Some crazy dreams

For the last few years, I’ve had constant bizarre and vivid dreams. Usually I forget them, but for whatever reason, I remember bits of three of them from last night. Not the whole dreams, but enough to share in bemusement…

The chicken farmer nightmare

In this one, I found myself wanting to be a chicken farmer. I was loaded into the back of a van, what we call a “bakkie” here in South Africa, and taken to a farm. On the farm, I was not even given a room or a place to unpack my things, but immediately put to work, as some kind of slave laborer. Everyone there was Afrikaans, except for me, and I soon got into trouble by announcing “I’m not a fucking slave laborer” and also telling them I don’t believe in their god. It then turned into my generic “I need to pee but can’t find a toilet” dream, and also involved me getting a lecture from some strange woman about how I was being disrespectful to their culture.

The lucid “astral projection” like dream

In this dream, I found that I was able to both hear and feel myself breathing. I have a nasty post nasal drip and in this dream, I was aware that I was sleeping, and could feel the rough breaths going through my throat, and strangely also hear my breathing, but as if it was not me, as if I was disconnected from my body, floating above it but a separate entity.

This was interesting, because I do believe that astral projection is not real, but simply a form of lucid dreaming where the dreamer believes some nonsense about being a spirit. Perhaps the parts of the brain involved, the combination of subconscious and lucid parts somehow gives an impression of being two entities… the sleeping physical body and the mind feeling as if they are not the same.

Interestingly, I snore, but I didn’t hear myself snoring. I heard this loud and somehow “disconnected” (from me) breathing, and only remembered that I snore after waking up. So I must conclude that the breathing part was actual dream (not real), but a recreation of a breathing sound using my subconscious imagination, whereas the awareness that I was asleep and dreaming was the lucid part of my brain. Having the illusion of those two parts being separate was a fascinating experience.

The lucid time traveler

Having two lucid dreams in the same night is highly unusual for me, because I can’t usually maintain lucidity for more than a few seconds… So I was chuffed with this one.

This dream started with me seeing someone from my school days, in school uniform, with his hair blowing in the wind. But he was de-aged back to around 17 – this guy should be about 50 now, same as me. Then I saw several people from my school days, all in perfect detail, and in fact, I didn’t even know that I remember them all so well. I was myself as I am now, lucid but invisible to them, a time traveler observing them and their conversations, able to go right up to them without them seeing or otherwise detecting I was there. I was totally in control, lucid but not forced to awaken, able to look at them from different angles and move among them. Again, a fascinating experience in lucid dreaming.

The weird thing was, I was able to open my eyes, see my dark bedroom, and close them again to immediately resume the dream. So it was like I was simultaneously awake and asleep… hence my usual problem of waking up (and losing the dream reality) was not an issue.

Maybe I should find out more? Try to deliberately lucid dream. It really is quite amazing.

The Lord of Chaos–An origin story and also a really strange dream

Every night I have vivid dreams. I mostly forget them but for some reason, much of this one stuck with me so I’ll write it down…

The Earth has been invaded and all major governments eliminated. There is no military left, no chance of defence, no hope. All cities are deserted, at least of the human population, and the remaining humans find themselves isolated in small pockets, hiding in apparent “safe” zones where they are not hunted by the invaders. But they re running out of food and resources.

The invaders meanwhile, are humanlike. They look identical to human beings, and for reasons unknown (this is a dream, after all), they speak our language. Their technology is similar to ours, in that they use assault type weapons with ammunition very much like our own. Their space crafts are large and clumsy, but efficient machines. They do the job and get them around. What sets these beings apart from us is that although they look like us, we are no match for them physically. Every one of them has, relative to us, superhuman strength, endurance, and is virtually invulnerable to our weapons, though not their own. Their technology produces metals and alloys that look like ours but is superior to anything we have ever produced, and hence they can harm each other, but we have virtually no chance against them.

Another way our invaders are similar to us is that they have religion. They are led by a high priestess and her assistant, neither of which has a name because not all my dream characters get names. (Most don’t.) Below the two religious leaders there is a complex hierarchy – imagine a large church like the Catholic church or the shady organization in His Dark Materials, which is really just the Catholic church in disguise anyway. Unlike us, they worship an actual being, a man who exists somewhere out there in space. He is “godlike” but no god, just a man with immense power, a being capable of destroying entire civilizations, worlds even, with a wave of his hand. They call him Chaos, and though they worship him and he has mostly enjoyed the attention for the centuries (duration unclear or forgotten) that they have done, he never asked for it. Their religion is about worship, control, conquest of other civilizations with a lot of killing, and then slavery of the conquered planets’ populations to produce their various metals, alloys, and another substance which attracts their god, and if he absorbs it, increases his power.

