Dreams and Dreaming

An unexpected story in the Financial Times, Why Writers see the future,  falls in line with the empirical idea that every event has a cause and because events are essentially a series of causes and effects,  that one thing does leads to another.  Accordingly, to someone who is aware of the many causes and effects the future is foreseeable.  Simon Kuper, author of the article, argues that  Orwell and Kafka weren’t seeing the future, but as writers  they were openly expressing latent angst or dreams, and in that way they were forecasting the future because others shared these ideas, which  essentially manifested the untold truth into a future reality.  From the article:

Why writers have this gift was best explained by George Orwell. Discussing a favourite novelist of his boyhood, H.G. Wells, he wrote: “A decade or so before aeroplanes were technically feasible, Wells knew that within a little while men would be able to fly. He knew that because he himself wanted to be able to fly, and therefore felt sure that research in that direction would continue.”

When writers are in the creative process, and the writing flows from the collective awareness directly through the pen and to the paper, without having to be channeled through the interference of what I call the interpretative device and all its filtering controls, (the brain) and all the requirements of social and cultural constraint are quieted, it is then that truth is written, time is lost and hope, love and despair know no boundary.

Writing from the collective unconscious, as Jung calls it, connects to the good and the evil and the many truths that are possible. The writing reveals the awareness of the writers of their greater existence and the timelessness of their thoughts, ideas and deeds. For those who wrote with particular clarity we shouldn’t doubt they did so in a natural state of Dzogchen lucidity; Hemingway and  his Old Man and The Sea to name one.


Reading Mark Vonnegut’s new book has me thinking about the thin line between sanity and insanity,  how fuzzy it is and how the application of Gestalt theory helps to find that line, define it, and in doing so establish the means to survive in the “real reality.”

We live in a world with a preordained set of acceptable rules about social behavior that an individual may not be able to meet squarely, but must, or suffer alienation. If a person has a lot of money and has visions, he’s considered eccentric perhaps, but not insane;  if the person is poor off to the nuthouse for him with a stream of prescriptions such that he may never recover!  There is, however, another element of the equation to consider in addition to the security or money, and that is dialogue.

The Senoi believe a dreamer encounters many and various spirits in the lucid  dream world; that “nature is impregnated by spiritual forces, many of them personified in the form of evil spirits.” (Dumhoff)  Western society, however,  has unlearned  and unremembered  the fact that spirits exist, and some are indeed evil; dare I say it’s a state of intellectual amnesia, and contrived at that.  The effort to analyze hallucinations and the disorder, schizophrenia, by magnetic imagery or placing a selected sample of “infected” brain tissue into a Petri dish is faulty research. Indeed. Does a Petri Dish have a lucid dream? Can Evil Spirits invade a Petri dish or show up on an MRI? I don’t think so. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? If  evil confronts brain tissue preserved in a Petri dish,  can the microscope perceive the evil? Can evil even pervade a brain cell that’s  disconnected from a conscious, thinking thing? Can MRI or fMRI  imaging determine where the impulse came from that started the hallucination, and determine whether it’s real or illusion? No, yet research continues.

Carl Jung developed new theories as a result of his visions and the voices. Einstein redesigned the concept of time relativity from his visions.   Black Elk saw his future and worked to unite his people.  The difference between these men of genius and Jared Loughner is they opened dialogue with the visions, and learned from the experience. Science has advanced rapidly and far in many areas, but not to the point that a scientist can find evil on a  fMRI and open dialogue. The Senoi believe that the evil spirits in the dream world are disturbing images that the dreamer can change. Van Gogh painted. Stevenson wrote.  Jung applied critical thinking and developed analytical psychology. But Jared Loughner, however, and despite all the warning signs,went out, bought a gun and went on a shooting spree. Can a  fMRI answer the important question- why? Why shoot people? What is it about damage to the amygdala, for example, that a makes a person violent? Shouldn’t we be more than that?

Opening a dialectic dialogue with the visions and/or voices may well be the difference between sanity and insanity, or at least bridge a path to balanced mental health in the process.  But I wonder how many (nonviolent) geniuses did talk to their visions and were locked away as “crazy” people? I wonder how many crazy people who were locked away would have been famous artists, writers, philosophers, inventors or scientists, etc. if they had a support system. Does being willing to talk to visions, the good and the evil, make you eccentric, or is it an act of lucid genius?  Is it the willingness to face the charge of eccentricity that makes a genius a Genius?   Dialogue is no assurance of mental health, in fact it may well make matters far worse, but it is the first step to stability.  Balance comes with control; control comes with clarity. Lucidity and the ability to discern real from delusion, right from wrong, good from evil, and as the Senoi practice, are necessary to control the outcome. The outcome varies, because every person, as an individual, finds answers within their own individuation.  The list is long:  Joan of Arc fought for France and became a national hero.  Edgar Allen Poe struggled, but wrote. Franz Kafka gave warnings. Van Gogh painted starry skies but it wasn’t enough; he shot himself.  Jung took control, kept a journal, wrote and illustrated the now published Red Book.  Mark Vonnegut wrote, not one book, but two and turned out to be a fine medical doctor. Why did he make it; why is he different from so many who do not make it?

