Updated: 5 days ago
This is a workshop about how lucid dreaming could help the philosophy of consciousness. Dreaming challenges our ability to be adaptable and to think on our feet. Our unconscious can take liberties with the laws of physics. Dreaming can further our understanding of free will compatibilism. A lucid dream is a meta-dream. It’s a dream where the dream character thinks about dreaming and consequently gains insight into their experience. We become rationally aware of its irrationality. To say dreams are meaningless presupposes you already have free will. The question we need to ask is how would a deterministic, artificially intelligent robot respond to the experience of dreams? What if we were born without much free will and slowly acquired it during childhood? Metaphorically speaking we put our representative dream characters under a spell of our own choosing! To become conscious in a dream we've to view the unconsciousness as separate to ourselves with thoughts of its own. Interpreting dreams as a passage through time would add to the free will debate something irreducibly complex that isn't just random or deterministic. A dream no longer exists when we awake and some of it will remain unknowable to everyone else since we can't describe dreams with perfect accuracy. We can only describe the magic of dreams through analogies and anecdotes. A lucid dream is like you were encountering some turbulence along your flight path through sleep. Usually we don't notice the motion of the outside world while we're asleep just like we wouldn't notice the absolute motion of an airplane when we're looking at the seats ahead of us from the inside.
Even a misinterpreted or misremembered dream can help free will seeing as a dream is visually non-real. There are eye experiments to verify lucid dreaming though we can’t fully explain the phenomenon seeing as we don’t even know where consciousness is on the brain waves when we’re awake. We don’t really need external verification anyway: the more psychotic the story is then the more likely the storyteller is telling the truth! I was so caught up in other daily issues that I was never overly distressed by lucid dreaming and grew accustomed to having a weird experience once every few nights.
Word on the street is that the brain is like a supercomputer. But such a device can work 24/7 while we’re asleep for a third of the day. Somehow there’s a conscious being who appears to be trapped inside the brain. If consciousness itself were epiphenomenal it’d never actually need to rest because it wouldn’t serve a function or use up energy. I mentioned in the 4th post page 8 in the thread how I woke up from a lucid dream a few years ago and it felt like my sense of perspective was different. Another brief sensation I experienced during that same episode was that it felt like I didn’t control the thoughts entering into my mind. As I said I recovered after 30 minutes but it suggested to me that where our thoughts come from and sleep might be somehow related.
Sleep can be relaxing because it decouples us from our daily lives. The data of dreams allows the mind to be reflective or rueful. It could be the case that sleep can improve not only our memory but even our decision-making skills and intuition. Can our unconscious mind be larger than the conscious mind; as if what we’re seeing when we’re awake is holistically carved out of the unconscious to reflect reality? Dreams allow us to escape “collectivised” physical reality. We can perform an action without being hindered by fear. One night I was casually thinking about climbing off a building site on top of a skyscraper by sliding down on a rope without any gear. Thankfully I wasn’t lucid in that dream!
They interrupt a continuous chain of causality in our lives. It disconnects us from the previous day. In fact that very idea was just derived from one of my own dreams. It wasn’t a lucid dream. My dream character was walking around a wooded trail. He was speaking to himself about his idea of reincarnation that death is not just disconnected in time but also causally separate from this life. I don’t know what made him think of that. Afterwards I put two and two together. In the midst of a dream about walking around a forest and seeing a child running and falling I found it incredible that the dream character could have the sustained focus to think about reincarnation in that way.
I view dreaming as being introspective. Dreams are solipsistic. So any flimsy dream characters we meet are ultimately projections of your own unconscious. To state the obvious no one else is conscious in a dream. We can easily identify consciousness by sheer contrast when we wake up. Otherwise they’d find it quite boring living inside one of your dreams! The subconscious must interpret and empathise with the behaviour of those actual people they’re based on. Our theory of mind improves with age. A dream could try to analyse our understanding of others and not just ourselves. In order to simulate them the unconscious would be forced to wonder how I think this particular person would respond if I were to do this or that. I might have woken up feeling a bit stressed or frustrated at someone’s behaviour in a dream only to realise it had no relevance to the current situation. If someone is annoying us in a dream, how expected would this be? If we're surprised by their dreamful hostility then maybe it's a sign that the dream is wrong and that they're much nicer than we're giving them credit for. This might inspire us to be more grateful. By contrast if their antagonism in the dream seems quite normal to us when we awaken, then it reinforces our caution towards them. Perhaps a nightmare can help remove a negative feeling by allowing you to fully express it and get it out of your system. We’re in a more gullible state inside a dream.
Maybe a dream character has a “copy and pasted” replica of our volition and intentionality but they’ve to work with different memories and strange beliefs. There are different stages to sleep. So perhaps sometimes it’s vice-versa where our memories are “cut” to be the same but with a changed volition. If our motivation and intentionality was modified then our dream character would think differently. That could help give rise to the random appearance of dreams. The misfortune of a dream character can reassure us by making us feel lucky in comparison. They're like a split personality.
One way of viewing it is where we lose most of our consciousness because our dream character is almost a different person to us with an altered set of beliefs. Whatever amount of consciousness we don’t lose is remembered and used by the dream character. They’re like us but with a selectively forgotten memory. In a dream we forget both knowledge about ourselves as well as the time in previous dream content. A dream ponders how would we act if we were in a situation with this set of circumstances? A particular dream doesn’t appear to have much long-term memory of our previous dreams while we’re sleeping. Thus every dream is distinct. They’re so diverse that one dream might feel like the complete opposite of the previous dream. I often have dreams about transport; I’d be getting on trains and missing the following train where I’d have to change my destination. In real life we frequently have to change our own objectives and destinations.
Dreams can be so mystifying that we’re left to wonder how we could have made them up on the spot. We’re usually oblivious throughout sleep and even a lucid dream can only ever take up a small fraction of it. That oblivion can be interpreted as a simulation of forward motion through time. Absolute nothingness is pure time! Sleep feels like it takes a few minutes even though it looks like hours on a clock. If we’re struggling to derive free will from determinism than a shortcut is to start from the polar opposite of determinism; anarchy.
