Thursday, December 29, 2011

She Blinded Me With Science

        The post today is a reprint from Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe blog used with Jeffrey's kind permission.  For those of you who don't know Jeffrey, he was one of the co-hosts of the 2011 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  He has a wonderful blog and I would encourage you to stop in and at least wish him Happy Holidays and a Super Prosperous New Year.   While you're there you might as well follow his blog.

          When I saw this post at Halloween I knew then I must reprint it here.  Thanks Jeffery!

She Blinded Me With Science

Dreams are curious things. We have our aspirations, our goals we set forth to accomplish and make some aspect, or all aspects, of our lives better. We have the full-on R.E.M. dreams, where our brains process information that they’ve accumulated over the course of the day, usually in fragments that may not make much sense to us logically as opposed to when we’re awake.

And then there are the waking dreams, the images that are with us right when we come out of sleep. Some of these mental pictures escape our memory within a matter of seconds. Other times they stick with a person. However, I’m fairly certain that author Mary Shelley must have written down perhaps her most famous waking dream. If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have one of the most famous monsters around, and I’d be short a Rock’N’Fright Tuesday post.

What Mary Shelley did for literature, particularly horror and science fiction, is something not many others can compare to. The birth of her monster, Frankenstein, is pretty much pinned under the label of pop culture phenomenon. Countless scores of people have gone back to interpret the Frankenstein Monster legend, including author Dean Koontz. But you know what? Nobody can hold a candle, or perhaps a mob’s torchlight, to Mary Shelley.

The dream came to her in the year 1816. In her words, she says, “I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” This is a quote from Spark, 157, in Mary Shelley’s introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, and the source has been noted by Wikipedia, where I found the quote. (I think I’ve sufficiently cited my sources here.)

Study that quote for a moment. Go ahead and absorb it. I’ll wait for you. Done yet? Okay, let’s continue.

Shelley must have understood the importance of this particular dream. It’s my guess that it might have at first startled her, but then she quickly must have understood the importance of the information presented to her. Why else would she have bothered to remember as much of the dream as she possibly could? Quite the argument for dream journals, wouldn’t you say?

Now Mary Shelley’s famed monstrosity is a Halloween staple. But the bigger thing we have to keep in mind, beyond the mere representation of a child’s costume, is that she dared to dream and ask questions others wouldn’t have ventured. And like I said earlier, she did so by aptly turning science into a grim facet of horror.

For that reason, I dedicate my post to such an incredible author.   And don’t ever stop dreaming. Without dreams, we are nothing.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Wonderful Bicycle Machine

Bicycle race scene. A peloton of six cyclists ...Image via Wikipedia

           My dreams have often inspired stories, songs, and poetry.  This has been the case going back to my school days.  I was fascinated by dreams as a small child and as years went by I would sometimes write down a record of the dream in some form.

            In this post I present a poem that was inspired by a dream I had on Tuesday morning of June 11, 1968. This would be during the summer prior to my senior year in high school.   I first wrote down the dream in detail in my dream journal.  Then, not long after I had this dream I composed a poem based on this dream which apparently had left a big impression on me at that time.

            The poem is filled with surrealistic imagery as one might expect since it has been derived from the surrealism of a dream.  Read the poem and see if you can visualize what is being said.  Also, look for symbolism in the images and the references that are made.

    The Wonderful Bicycle Machine

Prologue at the rear of the old hotel:

          Cardboard boxes sank into the quicksand.
           Mike said, "666 boxes sink every hour.
           (Don't step into the quicksand.)"

The Bicycle Race:

            A huge celebration was occurring in town
            Over the week-end and during the week--
            Fun and games for all to enjoy,
            And sports events galore.
            I tried my hand in the volleyball game,
            But the ball was out of my reach.
            So I tried something better--a bicycle race
            From here to who knows where.

            Waving a flag of yellow and green,
            They signaled the start of the race.
            I hopped on my wonderful bicycle machine
            And pedaled into first place.

            Superhighways stretched before me
            As far as my eyes could see--
            Lay stretched before me
            And wound all around me
            To where dirigible changes to hearse,
            And the story of the FBI is revealed to the nation on television.
            I was carried away from the stream of the race
            On a nationwide tour by highway.
            I did not enter a highway of Volkswagons
            On leaving New Jersey.
            A sign said city "C" in Maryland.
            I headed for city "W"
            To carry me back to West Virginia,
            Where I would sleep at last.

