Friday, October 21, 2016

Truth and Hearsay


I am confident that sooner or later there will be a device capable of recording dreams and, shortly after that, an affordable consumer version of that device. Alas, I do not expect it to arrive in my lifetime. So it belongs to that throng of things which I can enjoy only in my dreams.

This reflecting was brought on by a dream I had the other day. I was eating a meal -- no, a repast! a feast! -- in a restaurant and it was all astonishingly delicious. And because it was the last dream of the night, I woke up with vivid memories of exactly how it all tasted.

I did not bother putting it down into words, of course. Rich... unctuous... crispy... the whole battalion of terms used by food critics could neither do justice to the dream-feast nor give you a good idea of how it tasted.

Here's the interesting thing, though. People will tell you that you can't experience taste or smell in a dream. Some will even go so far as to claim that it's impossible to dream in color. This last I know to be untrue because on those rare occasions when I dream in black-and-white, it's an unusual enough event that I marvel at it while the dream is still going on.

And now I know for sure that it's possible to experience flavors in a dream.

What's interesting about this is that for me this is a simple fact. For you, however, it's only anecdotal evidence.

Unless, of course, you've had a similar dream yourself. Then it's fact.

And every time someone declares what can and can't happen in dreams...

I wonder where they got their information from. How large was the study? How reliable was the methodology?

Surely they don't come up with such statements based on their own. Because then they'd be asking me to accept anecdotal evidence as fact.

Above: This is what a mailbox looks like in dreams. Except this is a real one I drove past today.



TheOFloinn said...

Quite often I cannot read in dreams, although many time I seem to. But when I concentrate on name cards or on a printed page in a dream, the little squiggles seem to lurk just the other side of intelligibility. I have taken it that in such dreams as these, those parts of the brain given over to logos are not involved in the phantasms, but are perhaps otherwise engaged on more productive work. (Talk about dreaming!) This is so much so that whenever I find myself unable to read a text, I have begun to take it as an indication that I am in fact dreamimg, and then a sort of hover outside the dream, observing it and critiquing it.

Sandy said...

To reply to Comment No. 1, yes, I also have tried to read books in dreams and found I can't understand the words on the page, but I have spoken with people in dreams or spoken myself, and I always remembered the words or conversations exactly. I suppose a different part of the brain must contribute to a different kind of dream. Any other comments on this?
By the way, I almost always dream in color.

Michael Swanwick said...

I've found I can sometimes read individual words or common phrases (NO SHOES NO SHIRTS NO SERVICE) but, as Mike says, squiggles lurking just the other side of legibility. My provisional theory is that my mind simply can't compose large amounts of text quickly enough to provide something readable.

JL Stillman said...

In my last dream, my ex-boss was mad at me because I didn't read my pink-slip phone messages.