The danger of self-design and robots that can dream(!):
What is a dream made of? To say it’s just a memory only serves to pass on the problem to neurons. When we sleep we don’t think in terms of neurons. I feel it’s more natural to say a dream is made of light in the same way your current vision is composed of light. Although a dream is different to our waking vision because they’re like patterns of light. Why can’t we remember a dream? If light is our consciousness then maybe neurons consitute our memory. So if our neurons are offline then we’re not remembering the patterns of light. Therefore it’d be more accurate to say a dream is the lack of memory rather than memory itself.
Dreams can convey the absurdness of our immediate goals in the whole scheme of things. They can affect us as much as want them to. If we don’t like the message of a dream we can ignore it. We’re not conscious in a dream because time is flowing too fast. The more vivid a dream, the slower time passes. When time compresses to normal speed we can have a lucid dream. So sleep is like a longitudinal wave of compressions and rarefactions of time.
I’ve become an expert on my own interpretations so unfortunately that won’t mean anything if you’re not agreeing with the initial arguments! That’s fine and we can go our separate ways. I’m not trying to be a sleep evangelist. If however you do think that sleep is an encryption and were wondering what physics you might need to violate; I’m the guy you need! Sleep is nature’s natural drug supply. The difference is that only you can observe the effects.
If free will can change the direction of our body movements then it must be a force. Acceleration can be either a change in velocity (initiating or ending an action) or direction (perhaps similar to free won’t). Moreover our mindset changes as we age so whatever is causing free will would have to be continuously updated rather than it being endowed once at birth.
Are dreams an altered memory which is being revisited in the past tense? Or can they also be an unfiltered purge that’s being actively created by your current thoughts in the present tense? There must be trace amounts of the conscious mind remaining within the unconscious. They’re not completely separate. Are dream characters remembering “this is what happened and then what I did next was...”. Or are they thinking to themselves “this is what’s happening to me and so how will I act now”?
I usually have an intense memory of the dream during the following day. But an unexpected feature of my lucid dreams is that the visual experience can eventually become incomprehensible. This means that I often only have a very hazy memory of it after just a week or two. It’s like the experience is too different from the rest of my daily mindset and sense perception such that it doesn’t fully register in my long-term memory. The plot of the lucid dream is often too complicated and it can get lost over time. So some of it is simply ignored and involuntarily forgotten. Although I can usually remember how I felt after waking up and my subsequent thoughts of the experience.
By definition dreams are personal and anecdotal. I can’t fully describe the content of my own lucid dreams to you. This would be in the same way that I can’t accurately explain my qualia of yellow. But obviously you yourself can repeat the experiment in your sleep. Therefore you don’t have to take my word for it if you become interested. For me it started off by seeing coloured imagery such as brightly lit halls or fireworks and momentary sleep paralysis the odd time for many months before the lucid dreams became much more intricate. Do our emotions change passively during sleep as if we’re just watching an emotive movie? Or might it be that our own emotions are been involuntarily stimulated in a dream to forcefully make us feel a certain way? Studying dreams is a convenient profession as your work begins when you go to sleep! Sleeping is one of my unique talents!
From my experience of lucid conscious dreaming I’m truly convinced that dreams aren’t solely poetic or metaphoricaI. I don’t think sleep is just for rest. Could there be a process occurring during sleep which is being hidden from view? I guess that were knocked unconscious because there’s actually too much happening during sleep. So it’s not just out of lackadaisical boredom. When I first started having these strange dreams I went online to a “consult a physicist” website but they didn’t even reply to my suggestions! Some people I asked were skeptical of the existence of such websites and asked if I was sure they were legitimate!
The whims of dreams are mental experiments which are being evaluated by the unconscious mind. I contend that dreaming is an inbuilt, systematic process that’s central to how we come to have free will. The you that goes to sleep and the you that wakes up in the morning are discontinuous in time. As soon as I became self-aware in my first few lucid dreams I then started becoming lucid without even intending to. I think that my subconscious learned the general patterns in a way that I become lucid in a sporadic manner. By way of illustration I could ask someone their name in a dream and when I get no response my mind is alerted to the discrepancy and becomes more aware.
When I become conscious in a dream it’s viscerally, palpably apparent to me that I’m physically in an unreal reality that’s in a different location to where I first went to sleep. By that I mean outside of my usual location which is looking forwards in my head. It’s almost as if a dream is being viewed looking backwards behind your eye. The visual content is exceptionally intricate, though in a bizarre way. In fact it’s as bizarre as the narrative. Perhaps it’s sometimes the weird scenes that are actually guiding the narrative. The thought patterns of the unconscious disembodied dream are often intensely strange upon becoming lucid. I then eventually wake up back in my bed. I understand the anarchy only takes place during sleep. Waking reality is normal.
I don’t have lucid dreams on most nights. I just have carefree normal dreams or sometimes perhaps I merely have a good recall of the dream. And even when I become lucid it usually only lasts for under a minute. I just see pleasantly strange psychedelic shapes or a frenzied scene like seeing a lot of balloons flying in the air. I don't use the term psychedelic in solely a trippy sense because I might see actual objects. For example it might feel like I was hovering in a room and seeing toys on the floor. Subsequently I experience a sensation of going at an immense speed before I open my eyes to see my room again. Now when I think more about that sensation it’s not like I’m “flying” per se but that I’m somehow in the same spatial position but flying through time in order to close the dream. One way of describing it is where you're rotating really fast and you get dizzy. If it occurs when I first drift into sleep then it might feel like everything is slowing down and I’m falling downwards instead of forwards. My thoughts can be disjointed when lucidity begins. By way of example I was asleep on the beach and saw my phone freezing and hearing other people talking about it before full alertness when I spun around rapidly and darted around these transparent rooms to wake up.