Epilogue across the street from the old hotel:

            I ended up in Gatlinburg,
           Which was partly in Nebraska
           Til destroyed by the Great Flood of '55,
           Making it what it is today.
           "I'm glad I'm here; I'm tired," I said,
           As I passed by crowds and jewelry stores.
           Then Mike reappeared.  "You're tired," he said,
           "That's what you get for being a smart aleck!"
           It surprised me more than Death itself
           When Mike joined the crowd that was crossing the street.

         Care to hazard a guess as to what this poem (dream) is about?   Does the poem clearly portray to you what happened in the dream?    Have you written any dream inspired poetry?

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

To Remember or Not To Remember?

Art by Ada Zdanowicz
        How many times have you heard someone say or you yourself say:  "I don't dream." or "I can never remember my dreams."?

         Though it is not uncommon to not remember dreams, studies show that everyone dreams during sleep and dreams frequently throughout the sleep cycles.  Sleep research studies have indicated that sleep deprivation can lead to serious physical and mental consequences including confusion and hallucinations.  In essence, if we are not permitted to dream during sleep our minds will begin to "dream" in wakefulness through what is termed lucid dreaming.

          Some of us prefer not to remember our dreams and possibly create a subconscious mental block that makes us believe we have not dreamed.  Yet research indicates that even those who consider themselves to be non-dreamers will show changes in brain activity during certain sleep cycles that suggest dream activity is occurring.

           Remembering dreams can be achieved through self-training which requires time in the morning that most of us are not willing to set aside.   We are too busy trying to get ready for the day ahead, eat breakfast, or whatever it is we do in the morning.  However, if dreams are not remembered immediately they will typically be forgotten very quickly.

           Keeping a pen and notebook close at hand can help dream memory training.  One should write down their morning thoughts that may be related to something they were dreaming.  If there are any dream memories write those down as well.  Focusing on these memories for a few minutes might begin to evoke the memories of what had been dreamed prior to awakening

        These actions may allow one to begin to develop a greater consciousness about what they might have dreamed.   However we typically don't have the patience or put aside the time to develop dream memory.  A drive to develop dream memory must be present.  It is a discipline that must be practiced on an ongoing basis in order for remembering ones dreams to become easier.

          You do dream whether you remember or not.  People who don't remember dreams may have had a traumatic childhood memory that has created a fear of remembering dreams; may be trying to repress troubling thoughts that recur in their dreams; may have merely conditioned their minds not to remember; or any number of other reasons.

          If you want to remember your dreams but can't, it might require extensive self-examination or even analysis by a professional such as one trained in psychology or sleep study.  Remembering your dreams is not crucial to getting by in life, but it can be enlightening to study them to try to understand what they are telling you.   If you are not experiencing dream recall, you might be missing some important messages that your mind or body are trying to tell you.

         Have you ever kept or do you now keep a dream journal?   If you are one who believes you don't dream, can you recall a time when you did or do you remember a traumatic dream event that frightened you a great deal?   Have you ever experienced hallucinations due to sleep deprivation?

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Recycled Blog Post With Additions

LEATHERHEAD, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 02:  A loc...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

       In this post I offer a shortened version of "The Creature in the Recycling Bin" which appeared on my Tossing It Out blog.   To it I've added details that were left out of the original account.   

        I threw some aluminum cans into an empty black plastic bin in my back yard.   After dropping the bag into the bin,  I turned away to walk a few feet when I heard what sounded like a muffled explosion and a whoosh.   I turned and saw that the recycle bin was gone.

       From previous experience I knew that the bin had shot up like a rocket and had flown over the house into the front yard of my house.   I ran upstairs to the master bedroom to look out upon the front yard which was actually the front yard of my mother's house in Tennessee.
       Unable to see the bin in the yard from the bedroom window, I went outside to look for it.  My conclusion was that a strange creature had been inside the bin and caused it to fly up like it did.  This made me afraid, but also concerned that someone could have been injured by the flying bin.

        As I walked around the yard I recalled the previous times that this had happened.   My mothers older model Lincoln Towncar was parked at an angle near where the trashcans are normally placed on trash pick up day.  I knew that the car had died in that spot and apparently George had not yet been able to move it or get it running.

        This was the end of the dream that I remembered before waking up, but there were many events that had occurred prior to this recycle bin incident.  Earlier in the dream I can remember parts of an entire sequence and history of dream memory having to do with my friend Rick who had put on a large outdoor concert where someone had gotten killed.  I remember a lengthy sequence of being at the concert when the killing happened.  

     Later I read about the concert tragedy in the local paper.  Since that concert had gotten cancelled after the person had been killed, it was being rescheduled.  I found more information about the rescheduled concert on the internet, read about it on Facebook, and then spoke to Rick's wife about it on the phone.