The dream begins when a slave, having escaped from one of the slave compounds, enters a safe zone of survivors. Having been assisted by friendly aliens, he has a limited amount of substance (I forgot the worldbuilding rules and details, the science, although I can remember there was some invented science in the dream, so fuck it, a substance of some sort is all I can remember), that will allow a group of about 20 people to be undetected. That is, they can leave the safe zone and the aliens won’t notice that they are human. They can use this substance to go undetected and get much needed resources. That’s the plan – to get food and anything else useful from the nearby abandoned city.

So our intrepid party heads out of the safe zone, and I am one of them in this dream. We don’t get far, of course, because it’s a trap. This was arranged directly by the high priestess herself, and we soon find ourselves being hunted for sport, as well as the true purpose of her trick, which was to capture one of us for a sacrifice to their god.

On the run, on foot, after bullets reach us right through a wall and kill two of our members even though we thought we were safe, our protagonist (me) gets separated from the group. In this dream I’m about a mid-twentyish man… it’s me with my sense of self but no memory of my actual normal life, which sometimes happens to me in dreams. Background info is irrelevant to the plot of this dream. It’s just a man. (Hey, at least I’m male. I’m not always a man in my dreams.)

I’m captured by the priestess herself. She’s a large woman, mid fortyish, a square faced, blonde haired, shrill voiced monstrosity who takes me with one hand and tosses me meters into the air. I’m beaten, bruised, bones broken and strung up, arms outstretched in crucifixion position, with some kind of chains, not nails at least, and subjected to torture. (The dream changed briefly to a nightmare as I tried to run away, in slow motion and unable to escape, and then I switched to being an observer and not being the one subjected to torture, broken bones and such.) The other members of the party were captured too, and are forced to watch as the protagonist is strung up, and two strange looking metallic shards are placed on his chest. They’re round, each slightly smaller than the size of a hand with all fingers outstretched, with hundreds of tiny pins in a circle coming out at about a 20 degree angle on the underside. They’re placed on the chest and then twisted while held down, to pierce the skin a few millimetres such that they stay in place. These are the shards recently made, the unknown substance that increases the power of their god, and once placed on the protagonist’s chest, they are activated (somehow?) and begin to give off an eerie red glow, as the priestess begins chanting her strange incantations to call their god, Chaos, to take his sacrifice. For some reasons these incantations are in an alien language.

At this point we switch scenes, to somewhere close to the middle of the galaxy. A lone figure floats in space. He is ancient and of almost unlimited power. So much power, he isn’t even sure. But he no longer cares. Existence after so long is without meaning, as it has been a millennia since his own race last existed, longer since the last time he had a friend or cared about anything at all. He wants to die, and that is all he still wants. But there is only one way he knows for certain that would work: He can gift his power to another. Doing so, giving away the strange energy that leaves him glowing red and able to live for eons longer than his natural life, would leave nothing to sustain his body. It would mean instant death and a final release from the pain of existence. But… the only beings he has paid any attention to are those who worship him. Though other races exist he has been indifferent to any sense of curiosity to approach them for a long time. Extremists, zealots, his worshippers are murderous fiends and he hates them. He would have destroyed them himself, as he destroyed others so many times before them, if he were not so indifferent to it all. But he would never give them his power.

So he floats aimlessly through space, as he has for (unknown length of time), but now he gets closer to the black hole in the centre of the galaxy. Uncertain of the limits of his power, he feels the pull of gravity and wonders whether it might be another path to death and release from the pain of existence. Close, ever close he floats, feeling the pull of gravity but using his power to resist being pulled in, his instinct for survival always preventing him from allowing it and finding out if it can kill him.

And then he senses it, the call of the religious fanatics, the pull of the shards that would once again increase his already near unlimited power. He turns, allows himself to feel them, feel their mad lust for blood, domination, and control and their heinous intentions which sicken him to the core. But then he shifts his attention to their victim, their sacrifice, allowing himself into the mind of our hero. He feels his pain, his loneliness, and his loss, he feels the all too familiar longing for death of the other, but it is unjustified, a result brought on be the cruelty of others. He relates to this stranger and for the first time since he can remember, he doesn’t feel alone.

