and the platypus, had oversized cerebellums (or cerebral corexes?) (despite being not-especially-bright animals) and were known to spend a lot of time dreaming, and this was linked to their living in three-dimensional environments (one being a burrower and the other being a burrower/swminner) and the way they had to process information, in which dreams were believed to play a role.

Somthing like that. Maybe I can dig up the SciBlog discussion.
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Stevo Darkly
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Stevo Darkly » 07 Sep 2010, 19:31

Here is the SciBlog discussion:

http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology ... sonous.php

Oh, and the brain-part I'm thinking of is the neocortex.

Plus, my error, it doesn't say the "forget your dreams" idea is officially discredited, although I thought there was a link to another source that cast doubt on this.

Anyway, echidnas and platypuses (platypodes) dream more than any other mammal, and it's likely this is not because they have to forget a lot of things, but because they have to process a lot of info, which dreaming helps them do.

The platypus apparently dreams more than any other mammal, and engages in lots of REM sleep. Echidnas do this too, despite early reports to the contrary (Siegel et al. 1998).
There sinks the hypothesis that echidnas had such a huge neocortex because they had no REM sleep and were therefore unable to get rid of old informations. I had championed this once, but I have to admit defeat now.

This leaves the Question - why the huge neocortex? Most other ant- and termite eating mammals like anteaters and pangolins are small-brained (I don't know about the aardvark) and seem to get along well enough with it. Breaking into an ant- or termite nest needs big claws and lots of muscle, but it isn't much of an intellectual challenge. Most other australian animals have smaller brains than animals that hold the same niche in other continents - obviously because Australia, a dry continent without much vulcanism, is a low-energy environment. So why is it the other way around with anteaters, pangolins and echidnas?
This leaves the Question - why the huge neocortex?
That's what's called a "good question". We don't even know why we have such a big one. There's a girl in Germany whose, I think, right hemisphere is missing. It was taken out due to cancer or something. Tomography images are published: one side of the skull is empty, filled just by cerebrospinal fluid. Now, apart from a few oddities, said girl is normal, plus bilingual in German and Turkish. We have no idea what a bloated brain is good for.

BTW, ours isn't that big either. It's at the upper end of what's expected for a mammal of our size -- not beyond.

In any case, the speculation that the purpose of dreaming is forgetting was rather silly anyway. "The closer you get to humans, the worse the science gets."
Well, I thought the Crick and Mitchison dream theory was pretty nifty [Warren, I think this may be the theory you are talking about], and is not done justice by such tags as 'reverse learning' or 'the purpose of dreaming is forgetting'. If you read up on neural network modelling of pattern recognition you get an idea of just how much training on positive and negative examples it takes to get a reasonable level of accuracy with new stimuli; also the 'parasitic modes' C&M talked about are a real issue for models, and also make intuitive sense as a source of tics, compulsions and obsessions as well as bad dreams. You may be right, David, but so far all the science we have is done by humans.
> Is it possible that the large brains of modern monotremes is a
> relic of a common ancestor?

If this common ancestor was indeed aquatic or semi-aquatic, this would make a lot of sence; living in the three-dimensional environment of a water collumn and having a sence of electroception would probably be a catalyst for large brain size (mormyrids are an example).
Apparently echidnas are remarkably good at finding their way through mazes and similar tests, so not only do they have big brains, they use them too.
Anyway, I've been thinking about the echidna's large neo cortex and it occured to me. Might the large neo cortex allow an echidna to construct and maintain a mental map of his territory. Much as the large neo cortexes of most primates allow them to construct and maintain mental maps of their territory.

That is, an echidna is able to remember where things are in its territory, and to modify that map when things change. Not how fascinated by that camera the echidna in the one picture is. It is thoroughly investigating the object so it can recognize it again should it come across it later.
Dreams = subconscious learning = pattern recognition in 3 dimensions.
A recent psych. study discussed that: Questions could be solved in either a hard method or an easy method, those that took a nap solved them using the easy method, those that stayed awake couldn't figure out the easy method, although they got the right answer. Dreams are more efficient (time-wise) learning.
One reason I don't like the "dreaming is for forgetting" hypothesis is what I dream. Whenever I can remember it, it's vaguely based on something that I'm not necessarily supposed to forget (such as rising earlier the next day) and builds it into a completely wacky story.

Another is that the opposite of forgetting sometimes happens in my dreams: reinforcement. I've spoken foreign languages and done simple calculations in a few. I also often try to read, especially scientific articles, but it's very frustrating because the text keeps changing in front of my eyes.

Furthermore, I do forget stuff during the day. This especially concerns having done automatted procedures like locking the door and taking the key with me: I can't remember having done it, yet I have done it.

And then there are people with a photographic memory who seem to forget nothing at all and yet have space for all that information in their brains...

In sum, I like the hypothesis best that says dreams are "thunderstorms in the brain", association and imagination running free and unconstrained. If they have a positive effect, it's the joy of thinking, though my dreams are almost never pleasant (usually they aren't nightmares either, though, just boring and illogical).
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Jennifer » 09 Sep 2010, 13:37

Yeah, it's been shown that we all dream, but only remember them if we wake up during the REM stage of sleep. There was a study done with two groups: the control group slept normally, but the experimental group was always awakened just as they entered REM sleep, so they might sleep as many hours as the control group, but they never had dreams.

Within just a day or two without dreaming, the experimental group started showing severe problems: horrible performance on problem-solving tests, IQ tests, any "mental competence/ability" tests imaginable. Another day and they even started having hallucinations -- dreaming while awake, basically.

