November, 2019

Nov 19

Why Doesn’t the Human Brain Want Us to Know We’re Dreaming?

Dreams are mysterious. Science is not sure why we dream. There are only theories. But what intrigues me is: Why does our brain prevent us from knowing we’re dreaming?

Sure, there are theories that might well explain why we dream at all. An article in Psychology Today offers some plausible explanations. They tell us that dreams could be: “A component and form of memory processing, aiding in the consolidation of learning and short-term memory to long-term memory storage.” Or: “A means by which the mind works through difficult, complicated, unsettling thoughts, emotions, and experiences, to achieve psychological and emotional balance.”

But–why is it  necessary that we not know we are dreaming? Most people don’t know they’re having a dream. Yet the mind can operate at pretty high levels while dreaming. I can read and write in a dream. I can compose song lyrics in a dream. I can have pretty coherent conversations in them. (Sometimes I even try to rewrite the stories as the dream is going on–even though I don’t know it’s a dream. It’s feels as if I’m writing a script or a novel. But as I write scripts and novels in real life, that’s not too surprising. What’s surprising is, in this whole weird dream-story revision attempt, I STILL don’t know I’m dreaming!) You’d think that, operating at that level, the mind would be capable of noticing it is dreaming, especially as dreams are often quite surreal.

Surrealism–the actual art form–is associated with dreams, and surreal things do happen in mine. In a dream I had recently, a friend told me that his car wasn’t working. I asked what was wrong with it and he said, “Just look!” The car was 95 per cent buried in his front yard with lawn growing neatly over it. I said, “Yeah that would do it.” Now why didn’t I say: “Wow, that is not going to happen in life. I must be dreaming!” Never occurred to me I could be dreaming.  I never ever think I’m dreaming even if there are talking soap bubbles flying past, or tiny little people crawling out of my shoes. In the dream I sputter, “What the hell! Hey there’s these damn little people in my shoes, honey, look! Dammit!”

It seems to be integrally designed into dreaming that you not know that you’re dreaming. I can think of possible reasons; if you’re processing some  real-world psychological stress  in the dream,  and you realize you’re dreaming, it does somehow make sense that the realization would interfere with the processing. You might need to take the event in the dream seriously to process the underlying stresser, or trauma, that generated it.

But doesn’t it feel strange that we have a built-in neurological device for suppressing the realization that we’re dreaming? It’s as if our brains are wired to deceive us, to tell us that we’re not dreaming when we are. (Matrix fans can say, “Maybe that applies to waking life too!) Yes there are visual illusions that happen in the brain. Pareidolia, and so on. But that’s more like an accident of the brain’s information processing limitation. In the case of dreams, it’s almost as if our brains are designed to lie to us! I know: we’ve probably evolved this way for a reason.

But still–it feels like our brains are messing with us.

PS: Yes, there are “lucid dreaming” adventurers who claim they can learn to know they’re dreaming, and even control the dreams. If true, there aren’t very many such people, and I understand that getting there is a long road. It’s sort of like hacking some part of the brain. It may even be doing them harm–because like I said, the brain likely has its reasons for keeping us from knowing that we’re dreaming.

Here is that Psychology Today article:

Nov 19

Holograms replacing musicians? And eventually–political leaders?

“The Spectacular, Strange Rise of Music Holograms”, the Washington Post tells us. “Dead musicians are taking the stage again in digital form. Is this the kind of encore we really want?”

Buddy Holly on stage, as a hologram. Happening now. As predicted years ago–along with many other things, like deep fakes–in my A Song Called Youth cyberpunk trilogy.

Another current real-life phenomenon is Pretend People on Instagram: Talking, real-looking CGI generated “models” and “influencers”, unnaturally beautiful human-seeming creatures with names and histories–who are entirely fabricated. They are not real physical persons. They’re an elaborate form of animation. Yet many people believe in them as if they are real. These scripted 3-D CGI animations have legions of fans ogling them with goo goo eyes as they coo over them. “I love your new look, Elisha!” In Japan, right now, 3-D anime characters who sing are already replacing singing acts.

In the USA we’ll inevitably generate new acts, designed by “entertainer designers”, like those computer generated media darlings on Instagram. (After all, you don’t have to pay a computer generated performer.) The music will be computer generated too. People will believe in them and write them mash letters and start fan sites for them. Fake scandals about these fake characters will appear in Us Magazine and on Entertainment Tonight. They’ll be “interviewed” on talk shows. “I love the musicians I’m working with now…”

We’re setting people up to be manipulated by computer generated imagery in deeper ways than ever. It’s all part of the general process of hemming people in with media illusion, so they don’t know what’s real, or they don’t care. So they’re hyper distracted, and easily manipulated.  And when will politicians, political leaders, be replaced by carefully crafted holograms? What will be the social agenda of the Pretend Person programmers? As in my A SONG CALLED YOUTH novels:

Nov 19


I wish to be ONE
of the MANY
who become the ONE;
I wish to become ONE
who remains individual
while becoming part of the ONE
that unites the MANY.
I wish to be ONE
of the MANY
who become the ONE.