Other times the content is plain random and trivial like seeing scattered furniture in a bedroom. I might have seen a few strange rooms as if I were at haunted house! I experienced a single dream where I momentarily saw people travelling numbly in a bus as if I were looking at a photograph. I felt my dream character removing restraints, climbing out of his bed and escaping over a fence out of perceived confinement by others like it were a movie. On several occasions I'd the impression a sequence of events were being replayed in a manner of a countdown to draw my attention to different features. For example I saw a car travelling towards a flashlight again and again. There was an instance where it felt like I was in my kitchen about to grab a cereal when I sensed these rats running behind me and I woke up instantly. In one vivid, non-lucid dream I was walking around a shopping market and saw human meat on sale! Or one time I saw cats mindlessly playing with wool interspersed with images of strangers. It seems as if I can kind of rotate or be pulled around until I can feel my hands and eyelids again. Even ordinary dreams are intrinsically psychotic. So it follows that the more lucid you become the more bizarre an experience you’ll have. In one of my earliest lucid dreaming experiences I tripped over a dishwasher's door and hit my chest before waking up. Another early lucid dream was where I was climbing a ladder and the person above me pushed me off. I appeared to be motionless as I looked at the street from the ground and woke up after 20 seconds of blankness. A lucid reverberation with a mystical theme was where I was running up and down a sand dune inside a cave. I looked around and I wasn't sure if they were statues like a temple or just a rocky protrusion. I tried to escape the dream by crashing into the sand dune again and again. A creepy lucid dream was where I was running around a room looking for something when for some reason I thought there was a flying spider. I froze in fear and began to evaporate. I saw a parody of the Little Red Riding Hood nursery rhyme where my dream character was at a hotel and observed both the girl and the wolf escaping under the outer fence. They were both hunted down as they tried to flee up the hill. One non-lucid dream was where I went on a date and later realised that her hair had become grey.
There's a correlation between lucidity and dream recall so having the odd lucid dream will improve your memory for ordinary dreams. An airplane spontaneously did an emergency landing in water during a non-lucid dream. I hid from the rescuers in the back of the plane because apparently I didn't have a ticket! As you can see our worries in such dreams aren't always in proportion to each other! A vivid dream doesn't contain as much perception as a lucid dream but it can compensate for it through a more excitable storyline. By way of example it doesn't require much effort for a vivid dream to concoct themes of nose-diving airplanes and getaway submarines. A vivid dream is more thought-driven whereas a lucid dream is far more visually based. In other words our thoughts can precede the imagery in a vivid dream whereas our sensory input tends to come before our semantic responses in a lucid dream. We are surprised by our erratic perception in a lucid dream whereas the unusual imagery in a vivid dream is a follow-on of the bizarre linguistic thoughts beforehand. The more vivid the dream the more simultaneous the imagery will latch onto the dreaming thoughts. There's a discrepancy between our thoughts and subsequent perception in a lucid dream.
(Does a lion sleep 16 hours a day to think of new zebra-chasing strategies or perhaps is it to slow down their perception of time in order to increase their reaction speeds against those agile zebras?)
In spite of the nonsensical thoughts it could still be perceived as valid by the dreaming mind. It’s taken at face value. An instance of this would be where I was looking at shadowy boulder and for some reason imagining to myself that the rock was actually a huge landmass being dragged out to sea. Next thing I’d a sensation of accelerating under its depths. The blackness of the background resembled a bottomless ocean. Fortunately it was fleeting and I woke up soon after. But the outlandish memory and apparent enormity of the perceived physical environment was quite nerve-wracking. This is all the more so when we expect to be relaxed and rested during sleep. A lucid dream can be scary in the way it catches you off guard. I experienced an exceptionally vivid dream where I was driving away from a dinner party and stopped at a beach. Then I couldn't see anything and my unconscious mind interpreted this blankness as if I were drifting out to sea. My dream character focused on his breathing and felt that a current would push him back to shore. Soon my dream fluctuated and I was running to a building by the shore where cloaked people appeared to be chasing me. In retrospect the darkness was merely the back of my eyelid but it's amazing the way the dream character can re-envisage his sensory input.
I started lucid many 5 or 6 years ago. Things were just heading in that direction! So in that time there’ve been rare instances where I’d very long-lasting nightmarish lucid dreams. I’d get into bed and go asleep. A short while later I’d be awoken inside the dream. Awkward silence! The scenes would often be very morbid. I’m not sure what a suitable verb would be! But I was once floating bodilessly and seeing creepy objects scattered as far as the eye can see against a black background. I felt trapped but after several failed attempts it felt like I was able to turn around to be behind my eyelids again. If it was just one object then it'd be easier for me to believe that it was only my immediate thoughts in a dazed state of mind that visualised it. But the way there appeared to be hundreds of dolls made me suspect that the image arose from deep in my unconscious rather than my conscious mind. Before I went to bed and had that dream I'd come to this conclusion that I was travelling at light speed when I went to sleep. I'd several lucid dreams before this point but once I experimented with a different metaphysical outlook of time travel my lucid dreams became much stranger and often creepier. This is why lucid dreaming runs the risk of spiralling out of control when it feeds back into your own worldview. In other words your unconscious mind is on your side and won't prevent you altering your interpretation of your own perception. Therefore you've to be attentive to your own faith system of reality as it were.