My own dreams, when I remember them, are usually just weird, disjointed, plotless things, except for when I go through my "wear a nicotine patch" phases. Patch dreams are freakin' awesome -- I've actually had multiple dreams that were basically installments in a single series, and even near-lucid dreams (as in, I didn't actually know I was dreaming, but my dream-self had managed to figure out "Hey! I can do pretty much anything I want, as long as I concentrate").
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 09 Sep 2010, 13:40

Jennifer wrote:Yeah, it's been shown that we all dream, but only remember them if we wake up during the REM stage of sleep. There was a study done with two groups: the control group slept normally, but the experimental group was always awakened just as they entered REM sleep, so they might sleep as many hours as the control group, but they never had dreams.

Within just a day or two without dreaming, the experimental group started showing severe problems: horrible performance on problem-solving tests, IQ tests, any "mental competence/ability" tests imaginable. Another day and they even started having hallucinations -- dreaming while awake, basically.

My own dreams, when I remember them, are usually just weird, disjointed, plotless things, except for when I go through my "wear a nicotine patch" phases. Patch dreams are freakin' awesome -- I've actually had multiple dreams that were basically installments in a single series, and even near-lucid dreams (as in, I didn't actually know I was dreaming, but my dream-self had managed to figure out "Hey! I can do pretty much anything I want, as long as I concentrate").
Nicotine patch dreams are the Market. Unfortunately, I fear that wearing a patch now would just make me want to smoke again.

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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by rana » 09 Sep 2010, 13:59

last night I had a dream that made, at least, a little sense...
I dreamt that I was on the street in an old historic part of Caracas. I heard an old man say "we should all vote again for Chavez this September" . I turned to him and said "why? do you want to live in comunism?" Then the old man, who was getting onto an old beat up bus, said something like "you say that because you are sifrina (priviledged)". To which I replied "and you are a viejo bruto (dumb old man)!" My husband walked up to me and grabbed me by the arm to calm me down. We were in Chavista territory. Then there was a loud explosion, the earth trembled and the sky turned bright white. The town was hit with a nuclear bomb! The people ran and the buildings were on fire. The sky was falling. I wanted to run and take cover but I knew we were going to die within seconds. So I looked at my husband, we hugged and accepted we were going to die, but at least together. *

then, I woke up.

*corny, I know. :P

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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Stevo Darkly » 09 Sep 2010, 14:03

I've also discovered that I often dream in "series" format, but I'm not aware of this until I wake up in the middle of a dream and realize, "Hey, I've dreamed about this before. In fact, I've been dreaming about this for weeks."

I wonder what nocturnal mini-series I'm participating in right now?
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Stevo Darkly » 09 Sep 2010, 14:05

rana: Scary!
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Jennifer » 09 Sep 2010, 14:14

Very scary, Rana. But understandable in light of reasons to be concerned how things are working out in Venezuela.
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Jennifer » 09 Sep 2010, 14:15

A question for Rana, or anyone fluent in more than one language and prone to flipping back and forth between them over the course of a day: which language do you generally dream in? Is it in some ways topic-specific; say, dream in Spanish when dreaming about being in Venezuela, but dream in English when dreaming about the US?
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rana
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by rana » 09 Sep 2010, 14:21

Jennifer wrote:A question for Rana, or anyone fluent in more than one language and prone to flipping back and forth between them over the course of a day: which language do you generally dream in? Is it in some ways topic-specific; say, dream in Spanish when dreaming about being in Venezuela, but dream in English when dreaming about the US?
My honest answer: I'm not sure! I dream in both languages but I'm not aware which one. I mean, I'm not thinking "I'm speaking English now" while I dream. But if I think about it, I'm sure it depends where my dream takes place and who is in my dream. I mostly speak to my family in English, so dreams involving my family are in English. I mostly speak to my husband in Spanish, so those dreams are in Spanish.
Mostly, I think its Spanglish.

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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Isaac Bartram » 09 Sep 2010, 23:32

rana wrote:last night I had a dream that made, at least, a little sense...
I dreamt that I was on the street in an old historic part of Caracas. I heard an old man say "we should all vote again for Chavez this September" . I turned to him and said "why? do you want to live in comunism?" Then the old man, who was getting onto an old beat up bus, said something like "you say that because you are sifrina (priviledged)". To which I replied "and you are a viejo bruto (dumb old man)!" My husband walked up to me and grabbed me by the arm to calm me down. We were in Chavista territory. Then there was a loud explosion, the earth trembled and the sky turned bright white. The town was hit with a nuclear bomb! The people ran and the buildings were on fire. The sky was falling. I wanted to run and take cover but I knew we were going to die within seconds. So I looked at my husband, we hugged and accepted we were going to die, but at least together. *

then, I woke up.

*corny, I know. :P
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Re: Dreams (not those crushed by the weight of unfulfilled l

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 10 Sep 2010, 00:24

rana wrote:last night I had a dream that made, at least, a little sense...
I dreamt that I was on the street in an old historic part of Caracas. I heard an old man say "we should all vote again for Chavez this September" . I turned to him and said "why? do you want to live in comunism?" Then the old man, who was getting onto an old beat up bus, said something like "you say that because you are sifrina (priviledged)". To which I replied "and you are a viejo bruto (dumb old man)!" My husband walked up to me and grabbed me by the arm to calm me down. We were in Chavista territory. Then there was a loud explosion, the earth trembled and the sky turned bright white. The town was hit with a nuclear bomb! The people ran and the buildings were on fire. The sky was falling. I wanted to run and take cover but I knew we were going to die within seconds. So I looked at my husband, we hugged and accepted we were going to die, but at least together. *

then, I woke up.

*corny, I know. :P
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