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July 21, 2014

I dreamed a Wikipedia entry
Posted by Patrick at 11:42 PM * 93 comments

I dreamed a Wikipedia entry. It was about William Rowse Sitcup, a deservedly obscure figure in the history of colonial Virginia. Born to a family long established in James County, young William grew up living a life of the mind. For reasons imperfectly understood, by adolescence he became obsessed with the geographical details of Virginia itself—its tidewater region, its Piedmont, its rugged western mountains, its long Shenandoah valley, and all the individual counties. He became convinced that the Dominion had been, in its physical shape and political subdivisions, ordained by God as a perfect miniature of the greater world outside. (The fact that Virginia contains no deserts, no year-round snowcaps, no rainforest, and no permafrost seems never to have impinged on young Rowse’s—he went by his middle name—frenzy of hermetic insight.) On reaching his majority, he came into an inheritance that gave him a modest level of financial independence, and allowed him to pursue his dream of visiting all of Virginia’s counties—this is when “Virginia” included what are now the states of West Virginia and Kentucky—in order to deliver a series of lectures to be offered to the public in each of them, elucidating to no-doubt-thunderstruck audiences his vision of the Dominion as a divinely-wrought miniature of the great world, hammered out on God’s anvil as a benign but distinctly pedagogical message to erring humanity. It goes without saying that, in Rowse’s worldview, the institution of slavery was assumed to be part of the divine plan. It is peculiar, then, that on his visit to Ohio County, in that portion of then-Virginia which stuck like a northern-pointing spear between Pennsylvania and Ohio, Rowse was on several occasions heard to express sympathy and support for slaves who had managed to cross the Ohio and light out for freedom. Whether he actually met any is lost to history. Little is known of him following this sojourn beyond the mountains; he died under mysterious circumstances in Palmyra on his way back to his familiar Tidewater home. After much pressure from his family’s solicitor, the inkeeper returned Rowse’s portfolio of manuscripts, but when it was opened in the parlor of the family’s old manor, all that remained was a fall of ash and the smell of rosemary. Citation needed.

Comments on I dreamed a Wikipedia entry:
#1 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2014, 11:51 PM:

Oh, that's lovely.

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 12:11 AM:

I've occasionally had "media" dreams, in which I'm watching and/or an actor in a movie or documentary. (One of these was a snarky remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which the pods had to have permission to copy and replace you, and turned to marketing. There were roadside farm stands where you could buy pods.)

I don't recall any dreams in which I've written anything.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 01:00 AM:

It sounds plausible. That's the scary part: I can see it happening.

#4 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 01:03 AM:

Ash and rosemary. You'll have to ask Seanan about that one. Do references from faerie count on Wikipedia?

#5 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 01:07 AM:

[Citation needed]

#6 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 02:58 AM:

As it happens, I was looking up E E Smith on Wikipedia, and there's a reference to his Draft Registration Card. It's described as not entirely legible, which isn't true. Maybe there has been a re-scan, but I found it quite clear. Maybe the style of handwriting is one I have more familiarity with. I put my reading of the doubtful text onto the Talk page.

It's the usual sort of story. Did he join the US Army in WW1? There's a photograph which came through his daughter, showing him in uniform, and nothing else. A huge number of official records were destroyed in a fire.

The timing of his PhD may mean his service started too late for him to get to France.

The one thing that might be worth checking is the issue records for the WW1 Victory Medal. But that apparently can't be done over the internet.

#7 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 07:51 AM:

I dreamt, just last night, of something fairly similar to Powers' Nephilim Novels: evidence that a significant number of well-known European poets had been born with a twin of the opposite sex, said twin had been abducted by persons or persons unknown, and this was somehow connected to the unabducted twin becoming a poet.

The majority of the dream was research into this, and the discovery that the poeticism was, in fact, an irrelevant side effect to the actual purpose, which was training the stolen twins into some supernatural role.

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 08:16 AM:

More than once, while studying Greek in university, I would dream that there was a twenty-fifth Greek letter. I'd find it in the dictionary, encounter words beginning with it, and delve deep into their etymologies. Hours of study of plausible, realistic words, all gone when I awoke.

#9 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 08:35 AM:

Bill Stewart @4, I'm currently reading Seanan's Sparrow Hill Road and that also immediately struck me...

#10 ::: Ian C. Racey ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 09:16 AM:

Dave Bell @6

My understanding is that all those records which survive are available online if you've got a paid membership. That's how we found my great-grandfather's medal card when I unexpectedly found a Mons Star among my grandfather's possessions after he died. I've been told it's difficult to search by name, though, because of the holes in the records and the amount of overlap among British First Wold War servicemen. (With my great-grandfather we were able to search by his record number because it was inscribed on the medal.)

I once dreamt I wrote a wonderful Eurovision song, only to wake up and discover it was just the chorus "Razor, razor, razor blade" repeated over and over.

#11 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 11:05 AM:

abi@8: Wow!

(Ok, the digamma pun probably doesn't work, but I had to try.)

#12 ::: Sarah sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 11:53 AM:

I had a dream a few days ago in which I had done costume designs for an adaptation of The Great Gatsby, and when the director (evidently not Baz Luhrmann) complimented me on the subtlety of my designs, I explained that I’d done a whole lot of research into American fashions, especially casual-wear, of the 1920s and how they were perceived *at the time* as opposed to how later generations thought of them.

#13 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 12:32 PM:

abi @8: Could you have been thinking of the PS dipthong letter Claudius introduced? (I was going to say "…in the book/s by Graves," but Graves didn't make that up, come to think of it.) I think there was another letter, too, but there apparently wasn't room for it in the margin in my brain. They didn't catch on, but they're probably still hanging around somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered by sneaky crossword puzzle editors.

#14 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 02:54 PM:

I once dreamed that I went to the used bookstore and found a copy of The Samurai of Oz. It was about a Japanese space station / orbital colony that had crashed in Baum's Oz, with only one survivor. I only read the back cover before I woke up, though.

#15 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 03:10 PM:


Since much of Oz is public domain, you can go ahead and write that story if you remember more.

(Most space stations have their orbits inclined so that they rarely pass over Oz. The optical blind spot and gravitational anomalies really mess things up.)

