Do minds invent while asleep?
As an occasional whimsy, I’ve long wondered if, while asleep, you can think about things in a somewhat normal way… just that, afterward, you have no way to remember doing so (because your memory functions are shut down). In other words, I wonder if there are times during the night when a brain-scan would say, “Ah, your brain is active, so, you’re dreaming,” when in fact you’re just thinking.
Without the ability to remember, you could think about situations, perhaps, but not remember any of the conclusions you came up with while thinking about the topic. If so, perhaps this could explain why some situations that have been on your mind can inexplicably feel different the next morning, even though no part of it has changed. While thinking in your asleep, since your memory functions would be shut down, maybe your solutions couldn’t be remembered as information, but could build up a stockpile of feelings. The reason for that would be: feelings aren’t an informational memory, so much as they are just a stockpile of a certain type of neuro-something that gives flavor to information…
”A finger ever so gently taps a sleeping baby chicken on the head. It peeps."
^Your brain picks up the information, then douses it in a flavor. So, while thinking in your sleep, what if you could store those flavors, but not the information? (presumably, these flavors could also get neatly tucked away WITH the information you were thinking about, though I’d have no idea how…)
A competing possibility could be that having a flurry of all good dreams, for instance, could be the only thing that causes the next morning’s inexplicable feelings. Still, it wouldn’t explain why the stress associated with some big TOPIC can be dissolved…
SO! With all that said, here’s what recently happened, that blew my mind:
I had a short dream in which all I was doing was saying this Chuck Norris joke, that I’ve never heard, to a person that I can’t remember:
”Chuck Norris doesn’t try to be cool, cool tries to be Chuck Norris.”
Is that weird, or what?!
This suggests to me that, at some point in your sleep – maybe in another dream that you don’t remember, who knows – your brain can sit there and try to come up with things that are as difficult to conjure as jokes (like actual jokes, not humorous remarks)… then relay them to you in a dream, without you knowing that anything is coming.
First, for those who don’t understand Chuck Norris jokes, here’s a quick explanation:
Chuck Norris jokes started on the internet… just simple statements about the awesomeness of Chuck Norris. People say them at random times, just to remind everyone that Chuck is what matters (especially inside online video games, when nothing is going on).
Here are some examples:
“Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless phone.”
“Chuck Norris can cook minute rice in 30 seconds.”
“Death once had a near-Chuck Norris experience.”
Or, in this case: “Chuck Norris doesn’t need writers. He can plant jokes in your dreams.”
In this dream I had, it felt like I was hearing the joke for the very first time, even though I was saying it. I didn’t recognize anything about it in the least, nor have I EVER tried to come up with Chuck Norris jokes in the past, nor have I given them almost any thought. (I run into them here and there on the net, and I briefly wonder what Chuck Norris thinks, but that’s about it)
When I dream, I usually have at least some knowledge that I’m dreaming (it varies from dream to dream), and I was already wondering where that joke came from immediately after saying it. (I’ve wondered on this realm of coming up with stuff in dreams quite a bit already, so, even in the dream, I was quick to catch this) When I woke up, that curiosity turned to amazement.
Let’s dig into this:
What I knew already was that the mind is EXTREMELY good at creating detailed imagery in your dreams… things that an artist would call very difficult, creative designs (so, as an artist, I’m always like, “WHYYYY can’t I think up stuff this good and detailed while I’m AWAKE??”) Everyone’s different in what they think about, resulting in them dreaming about different things… but, for instance, I sometimes dream that I’m composing music – that is, simply hearing it out loud, in full orchestral glory, while guiding the melody – and I marvel the entire time at how incredibly easy it is to do in dreams, whereas it’s so hard while awake. (unfortunately, not all of those melodies remain sounding so good after you wake up. Some do, but others are hilariously lame. For whatever reason, though, ALL of the music I’ve composed in dreams sounded awesome at the time…)
Next, I knew that, even while awake, the mind can visualize some advanced visuals, like people and architecture, in a blink. For example, think about “green” architecture (like places that are solar-powered, bright and full of windows, and have plants on all their ledges) Now, imagine a new, “green” hospital. — Likely, the design you just saw already had windows, with a pretty distinct look, and you didn’t even have to plot them out first. Not to mention an elaborate shape that would take a long time to draw, and pretty advanced features that immediately looked good.
Similarly, you can construct sound without any trouble. Right now, in your head, clearly hear a woman yell, “OPEN THE BOX!!” … It had an exact voice that someone out there actually owns, yet you didn’t have to select it before being able to hear it.
With things like visuals and sounds, it seems that the mind has a series of saved patterns – like shirts in a closet – that it pulls down, and near-instantly hashes together, in order to help you imagine things on the fly. But jokes…
Jokes that have a complex structure (as opposed to jokes that are humorous remarks), don’t come with a library of pre-programmed shortcuts to help you out. A finished one-line joke may look pretty simple on paper, but then try to make one up. They can be pretty difficult to put together. Try to think up a Chuck Norris joke…
What you’ll realize is that it’s like putting together this puzzle:
It’s like having a whole floor covered with all differently shaped wooden pieces – your mental library of ideas – and you have to find some that end up fitting perfectly into this square holder thing.
Ultimately, I’d like to know this: WHY, WITHOUT MY CONSENT, DID MY BRAIN TAKE THE TIME TO COME UP WITH A CHUCK NORRIS JOKE??? WHY DOES IT NOT SPEND THIS TIME FIGURING OUT SOMETHING IMPORTANT???
If someone knows how to get your brain to think about what you WANT while you’re asleep-but-not-dreaming, let me know. I’m to the point of being able to control a few scattered dreams here and there (at least among the ones I remember, obviously), and I’m aware that I’m dreaming in about 80% of them now, but the implications of being able to move some of your awake creative-time to dreams is pretty awesome.
(Note: I first saw my UT2004 dust-storm map in a dream… and, understandably, I called it Dreamus.)