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42 Boxes

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“There is a certain embarrassment about being a storyteller in these times when stories are considered not quite as satisfying as statements, and statements not quite as satisfying as statistics, but in the long run, a people is known, not by its statements or its statistics, but by the stories it tells.”–Flannery O’Connor

Our man Ken Arneson has a thoughtful and intriguing post over at his site. It’s involved and absolutely rewarding.

[Image Via: Toile in the Family]

Categories:  1: Featured  Creative Process

Tags:  42 boxes  ken arneson

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1 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 25, 2015 11:47 am

Anything I say here at this moment will not even begin to justify having said it, as there is so much to take away from this stream. Maybe it's an irrational or unjust need to be a part of it in some way. At any rate, thank you for this, Ken.

I heard or read somewhere that an epic dream can wholly take place within the last fifteen minutes before a person wakes up. Your piece seems to articulate that thought, whether on purpose or not. I think the entirety of human existence is an example of that as well. I have a tendency to distinguish my dream self from my waking self and wonder which is the truth (I haven't decided); to wonder if the principle of infinite parallel universes is fact or fiction would likely depend on the answer to that question. Then the next question would be if irrationality and coincidence actually exists. Maybe I don't want to know and maybe I do (a thought my brother put forth when discussing the idea of exploring our convoluted family heritage). Is it so simple we dismiss it out of hand because of our vulnerabilities?

Thank you again, Ken, for allowing me to be an empty glass for the moment.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 25, 2015 3:32 pm

2) Beautiful, Will.

3 Ken Arneson   ~  Feb 26, 2015 1:18 am

Will, your paragraph there reminds me of the quote by Dumbledore from Harry Potter: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

I know that a lot of spiritual traditions make a big deal about dreams as some sort of mystical connection to the divine, because it kinda fits into the category of things that seem impossible to explain. But I don't really buy into that.

There's growing evidence that dreams are just a side effect of the process of memory consolidation in the brain. So in the end it's just one of those things that are (as yet) unknown, but not unknowable. Eventually we will scientifically understand dreams the way we understand why the sun rises in the east.

4 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Feb 26, 2015 3:01 am

"Eventually we will scientifically understand dreams the way we understand why the sun rises in the east."

Not sure I agree with you there, Ken. We may understand the physical processes of how dreams occure, but knowing why we dream what we do is going to remain a mystery, isn't it?

I for one love the mystery of it all, just like I do in baseball.. :)

5 The Mick536   ~  Feb 26, 2015 9:14 am

So overwhelmed, I don't have the creative energy to say anything smart. You satisfied my daily need to THINK about something. Now, I just have to create something.


6 RIYank   ~  Feb 26, 2015 10:12 am

[4] William Dement, who is probably the world's foremost sleep scientist, has been working on questions like this for maybe 60 years. When he's asked, "Why do we sleep?", his answer is, "Because we get really sleepy."

I think eventually we will know the answer, but not yet.

7 Ken Arneson   ~  Feb 26, 2015 12:01 pm

[4] Depends on how detailed you want to know why we dream what we dream, I guess.

We already know that most dreams involve memories that have been triggered in roughly the past week. You can usually remember what you did today and yesterday pretty well, but once you go back further than a week, it's hard, because your brain discards those memories. It's like your brain keeps those memories around for about a week, and then decides, well, I guess I'm not going to need that memory anymore, and gets rid of it. That discarding process happens during sleep.

As the brain keeps or discards new memories (and connections to older memories) over that week or so during sleep, those memories and connections are triggered, making you feel like you are experiencing them. So if you really wanted to understand why you dreamed one particular thing, you can usually trace the trigger to that dream back to something that happened in the past week.

Now if you want to get into precise detail why you dreamed a specific dream, that sounds hard, because we don't have the technology right now to map specific individual memory cells in the brain, without killing you first to dissect your brain. And even if we could, to copy the data from a map of the brain into a computer is still too expensive to be practical. But I wouldn't rule out that such a technology could exist and be affordable in the future. That's why I say it's unknown, but not unknowable.

8 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2015 12:07 pm

[3] I don't think it's impossible to begin to explain, but to what end? Is it fair or unfair to apply ethics to this?

[6] And the question remains, is that something we really want to know? Einstein had his regrets, I can imagine what would happen if we began to harness that kind of energy (Dreamscape a likely possibility). I'm sure that's the cynic talking, so I apologize.

9 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2015 12:15 pm

[7] Hmm. But what about childhood memories beyond what we've retained by photographs or videos or even momentos and heirlooms and such? And that doesn't even take into consideration things that never actually happened or glimpses of subconscious activity. I've had dreams about people I haven't seen in years or seeing or being things I've never had a notion to see or do, or even about things that don't necessarily exist (vampire superheroes in the military being chased by Terminator-style flying drones for example.) And where does lucid dreaming fit into this?

10 RIYank   ~  Feb 26, 2015 1:29 pm

[8] I want to know.
I can't help it.

11 Ken Arneson   ~  Feb 26, 2015 5:33 pm

[9] Well, again, I don't know, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to know.

Synesthesia is one of those weird brain things that sheds a bit of light on this. Some people have some strange cross-connections in their brains. Often it's with letters/numbers and colors, like the number three is always red to them. Turns out that letters/numbers and colors are stored in adjacent areas of the brain, and so it's not totally uncommon for them to get cross-wired.

I have one strange thing in my brain that I think is synesthesia: sneezes to me smell like wet cedar. Often when I sneeze, I experience a smell of wet cedar. For years, I just thought it was a weird sinus quirk of mine, that my snot somehow smelled like wet cedar. Then one day, my daughter sneezed on the other side of the room, and I immediately smelled wet cedar. There was no way I could actually smell the stuff coming out of her nose, I was too far away. This was all in my head.

So somewhere in my brain, there's a strange cross-connection between sneezes and the smell of wet cedar. And if you trigger the memory of a sneeze, it also triggers the memory of the smell of wet cedar.

I don't know how that strange cross-connection was formed. Maybe I sneezed in a sauna one time, I don't know.

Or maybe it's just one of the side-effects of a buggy dream, where the rewiring process went wrong. Maybe our brains, in the process of trying to decide whether to keep or discard a memory, try out a bunch of semi-random connections to see if any of them are useful. And sometimes, a non-useful one sticks.

12 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2015 5:49 pm

[11] That makes a lot of sense to me; I'm a prime candidate for faulty wiring >;)

13 RIYank   ~  Feb 26, 2015 9:18 pm

And soon, mechanically, weary after a dismal day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the madeleine. No sooner had the warm liquid, mixed with the crumbs, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent on the extraordinary changes that were taking place in me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin.

14 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 27, 2015 10:39 am

13) Nice!

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