In one lucid dream my unconscious mind somehow hallucinated what appeared to be a series of vivid explosions. It was painless and mute but the timed detonations served to jolt me out of the dream like an alarm clock. What was uncanny about it was that I had a premonition of what was about to happen seeing as it was my very own unconscious that created the scene. My point of view was alternating between a rigged platform that I could see outside of myself and then my dream character on an incoming carriage. Everyone around me looked unresponsive and motionless while my dream character was becoming increasingly self-aware. There was a child in the corner of my eye who appeared to have fired a gun at the explosives. Before long my fellow passengers were in smithereens. It resembled a clinical assassination attempt or perhaps a mock execution! All I could hear myself thinking was a jumbled and inane version of the ideas I had over a day or two previously. My dream character passively sat up and walked onto the platform as if nothing had happened. I also have a faint recollection that the other people I saw on the platform were acquaintances. Perhaps seeing familiar faces and locations in a dream can lull you into staying unconscious by creating a false sense of safety. The scene collapsed and I then woke up as usual. Thankfully I never have too many nightmares. I’m obviously very self-aware that it’s only a dream and not the real world! Perhaps there are good reasons why we're meant to be unconscious while dreaming! The way the imaginary victims disappeared into the blast evokes the mind-body problem in that the spirit of a gunshot victim can be said to have slowly passed on whereas an evaporated body makes it feel like their mind was never directly tethered onto their brain. There's almost nothing left from which the mind could leave from. It's like the religious notion of ashes to ashes except the decomposition is instantaneous.
Despite the occasionally gross content I kept pursuing lucid dreaming out of curiosity and novelty. The unbelievably messed-up beliefs that a dream character often holds has served to alert me to a strange divide between the conscious and unconscious mind. I found out that the unconscious was far more mysterious in nature than I’d ever suspected before I first had lucid dreams. I read about lucid dreaming in a magazine article when I was around age 18. I was intrigued but initially I assumed it was just something like having a vague perception of the dream contents. Yet for me lucid dreams turned out to be opposite of what I expected where it wasn’t muffled colours but actually exceedingly bright hues and inordinately complex imagery.
What shocked me is that the scenes were beyond the capacity of what my own mind could have made up. This is all the more true when the resting mind is usually viewed as merely lethargic. From my point of view it was far too illogical for it to be made only out of the apathy of my mind. Dreams are like our own version of an entropy-defying Boltzmann brain that you created out of the chaos of your unconscious. If you were a self-aware Boltzmann brain, you couldn’t falsify it because the hallucinations within your consciousness are circular. Super-determinism is where your thoughts along with your actions are deterministic. Thus how can you prove your reality is genuine when the very arguments you use to check it out and your emotional responses to those questions are themselves deterministically created by the dream?
Some dreams seemed methodical in how it was set up even though the resultant thoughts became indecipherable and chaotic. In fact one or two lucid dreams appeared so flagrantly violent in their themes that I was sometimes left baffled as to the origin of dreams. Then again I suspect a process that could possibly give rise to free will by “adjusting” certain laws of physics probably could turn violent on occasion! Free will is an inherently rebellious concept where we're independent and don't always do as we're told. After all we're free to reject our previous thoughts and the commands of others. Religions' answer to the problem of evil is that freedom to do good means that some people must be free to do evil. But we can reduce that down even further to say that freedom to perform good deeds for us mortal beings necessitates an ability to understand evil thoughts so we can identify evil people and then to reject such thoughts in order to empathise with others. I could momentarily visualise an internal image of dropping a nuclear bomb and there's nothing in my brain that prevents me entertaining that thought even though I'm not evil. That literally means in one second I've imagined killing up to one million people. The image would quickly fade not because there's anything external to me that hides it or out of moral coercion but simply because of its practical irrelevance to my life. Our dreams can force us to emotionally engage in plot lines that we might otherwise only superficially gloss over in our waking thoughts.
We must understand the repercussions of evil in our imagination so that we can then refrain from pressing the evil red neuronal button in our brain:
Father Ted - Flight into Terror 2/3
Weird nightmare: “If their dead bodies are in the wardrobe then who the hell were those imposters that I was just speaking to in the kitchen?”! The dream character answered that question by saying the figures in a painting had got out and taken their place. It obviously wasn’t what I was thinking but that was my memory of the dream when I woke up straight afterwards. That’s how psychotic a lucid dream could become. Well it’s so bizarre I couldn’t have made it up myself! It’s hard to think the simple passivity of my unconscious would be able to concoct such an unimaginable sequence of events. Dreams are effortless to create but they somehow become extremely complicated very fast. I think the convoluted essence of dreams helps to knock us unconscious. It’s like a movie where we can’t keep up with what’s happening. We lose track and then we zone out. My descriptions can’t really do justice to how horrifyingly bizarre the dream character’s experience descended into during two or three dreams. Thankfully a consolation is that it was so delusional it was manifestly fake.
I might as well mention another nightmare now that I’m at it. It’s important to state that I hardly ever have nightmares and many dreams I have are unintelligible and forgettable. Some are very pleasant and even meditative or spiritual in their calmness. I’m not trying begin a list of macho dreams but when you’ve been paying attention to your sleep for many years then you’re bound to find a few oddballs. We sometimes learn more from bad experiences than positive ones and there’s no stakes in a dream so maybe that’s why we might experience some nightmares. Also note that we’re never responsible for the actions of a dream character. We’ve no control over it. Anyway it will be of no consequence as no one literally gets hurt inside your own dream! Another point is that there’s a wide spectrum of lucidity where it might feel like you’re able to memorise some of what’s happening but not fully self-aware; more than a vivid dream but not fully conscious. It’d be like you’re 60% conscious. Another way to describe a semi-lucid dream is where you’re not fully aware but you almost have a photographic memory of it. In this particular dream I was at a cinema complex. There were many screens. My dream character went to one showing a violent movie. I saw very few people around and they laughed away at the aggressive scenes. My character stayed for a while before gleefully visiting a few other screens afterwards in search of more horror. He’d stay in each one very briefly until he became distressed and then moved on to another cinema to watch more gore. Conveniently enough I can’t remember what the exact content was. But what was strange about it was that it seemed like his reward system was altered. It was as if it was fun to watch it as fiction but when the dream character became confused about whether the scenes were actually a real life recording that he then fretted. It began to look more like a stage than a screen. I’d never seek out these scary movies but the dream character was emotionally different to me. That’s what caught my attention about that dream which I had several years ago. If a dream is very unique we can have a memory of it long afterwards. It reminded me that scariest events can be those caused by the mindless and selfish whims of mundane evil people rather than of any hellish supernatural agents. It was as if the dream was determining my threshold for fear and empathy in the way I rotated between venues.
