Our first undertaking is to ascertain the nature of dream content with precognitive or extrasensory detail. What makes these dreams different from other types? Having examined innumerable such fragments in the past, I’ve discovered their grand inimitability to lay in representational tendencies and the radical use of deep symbolization. More often than not, illustrations are thematically consistent and express a wisdom far beyond the cognitive and personal scope of the respective dreamer. It’s as if the dream mode is deploying an alternative albeit higher system of knowledge in which all things, the nonphysical and physical environments, as regarded as one. There is also an eerie and implied giftedness in the verbalizations and actions of nascent characters, who clearly have a comprehensive understanding of world history, mythology, and a consensus reality soon to manifest in dreamer’s perceptive field.
Let’s proceed with some examples. In the first cycle of precognitive dreams belonging to my experimental subject, the secure wire fencing separating the beach and wooden jetty from the assortment of old buildings and faded signs is clearly a metaphor for the frontier between the physical world of the living and the paraphysical world of the dead, or the afterlife. That same fragment incorporates dripping blood into the dreamscape, alluding to the imminent loss of life. There is a thematic unanimity across the three precognitive segues in the utilization of a beach setting for the emotionally-charged events to evolve. More impressively, my subject’s ethereal dream companion Lucas reminds her that she’s made of “steel” and that he’s always there supporting her. In the world of analogies, physical “steel” translates to inner fortitude, to stoicism, and to the human qualities of stability and indestructibility. The incessant chiding to “remember” his instructions carries with it an integral message about the future, namely to brace herself for a demoralizing calamity on a collision course with her personal sanctuary. Lucas is like a personalized Hermes, relaying encoded messages from a timeless zone that should, in the honest opinion of our Newtonian science, not exist.
In Dunne’s “intrusions” we see more of the same–the surreal triumvirate of dreams are engaging the same background scenery to one degree or another. If we were to accept Dunne’s allegorical interpretation as authentic, then the watercourse sluicing through the terrain and around the foothill isn’t simply a natural phenomenon propelled into existence by an underground spring, a glacier, or a lake–it’s a transitional space, a chrysalis-like state allowing metamorphosis from an embodied mind to a bodiless spirit. In Dunne’s artificial world even semantic language with its preference for literality and specificity runs rife with conceptual multiplicity.
God’s shadow, says the angelic intercessor, is imperceptible because it has no edges. And here I ask you, what else could this be but a cleverly constructed annotation on the sheer incompetence of the human being in processing and comprehending reality as is, without the burden of psychoneural homogeneity or the imposition of socio-cultural conditioning? The angel is gracefully liberating us from culpability by attributing our misperception, or rather our myopic blindness, to what is obviously a flaw in our inherent makeup. For perception of what might be real in the world humans depend heavily on a cognitive process of visuospatial construction based on discrimination. Anything which cannot be quantitatively differentiated from another thing through the agency of a line, a curve, an edge, or some other tangible pointer remains altogether imperceptible. In the second encounter, the angel’s immediate correction of the phrase’s inflection from plural to singular suggests that each individual, regardless of heritage, racial, or social group, is solely responsible for how the game of life might be navigated and for what reforms might be made in the case of tempestuous vicissitudes to ensure victory. The angel’s response also clarifies the nature of the game–it’s different for each person. Representational tendencies of such creative and intelligent scope are never intertwined in the hyperassociative and over-inclusive mentality of ordinary dream fragments.
Even more imperative to the examination of dream content interwoven with precognitive and extrasensory fragments is their overall form. Assessing the nature of their form will depend largely on our ability to determine the precise mental status of ordinary dream consciousness. In successfully decoding the mental conglomerate of the REM-bound state we’ll be able to see precisely how dreams of a higher-order constitution differ; how we might be able to compartmentalize them phenomenologically; and what corresponding brain-based physiological and chemical state might facilitate their expression. As dreamers, we comprehend that suffering absorption into the colourful madhouse of dreams each night isn’t without its shortcomings. There is a precipitous disruption in the orderly equipoise between cognition and emotion experienced unconsciously during wakefulness, shifting internal perception so that it favours the creation of artificial realities. Semantic language, an operation of the left-hemispheric interpreter, is internalized and often implied. The internal transistor restraining our emotional geysers short-circuit, allowing the full spectrum of emotions like joy, bliss, fear, anger, eros, and grief to seize, possess, and overwhelm us completely. More interestingly so, our thoughts become conspicuous and transparent like jelly, allowing dream characters to respond to our objective thought projections without as much as uttering a word.
During REM-mode we remain oblivious to a dreamscape constantly shape-shifting in weird and wonderful ways. The temporary abeyance of an intellect able to superimpose a lifetime accumulation of learned knowledge about the world and its natural laws onto the perceptual field leaves the dreaming self without an analytical anchor; hyper-associativity and over-inclusiveness become the new world order. Hallucinations fuel delusional content and the delusional content is used as a theory of mind to evaluate further hallucinatory episodes, initiating a bidirectional cycle which spins us further and further away from the waking axis of consensus reality. We lose our aptitude to orient to time, space, and person, and become distracted by innumerable visual stimuli competing for our attention. Remnants of self-awareness are unable to break the psychotic spell of bizarre impressions through doubt, and we find ourselves wondering about mazes of our own making without any specific intention or insight. Our credulity is cringe-worthy beyond imagining; everything is now possible. Unbeknownst to us is the fact that our physical bodies are laying complacent in their beds; we don’t know that we’re dreaming. Further, the moral compass within ourselves that confers ethical sensibility and curbs not so socially desirable aspects of our personalities are negated considerably, allowing us to engage in moral transgressions like mindless psychopaths.