In a moment he is in the sky above planet Earth where they have their victim strung up on the beach. How he got there instantly, I don’t know any more than I know how he saw them or felt their emotions from the middle of the galaxy. This is a dream, after all. Putting on one last show for his hateful worshippers, he descends slowly, increasing the crimson glow from his skin for dramatic effect. As he gets closer to the ground, he radiates heat in proportion to the glow – he doesn’t have to, but chooses to have them feel it as part of his performance, in part because he would burn previous sacrifices and this looks like he is still playing their game. But in reality Chaos has already resigned himself to non-existence. He is hardly aware of his own identity any longer, as he feels only the self and the pain of our protagonist. When he finally reaches the victim on the ground, he is gone. Our protagonist, still naked and strung up, has no hint of the shards on his chest as they were converted and absorbed, and there is not a scratch on his chest nor a blemish anywhere else on his body. Every bone is healed and all pain is gone. There is only anger, and rage.

Lord Chaos rises. Or at least, he levitates forward, breaking the chains made of metal harder that anything else on earth as if they are nothing, because they are nothing to him. I’ve switched from observer to being him in the dream again, and I reach the priestess, who seems momentarily confused. Left hand on her shoulder, I grip her around the throat and chin, and with a simple twist and pull while holding her down with the other hand, I rip her head right off, tossing it over my shoulder as her eyes watch, still conscious for a moment as her life slips away. Her head lands face down in the sand so her last sight will be the white beach sand below her, stained with her own stinking blood. Vaguely aware of the rain of bullets hitting me but not concerned with them because they do nothing, I turn to the assistant, incinerating her with a thought. Now I turn to the invaders and smile for a moment because I will begin to test my power.

At this point, lucidity kicked in. I can fly! I can fly! I concentrate on the levitation, trying to control my gently forward movement as I always do in lucid dreams. But then I wake to Misty the cat, purring in my face. It seems she is hungry this morning at 4:15AM. Glad she woke me though because I remember this dream quite well.

And that’s it. A dream from two days ago, one of very few that I remember. I don’t think it is any more remarkable than average as I have intensely vivid dreams every night. Sometimes a bit of scifi or horror, or fantasy, and they often have detailed worldbuilding better than I could ever devise consciously, most of them fade from memory in seconds. Story wise, I don’t think this one is bad… I mean, it’s workable. The gaps can be filled and it works as an actual short story, unlike dreams that are too surreal or have plots that don’t make any sense once awake. It would probably make a good graphic novel.

Strange dreams

I don’t believe dreams have any meaning – they’re just noise, I think, generated by a brain that’s busy doing whatever a brain does in downtime… moving the day’s data into long term memory and that sort of thing. They can be entertaining though… At least this one entertained my son.

Three nights ago I had two quite unusual dreams. One of which, a recurring dream that repeated four times that night, was immediately forgotten. The other was more interesting…

I found myself living back in Cape Town, not far from where I spent the last few years there. I seemed to be in some kind of parallel reality, in that it was this year, but my life was some messed up combination of what it was around twenty years ago as well as now.

I found myself walking to my mother’s office (United Building Society or maybe ABSA Bank) in Lakeside. (Except she never had an office in Lakeside.) She was off that day and was spending the day with my father, doing something that I knew at the time but have since forgotten. So I would be working in her place, as the bank teller in the little one person bank. (Something I might have done twenty years ago when I was a student without a job, but which doesn’t make sense now.)

I was walking there for some reason, with my son, Josh, who is twelve, and his cousin. But in the dream, he has a male cousin around his age. It was a boy I knew well and had known for years, even though he has no such cousin in real life. (He has real cousins but none like the one in the dream.) I even knew the boy’s name, but this is one of the many details forgotten by now. Also my entire history of drug addiction didn’t happen in this reality.

As we walked, there were two annoying young men walking in front of us. They ate KFC, and one of them littered, throwing a chicken bone into a massive bush with a hollow inside it as he walked. I could see what looked like a large stray dog in the hollow, but as we got closer, I realized it was not a dog. “Isn’t that a mountain lion?” I asked nervously, and someone confirmed that it was. There are no mountain lions in Lakeside/Muizenberg – not that I know what one looks like. If I saw a lion in real life, I’d probably call it a ‘lion’ as I shat myself. I became afraid that the lion would attack, and it did begin to stalk us.

As it happens in dreams, we then found ourselves outside the office, along with another woman and her child, who I seemed to know from somewhere but have also since forgotten. She ran the other way, while I took out the keys and got myself and the two children into the office, locking the door behind me. But, again as it happens in dreams, we found ourselves in this office where the front section had no roof. It was a single room, the whole front section, but the top was completely open, so the lion jumped up onto the top of the door. With one of the two large poles that had appeared in my hands, I took a swipe at it, and it jumped down.