#16 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 03:39 PM:

I've found that in dreams I can only read about five words. Then something happens to prevent me from reading more: a disaster, a distraction, sudden blindness...

Apparently the reading part of my brain isn't turned on when I dream, and the rest of my brain can only fake it for very short sequences.

#17 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 05:03 PM:

On one occasion I dreamed of reading a mystery novel, one I hadn't read before. It had a good plot, interesting characters, and some fascinating twists. Just before I got to the point of resolution... I woke up. And since I'm not very good at figuring out the solutions to mysteries when I'm awake, I'm guessing that this was why I woke up -- because I'd hit the point at which my brain could no longer supply the story line. Which was frustrating as hell, because it really was a good mystery!

#18 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 05:36 PM:

I've come across the notion in several places that you can't actually read in a dream - either words or numbers - and a couple of them have suggested that noticing this can be the catalyst for realizing that you're dreaming and turning it into a lucid dream. It shows up in Richard Linklater's oddball animated movie Waking Life but I've seen it elsewhere too.

Since the afterlife bardo states in Tibetan Buddhist thought are similar to dreaming, supposedly this is also true if you're dead and in one of the bardo states, according to a wonderfully weird book called The American Book of the Dead. It's quite the interesting concept. So bear in mind, if you find yourself trying to read an incredibly complicated map or diagram or book in tiny printing which no amount of light or better magnifying lens will make clear - well, you might be dreaming, or you might be dead and just not have realized it yet.

P.S. You do not have to believe this.

#19 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 05:52 PM:

I dreamed last night about a Making Light discussion. It must have been an open thread because in between the serious discussions were tangents and amusing bits.

It was weird. I never dream in blogs. I certainly did a lot of reading in this dream though.

#20 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 07:51 PM:

I turned a dream into a story once. In the dream I came up with the idea that the mating ritual of shapeshifters was giving each other gifts of garbage. There was also a sense of perpetual pursuit, a la Terminator II, but with sex rather than assassination as the goal.

I woke up, remembered what I could, and turned what I had into a silly piece of erotic fiction involving shapeshifters shapeshifting while having sex. It also includes the premise that they learn to mimic a thing by touching it, and so they hang out in garbage dumps to learn a repertoire of things to mimic.

#21 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 08:48 PM:

When I've been reading a lot, I get third-person dreams with visuals, narrator, limited POV, and text. I, meaning I as me rather I as a character or I as the narrator, once watched the same events happen twice and thought something was wrong, so I went back to the start of the chapter to check.

Reading in dreams is tough. Rereading in dreams to be sure that the text is the same the second time through? Hooboy.

#22 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 09:20 PM:

My biggest "noticing I'm dreaming" tell is when I go to turn off a noisy object and it doesn't turn off. Even when I unplug it. This used to distress me (in a horror-movie NONE OF THE RULES APPLY!) way, but now if I can notice it diagetically while it's happening it reminds me that it's a radio OUTSIDE MY DREAM which is why I can't turn it off.

Unfortunately those sorts of dreams also tend to be the kind where you realize you're dreaming, wake up, go through more of your morning routine, realize you're dreaming, wake up ... one exhausting morning I woke up more than ten times in a row (with different funhouse-style "wrong" problems and always with emotionally-soaked awfulness each time). Not a restful morning, that.

#23 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 09:21 PM:

Mine isn't a dream...exactly.
I recently underwent a small bit of surgery to blast a 10 centimeter (yes, cm) kidney stone into rubble. That was a success. However, coming out of anesthesia, with three nurses fussing over me and all the bits connected to me, I felt like I was being dressed for a very fancy masquerade, and the whole escapade was being directed by Sandy Swank in full voluminous robes. It took a moment or two for reality to kick in and the fuzziness, and Sandy, to disappear. I've never had hallucinations coming out of anesthesia before.

I haven't yet relayed this to Sandy, as he's having internet issues. Or was.

#24 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 09:37 PM:

I've dreamed of having insomnia. That's unrestful. But not as bad as actual insomnia.

#25 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 09:46 PM:

Some years ago I dreamt I was a character in a Philip K. Dick novel called The Bread Factory. I was working for a company that prepared foods to very detailed specs -- I'd been assigned to cut the crusts off of two slices of bread, to a depth of exactly one inch all the way around. I then had to take the crustless bread to a deli where I delivered them to the customer who'd ordered them, a bearded gent who I realize now was probably Dick himself.

I had suspicions that some of the orders coming into the factory were fakes, created by someone in management in order to skim supplies. It turned out I was right -- one of the execs had hidden his lover (a mutant fish man) in one of the factory pipes, and was embezzling food to keep him alive.

I woke up, and asked my somewhat fuzzy spouse "Did Philip K. Dick write a novel called The Bread Factory, or did I just dream it?

Hours later I woke him again to ask if I'd woken him earlier to ask him about Philip K. Dick, or whether I'd just dreamt that.

"Yes," he said.

#26 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Danny Sichel @14: I once dreamed I found an Oz book by Robert Heinlein in a used bookstore. (I dream about bookstores and libraries a lot, though I usually can't remember the specific books I found for very long after I wake -- just a vague sense of loss when I wake and realize that those books don't actually exist.)

And I've dreamed of reading books and comics a number of times, though I can rarely remember more than a short phrase from them -- more often I remember plots.

I've had a handful of lucid dreams over the years. To the best of my recollection the lucidity was in most cases triggered by noticing the general absurdity of my surroundings. In one case, though, it was because I read something (a label on some equipment, I think), then glanced away, and when I looked at it again, the text had changed. In another, I saw that my hands were blurry.

Tim Powers uses the idea that you can't read while dreaming in Three Days to Never: his remote viewers can't read while looking at a distant scene through someone else's eyes.

#27 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 01:23 AM:

I've had dreams where I read at least a little bit. What I find is that if I look away from the text I'm reading and then look back, it'll usually have shifted to something else.

The thing I can't do while dreaming is dial a telephone. I've had more than one dream where I wanted to call someone and somehow when I tried to dial I always got a number wrong, or transposed two in sequence, or something.