Finding a dream embarrassing afterwards is a way to inform the unconscious that you disagree with its message. We are not guilty of malevolent thoughts and actions in a dream by reason of duress. We are under coercion from the subconscious throughout sleep. Nightmares stress test our moral reflexes. There was a non-lucid dream where it was some kind of shoot-out in a hotel room. I'm not sure what it was about. The dream character laughed and tried to sneak away. But after the room cleaner was about to open the door my dream character had no choice but to attack him and avoid witnesses. I must have watched too many mafia movies! If it's any consolation I felt guilty when I awoke! That sensation of regret is a deterrent for bad behaviour. Some nightmares can contain themes of evil. My dream ended once where someone was batted in the back and was thrown away on the ground where he thought he'd be safe. He thanked his attacker for leaving him only for the attacker to reply that he was going to rest him there for the rats to feast on his scapula. My dream character was an onlooker who turned around to avoid looking at the hideous scene but then the view of rats running from afar made me wake up in disgust. The deceitful nature of what happened underscored the dangers of anyone enjoying revenge.
I’ve noticed that an ordinary dream that isn’t lucid can still potentially be unsettling. It can be disorienting if you’ve an intense memory of it after you wake up. Luckily this is very rare for me. But an example of such a dream would be where I got lost in a forest at dusk. I never became lucid. It felt like my dream character was a young child where I could hear my family on the path. I suppose a dream doesn’t have to be your current age. But when I woke up the recollection of the unnatural contrast between the colour of the vivid green leaves and the dark trunks of the trees left me feeling a bit disconcerted. Even though the dream was completely innocuous, the eerie peculiarity of the sensations could nonetheless throw you off balance. The memory of the dream character feeling worried can be intense despite the fact it wasn’t you and you’d no control over it. The way your representative dream character doesn’t always seem to be where your center of vision is located could be unnerving. Even the complicated backstory of the dream character which you didn’t create can lead to dissonance between the conscious and unconscious you. With that specific dream I vaguely remembered falling behind from a group and hearing people call me before I had veered into the forest. Those people were relatives from the dream character's point of view who were continuing on with their walk and trying to convince me that I wasn't dreaming. It was only then inside the woods where I become more self-aware. But as I mentioned I’d already that past memory of being on the path with the group before I first gained some awareness. Therefore the uneven memory when I woke up in bed almost made it feel like I’d been in a separate place. It was like the dream character was nearly a different person to me. The dream clearly underestimated my innate distrust of a few relatives! We don’t realise we’re in a dream because we don’t have full control of our memory. The odd time in the past I might have gotten a headache after waking up if the dream was very vivid.
A lucid dream can make you feel stressed by a feeling of an implied threat without there actually being a threat. Thankfully that stress can help to get you out of the dream. I can recount a conscious dream where I was in my kitchen at night and saw a large dark dog out the window only to realise it wasn’t my dog. It looked angry. I went running towards the front door and struggled with the keys. I looked behind me and saw the hellish dog staring at me from behind the French doors. I managed to escape outside when the fear of it froze me. I was then shocked into waking up for real. I'd an unconscious dream where I was walking up a mountain with my dog behind me but I heard my dream character say it was actually my old dog Scottie who had died. I felt creeped out and woke up before I could become lucid.
Sometimes a lucid dream would only produce a mishmash of stationary images rather than a flowing dream. Within the jitter of deep sleep I once concocted what seemed to be the outline of a mystical-looking animal mid-leap. We can fabricate an image by freezing the phosphenes against our eyelids. That particular image quickly faded and from what appeared to be the same phosphenes somehow rearranged itself into a new image. I’ve had many of these brief hectic dreams where perhaps I’d be in my sitting room and seeing a flood outside before the image disappears into nothingness and I wake up. I was on holiday once where we’d to drive up a mountain to a village. It was a bit hairy because there was a steep slope beside the windy road. It was a few months later where I’d a semi-lucid dream about a car repeatedly toppling over. So our long-term memory could also inform a dream’s contents.
Nightmares can be scary. But they can be counterintuitively enlightening. The sinister content of a nightmare is outside of our control and utterly random. The creepy sequence of events might have absolutely nothing to do with our thoughts and emotions during the past few days. A nightmare will never repeat itself in a new dream the same way. Every dream is unique. The details of the nightmare won’t pan out in future real life. Nonetheless the sheer contrast between dreams and reality underscores just how genuinely real the waking world is! So lucid dreams can paradoxically strengthen your resilience to feelings of anxiety. A lucid dream can highlight the fakeness of dreams. If you’re a skeptic who doubts the reality of the world, all you have to do is juxtapose your experience with the surrealness of dreams. It emphasises how much more complex information is in the real world compared to what your unconscious dream can muster.
In this thread I try to reconcile my experience with scientific speculations. I’m not sure how accurate or inaccurate my explanations might turn out to be. But there’s definitely far more to sleep than meets the eye. I think we’re so used to daily routines and getting organised that some people essentially become cognitively closed to the mysterious and psychotic realm of sleep.
Consciousness takes a different form in a lucid dream. I can’t control any of the content of what I’m seeing and even the thoughts that occur to me inside the dream are sometimes outside of my control. It’s like we don’t have free will in a dream. Twice I’ve had to ignore gibberish thoughts entering into my consciousness until I’m able to wake up. A dream character is like a soliloquy. I remember watching a Macbeth movie where the class always burst out laughing at the soliloquys because it looked like the other characters could see them talking to themselves! Our paralysed bodies spares us the embarrassment of verbalising our dream’s thoughts.
