The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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5:15pm on Saturday, 12th December, 2009:
I finally found out what was going on in my unbidden dreams last Saturday and Sunday. None of my three possible explanations as to what was happening was a true reflection of what was actually happening. I was closer to the mark when I guessed on Saturday, in particular with the line "Maybe this is how I normally dream, and I'm suddenly gaining access to what is usually inaccessible to me?".
Well, this isn't how I normally dream, but I was gaining access to something usually inaccessible to me. I'm not entirely sure it was a dream at all: it was a dream-like fictional world, yes, but I think it came from a much deeper source than dreams do — some kind of activity that goes on while I'm awake as well as when I'm asleep. The wake-up signal that I got from it was basically a hands-off warning.
I know this because last night I got another one of these "dreams" (I was actively looking for it) and I got the wake-up message but I ignored it. However, I still woke up. Some part of my mind with its hand on the controls overrode my conscious instructions (in the same way that even if I know there's going to be a sudden noise, I'll jump when I hear it). The wake-up message was generated by the process of waking up: it wasn't giving me a choice, it was my subconscious self struggling for an explanation of what was happening. The moment I was aware of the "dream", the ball started rolling; I got to see it continue for a short while because that was how long it took for the wake-up signal to wake me up.
As to why my conscious mind was issued this hands-off warning, I suspect that the "dream" process I was accessing was in some way sustaining my conscious thoughts. It was as if I were cutting a branch that I was sitting on: if I carried on, I'd undo the very support that was letting me carry on. I don't know what the consequences would have been, but I can't imagine that they would have been anything other than serious. When computer programs running self-referential code make changes to code while it's running, you get a crash. OK, so the brain is parallel rather than serial, and doubtless some other part would have kicked in to stop a total reboot, but I wouldn't have had a great time of it, asleep or not.
As a result, although it's interesting that I somehow managed to see this stuff, I won't be going anywhere near it ever again.
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