I sometimes dream that I'm telekinetic: if I concentrate the right way on making things move, they do. I've had that one often enough that sometimes they've become lucid. I realize, "Hey, if I'm suddenly telekinetic that probably means I'm dreaming."

#28 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 01:44 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 27: The telephone thing happens to me a lot. I also can't use calculators - sometimes I can't write/type, but most often it's numbers.

I really ought to strive to remember that if suddenly it's taking me multiple tries to input a very simple number (And I'm not using a finicky touch screen, grrr to my husband's phone), I'm probably dreaming.

I don't know if it will help, though. Every time I've thought, "This must be a dream." while in a dream, somehow I become convinced again that it's the real world. I can only manipulate dreams at all in the half-waking state where I'm already aware I'm back in the real world, and yet I have to finish the story dammit. And even then, I sometimes lose control again if I dip back under.

I've used dreams as springboards for stories (They never make it unaltered into the final draft, for reasons which are likely obvious to anyone who actually crafts plot), but I cannot at this point recall a dream in which I was reading anything longer than the word or number I am trying repeatedly to type in.

#29 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 07:00 AM:

I had a dream, years ago, in which I developed insight into a whole new category of analysis into problems of political development. Now, if only I could remember what it was...

#30 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 09:01 AM:

Once I dreamed that I was riding down the street in a car. I discovered that it was a dream when I waited until the last moment at each block to look up at the signs for the cross streets. When I first looked, they were blank, but then a name would appear.

When I first started working as a computer programmer, I sometimes had dreams where I experienced myself as a recalcitrant program that kept falling into an infinite loop and having to be reset.

#31 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 10:45 AM:

Lenora Rose (28): I can only manipulate dreams at all in the half-waking state where I'm already aware I'm back in the real world, and yet I have to finish the story dammit. And even then, I sometimes lose control again if I dip back under.

This is me, also. Last night I kept waking up for a few minutes (not at all uncommon for me) then slipping back into the same dream when I fell asleep again (very unusual). About the fourth time I woke up, I forced myself far enough awake to be sure that the dream wouldn't continue. It wasn't quite a nightmare--I dreamed that I had suddenly discovered that my apartment* opened onto the adjacent one in several places, and my neighbors* wanted me to pay them rent until the management company could fix it--but it was pretty unsettling.

*not my actual apartment, not my actual neighbors

#32 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 11:57 AM:

Gee, and here all I get are recurring dreams about alien invasions.

Lee @17: I'm guessing that this was why I woke up

I consistently wake up just as I'm about to get to the resolution. Ticks me off. I deduce that the dream is my brain setting up the Question of the Day. I'd rather get the story resolution.

Clifton @18: realizing that you're dreaming

My tell is if I jump up just hard enough and touch the top of my head to the ceiling; if I can hang from there, then I'm dreaming. (Interestingly, being able to jump up high enough to touch my head to the ceiling isn't diagnostic. o.0 )

Erik Nelson @20: shapeshifters shapeshifting while having sex

Susan Crites wrote a lovely erotic DS9 fanfic featuring Odo.

#33 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 01:29 PM:

The late Alexei Kondratiev once told me he'd had serial dreams (like a recurring dream but a continuing story rather than the same thing over and over) as an adolescent. The people in these dreams spoke a language unfamiliar to him, and he was able to learn some of it! He said some things in it to demonstrate, not that I would have any way of knowing.

Lee 17: If you could have written the book, you could have had a contest for the ending!

Elliott 22: Usually for me it's an alarm clock. Last time it happened I gave up trying to switch it off and turned it over to decrease the alarm volume. This didn't work, and I thought "wait a minute, my alarm clock doesn't have a volume control, ATIWU.

Lin 23: My lithotripsy was done without anesthesia, but my stone was tiny. I cannot understand how a kidney stone could grow to 10 cm without the patient having been in mind-destroying agony for years! My sympathies. I'm certainly glad you got that taken care of.

I'm not sure I've had hallucinations coming out of anesthesia; when I had my hip replacement I told the nurse while still groggy and disoriented that I was having the strange tactile hallucination that my legs were being slowly squeezed from ankle to knee and then released. She explained that that was actually happening; it was a device to maintain circulation.

Jim 26: I've realized I was dreaming when I find myself at the wheel of a car (I don't drive). This is usually at the end of a fugitive nightmare (where I'm escaping from vague authorities with orders to shoot to kill).

#34 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Dave Bell, #6, and Ian C. Racey, #10:

I do have a paid membership, but alas, they don't seem to have absorbed the database of WWI US "Victory" medals yet. In fact, they seem to be better on UK medals databases than US ones, for WWI at any rate.

#35 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 03:28 PM:

Xopher @ 33:
Being able to drive doesn't necessarily help much in dreams. I fairly frequently have dreams where I'm driving a car... and realize while driving that I'm in the back seat, and while I have a grip on the steering wheel I can't reach any of the foot pedals. (Usually this goes along with other anxiety dream themes.)

#36 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 03:31 PM:

I've always wondered if this counts as lucid dreaming or not, since it only happens occasionally and I don't exactly trigger it, but when I'm having a really bad, realistic nightmare--the kind where you know there's an unhappy ending coming, it's inevitable and you can see it--I will sometimes start to rewrite the dream so that everything comes out okay. When I've reached the point of the happy ending, I'll be awake--sort of putting the final touches on the dream-story in my head. If at that point I could remember the whole plot, I'd probably write it down--but usually I just remember the ending. Which is weird, I think.

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Not sure there is a database for that medal - I'd be interested.
Also, even if there is, you'd probably have to hunt for it: their hint engine is remarkably bad with the less-used stuff.

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 03:47 PM:

Many of my dreams, including those with interesting setups*, end with me navigating a complex mass transit system.

* (The North Korean tourist trap with a water opera featuring swimmers costumed as battleships. Getting a nasty-cheap jet pack from my father.)

#39 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 09:20 PM:

I tend to dream lucidly somewhat regularly (an easy way to trigger it is pseudoephedrine; needing my sinuses roto-rootered and not being able to afford it or get insurance to cover it means sometimes it is necessary even if it disrupts my sleep in a number of ways). What I've found with reading is that I can read perfectly well; but I'm not actually reading, the content just shows up in my mind. If I'm lucid, I can try to examine the thing I'm reading — which turns out to be random symbols. Oddly, these do not change if I look away and back.