The nightmarish, hallucinatory ghosts of the uncanny valley stare at you as if to say: “Go back to sleep; you’ve woken up at the wrong time!” Are your dream characters deterministic? Can the unconscious mind leave identifiers and indicators of unreality as a warning sign that you’re in a dream? The unconscious mind seems to know what will happen in a dream even though our conscious mind is left in the dark. I can recall a dream where I climbed through a hidden passage in a wall and passed by people going down a stairs in what seemed like a shopping centre. A thought popped into my head that these people weren’t conscious but I didn’t think about it and kept walking on in a blasé manner. It felt like I wasn't meant to be here. The distrust between your conscious and unconscious mind can feel creepy when the dream seems to possess more knowledge than you. I gradually started to feel fear but I soon felt a stinging pain in my back and I woke up. I'd been thinking a lot about free will in the weeks beforehand so maybe the dream used my subconscious knowledge to simulate what a world without free will might resemble. Of all my weird lucid dreams that one was probably the strangest.
Many months later I’d a dream with a similar theme. The colours of this dream were different; everything seemed to be black and white. Around me were these pale figures (or else they were just wearing too much makeup!). They looked motionless; they were frozen in time. It was like they were perfectly still where their lack of motion means you'd fail to notice them if you weren't fully lucid. I don’t know how exactly to describe it. Perhaps they were like silhouettes. I desperately started trying to rotate my vision in order to leave the dream. It felt different from a photograph in that I was able to change my point of view to look forwards and sideways. Or perhaps it was like a 360 degree 3D photo stored in my brain! I don't really know why my unconscious is obsessed about furniture but it looked like I was in an actual room; as if there were tables and lamps around me. The larger ones were looking away from me and I could only see their backs. I turned around and saw a small blurry figure that seemed to be staring at me. It was almost like Casper! I just remember being baffled and saying hello in my mind’s eye. I got no reply! I can't remember their exact outline but only these really black eyes. It's hard for me to ascribe the experience solely to my imagination because the image didn't flicker; I saw them continuously as time passed. It felt like my mind was being flung upwards and I navigated my way past some false awakenings in order to climb back into reality. It appeared as if there were a cascade of dolls thrown in front of me before each false awakening. In one false awakening the room looked old-fashioned; as if it were one of those canopy beds with a dark curtain around it. When I awoke I should have said “open time-like curve has just been closed; two monsters down”! If dreams are biological and our nervous system is genetically built, then maybe the symbols used in a dream have overlap with previous generations. Our minds aren’t inside our feet but we can feel them by nerve connections. Our visual perception of our very own body is inside the brain. Therefore can the mind use our subjective sense of vision to move our body? You wouldn’t see my vision moving my body because we’ve separate internal visions. We never directly see our own head and so we've to use a mirror. Then it'd be like our bodily perception of ourselves begins with our necks where we can twist it around. To move our head we use our neck muscles more than our involuntary head muscles. I suspect that many people have come across the uncanny valley but few have survived to tell the tale! I eventually decided to do the right thing and tell my father while we were out walking that I was becoming conscious in my sleep and seeing these skeleton-like ghosts. He looked confused and advised me to mention it to the doctor. We continued on for the walk and moved onto the next subject! Our skeletons are always hidden from view by skin. Bones are deadened, unfeeling entities whereas muscles are more biological in texture. We never think of their skull when we look at someone's face because our first response is to think of their mentality and our second instinct is to think of their eyes and brain. We don't have x-ray vision! Even though we use bones for every movement including talking we tend to ignore it and attribute it more to the muscles we tense and the joints we pivot against. Imagining speaking to a skull much like the person was in a Halloween costume would exaggerate our physical and deterministic nature because their motion would be more repetitive compared to the antagonistic pairs of muscles.
Dreaming is the physical reification of sarcasm itself. They can serve as a parody of ourselves. The oneiric self-effacing jokes are always on us. It's like the wit of the staircase where we think of a clever manoeuvre too late. The silliness of some dreams can merely be the unconscious telling us what not to do. The fatigue of sleep acts just like an anaesthetic to dull our awareness during the operation of dreams. Some people develop a funny personality over a lifetime’s appreciation of the ironies of life. That’s why we’ll seldom be as humorous as a comedian. Likewise honing our fondness for dreams can require a slow and dedicated effort to acknowledge the absurdities in our daily lives.
The hard data is that there’s approximately 8 hours between sleep onset and morning that’s utterly unaccounted for. We desert the laws of physics and go AWOL while we’re asleep. Our imagination is liberating. The experience is then erased from memory each morning. Afterwards we’re left to ponder where free will comes from.
In the hyperlinked thread I draw parallels between dreaming and encrypting. The visual content of the dream such as dream characters, objects and surroundings all behave like decoys. They can be distracting. The strangeness of it confuses, overwhelms and overrides our customary logical reasoning. Dreams actively faze us into remaining unconscious. The unrealistic dream storyline functions as a deceptive diversion to prevent meta-awareness in the dream.
In some semi-lucid dreams it seems to me as if the dream character is being tricked into remaining unconscious. To give an instance of this my dream character became confused by the inconsistencies and started trying to record the changing scenes on an imagined phone or computer and failed to realise he was in a dream. The dreamer failed to record a video with the phone and began trying to ring people until the dream ended. With the computer dream I appeared to be in library or class and my character tried to download the scene before him on the screen. He failed and any time he rechecked it there were different images on the computer of a grisly nature. He gradually became distressed until I opened my eyes. In a small few dreams there was a theme of bodily disgust as if to deter my interest in the dream content and to move me on to the next dream. Much has been made of Freud’s sexual analysis of dreams and on some recreational lucid dreaming sites they even mention “dream sex”. I can only speak for myself but if there was ever any romantic content in my dreams it was only displayed in a very confused and extremely incoherent manner. If anything I got the impression that hedonistic impulses in a dream can be there to distract you by lulling you back unconscious. In a sense we are being lied to in a dream where what we are told by others and ourselves aren’t always accurate. On realising we lack memory of an event we quickly forget that very realisation and continue on; we forget we’re forgetting! It’s like a multi-layer encryption! That’s one reason why vivid dreams don’t always become lucid dreams; we’re not alert for long enough. In one dream I was with a group where we had thought of a plan to steal money. I’d to go to an interview of some kind and take the money box while the interviewer wasn’t looking. The problem was that after I met them again I was too distracted and couldn’t remember what happened in the interview. The other two informed me that I failed to take it and we’d have to try again. The dream ended and that’s all I could recall. Even though it’s bereft of details it illustrated to me the weird narrative of semi-lucid dreams. Occasionally my reality checks would utterly fail whereby I’d somehow conclude I’ve too much knowledge and self-awareness in a reality that’s too self-consistent for it to be a dream. Admittedly it was a mundane dream about packing late and moving to another hotel room after other people arrived for the room I was in. Yet I never double-checked my erroneous conclusions. In another night's dream I looked over a series of family photographs where all of the people were blurred and blanked out. I momentarily rechecked a photo where I could see that everyone looked rigid and cartoonish. I realised something was off and I felt myself evaporating until I woke back up.