For answers, scientists need to research outside the box and look at the person and the disease from the whole perspective.  As for taking control for one’s life, in the manner of a Senoi changing the disturbing images that plague them, would not that change be found in teaching the patient how to remap the brain, to close the doors through which the undesirable images and voices find their entry?  I tend to be a student of the psychologists who think we are intelligent human beings and do have the ability to direct our brain, and in doing so direct our life.  The first step for the researchers  would require admitting that thoughts exist outside the physical brain, but I’m not sure if they’re ready for that step.

Artificial Intelligence or Transmigration of Thought, Mind and Soul?

The movie, Avatar to some students, is a boring movie with blue smurfs cast in a repetitive theme reminiscent of  Pocahontas. Childish. Inconsequential.  In other words, both thumbs down. To them I say, when you’re a little older- watch it again. And then again.

I agree with them that elements of the movie are taken from Indian culture- the naturalists’ idea of love the earth that feeds you and provides for you,  the inter-dependence  that exists between nature, man and beast.  Beyond the American Indian theme, it reminds me of the Buddhist dogma of “do no wrong”  as well. I  love the movie. Two thumbs up. -And not because of the all too obvious jab at capitalist lust and greed for limited resources, and thus the creation of perpetual war -I’m not that snarkey or pessimistic-or political, but because it’s a story of the struggle for courage and morality achieved through the unlikely means of transmigration- from one state of mind and existence to the other, from one reality to another.

In a very subtle but artistic manner, Avatar introduces to a young audience the big ideas that have been debated for centuries. When we dream do we escape the reality of our very ordinary life, travel to distant lands and return to ourselves, and maybe as a better person?  Or are dreams just memories and a reprocessing of the days events; are they a creative means of escape that is otherwise not possible?

In a bed with who-know-what wired to his brain, Sully falls to some kind of sleep or coma condition and his mind connects to its avatar. Is he  dreaming a dream and in a dream state, or is he alive and awake and actually in an avatar body and enjoying all the freedoms and sensations the same as his human body? Philosophically,  this is a good example of Descartes’ Cartesian dualism, and being captain of the ship, but separate from the ship body.  Which life is real? The one in the bed, or the avatar?  Is he human or is he machine? Scientifically, when I ask the class if they think this transmigration of sorts is possible, the majority answer, yes. Indeed.

I attended the MIT symposia, Minds, Brains and Machines hoping to learn new ideas and data about how the brain works. Instead I learned more details about the direction for AI. Artificial Intelligence had been on my mind but usually in reference to robotics. I think robots will settle the moon for example, not humans.  But there was little talk of robots and what their function will be throughout society. Not putting intelligence and programming into robots, the future seems to be the opposite- putting intelligence and programming into us. We are moving toward an AI integration, not sooner or later, but sooner. To that point, is science and research merely following Hollywood scripts?  Will we be Sully someday, in two places at the same time , enjoying life and all its freedoms, living two different experiences? It appears that we are  moving toward that frontier.  As super-humans we’ll be machinated and immortal, but will  we forget we once thought without programming? Machines, robots and AI  have a place in an industrialized economic society, but we are humans, not machines.  We are a unique species and we should embrace our mortality and all our imperfections and leave it to the machines to be machines.

Does the dream end?

If a dream inside a dream is a dream,   does the capability of the lucidity of existing in three places and three realities at the same time end when the dreamer wakes from the dream?

Is life an illusion we create for the sake of reality?

These questions  have simple answers, but they’re fun to debate because we all know that whatever we give as an answer is theoretical and therefore open to argument.  Each generation questions its place in society – from the individuated perspective and from the perspective of the greater collective, and each generation changes the answer in some way from the generation before them.  Nothing is carved in stone- nothing! I think our  eagerness to argue and redefine what has already been defined is because we don’t want to be our parents;  we don’t want to be those who were before us. We want to be ourselves, – so we seek ways to create that distinction.  However slight the separation between the past and the present  perspectives and theories may be, they do act as a reflection of who we are and  the culture in which we live.  Like the rings of a tree trunk tell the story of the tree’s existence, the ever-modifying answers to existential questions are a reflection of the times,  and society’s perspective of how we perceive knowledge.