This actually follows a pattern in my dreams: if I try to examine something, it's usually not actually there. For example, a wall will turn out to be a sort of wireframe with the notion of wall-ness attached, and filled in with whatever my dreaming brain finds convenient until I actually try to examine it. Even if I am dreaming of someone I know, examination will show a mishmash of remembered images.

#40 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 09:29 PM:

Clifton 35: Oh, I can usually drive OK in the dream. The reason it's nightmarish is that I know I don't have a driver's license and it's just WORNG for me to drive...which is also why I generally realize it has to be a dream, because I don't think I would try to drive a car even to escape from crazed killers. It really would be faster to run.

#41 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 09:36 PM:

one story writing technique that works for me is to begin with some preposterous vivid image that I happen to have in the back of my mind, then rationalize how I got there.

This tends to work well for dream images, among others.

#42 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2014, 10:27 PM:

I once dreamt several additional chapters to The Fall of the Kings, but I was seeing them as if I were within the action, not words on a page.

More often, I'll dream about rooms in a familiar house that branch off the existing rooms, but aren't actually there in the waking world. There are usually interesting and useful things stored there.

I've been dreaming myself a lot in the house I grew up in. Contemporary situations, but me living in that house.

And as for audio input - I rarely recognize it for what it is. A beeping alarm will become a siren. NPR's morning news once became a political argument I was having with my friend David, that he WOULD NOT leave off, even though I'd hit the point of not trying to counter him anymore.

Don't even get me started on what tactile input does to my dreaming brain. No matter how benign or even welcome the attention might be in waking life, in my dreams, it's NEVER PRETTY. It's horrid. These days, if I find myself with a sleeping partner, I warn them straight off that they should never do that. I can be held, if the holding is motionless. Moving touch...just no.

And then there's the dream of driving around a curve and sailing off the edge of a drop. I hate that one.

But I don't know/ My dreams are vicious/ We could still end up/ With the great big fishes
#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2014, 02:37 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @34

It looks as though the British WW1 medal records are were scanned, low quality, by the National Archive, and then the original cards were transferred to and re-scanned at higher quality, front and back.

Both the USA and the UK lost a big chunk of their service records through fire.

My Grandfather, Corporal Charlie Bell of the Lincolnshire Regiment, was awarded the War Medal and the Victory Medal, as most soldiers were, and the Military Medal. He said that was for being stupid while an officer was watching. The medal was gazetted in early 1919 in a special issue of the London Gazette but any record of the citation is gone.

If the info I have is correct, the British Army required overseas service for the award of the Victory Medal. while the US Army and US Navy awarded it for any military service. Finding a medal record for E.E. Smith would be positive proof of US service.

In my grandfather's case, there's one family story which is unsupported. The medal card would have recorded the existence of a Mention in Dispatches.

My grandfather did get wounded. My father was born in 1920. I feel a little lucky to be here. My grandfather was due to go on leave the day after his unit went back into the front line. He and a few others in the like situation were instead kept back at camp, which was a great relief to him. They went back through the rear areas to Boulogne, took the ferry back to England, dodged into the first pub they passed, and discovered the Armistice had been signed.

#44 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2014, 08:23 AM:

So, last night I dreamed I was trying to program my brand new smart-phone (which was the size, shape, and bright blue color of my 1990s Nokia) from instructions written on damp napkins (ink bled; layers stuck together) and I couldn't manage to key in the information correctly (although, because it was an ancient Nokia phone, it only had a number pad). I wanted to read my e-books on it, which, given the screen on those old Nokias was maybe 1" x 1-1/2", would have been an exercise in futility had I actually made it work...

A frustration dream. But it reinforced that I really can't read in dreams (I can "read" a word or two, but I don't think it's actually reading, more intuiting what's on the page) and am apparently innumerate in dreams as well. My brain translated that as not being able to remember a short (five-digit) password, but I'm pretty sure that I wasn't able to find the numbers on the phone, either....

#45 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2014, 05:06 PM:

Rikibeth: And then there's the dream of driving around a curve and sailing off the edge of a drop. I hate that one.

I get that one too. Also the one where I'm sitting in a car, and it begins to roll forward over a cliff and I can't stop it, even when I stand on the brakes. Also ALSO the one where I'm driving down a hill so steep that the car parts company with the ground, rear wheels first.

I very rarely manage to use these as lucidity tells. What usually happens is I think, "Oh, crap, this is just like those dreams I have, only this time it's real!" Then I wake up.

Once, though, I managed to stop the car before it went over the cliff. I woke up doing a mental victory dance: "I stopped the nightmare! Yessss!"


My most common experience of reading in dreams is when I fall asleep while reading in waking life. My conscious brain doesn't really notice I've fallen asleep; it just keeps reading. I wish I could remember when I wake the alternate text my brain makes for me to read.

But it's a really cool experience, and so I get very frustrated with how-to-lucid-dream books, beginning with The Great LaBerge and cascading through all child elements inheriting that style sheet, that have convinced thousands of readers that they can't read in dreams--which of course is a self-fulfilling prophecy, given the tendency of dreams, at least for some of us, to conform to what the dreamer "knows" is true.

It would be so much better to focus on what's possible in dreams. Erase "You can't" from the lexicon. "If you find the words on the page shifting and changing when you try to read, you're probably dreaming, because that doesn't happen in waking life" is so much better than "...because, as we know, no one can read in dreams."

Grr and hmph.

#46 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2014, 06:27 PM:

I get one of those car nightmares you have but in reverse - it's always that I'm going up a steeper and steeper hill until it's nearly vertical and the car loses its grip on the road and starts to flip over backwards. I think I've recently figured out what precipitates that dream - it's when I'm driving in a dream, I'm sleeping on my back, and the proprioceptive sense that I'm lying on my back starts filtering into the dream. The result is that the dream brain starts adjusting the positions of me, the car, and the road to fit my actual position until it says "Uh-oh, car can't go straight up like that!"

#47 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 11:28 AM:


What kind of weird shit is that?!