A strange man and his worker subordinate banged on the door, so I told them to go fuck themselves. It turned out he was the owner, but I suggested he should not be sticking around while a mountain lion roamed loose. He suggested I take the day off. I thought for a moment that this might be irresponsible, but then decided to call my mother and let her know.

With my mobile phone in my hand, I tried to think what her number was. Knowing her number, I recalled that she died on 7 December 2018, and my father had died way back on February 13th 2000. Remembering these things snapped me out of the dream reality. Once lucid, I did what I always do in lucid dreams… I took to the skies. I flew away.

As usual, I couldn’t hold onto the lucid dream. As soon as I began to fly, I woke up. Bummer. I have crazy dreams every night, always detailed. This was probably one of the less crazy ones, but at least this one I remember.

Who else gets to continue dreams after waking up and then going back to sleep?

I just saw this meme on Facebook and it made me wonder…


I do that though. Not every time, but I do it much of the time.

Sometimes it happens with good dreams, where a dream is like watching a TV show. It’s so good, I don’t want it to end, but I really need to piss. So I wake myself up, go to the toilet, and then return to bed. If I fall back to sleep quickly enough, and I generally do go straight back to sleep, then I can continue the dream. I always figured this was normal.

Unfortunately though, it almost always happens with nightmares. Bad dreams are the worst, and they can go on for quite some time. I can wake up several times when my sense of reality creeps in and I can throw myself up and out of dreamland, hoping to shake the dream. But the nightmare continues when I go back to sleep, and I lose the sense that it’s a dream, so I’m thrust right back into the thick of whatever the subject of the bad dream may be.

Oddly though, I have hardly ever lucid dreamed. If my sense of reality slips in and I become aware I’m dreaming, I wake up within seconds, every time. I’ve tried to control my dreams, but only ever got it right once, but lost it almost right away. I either wake up all the way, or lose my sense of reality again.

The other funny thing for me and sleep is, I can be aware while sleeping. Not aware of being in a dream, but aware of sounds going on around me. It’s happened several times with my son, and also many times in the past with his mother, where they talk to me, and I reply immediately, and then carry on sleeping. And when they ask me about it the next day, I do remember the conversation. Typically, I don’t even realize that I’m sleeping. As in, I don’t hear myself snoring, although I’ve been told my snoring is pretty bad. The only mystery to me is… Why the fuck talk to me when I’m sleeping?

So I’m curious… Is this unusual? Or is it fairly common? Who else can interrupt and then continue dreams? And can you also reply to people who ask you questions in your sleep, and then remember it later?

On the unrealism of dreams, and the problems with their depiction in fiction

Something has always struck me as being wrong with the oft-used narratives in science fiction and fantasy, where a protagonist for some reason, and it’s generally a noble one, gets to enter the dream of another person.

I’m thinking of movies like Inception, and the much better movie that I liked far more in my youth, Deamscape… In both movies, it is possible to enter into the dream of another person and interact both with them and their “dream world”. Inception tried to be too clever about it, and entered into the realm of contrived complexity, what with dreams within dreams and ambiguity regarding what was real and what was not – and impressed people much like pseudo profound statements do, because bullshit baffles brains. (If you don’t understand something, it is a common error to assume that the the thing is too complex for you or that the thing is “smart”, when it might be the case that the thing is just nonsense that appears to be complex. This is why some people are impressed by, for example, the word salad of Deepak Chopra.) But I digress; reviewing a movie with a plot that was fundamentally flawed and hid its flaws with contrived complexity, that most people thought was good, is not my aim for today.

As real as dreams may be to us when we experience them, they are not as realistic as they might seem. We know that we forget details of our dreams within seconds of waking from them, and I don’t dispute this… But what I think most people don’t realize, is that some of those details are not forgotten – they were never there in the first place.

To illustrate my point, I’ll invent a hypothetical dream… Let’s say I dreamed of making my breakfast this morning. I might find myself in the kitchen, with bowls for me and my son Josh, already containing cereal and sugar. Then I’d pour water from the kettle, already boiled, into those bowls. I wouldn’t remember adding cereal to the bowls, or putting the kettle on, or even walking to the kitchen, because that never happened. Anything outside of the dream experience is not constructed by the subconscious brain. It is assumed to have happened, and in our dreams, we accept that the setup for whatever situation we find ourselves in, has already taken place. In fact, if I didn’t turn around to the door and passage, there’s be no need for my brain to construct that either. There is no “dream world”… everything in the dream that isn’t in my field of vision or a part of my emotions in the dream… does not exist. I’ll get back to this, and how it relates to the dream narratives in fiction (although that should be obvious by now).

