I have a good friend who is one of the greatest songwriters on earth. It's a crying shame that hardly anyone outside of Memphis, TN, has ever heard of him. But he and I used to play in a band together, and I would often tell him about the crazy dreams I have every night. He would just be amazed at the lucid weirdness in my dreams, and that I could remember them so vividly. He said that he dreamed of the most boring things in life, like filing or washing the dishes.

So here is my theory, and I could be wrong (but I'm not). Those lucky souls we call artists do not need to be so creative in their dreams if they are putting all their creative energy into their art. Those of us who work real jobs and seldom do anything creative, but who were actually supposed to be artists of some sort -- we are the ones who have these crazy dreams.

Dreams are the subject of much controversy in psychology, philosophy (specifically epistemology) and E2.
  • Psychology: do you really dream? Or does your mind create the memory of a dream when you wake? Can this be tested? How?
  • Philosophy: can we believe what we see? How do we know we're not just dreaming?
  • E2: are Dream logs real? Do people actually dream these things? How do we know? for that matter, how do we know that anyone else thinks, or exists? No, wait, that's getting into epistemology again...
  • Cybernetics: Do androids dream of electric sheep?

In Jung's view, typical dreams do exist, although he maintains that Freudian dream analysis falls into the trap of interpreting the symbols within them as fixed.

Jung places more importance on the existence of typical motifs in dreams, and their similarity to mythological motifs present across cultures.

These similarities support the idea that dreams are a phylogenetically older mode of thought, a surviving trace of the mental processes of more primitive humans. Jung draws the comparison between the figurative, non-linear way that dreams express themselves, and the "flowery turns of phrase" characteristic of many ancient languages.

(from Jung's essay, "General Aspects of Dream Psychology")
The first step in understanding dreams is to define what we mean by the word 'dream'. There are many interpretations of this word in the English language. One set of these meanings include such things as nightmares, day dreams, REM sleep, and such - these are not the dreams that I speak of. I am talking of the dreams that belong along with hopes, desires, aspirations, fantasies and goals.

First off, a dream is a type of goal, it is a goal that is not necessarily attainable. "Not necessarily attainable" - What does that mean? Something that is necessary is within the control of the dreamer. An example: When I was working at a company, one of my coworkers was a young Indian intern, he had three goals in life:

  1. Become an engineer at the company
  2. Get married
  3. Buy a house
When my contract was up, he had been hired on as an engineer, as was expected. He was from a religiously strict family, and thus had an arranged marriage in the future. I can only assume that the purchase of a house is not very difficult for an engineer (shoot, I'll be able to in another year, and he had a year head start on me).

He had no dreams as I define them, he had three goals. Each goal he can attain if he so desires, and thus they are necessarily attainable. Nothing prevents him from attaining any of the goals.

So where does that leave dreams? Think to the words we stick after 'dream' - 'dream date', 'dream job', 'dream girl' and others. These are things that we don't necessarily have control over. A dream job and dream date, while we may seek and look for them, they may be forever beyond our reach; even if we do everything correctly in attempting to attain them. Thus, they are dreams.

Dream is one of The Endless as depicted in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series of comic books. He is simply a figment of one man's imagination, and the fact he has been indirectly mentioned countlessly throughout history and literature as a dark brooding gentleman who sprinkles dust into people's eyes and directs them to a land of both nightmares and fantasies and things in between called The Dreaming is totally irrelevant. He's not real. Keep telling yourself that. He's just an illusion. This is not really happening.

He's also known as Morpheus, Daniel, The Sandman, The Prince of Stories, The Oneiromancer, Lord of the Sleeping Marches, Kai'Ckul, L'Zoril, Oneiros and other names. In fact he may have more names than he does friends. He is closest to his oldest sister Death, but that's not saying much. Dream has a tendency of keeping most people at arm's length, preferring polite but shallow interractions, and then he goes off alone brooding on for decades on end about how his life lacks any real depth. --Well who's fault is that? ...Sorry, was that me? Must be thinking out loud again...