I suspect I probably only get the incoherent fragments because anything worth recounting ends up remembered subliminally and turns up in a story. My dreams are simply bin-ends and scraps. Although I remember occasionally dreaming something or other and getting impatient because my mind's plot-creation engine isn't spinning out plot fast enough and it's keeping my dreaming self twiddling his thumbs.

And then there are the recurring anxiety dreams. Back in university, sitting an exam, and everyone else in the room is naked (while I'm fully dressed). Or moving into a larger, newer apartment and discovering behind a door there's a corridor with more kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms opening off it, and I'm worried about how I'm going to furnish them all ...

#48 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 11:35 AM:

Charlie Stross @47, I remember fragments, mostly. My husband is the one who can recount long narratives...

You're clothed and everyone else isn't? That's a turnaround on my standard anxiety dream; I'm trying to find the exam room for the final exam of the class which I realize I forgot to attend all semester, and when I do get there I'm very late and the exam is almost over, and I don't have a pencil to fill out the exam sheet, because I don't have a pocket because I'm naked...

Each strawload of horrified realization landing on the camel's back in dreadful, inexorable sequence. It sounds vaguely silly on waking, but it's quite horrific enough while dreaming, let me assure you.

#49 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Oh, anxiety dreams! They are a special category all themselves. I still have the standard examination-dream, but--after 30 years of teaching--I also have the exam-dream where I'm the one who is supposed to be giving the exam, and I've brought the wrong test, and the copier isn't working, and I can't find the stapler, and the room has moved, and THESE AREN'T MY STUDENTS, and--and--and--

It's surprisingly worse (emotionally) to be the one responsible for the exam as opposed to the one taking the exam, though the dreams are startlingly similar. And yes, on waking, the details always blur. Go figure.

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 12:07 PM:

I think I got the exam dream, once or twice, but the memories have faded. I had one, once, where I was reading a map, and if I put my head down close to the paper, and looked at it almost parallel to the surface, I could see buildings and trees and cars and a nice sunset (but it wasn't animated). That one was kind of fun.

#51 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 12:44 PM:

I rarely remember my dreams for long, although sometimes fragments remain.

My recurring anxiety dream, which thankfully I haven't had in a long time, goes like this: When something that I'm really dreading is due to happen the next day, I dream that I get up, get dressed, have breakfast, go off to school*/work, the thing I'm dreading happens and is just as bad as I had feared if not worse. Then, when the dreaded thing is finally over, my alarm goes off and I wake up for real. That's always the worst part, when I realize that I haven't done it yet.

*this dream was most common when I was still in school

#52 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 03:31 PM:

You know those dreams where it is the last week of school and you suddenly realize you've totally forgotten to go to a particular class and the final is today?

Or you can't find the room where the final is being given?

Two years of being adjunct faculty introduced a new variant: Not knowing where I'm supposed to be giving a final.

#53 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 03:46 PM:

Charlie, #47: I only remember whatever dream I was having right before I woke up, and then only for a minute or two -- unless I make a special effort to store it in conscious memory, usually by describing it to someone else, but sometimes just the act of thinking about it in narrative words is enough. Once it's gone, it's gone and I'll never get it back.

My recurring anxiety dream is the one in which I'm trying to get something done (the exact thing varies widely) and shit keeps interfering. I get interrupted, resources I need aren't available, people I ask for help ignore me, etc. etc. etc. On the few occasions when I've had naked dreams, they tend to be of the "nobody else notices or cares" variety rather than the "everybody points and laughs" type.

#54 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 07:30 PM:

Haven't had the school dream where I show up naked for a final I haven't studied for variants.

Mine is that, for whatever reason, I never graduated high school, so I've gone back to complete that last year—at >40 years old. Month or two back, I actually had a dream where I finally graduated. No clue what the precipitating waking life incident was. I think it might have been a boss I had conflicts with moving on to greener pastures...?

The weirdest variant was: back in the late '90s/early Noughties, I kept dreaming that I'd gone back to first grade; the feeling that I somehow wanted to start over.

Then, starting in '02, I managed to get a few years off work, and that dream finally went away. Still not sure what I was starting over at. Some while later, though, I finally noticed that it was during that period that I finally stopped hearing my mother's voice in my head.

#55 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2014, 10:48 PM:

The dreams where you show up for a class and there's a test you forgot to study for / project you forgot to do, and then you realize that you forgot to attend the class all semester? Those aren't actually anxiety dreams -- or rather, they're not caused by anxiety. They're caused by the same phenomenon that we've been discussing here -- one piece of your mind trying to generate content while another piece of your mind tries to consult that content.

The dreams start as standard "being in a familiar environment, doing the appropriate thing" dreams. In the real world, you show up for a class and there's a test... and you're thinking about all the material you studied, reviewing it in your mind. Or if you have to give a presentation, you're reviewing the script you prepared for yourself, or etc. When you dream that you're going into class... well, your brain reaches for the material that you studied, but you can't generate an entire syllabus of material in that fraction of a second. You can't research and write your presentation, you can't supply your own homework questions and answers.

So your brain reaches for the information, and there's nothing there. You try to remember anything from any of the classes, and there's nothing there, because you didn't attend any of those classes because they didn't exist because it's all a dream. But you don't realize it's a dream, because we so rarely realize that. Your brain desperately flails for a explanation as to why you can't remember studying for the test or doing the homework or preparing the presentation or showing up for any of the classes... the only explanation that makes sense (aside from "THIS IS NOT REALITY, I AM DFREAMING") is that you must have completely forgotten to attend any of the classes, you must have completely forgotten that you even registered. And then you start to realize all the consequences of having forgotten an entire course, you'll fail the course, you'll derail your entire academic career and then your life and and and and and AND then you wake up. (Or, more likely, you twitch uneasily in your sleep, and the dream fades or changes, and by the time you wake up, it's gone from your memory.)

#56 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 02:18 AM:

Danny: So the basic detail that those dreams pop up when anxious things are happening in the real world is purely coincidence? Or is it that when we're anxious, those are the times we panic over a lack of accessible material, and the rest of the time it doesn't cause an emotional response?

Whatever the base explanation for the phenomenon, school-themed anxiety dreams still reflect the fact that anxious-making stuff is happening in real life, and are still awful and scary to experience.