Last night I dreamed of my father. He died seventeen years ago, but as usual for me when dreaming, I forgot that he was dead. I was a passenger in his car, and he was driving me around despite being busy himself, with several errands to run. (That’s what he used to do. My dad always had time for me.) Maybe I got to this because my car is still at the panel beaters, so this seemed to make sense. Then we parted ways, and I was to meet him later, and found myself in a local computer store… I have been meaning to check the prices of keyboards, and find out if I can get a keyboard with backlit keys for my PC. The reason is that I sometimes play games at night, with the room lights off because Josh sleeps in the same room, and in the dark I can’t easily find some of the shortcut keys I use in my favourite game.

The technician was explaining to me that such backlit keyboards don’t exist, and giving me some very technical reasons for it, when my father entered the store. He was impatient and left, expecting me to follow him. As I watched him walking away, through the glass storefront, the dream broke down. I realized that the technician talking to me was still there, but had faded away because he was no longer important, no longer the subject of my attention. He’d become a ghost in my dream, while my dead father was a “real” person and the focus of my attention. I wouldn’t be able to find my father’s car if he got out of sight, because I didn’t remember where he’d parked. My father was walking to a car that didn’t exist, in a parking lot that didn’t exist, to run errands, the details of which I had no clue because my brain had only invented the fact that there were errands, but not the details themselves. And I’d been listening to a voice that was simply a construction in my own mind, of the voice of a real technician I’d heard before, talking absolute nonsense that sounded technical. (I’ll remember to check what keyboards they have though.) So I had a chuckle and woke up.

The point that breaks the plot in all those movies and books where you can enter the dream of another person, is that the dream world does not exist. When you dream, your lazy brain only fabricates that which is necessary for the dream to feel real, at the time. You might dream of solving a problem, and use problem-solving skills that you acquired with experience, without knowing what the problem is. You might dream that something happened to make you happy, or sad, or angry, but likewise not know what that something is. And you don’t need to know. Your brain can take a shortcut to happiness or anger or any other emotion because it knows how to feel them. The details are unimportant.

So, a movie like Inception where some people enter the dream of another and drive a van towards the building he’s in, makes no sense at all. If he’s dreaming, none of those things they interact with would exist, because they are not within his field of vision or within the scope of his emotions that form part of his dream reality. So maybe the protagonists could project their own details into the dream? I suppose that’s what you’re meant to assume. But that doesn’t really make sense either, if you think about it.

This doesn’t spoil such movies for me. I can still watch them and enjoy them for that they are – entertainment through fantasy and escapism. Knowing that the narratives of entering the dreams of others is flawed to an extent that it could never happen doesn’t really change anything, when all movies contain scientific impossibilities. But I enjoy thinking about these things anyway. Dreams fascinate me, as does the realization that the realities we construct in our dreams can fool us at the time, despite how flimsy they actually are. The brain is an amazing organ.

Dreams and cupcakes

Two unrelated subjects today…

Sometimes I can be stupid. Josh needed to take cupcakes to school. So yesterday I went to a bakery in the shopping mall where I work. But they told me they need 24 hours, and I had to collect the cakes at 7AM this morning, so stupid me agreed. Then on the way home last night, I realized that there was no way I could get those cupcakes to his school by 7:30AM, so I bought at a supermarket instead. So now I have 35 cupcakes for the weekend. It was supposed to be 31 for the class, 1 for the teacher, and 3 extra for myself, Josh and my mother at home. To make matters worse, Josh is sleeping over at his cousins tonight and will only return tomorrow evening. I guess I know what I’m eating this weekend.

Sleep is something I love, unlike my bad old days when I never slept. I have vivid dreams every night, although I seldom remember them. Some are like TV shows. They’re strange, adventurous, exciting and captivating. If I wake up to go to the toilet, I’m disappointed that the dream was interrupted, and sometimes continue them as soon as I return to bed. In the five minutes that I snooze my alarm every week-day, I usually return to a deep sleep and start another dream.

For once, I remember one of my dreams from last night… I was listening to a new song, by Andrew Eldritch, with a new band called Heartland. (A name borrowed from an old Sisters of Mercy song.) I wish I could remember the name of the song, because it was a play on words of some sort that I thought was really clever (without realizing that I must’ve made it up myself). And the song featured Jeremy Irons singing backing vocals. It was an amazing song, though of course the details are now lost. If only I could remember it…