However, it is also true that the majority consensus  says one thing, while an individual silently believes another. – It is that individual, in the circle of change who will forge the path for future generations to follow.

Am I dreaming, or is this reality?

Nihilism.  Is life a nothingness where we don’t exist, there is no spoon and humanity is just imaginary?

Or, are we a play with actors and puppets and those who pull the strings?

Or, is The Matrix synchronicity? Are we an  awareness,- the quantum theory that we exist in many places and many times at the same?

We are the spoon, we are the man, we are the matrix.


Because hallucinations and visions are experienced with so much emotion they seem more real than life and it becomes difficult to discern what is reality and what is not. The movie skates along that overlap of reality and vision.

Can nightmares drive a person to insanity, to the point he sees visions?

When nightmares become real, what is the difference between nightmares, visions, and reality?

Music by Max Richter: The Nature of Daylight

Link to music and video  clip

from Shutter Island

Dreams Controller 2.1.7 for iOS – Influence Dreams, Remain Lucid Asleep

Good grief.  A “Dream Controller?”

In a consumer driven competitive,  creative  capitalist market, ( which I call the 4C’s market) it is always amazing what a person is willing to sell,  what another person is willing to buy and what the government under the cloak of pluralism is willing to allow.  Ethics?  Throw them overboard, ethics be damned- this is fun- this is  the new art- this the future!  And besides- it’s already a law that you can’t regulate art, or free speech or the future.  So now, for a pittance of a price of  adding an ap on your phone, you can have your thoughts manipulated by an absolute stranger. Not just anybody, or a friend, or a government official, but an absolute total stranger, no less,  an entire business of elves  conjuring up thoughts to control us.  Willingly.   Hmmmm….

Surely, we are in a pivotal time of ethics:  what is AI and what is not? (Define artificial, define intelligence, and who gets to do the defining

What is authentic and what is not? (define authentic, and who gets to make that judgment)

What is ethical and  what is not?

If we can’t define artificial, intelligence and authentic how can we define the ethics of a “dream controller 21.7 ” ap for an i-phone?

But would it change anything anyways? I don’t think so; this little “dream controller” will only effect a person in NREM sleep and stage one, two or three of NREM is not the source of the epic dream- the ones that change your way of thinking about something and maybe change your life. Research shows that the frontal cortex of the brain, the logical thinking part, is cut off and not active in dreams during REM sleep. What this means is that the dreams during  NREM are already self-filtering and remain part and parcel within the character of the dreamer; it  is during REM sleep that the mind is no longer self-filtering and the doors to the greater unconscious just might be opened. Jung calls it the collective unconscious, some call it the astral plane; whatever you chose to call it, It is from this state that the most important dreams occur, so despite whatever programming the dream controller inputs, it will  not be heard. We sleep through thunder storms and babies crying, so it stands to reason we’d sleep through the dream controller too.

The purpose of lucid dreaming is to attain a balance within your life,to accept who you are as a human being; that balance and gestalt kind of happiness comes from within yourself- it can’t be found in liquor or pills or a dream controller.  We are the accumulation of our memories and culture; If you want to change what you dream,make your own dream controller: the first step might be to read new books, like the old fashioned days when we read or talked to other people to expand our life and expand our horizons. 😀

From the press release:

Independent developer Taha Bebek today is pleased to announce Dreams Controller 2.1.7 for iOS, an update to his app that allows the user to influence the theme of their dreams and achieve a state of lucid dreaming. Inspired by the popular, mind-bending film Inception, and employing techniques based on scientific research, the app provides audio cues and suggestions at preset periods while the dreamer is sleeping. The conscious mind does not hear these sounds and the subject continues sleeping, undisturbed. However, the subconscious mind, active during some phases of sleep, hears and reacts to the various pre-programmed cues and suggestions. The update adds the capability to create customized audio dream cues. Dreams Controller includes in-app Facebook connectivity to share tips, experiences, and dreamscapes with other users.

It is a common experience for an individual to incorporate actual, external sounds into the ongoing story being lived in their dream. For example, the sound of a far off police siren may not be jarring enough to awaken the dreamer, but the sound of that siren may be incorporated into the dream, changing its direction as it unfolds. Beginning in the 1970’s, researchers began experiments into the phenomena of lucid dreaming, maintaining conscious awareness while dreaming. There followed many fascinating studies into the nature of REM sleep, lucid dreaming, and the ability of some individuals to control the theme and direction of their dreams. For the full story open link here.

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