#57 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 07:26 AM:

Danny Sichel @55: Those aren't actually anxiety dreams -- or rather, they're not caused by anxiety.

Ahem. Well, maybe yours aren't. I imagine other people can assess the meaning/cause of their dreams based on their own experiences.

(But that maybe suggests why I'm not prone to those kinds of dreams; my brain will quite happily spin up entire lifetimes of memory out of whole cloth, just to support a particular premise or scene in a dream. Make up a semester course? "Hah! I laugh at your challenge!")

Lenora Rose @56: Whatever the base explanation for the phenomenon, school-themed anxiety dreams still reflect the fact that anxious-making stuff is happening in real life

Further, that since the dream form turns up in different content for differing contexts (cf "the Actor's Dream") but with similar structure suggests that it's an actual thing. The whole "Am I prepared?" anxiety thought process—seems like an obvious way to prepare is to run through worst-case scenarios, as with Mary Aileen's above.

#58 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 02:15 PM:

Correlating the emotional tenor of dreams to real-world phenomena is a fine example of Texas Sharpshooter (PTSD notwithstanding).

Anxiety while awake (AWA) due to (events which take place in setting X) may increase the likelihood of dreams that take place in (setting X), but emotional response to a dream varies. Intense AWA may lead to less restful sleep and an increased likelihood of waking up during (or sufficiently close to) REM, with a concomitantly increased likelihood of remembering the dream.

#59 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 02:50 PM:

Things I have dreamed:

I once dreamed a poem. It was at a time when I was actually meant to be composing a poem, in honour of a rowing eight. When I woke up I remembered just one line - 'Put all your enemies behind your back' - which is unfortunately exactly what a rowing eight does not attempt to do, so I couldn't use it.

I also once dreamed a song (which is odder, as I don't write songs while awake). Here, once again, I remember only one line, in this case the first, 'The city behind us'. I think the idea was that it was sung by a group of pilgrims walking away from a city, and describing the scenes that they had left behind, but what those scenes were I cannot say.

On another theme, there were at least two Greek letters besides the regular twenty-four, which were not used in Attic, and so not preserved when that became the standard, but might occur in other dialects. One, as dotless notes, was the digamma, which looked like a F, and was cognate with it, but seems to have been pronounced W. The other was the Qoppa, clearly cognate with Q, and looking like a circle with a tail, but pronounced the same as K, which is why the Athenians saw no need for it; however, it was widely recognised as a symbol of the city of Qorinth. There is a third letter, alleged to be pronounced 'TS', but I'm not sure if there's actual evidence of its use other than as a numeral.

#60 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 06:50 PM:

I once dreamed a recipe. Well, probably more than once, but this one came to me early in my relationship with Karen, and she liked the idea enough for us to make it together as our first experiment in cooking.

Oh, all right, since you asked: it was an apple tart: pastry base (we used filo) covered with creme fraiche, with apple slices on top of that alternating with leaves of basil. Karen said we should alternate the basil with peppermint leaves, and she was right; she also added a marmalade glaze on the top, which worked very nicely (other glazes are a good plan too). We heated it in the oven just enough to soften the apple slices, and really enjoyed it.

Lots of variants are possible, but the contrast of the basil and the apples is what makes it really wonderful.

#61 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 06:57 PM:

Do other people have "series dreams"? About every 10 years, I have an initiation dream. They're all about going through some form of initiation into a group: and they're always ones that I remember. In most cases, I either refuse the initiation or I end up in a much deeper level of the group than I anticipated. I only mention them because they're so very memorable!

#62 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Danny: I am not convinced this is actually a fallacy. When I am more anxious about a particular kind of upcoming event, I have a greater number of remembered instances of a particular and recognized kind of bad dream. I don't think that explaining the phenomenon ("You may wake up more often during REM and therefore remember more of the anxious-making moments") actually negates that fact; it explains it, but does not explain it *away*, as you seem to suggest.

I suspect the brain is ALSO probably drawing from a particular subset of memories associated with the *other* times in the real world I have felt a Related form of anxiety, and those memories come up more in the subconscious mind, and that an actual increased number of dreams total, remembered or forgotten, go through the same cycle. This is a logical explanation for the phenomenon too, but it doesn't say, "Oh, look, everyone else here is suffering from a fallacy of which i know better and will educate them."

(And it really is not a case of having dreams about setting x while similar events are approaching in setting x; it's a case of emotional landscape X is being approached again, and so the brain brings up some of the most powerful instances where emotional landscape X was approached. If you cannot recognize that is a significant difference, then you might not be in the right conversation.)

#63 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Tom Whitmore: That recipe hadn't come up when I was typing. It sounds delicious. Hmm, we do have mint and basil plants, and even some apples...

#64 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 07:16 PM:

Danny Sichel: When you dream that you're going into class... well, your brain reaches for the material that you studied, but you can't generate an entire syllabus of material in that fraction of a second. You can't research and write your presentation, you can't supply your own homework questions and answers.

I'm not sure where you drew this idea from, but doesn't that seem an odd claim to postulate, particularly in the context of the dream which started this thread? It seems exactly contrary to many people's experience of dreaming, where the most elaborate frameworks of story, personal history, or natural history seem to get spun out of straw in a fraction of a second based on some random input.

Your theory of the cause also falls down for me in that going to college classes hasn't been a "familiar environment" for me for over 30 years. In fact as far as I can recall, the only time I ever dream of being at a university or taking courses is in the context of that typical anxiety dream.

The theory sounds plausible, but to my mind it appears wrong.

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2014, 07:45 PM:

Danny, #55/58: Would you be so kind as to supply some support for the claims you're making about the sources of and reasons for anxiety dreams? When what you're saying goes against the direct personal experience of a number of people, it seems only polite to tell them why they're wrong, not merely that they are.

#66 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 11:39 AM:

I had a recurring anxiety dream in which I was trying to fly from Kingston to New York, but the airport kept elongating, the journey through passport control took forever, and the plane kept changing course.

#67 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 04:35 PM:

I haven't had one of those anxiety dreams, but I did have one in which I, for various reasons including malrouted and non-functional subway trains, was unable to return to work from lunch.

Many years after I had retired, too.

