The reason other people's dreams are boring is because most people are bad at telling stories. This video from The School of Life offers suggestions on how to narrate your dreams (or tell any kind of story, factual or fictional) without boring your audience.
These are some of the rules for storytelling:
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– firstly, we know what we mean far earlier than anyone else can and so we must understand a story at least five times as well when it is to be shared in company as when it is merely left to marinade in our own brains.
– secondly, keeping a story brief takes far more effort than letting it expand. The philosopher Pascal once touchingly apologised to a friend for the length of a letter he had written him. As he admitted: ‘I’m sorry I didn’t have time to make it shorter.’
– thirdly, we need to simplify. The downfall of almost all anecdotes is an accumulation of incidental detail untethered to the underlying logic of the story. If one is explaining how it felt to see one’s grandmother, it is irrelevant (and a waste of someone else’s rather precious life) to say what time one left the house and what the weather happened to be like. We need a view of the branches, not of every leaf.
– fourthly, factual events (dates, times, actions) are always less interesting (though far easier to remember) than feelings – and yet it’s the feelings that invariably contain the kernel of what can intrigue others.
If you're one of those people who insists on telling others about your dreams, at least follow this advice offered by cognitive scientist Jim Davies of Scientific American:
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We tend to think of dreams as being really weird, but in truth about 80 percent of dreams depict ordinary situations.We’re just more likely to remember and talk about the strange ones. Information we don't understand can often rouse our curiosity, particularly in the presence of strong emotion. Just like someone having a psychotic experience, the emotional pull of dreams make even the strangest incongruities seem meaningful, and worthy of discussion and interpretation.
These reasons are why most of your dreams are going to seem pretty boring to most people.
But if you’re going to talk about some of your dreams, pick the ones in which you deal with a problem in some new way. The negativity bias would make them more interesting than your happy dreams, and if you feel you learned something about how to deal with a threat, maybe your audience will too.
Brian David Gilbert makes funny videos about millennial bathos, with frequent side orders of yearning. "It's the best bread I've ever had."
You've perhaps already seen this instant classic:
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German photographer Florian W. Mueller has created an interesting series of images about REM sleep
. Set in a mossy forest, they feature one out-of-place piece of the forest. Read the rest
Dion McGregor talked in his sleep. But he did more than just that: he narrated tales so dark his roommates began recording them for the world to hear.
Normally, we can only catch a few shards of the shattered dreamscape; as much as we may try to cling onto the fragments of thoughts, feelings and sensations, they soon evaporate in the glare of our waking consciousness.
In contrast, McGregor’s tapes offer hundreds of hours of one man’s slumbers narrated in astonishing detail. The stories are full of eccentric characters like Edwina; they occupy a sinister place where a simple Lazy Susan can suddenly inspire a dangerous game of Russian roulette.
One intriguing finding from a study of the transcripts: his stories are less bizarre than "average" dreams. [via @greatdismal] Read the rest
Dion McGregor (1922-1994) was a songwriter who penned a hit for Barbra Streisand but he has cult (and now scientific) fame as a prolific sleep-talker, or rather sleep-storyteller. While asleep, McGregor would narrate his strange, creepy, and sometimes risque dreams in great detail. Have a listen below! In 1964, Decca Records released an album of recordings of McGregor's sleep-talking, The Dream World of Dion Mcgregor - He Talks in His Sleep, with cover art by Edward Gorey. A book of transcripts, also illustrated by Gorey, was also published that year with the same title, The Dream World of Dion McGregor. Numerous CDs have followed and the entire body of work has become a great source of data for sleep researchers at Harvard Medical School. They're published a new paper about McGregor in the journal Imagination Cognition and Personality. From the British Psychological Society:
The researchers think there are two explanations for the differences between McGregor's somniloquies and typical dream content. One is that much sleep talking does not occur during dreams, and in fact people's brain waves during sleep talking are distinct from those usually seen during dreaming, featuring fewer waves in the alpha frequency range, which they explained could be a sign of more frontal brain activity. The researchers further describe this as "an unusual state midway between waking and sleeping" (backing this up, there is a McGregor interview in which he says a sleep researcher recorded his brain activity during sleep talking and found a mix of sleep and waking brain wave patterns). Read the rest
In my friend Ronni Thomas's latest short documentary, meet parapsychologist Dr. Stanley Krippner, who in the 1960s ran the sleep lab at Brooklyn's Maimonides Hospital where he tested whether sleeping subjects could experience a form of dream telepathy.
