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Sat, Aug 18, 2001 12:23AM -0600

Some random details about last night's visions. Naturally, some things have been forgotten or deliberately omitted. I don't want any of you calling the psychiatric ward on me.

Now, being a rational guy, I know dreams don't mean anything. They are just random barrages of neurons firing which sometimes manage to activate parts of your occipital cortex, where all your visual system wiring is. Your cerebral cortex has no choice but to try to make sense of this madness, and so when you wake up, you've got a more-or-less coherent story. Pure illusion. The mind is an awesome thing.

Then again, this is not to say that there isn't some significance to the images that get awakened. What that significance is, no real scientist has been willing to risk their career trying to figure out, but there are two theories that have happened to stick in my head:

One, dreams are the side effect of sorting and transporting memories from your hippocampus (short-term memory) to various parts of your cerebral cortex (where long-term memory is stored in various cubbyholes and niches), through the fornix and various thalamic relays, either incidentally or deliberately lighting up your visual cortex. So the images may or may not be related to your most recent thoughts. It's all in the wiring.

Two (as expounded by Sir Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA), dreams are an "unlearning" process. Ideas that are deemed unusable or detrimental by the brain are extricated, accidentally lighting up your visual cortex on their way out.

So, what it comes down to is this: are dreams about thoughts that are supposed to be remembered, or about thoughts that are supposed to be forgotten? To put it another way, are dreams about things you want to come true, or about things that you don't want to come true?

And if you believe in a fatalistic, deterministic universe (which, in true quantum mechanical fashion, sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't), then what it could mean is this: are dreams things that are going to come true, or things that are definitely not going to come true?

Let's just say that I had some pretty intense dreams last night. Not XXX graphic or anything like that (get your mind out of the gutter). But the emotions I experienced in them felt like they were going to make my heart burst. And when I woke, I felt a bit sad and forlorn, because it hit me that it was just a dream.

But like I said, dreams don't mean anything. Maybe. I don't know.

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