#68 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 07:51 PM:

I have two anxiety dreams;
one is getting a failing grade in a college class because I don't know I am enrolled in it. The other is not knowing where my car is parked.

#69 ::: Lenore Jean Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 09:14 PM:

I used to get a scary dream where I was being chased by malevolent people. Not so much an anxiety as a terror dream. I would keep running, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get away. It was awful.

I finally one night, many years ago now, turned at bay and fought my attackers, and beat them. I've never had the dream since. Thank God.

#70 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 09:43 PM:

I had a couple of different terror dreams, one with a giant snake in a well (which stopped the night I dreamed it died, although I've had the giant snake show up at least once since, as a good guy in the dream) and one where I was crossing an endless series of railroad tracks, all of which had trains coming toward me. That one isn't terrifying any more, but I don't remember why it stopped being terrifying.

#71 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 10:39 PM:

My personal variant of the school test anxiety dream is always high school, never college. No surprises there; I went to a K-12, and had longer and more meaningful associations with those people and that location than I did with where I went to college.

But the other variation is this: It's never a test. It's just me going to class like always... and realizing that I haven't done a stitch of homework since the beginning of the year. No one has noticed yet, but if I want them to keep not noticing, I have to do a hell of a lot of work RIGHT NOW.

There is a semi-related sort of anxiety dream I get, in which I am my current age, and I open a closet door and find a childhood pet. Sometimes it's one I had in real life, like my albino budgie; sometimes one that's entirely fantastical, like a miniature pony. (Well, I know they exist. But *I* never had one.) The pet is healthy, and happy to see me. But discovering it, I realize I must have simply forgotten about it--forgotten to feed it and care for it--for all the intervening years. I feel intense guilt over this, as well as a determination to make up for my neglect.

When the forgotten pet dream occurs, I usually interpret it to mean there's some old and still worthwhile aspiration I've lost track of, maybe a childhood dream, that I can bring back onto my radar. Sort of a more down-to-earth version of Robert Moss's advice about "recovering lost pieces of one's soul."

When the systematically forgotten homework dream occurs, I generally just curse my subconscious for telling me shit I already know. "Oh! Newsflash from dreamland! YOU ARE STRESSED! Gee, thanks brain, I never would have guessed! Did I really need to be stressed out WHILE I'M ASLEEP too? Gahh."

#72 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 11:30 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little:

I've had "done no homework all year" variants of the exam dream, too. I've tried to track the frequency of location of the whole collection of "Missed a class regularly" dreams, be they final exams, ongoing homework (Or ceramics projects), or trying to find my class schedule (For classes where I missed more than half the term) -- and the majority are physically set in my Junior High, or a combination of my Junior High and my final elementary school -- even ones where I *think* I'm in university or high school.

The other thing I keep running into in dreams is works of art I made (Usually big paintings but also sometimes ceramics), often back in school, that I've forgotten in a back drawer, or left unfinished - and they're splendid, or would be if I did that last bit... of course, none of them existed in the real world. And sometimes I wished I remembered them better on waking, to see if they were really any good.

I had the forgotten pet dream once ... except it was a child. I was pregnant with Joseph at the time. I was very glad the little boy was well cared for by the people who'd been meant to babysit him for a day and had him for 3 years, but the guilt remained intense, and the lost connection worse.


But most of my dreams, at least the bits I remember, fall into the category of weird fantasy adventures. Or sometimes horror. There's a reason I can snaffle pieces of plot from them.

Question for all: Am I the only one where the "I" character (Who is sometimes seen from outside, sometimes from inside, but whose interior monologue and thoughts are distinctly mine) is sometimes the wrong gender? Because I'm very cis female, and I still occasionally dream in a male first person.

#73 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 01:15 AM:

I dream I'm a man fairly often, but it's usually a specific man, a character from something I have read or, more often, watched. That is, I dream I'm Luke Skywalker or James Bond or Frodo or whoever. The storylines don't always match up with the source, though.

The ones where I dream I'm Castiel are...weird.

#74 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 07:46 AM:

Lenora Rose @72, I'm het cis female, and although it's quite rare, I do sometimes dream I'm male. I remember I had a dream some time ago where I was trying to figure out how to deal with a very inconvenient erection. (I'm not actually sure if I was entirely male in this dream, or if I was female-but-with-a-penis....)

#75 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Danny Sichel @58: It sounds suspiciously to me like you're challenging my interpretation of my dreams. If so, on what data, pray tell, do you base your challenge? Given that you have direct access to neither my waking experience nor my dreams, and all.

If not—well, I'm not sure just what you're getting at.

#76 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 12:01 PM:

Lenore Jean Jones @69: I would keep running, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get away. ...turned at bay and fought my attackers, and beat them.

Heh. I used to have a nearly directly parallel dream: struggling to fly to get away from malevolent attackers, never being able to gain enough altitude to truly escape. Not infrequently getting tangled up in the power lines* overhead.

Finally one time, I managed to perch on a roof out of their reach. I turned around and yelled, "What do you want?"

Jump-cut: now I'm watching a professor at a blackboard.

No clue what the "lesson" was, but that was the last time I had that dream.

* Grossly obvious metaphor, or what?

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @71: Guh, the neglected pet dream. I've gotten those, too, complete with the overwhelming guilt and resolve to do better. Though not, as I recall, many in recent years.

No, my variant now is that I'm living someplace temporary, and have to wrangle tens of guinea pigs in a space that's not really set up for it.

Again, no huge leap, there.

there's some old and still worthwhile aspiration I've lost track of

Huh. I'm going to have to try that one on for size.... This also suggests that something in the day(s) preceding the dream would have reminded me, if subliminally, of that aspiration.

Lenora Rose @72: sometimes the wrong gender?

I think I do, though no specifics leap to mind at the moment. My actual gender is only rarely germane to the topic of my dream, in any event.

#77 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 12:01 PM:

I once dreamed in the 1990s that the Present was the way some stories of the 1960s expected it to be, with Progress a thing without political or social setbacks. That's why my dream had the Bay Area's Yerba Buena Island now called Good Grass, where 'grass' meant marihuana.

#78 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 12:08 PM:

Lenora Rose: Mostly het cis male, and I sometimes dream I'm female, so it's not all one-sided.