       At another point in the same dream my friend Fred and I were looking for something that had been lost.  We heard that someone was going on a trip.  There were so many intricate details of these and other things that were happening in the dream (dreams?) that I now cannot remember.

        However I am aware that the actual act of dreaming took place in a far shorter span of time that the events depicted in the dream would have taken place.  As was discussed in my previous post this could be an example of distorted time perception in the mind of the dreamer or multiple levels of thinking in the dream time. 

       And yet I had a memory of a complete history of events as though I had actually lived through them all.   Had these memories all come from a protracted dream that had been occurring throughout the night?  Were the memories distillations of real life recollections reconstituted into a new dream life interpretation?   Is it all something like deja vu?

       Here is a dream-like music video which features my friend Rick who also was featured in my dream.  Rick plays the part of the guy sitting by the window.  "My Sittin' Window" is a nice song by a group called Blue Moon Rising.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Multi-Level Dreaming?

Drawing of the human brain, from the publicati...Image via Wikipedia       I am on a road tour with a show and arriving at a new motel.    A man attempts to abduct my wife and I, but sometime during that event I kill him and hide his body.

       After parking the man's car in the motel lot I realize that there are some things I have left in it, but I can't go back to it since it is now evidence for a crime.  Yet somehow I am able to retrieve a metal cash box in which I see many coins.  Later I am putting  the box in my van when some other people from the show start questioning me.

         Then, we are driving.  Our caravan of vehicles must cross a large bridge where we are required to have a police escort.  I balance a large stack of broken down cardboard boxes on the cab of a truck that I am driving.  I precariously perch myself on top of these boxes and somehow manage to start driving the truck without being in the cab.  The boxes begin to shift and slide from under me falling off the truck.   As I get off the truck cab to gather the boxes, I see a large semi truck approaching rapidly from behind me.   It manages to avoid collision and passes.  There are now many vehicles driving by and my stopped truck has become a hazard.  My police escort starts becoming impatient and I quickly toss the boxes in the back of the truck.

KFI logo from 1981 to 1988Image via Wikipedia
         I begin driving again but now I'm in an older model car.  We are passing through an area where there seem to be many businesses.  I am surprised that my car radio is picking up KFI, a Los Angeles station that I often listen to, even though I'm over a thousand miles from L.A..  I decide it must be online radio.  They are playing beautiful classical music and I am surprised since it is normally a talk station.   I wonder why they don't play this music on the air in L.A.

        The above account does not even begin to include everything that happened in this dream, but this is as much as I can remember in any specific detail.  The events of this dream happen in a motel room, in a warehouse type environment, in a performance venue, on the highway, and other places involving many different people from my past and others whom I don't recognize.

        Upon awakening I begin pondering my dream and wonder how exactly the dream was constructed.  Was it a very long dream with many components?  I look at the clock and notice that during the dream I had only dozed for a few minutes since the last time I had been awake. Still the dream seemed to have lasted hours and over a period of more than one day.

         Then a thought comes to me.  Perhaps I was having many dreams occurring at once?  If this were the case I wonder how does our dream mind process the information?  Is it coming all at once on different mental levels?  Or is the dream actually as long as it seems, but sped up with rapidly assimilated information bombarding our brains and remembered as though having occurred in real time?

         Our dream perception may come in the same way as when we are awake.  During consciousness we experience our environment on many levels of sensation based on all of our senses as well as the layers of memory and recall which involve literal and symbolic interpretation.

          Think about this for a moment.  During any period of time you are thinking and sensing many different things at once.  All of the five senses (or the senses you are capable of receiving) are at work and you are aware of all of them, either consciously or subconsciously.  You are cognizant of conversations and events happening around you and still may be daydreaming or thinking of something unrelated to your present surroundings at the same time the rest of this is occurring.  If every single bit of information received by the brain at any one second were separated into single sensory moments, each second could conceivably have the equivalency of an hour or more worth of data if compiled in linear time.

          This could be the reason that there are moments when "our life passes before our eyes".  All memory is piled up at once and the mind reads and organizes the entire bank of data.  The mind interprets the compilation of stacked up memories into a timeline which is easier for us to understand.

           Perhaps this is the way dreams work.  In a few minutes or seconds of dream time we sense many things at once, but the mind subdivides the dream events and sensations into a time perception that seems more reasonable to us upon recall.

           Have you had what seemed to be long complex dreams in a very short span of real time?   Have you ever stopped to concentrate on your thoughts and senses to see how many things you were aware of and performing at one time?   Isn't the human brain an amazing instrument?

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