Krippner is loved by paranormal researchers, believers, and skeptics alike. He's been honored with lifetime achievement awards from the mainstream American Psychological Association yet ESP researcher Charles Tart says "Stan belongs on the Mount Rushmore of parapsychology. Krippner famously conducted experiments with Timothy Leary and the Grateful Dead. In fact, in 1971, he enlisted the help of the Dead's audience in trying to mentally transmit an image to a sleeping psychic 45 miles away. Irvin Child, the late former chair of Yale's psychology department, wrote in the American Psychologist journal that he believed "many psychologists would, like myself, consider the ESP hypothesis to merit serious consideration and continued research if they read the Maimonides reports for themselves." Krippner's career is mind-bendingly weird and amazing.
"Transmitting Thought: The Maimonides Dream Lab: A New Film by Ronni Thomas for Morbid Anatomy Museum Presents!"
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After eight years of development and a successful Kickstarter, BB pal Mitch Altman's Neurodreamer sleep mask is ready for shipping! You might recall that Mitch is the inspiring maker behind the TV-B-Gone, Trip Glasses, and a bunch of other delightful gadgets. The Neurodreamer is an open source light/sound machine integrated into a memory foam mask. Mitch says:
The NeuroDreamer sleep mask is an advancement over prior entrainment* devices which attempt to entrain the brain with only a single brainwave frequency at a time. The NeuroDreamer sleep mask uses up to four brainwave frequencies simultaneously (mixed at different amplitudes), to more closely replicate the full spectrum of frequencies present in a person who is falling asleep.
* "Entrainment" is the the process of externally presenting brainwave frequencies to the brain, allowing it to synchronize to those frequencies.
It's available for $69.95 in three different versions designed for Sleep, Lucid Dreaming, or Meditation. Mitch is having a sale right now: Entering the coupon code THANKS gets you 10% off everything in Mitch's Cornfield Electronics shop, including the Neurodreamer. I want one! Read the rest
Pierre Chevalier's "EMMA" is a curious online art/code project that grabs random images from Google Street View and juxtaposes them with random text snippets from the DreamBank database of dream reports. (via Waxy) Read the rest
Anything marketed with Alan Watts -- "Let's have a surprise. Let's have a dream that isn't under control" -- gets my click. Wired's Liz Stinson reports on Shadow, a novel alarm clock for your phone.
Created by designers Hunter Lee Soik and Jason Carvalho, Shadow is an app that makes recording and remembering your dreams extremely simple. On its most basic level, Shadow is an alarm clock/digital dream journal, but the designers ultimately hope to create the largest dream database in the world. Users set the clock before they go to sleep at night, and in the morning, gradually escalating volume and vibration gently rouses you awake. Most of the time, alarm clocks abruptly blast through your consciousness, ripping you from the depths of sleep. In contrast, Shadow’s alarm system gradually transitions users through their hypnopompic state, that not-quite-asleep, not-quite-awake phase, which has be proven to help you better remember your dreams.
Shadow: A Beautiful App That Tracks Your Dreams [Wired] Read the rest
Max Hawkins's "Call in the Night" is an "experimental radio show" presenting recordings of people who volunteered to be woken up by a phone call to discuss their dreams, worries, emotions, and experiences. It's rather compelling and beautiful. You can sign up to be called at CallInTheNight.com. Read the rest
Do they still make children's books with sad endings? Like The Velveteen Rabbit? Because I think I've got a doozy here.
It's all about a 747 who loves to fly. It's what she was built to do and it's what she does best. For years, she soars through the skies, ferrying cargo and, possibly, some nondescript men in nice suits. (Or maybe not. Depends on when she went into service.) But through it all, the little 747 just wants to spend as much time as she can aloft, among the clouds, where she belongs.
But then, one day, the nondescript men in nice suits tell her that it's time she retire. They take her to a place in the desert and leave her there, with lots of other retired planes who've given up and are slowly falling apart. Other men come and they take her engines. Then they take all the beautiful buttons and switches from cockpit. The other planes tell her that, soon, men will come with saws to cut away parts of her fuselage. But the little 747 never breaks. They can take her apart, bit by bit, but they can't take away her dreams. And still, sometimes, in the boneyard, she tries to take to the skies just one last time.
Seriously. Somebody call the Newberry committee.
And bring me a hanky.
Thanks to Andrew Balfour for the video, and to Shahv Press for the background on Southern Air. Read the rest
Danger Room reports that an Army-backed R&D project called “Power Dreaming”
at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington State promises to help troops battle their nightmares with digital "counter-dreams": virtual dream stimuli. The Army awarded about half a million dollars to a consulting company for help developing the experiment, which is scheduled to launch next year. Read the rest
Some Russian scientists want to build a space colony inside a network of caves on the Moon. No, really
. It's hard to tell, from the Reuters story, how much support this plan actually has from the people who hold the purse strings. Read the rest
So, it's not a T-Rex skeleton, but otherwise I think this little girl is pretty much living out the childhood dreams of you, me, and everyone we know.
Thanks, Kimberly Clarke! Read the rest