#79 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 01:13 PM:

Lenora Rose @72: I'm sometimes female in dreams; not most of the time, but it's not rare either. However I figure that when I am, it's not the wrong gender, it's because it's the right gender then.

#80 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 06:37 PM:

I've dreamed I was female. The gender swap was nowhere near as remarkable as the plot twist where my plane was hijacked to Mars.

#81 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 07:18 PM:

The one time I dreamed I was male, I was also an otter.

#82 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 09:29 PM:

The one time I can remember dreaming I was male, I was Remus Lupin.

#83 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2014, 02:52 PM:

When I am severely sleep-deprived, my mind often wanders while I am reading, and I will read a paragraph or two of what my subconscious decides should be the next scene. Then I suddenly notice that what I'm reading doesn't actually have any artificial wombs or Regency parlors or inventive cusswords or whatever in it.
I usually perceive the text as audible narration, rather than legible words on the page, but then I usually hear a narrating voice in my head as I read anyway.

#84 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 12:20 AM:

Cassy B. @ 74: I don't think I've ever been that explicitly male, shall we say.

Clifton @ 79: Good point about phrasing. "Wrong gender" is not correct, especially if the reason is indeed narrative awareness.

May Aileen @ 81: This just made me giggle for some reason.


My actual theory why I end up occasionally male is that so much of the narrative we absorb has a male as the protagonist. To the point where at one point I realised that the vast majority of my own main characters were male. (I've come closer to parity since, I think.) And because my dreams are visual oriented, the influence of tv, movies, etc, is stronger than that of books, where my habit of reading more female authors has brought protagonists nearer parity.

It has occasionally been a figure from tv (I recall one dream I had as a teen where I was Robin of Sherwood - in spite of the dream adventure being set in the modern world - though alas, Jason Connery, not the much preferred Michael Praed. But most often it's less of a particular figure and more of an archetype borrowing from them.

#85 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 02:41 AM:

Lenora Rose, #84: I remember meeting a certain mystery writer once and asking her, "Why do you keep killing off young female artists with great talent?" Out of her first 4 books, 3 of them had those commonalities about the victim. She looked a bit embarrassed and said I wasn't the first person to have asked that question, and that she'd worked on balancing the ratios in her later books. I submit that this is another aspect of the thing you mention -- one of the standard tropes for women in media (literary and otherwise) is "victim".

#86 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 12:34 PM:

Crossing threads: does anybody else get convention dreams?

Mine usually focus on my room having moved, or for some reason (because the hotel is labyrinthine, or is going through renovations, frex), I can't find it.

#87 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 02:02 PM:

I've had dreams about being at a convention a few times, but I don't recall any of the details.

#88 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 05:56 PM:

Jacque @86

That's not a dream: you're in the Radisson non-Euclidian at Heathrow airport. (During one Eastercon the occasional sign appeared "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike". No dwarves appeared, probably due to the convention weapons policy.)

#89 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 07:21 PM:

Jacque @86: Yes, I've had those several times. Often as well as being unable to find my room, I've neglected to bring any luggage.

#90 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 08:52 PM:

I've had a few convention dreams, too.

Some of them while awake, like whistling the theme from Raiders while rolling a replica of the Ark of the Covenant through the back corridors of a hotel/convention center for a program item....

#91 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 11:48 PM:

Convention dreams, yes. Just a few nights ago I dreamed I was in a filk room, trying desperately to find a song in my notebook that I wanted to sing. I'd had it, then lost my place, and of course couldn't find it again. Text in my dreams is not so much unreadable as slippery; I can read a bit but never reread. Later in the dream I did manage to start singing something else, but woke up with only fragments that I couldn't hold onto.

Con dreams for me have subtypes - con functions, more often filk than panels; con hotels, usually labyrinthine, sometimes segueing into elevator dreams - if you find yourself in a dream I'm dreaming, beware of elevators; trying to get to the con; trying to get a group to a restaurant.

One of the most complete and coherent dreams I ever had was nominally at Minicon. An alien was one of the guests of honor - vaguely humanoid, but broad, bright pink, and lumpy. I got on an elevator with him/it (the elevator was vaguely nautiloid but did not trap us, shoot out of the building, take us to odd and menacing floors, or plunge to the depths), and we started a conversation. It turned out that while interested in humans, it/he wanted to also contact other Earthlings, and had technology to enable conversations with animals. I ended up basically making a phone call to a fox, a vixen with a litter of pups living near the Roberts Street bridge. We made a deal for me to go pick her up and bring her to the con hotel for a face-to-face visit with the alien, safe return and compensation provided. I think the compensation involve a large bucket of KFC. Since she was a wild animal she didn't have a name; for convenience we referred to her as Roberts the fox. I had to sniff my self as thoroughly as possible while on the phone with her so that she could ID me when I went to get her.

#92 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:53 AM:

Anne Sheller @91: beware of elevators

Heavens, yes! What is up with that? Elevators that are too small. Elevators where the car tilts at strange angles to go around weird curves in all three dimensions. Elevators that are open to the shaft on one side. Or you have to go all the way down to the third sub-basement before you can go back up to your floor....

I'm sure that it Means Something, but I have yet to suss that out.

Roberts the fox

Oh ghods, I love this! And so splendidly StFnal. (And I could totally see that happening at a Minicon.)

Probably the best one I've had in recent memory was when I got the penthouse room, which was actually at ground level and looked out on open prairie fronting up to the foot of the neighboring mountains. The room itself was featureless, except for the hall side, where one found the door and all the amenities, such as closet, bathroom, TV, dresser, and so on. The other three walls were floor-to-ceiling windows. (I can't remember if the prairie grass extended inside as carpet, or not.)

When I came into it (out into it?) for the first time, it was after dark, and the room lights were off. It was a clear night, with the full moon already up. Bright moonlight was spilling in over the king size bed in the middle of the room. Glorious. I need to paint that image.

#93 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 12:54 PM:

I frequently dream of elevators that go up to the top of the building, change direction, go out onto the street and then go horizontally to another building. I'm almost always riding in them with another person, to whom I'm talking. These are probably convention dreams, but it's a separate feeling than dreaming about the convention.

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