Oh, and you attended his funeral. We all did. We just don't remember it. It's okay. He doesn't take it personally. Besides it's just a dream and he never really existed, right?

why do we dream?

Dreams often seem to be very strange indeed. But why do we have them? Freud said that dreams show us our true subconscious desires. Our dreams show us what we really want in life. Scientists have a different opinion. They believe that dreams are the products of our brain processing information that has been recieved throughout the day. It puts important stuff in your memory and forgets the rest. This could explain why we often see friends and family in our dreams, as well as falling Tetris blocks.
DREAM is also a handy acronym for the mouthful downstream regulatory element antagonistic modulator. This is a regulatory protein which attaches to a specific DNA site to prevent the expression of another protein which manufactures dynorphin. Dynorphin, in turn, is an endorphin (an indigenous opioid) which is normally produced in response to pain or stress. In other words, the presence of DREAM means less dynorphin is manufactured, which leads to pain being perceived as more painful.

The role of DREAM was discovered by engineering a mouse that had its DREAM gene knocked out. Researchers were expecting the missing gene to cause heart problems and poor memory, but the tested mice showed neither of these problems. Instead, the mice had a dramatically (50 percent) lowered pain threshold and were otherwise completely normal. Notably, the mice didn't become addicted to their excess dynorphin -- they showed no reaction to opioid site blockers that completely stop its action.

DREAM and dynorphin work in the spinal cord to control pain messages, and are thus ubiquitous across all vectors of pain reception. This means that inhibition of DREAM would be able to lessen all forms of pain: acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic. Possible aid to neuropathic pain is the most exciting among these, as it is usually a cause of chronic pain that can last years. Common pain killers (Aspirin, COX-2 Inhibitors) only help inflammatory pain, and opioid pain killers (morphine, hydrocodone) are so effective that they tend to become addictive. A pain medicine that targeted DREAM would suffer from neither of these problems, and might be considered a "holy grail" of current pain research.

Dream (?), n. [Akin to OS. drm, D. droom, G. traum, Icel. draumr, Dan. & Sw. drom; cf. G. trugen to deceive, Skr. druh to harm, hurt, try to hurt. AS. dre�xa0;m joy, gladness, and OS. drm joy are, perh., different words; cf. Gr. noise.]


The thoughts, or series of thoughts, or imaginary transactions, which occupy the mind during sleep; a sleeping vision.

Dreams are but interludes which fancy makes. Dryden.

I had a dream which was not all a dream. Byron.


A visionary scheme; a wild conceit; an idle fancy; a vagary; a revery; -- in this sense, applied to an imaginary or anticipated state of happiness; as, a dream of bliss; the dream of his youth.

There sober thought pursued the amusing theme, Till Fancy colored it and formed a dream. Pope.

It is not them a mere dream, but a very real aim which they propose. J. C. Shairp.


© Webster 1913.

Dream, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Dreamed (?) or Dreamt (); p. pr. & vb. n. Dreaming.] [Cf. AS. drman, drman, to rejoice. See Dream, n.]


To have ideas or images in the mind while in the state of sleep; to experience sleeping visions; -- often with of; as, to dream of a battle, or of an absent friend.


To let the mind run on in idle revery or vagary; to anticipate vaguely as a coming and happy reality; to have a visionary notion or idea; to imagine.

Here may we sit and dream Over the heavenly theme. Keble.

They dream on in a constant course of reading, but not digesting. Locke.


© Webster 1913.

Dream, v. t.

To have a dream of; to see, or have a vision of, in sleep, or in idle fancy; -- often followed by an objective clause.

Your old men shall dream dreams. Acts ii. 17.

At length in sleep their bodies they compose, And dreamt the future fight. Dryden.

And still they dream that they shall still succeed. Cowper.

To dream away, out, through, etc., to pass in revery or inaction; to spend in idle vagaries; as, to dream away an hour; to dream through life. " Why does Antony dream out his hours?"



© Webster 1913.

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