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HOME > Science Fiction > The psychology of sleep > CHAPTER XX “PERCHANCE TO DREAM”
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 We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” as Shakespeare says, and yet no one even to this day knows what that “stuff” may be. We separate man’s life into intellect, feeling, will; or, like the Hindoos, into seven phases; we these, recognizing special powers and functions belonging to each; we man’s frame; we dissolve his body into its parts, and yet, when all is done, we know as little about life, the essence of man, as our father Adam knew. As Omar says, we hear “much talk about it and about” and yet we get nowhere. It is much the same with dreams. We need, therefore, only summarize and review the talk.  
Dreams occupied their most important place in the thought of man at its beginning. His action has frequently been directed by a dream and the fate of nations has hinged upon its . Even in the present day of matter-of-fact science, at some time in his life following the racial , almost every human being has paid some attention to his dreams. The superstitious—which includes the most of us—still put faith in their dreams, though they know not whence they come, nor their relation to the most mutable of physical conditions. And this though ages ago Sirach uttered this warning, “Dreams deceive many and fail those who build upon them.” Scientific has made known many of the causes of dreams and shown us what slight incidents may determine their direction. For instance, dreams involving hearing often take their rise in noises made by the processes going on in the body. What we eat and the state of our greatly affect the character of our dreams.
This has long been recognized by those who try to decipher special significance in dreams. Twenty-five centuries ago Pythagoras believed that the gas-generating beans destroyed the chance of having enlightening or important dreams, and so forbade their use. In similar fashion interpreters of dreams were warned by Artemidorus to inquire first whether the dreamer had eaten or lightly before falling asleep; while Philostratus maintained that skillful interpreters always refused to dreams following the use of wine.
Thus we see that even in ancient times the relation between eating and sleeping was recognized. In more modern days it is recorded that poets and writers had visions from eating raw flesh, while Mrs. Radcliffe, author of “The Mysteries of Udolpho,” is said to have induced dream by supping late on indigestible food as a means of getting “printer’s copy.” De Quincey’s “Confessions” is a monument to the beauty and the horror of the dreams from drugs. There is also reason to think that the terrors of tremens are true dreams. John B. Gough described from fearful experience the agony of seeing and feeling that which is dreadful, mainly because the sufferer knows that it, nevertheless, does not exist and could not exist. This can be explained, in our present state of knowledge, only by the supposition that the mind, uncorrected and unrestrained by the senses, alone is awake. Boris Sidis shows that we have no waking remembrance of many of our dreams, even of most ones.
It is probable that perfect sleep is undisturbed by dreams, pleasant or otherwise. Dreams are an evidence of the semi-conscious condition of some of the senses; the objective mind is no longer in control, but is passive, and the mind is active. Yet while dreaming, the objective mind is not so completely unconscious (as it would be if wrapped in profound slumber) but that it gets glimpses of the workings of the subjective mind, often very distorted glimpses. This frequently leads to horrible or impossible situations in dreams.
It is an interesting question how far we are responsible for our dreams. It is true in dreams, as in waking, that from the same sensations individuals will evolve different results, just as nasturtiums, drawing from the same soil, will put blossoms of different color and odor. The factor that changes these same elements into different results is something inhe............
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