Could the brain be a type of time machine? The irony is that if cold determinism is true, then there’s nothing scientifically contradictory about jumping into the future. Consequently our feeling of free will would be caused by temporal factors rather than material or spatial coordinate planes. The physical future and the actions of other people would be the same regardless of your location in time. Causal loops would only happen if one in turn travels back in time after already having traveled to the future. It wouldn’t affect the logical consistency of one-way time travel. Other minds exist in timelines that are causally unconnected to your own. If some of our thoughts are deterministic, then could those same thought patterns be computationally accelerated during sleep?
I think sleep is instantaneous in time from the perspective of your own consciousness. Vivid dreaming subjectively slows down this leap through time. So we’re sleeping into the future! These “open dreamlike curves” create some disorder which can help us be more uninhibited. Physical objects have an eternal past, present and future whereas consciousness only exists in the present moment. During sleep we lose our feeling of the present. Thus pure presentism implies an increased rate of time during sleep. Dreams are like traces of Cherenkov radiation behind the darkness of our eyelids. We can’t physically travel at light speed but if colours only exist in our brain then consciousness could travel at the same speed as those internal colours and phosphenes. The paralysis of sleep means we don’t physically feel the stress of time and our focus is on the mental passage of time.
Although a limitation is it leaves no physical evidence of ever having happened. Perhaps a completely free process wouldn’t leave deterministic evidence as that could be used to predict future decisions thereby negating its freedom. Another caveat is that a dream might not be able to precognitively simulate your future in the entire universe. But it can hopefully predict your how your own mood and emotional state of mind will respond when any similar events reoccur in the future. Apologies to anyone who thinks I’m scapegoating precognition just to promote my own theories! To fully understand dreams we’d need to know the solution to the mind body problem. We’re not telekinetic over real-world objects but as dreams are internal then it stands to reason that our subconscious can move their phantom contents.
A risk of lucid dreaming is that it can make you feel tired in the morning and occasionally hard to get out of bed. People might of thought I was relaxing by sleeping in and not realising that I was in fact busy at work! As it happens I got a compliment from someone at my accommodation who was amazed that I was able to sleep through so much noise in the morning! When I was 22 I used to feel exhaustion and a mild headache on most mornings where I'd be very late for my course each day even though I was always trying hard to get up. It'd feel like I was too tired to either get up or go back to sleep where I'd lie down with my eyes closed for awhile after waking up. The content is usually safe but it can infrequently be disturbing. For anyone unaccustomed to lucidity it can be unsettling at first to have a feeling of temporal continuity between a freakish dream and waking up. If you were sensitive it could make you feel like your perception is different from before you had went to bed or that your entire memory is fake and was just created when you awoke. There’s a slight chance of disorientation. You can already feel half awake in a dream before you wake in your room. It doesn’t even have to take the form of a false awakening in a dream for it to be confusing. It can be eerie if you feel yourself breathing when you enter a lucid dream soon after falling asleep or as you’re getting out of a dream to awaken. I sometimes try to wake up as quickly as I can instead of prolonging the dream if I feel fatigued. It can take time to escape a lucid dream which might make you feel trapped. This could be momentarily frightening if you can't feel your body or your head so to speak even when you want to leave a lucid dream. In all my lucid dreams so far I’ve awoken immediately after the lucid dream instead of falling back asleep unconscious during a lucid dream. If I briefly become lucid as I'm drifting off to sleep then I'd wake up for 30 seconds before trying to sleep again. I'm not sure how safe it'd be to return to a state of unconsciousness after having become lucid without ever leaving the dream. This wouldn't be something that I want to risk experimenting with. There’s also a risk of an irregular sleeping pattern where you either don’t feel tired at night or you suddenly feel very sleepy. Lucid dreaming isn't too suitable for those who have to work 9-5 because it wreaks havoc on your morning enthusiasm. It can be very difficult to commit to an abbreviated few hours sleep since there's a risk you could oversleep and miss your appointment where you'd almost have to wait to do a full rest on the following night. Once you have one lucid dream it might be difficult to stop. It’s like a spiral effect where vivid dreams can produce yet more lucid dreams. Try not to have a lucid dream during anaesthesia or you’ll awake during surgery! Excessive lucid dreaming might turn you into a werewolf! In conclusion, the personal value of any dream in particular can be open-ended and subjective. It won’t tell you what the intended meaning and significance of the content is. A dream is like modern art where the onus is on you to interpret it as best you can and learn what you can from it. Just like art some dreams will appeal to you and others won’t. So long as you’ve taken the time to analyse it then it doesn’t have to be true for others but only yourself and your own motivation. If a dream isn’t physically real then it follows that thinking about a dream after you wake up no matter how little you remember will still contribute to your free will. It’s not just the dream itself but also your response to it during the day that also counts. Dreams can be psychotic but equally your feeling of freely opening and closing your own hand could be deemed a psychotic illusion! I suspect the reason lucid dreaming isn’t more common is that sleep can still achieve its function without lucidity. The more important you view dreaming to be then the more likely it is that you'll be to have many lucid dreams. I view dreams as fundamental in being a natural state of awareness! For me I’d a lot of time on my hands when I first explored lucid dreaming. I was also in a small rented studio apartment for 8 months when I was age 20 doing distance courses so I’d a lot of time to myself. My day could be all over the place where I'd be awake for much of the night and going to bed in the morning. I've always been a night-owl and seeing the nightscape can be good for introspection but it can be lonely if it's done in excess. There may have been a few weeks where I was like a hermit save for tennis sessions and hot chocolates in cafes! Therefore I could concentrate a lot on my nightly dreams. When I wake up in the morning I regain full control of my mental faculties so the lucid imagery is caused by mere dreams rather than pathological hallucinations. People will reject my ideas until such a time when they run out of alternatives! Whenever future generations finally solve consciousness and dreams, it will have probably required drastic ideas.
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Postmodern conspiratorial music to get you in the right mindset:
Sasha Global Underground 009: San Francisco CD2 - 47:30
Maybe dreams are electric!
Together in Electric Dreams
What do animals dream about? What even is animal consciousness for that matter? Maybe a fox doesn’t dream because the life of a fox is itself a dream of disreality and nonrationality from which they never wake. The evolutionary pain of us humans have shocked us into becoming lucid and self-aware.
A dream is like a song. The visual dissonance of the dream resembles an instrumental beat. The lyrics mirrors our character’s thoughts going along with the rhythm. Our feelings are superimposed on the background image. The liberating dance moves reminds you of our motion between dreams. The chorus reflects the recurrent theme of a dream.
Chase and Status - Count on Me
Summary of latest ideas:
I’ll take that as a compliment!
(16th, 17th and 18th post on pg 4)
The inspiration we use to make free decisions can come from diverse places:
Eoin McLove Comes for Tea - Father Ted S3 E7 - Dead Parrot
Music becomes weird and hectic though not random when it’s played in reverse:
I am blue - reverse
A nightmare is physically harmless because it’s not real. Yet its lack of solid structure means there’s no physical limit on how absurd it could become. I suppose if you took a nightmare too literally then it could become a bit scary and ambiguous. Otherwise they’re just amusing and educational in how to control our emotions. Creepiness might be a way of telling us that what we’re perceiving is imaginary. The stress could be an incentive to refocus. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PEikGKDVsCc
Vsauce - Why are things creepy?
It's not only the monsters that we find scary in horror movies. We also find events that unexpectedly defy causality and inert objects opting to disobey physics to be all very disconcerting. This can be seen when we observe the empty rocking chair that seems to move of its own volition in the scene below:
"The scariest part in the Woman In Black"
“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”
- Witches in Macbeth
You never know when these school quotes might come in handy! The confusion of dreams is like a “hurly burly” potion to concoct free will! Hopefully the ingredients in our dreams won’t be so unpalatable as the above incantation! Maybe the way that pre-scientific generations in the medieval period often believed in supernatural ghosts and witches may have been related to their own subjective understanding of dream characters. For instance if they weren't as familiar with the workings of the materialistic world and also ignored the transcendent religious realms of prayer then all they would've had left was the machinations of their unconscious.
Green is the colour of flora so seeing an abundance of it is weird and otherworldly in an unconscious dream.
No that dream didn't just happen!:
Our brains "neuralyze" and erase our memory of fictional dream monsters!
We can move each of our fingers individually but we tend to move all of our little toes together. Maybe there's an anatomical reason or perhaps our toes have less free will.
"Part of Margaret Thatcher's fearsome reputation came from how little she slept. She could get by on four hours a night, it has often been said." (BBC)
- Is society developing a right-wing attitude towards sleep? How much free will do we need to work 9-5 each day? Perhaps we need to automate ourselves for commercial interests. Our expendable consciousness will be made redundant so our brain can take charge.
I read that solutions to quantum mechanics have to leave out either causality, time, materialism or else locality. If I was ever asked to choose between free will or the existence of other minds, then I'd have no choice but to tolerate everyone's loss from the world and embrace my free will exclusively. Sorry!
I don't want to start an argument. Some people say they don't have free will and that's perfectly fine. Maybe it's true that you really don't have free will. But other extreme qualia like love are objectively open-ended where love for one person feels different from another's experience of love. Sometimes we've to speak only for ourself on subjective matters. Perhaps I'm in a different human species with free will! Homo-michaelus!
I think my unconscious is thinking about something. I'll let you know later.
If you feel as if your life is finally making sense, then there's a high chance it's a dream and the stress of the day awaits you!
There are risks with watching too many erotic movies:
Insidious - Elise Talks About Astral Projection
This would be a risqué chat-up line to a potential partner: I can teach you how to lucid dream if we sleep together!
Be careful of doing too much flying during astral projection or you might just fly to your doom! Dreams are harmless and lucid dreaming is usually a safe hobby. To view dreams as dangerous runs the risk of creating an artificial nocebo effect and so I don't want to exaggerate the risks of lucid dreaming. Little children have nightmares and yet they can overcome them easily enough. At the same time I do suspect that excessive lucid dreaming might carry a minuscule risk of physical harm. The mind requires anchors to latch it onto the body and I do fear that extremely overdoing lucid dreaming could mimic an overdose. This is why the odd time I might try to leave a lucid dream ASAP if I feel that I've had too many in previous nights. I'm not saying I don't try to pursue lucidity and I think it's a very healthy phenomenon in moderation. For example I had a brief moment of lucidity soon after falling asleep where I wasn't quite dreaming but everything was black and it felt like my body was numb. My mind was accelerating as if it were attempting to re-enter my body. I began praying and then saw the outline of an altar. It wasn't a near death experience simply because I didn't see any details and my prayerful mind would've tried to imagine holy imagery. That is to say my prayers preceded the image rather than it being more objectively the other way round. I woke up soon after and I was completely unscathed. However if you were much more exhausted from lucid dreaming then it's easy to see how you could fall for these traps that an alert person could easily notice.