Condensing these clinical observations into a succinct yet accurate description we might say that ordinary dream episodes are characterized by several consistent features–severe disorientation; an absorption and distractibility in a dreamscape likely to violate Aristotelian homogeneity; poor memory recall and confabulation; deficits in rational analysis and insight; implied language; visual-motor perceptions with obvious cinematic and surrealistic aspects couched in vivid hallucinations and delusions; and an unobstructed expression of mixed emotions like fear, anger, joy, sadness, remorse, and shame. If we took a long, hard look at the interlocking features of ordinary dreams, the cognitive deficits and enhanced misperceptions, we would see that they’re identical with those of a pathological process like psychosis. As mentioned earlier non-pathological dreaming appears to be a normal psychosis and psychosis a pathological dreaming, or rather a spillage of REM-mode sleep into diurnal conscious awareness. In cases where psychotic episodes are not the result of an organic brain syndrome or structural deficit, the phenomenological homogeneity with dreams suggests that the two processes are simply mental nuances of the same chemical imbalance in the brain–aminergic inhibition and cholinergic excitation.
Now the form of precognitive and extrasensory-aligned dreams differ from their ordinary equivalents in several ways. Firstly we have repossession of our “I” function, the conscious self-awareness which rules our lives by the light of day; once again, we’re able to abscond from the ambient background of fields and move forwards and backwards in time, fixate our attention upon individual features of the dreamscape, orientate ourselves, and make some pretty sound judgements regarding which phenomena are discontinuous and incongruous and which aren’t. There is an exponential growth in the degree of freedom; we may either watch the randomized visual images somersaulting towards us like circus acrobats from a distance like detached, impartial observers or interject and remould the energy environment into visceral landscapes native to our characters or dispositions. Basically we are granted creative control over our inner narratives again, the opportunity to enforce willpower; we’re allowed to make up our own minds instead of having them made-up for us. Wonderful, right? In hindsight we’re no longer like Plato’s prisoners who were forced to sit and observe a shadow-play but creators of the shadow-play itself–acutely aware of the shadow-play, the cave, and what marvels might exist beyond it. What has happened is that the four functional losses in self-awareness, memory, orientation, and attention have been thrown back into the mental mix without any reciprocal change in the effusion of variegated emotion and hallucination.
Brain chemistry plays a fundamental role in this fluctuating dynamic between the conventional REM-bound and the more spectacular lucid REM-bound states. The neurological formula for this is integral and autonomous. Making it big in Hollywood is the stuff of dreams, and dreams themselves cannot manifest in the streams, breaks, and eddies of human consciousness unless the neurotransmitter molecule acetylcholine sets off field potentials by washing over a deep brainstem region called the pons, a visual relay station of the subcortical thalamus named the lateral geniculate nucleus, and the occipital lobe of the visual cortex; when cholinergic excitation and a reciprocal inhibition of the aminergic neurons in the pons becomes the predominant brain state, we become like colourful puppets on interlinking chords and threads, dancing as it were to the inner orchestra of our own unconscious content. A temporary switch from top-down to bottom-up control, from cortical activation to subcortical activation, is fully responsible for the arbitrary loss of cognitive control in our internally generated perceptions.
If, at some point, a visual image with a motor component becomes so flexible as to offer the dreamer a volitional anchor, the cholines (serotonin and norepinephrine) in and around the pons are prematurely called upon to activate the frontal cortex. Once alerted, the cortex thrusts the dreaming body up into a lucid pocket precariously near the shore of wakefulness, and we re-emerge from our anosognosia, our slumber in self-awareness. With top-down processing changing the trajectory of consciousness so that it emulates the waking state, the self can once again recollect the rational, critical, historical, personal, and orienting aspects of itself back into a coherent whole. During the lucid state the aminergic neurons are only on half-throttle, severely restricting the thalamus’s ability to intercept and quash irrelevant and unwanted signals from the environment–the frontal cortex may now be swamped and subsequently disorganized by an aggressive swarm of internal stimuli. One has to honestly wonder if the lack of thalamic inhibition coupled with the cholinergic excitation is what allows nonlocal and quantum data like precognitive and extrasensory elements into the human cortex. Whatever the case, there is a definite neural basis to the shifting relationship between cognition and perception within dream states; it all depends on which way the chemical waves wash, or more precisely which neurotransmitter has the tidal ascendency.
Speaking generally, the ineptitude of quantitative and qualitative methods in satisfactorily assimilating precognitive dreams and other ESP (extrasensory) faculties into a Newtonian paradigm severely resistant to change has led to severe confusion amongst contemporary philosophers and scientists as to what consciousness is and as to how it might be defined. If truth be told, the introspective and subjective nature of conscious states makes scientific objectification impossible; how does a scientist study a higher process with obvious representational tendencies homogenous in the human race when the scientist himself is subordinate to this process, unable to comprehend the whole? Our minds operate within perceptual parameters delineated by psychoneural systems; they are embedded within neuronal substrates that simply don’t lend themselves to self-examination. Evolutionary mechanisms–genetic drift, mutation, and possibly natural selection–have decreed that our continued survival is not contingent on visual perception of natural phenomena standing outside the .00007-.00004cm wavelength of the electromagnetic wave spectrum. For all the brain’s electrochemical supremacy–one hundred billion neurons with each relaying one hundred messages to ten thousand others along connections called synapses–numbers, connections, activity patterns, and computational levels are unable to support perception of a greater body of electromagnetic waves like gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet and infrared light, microwaves, radio waves, long waves, and so forth. Why? The brain-mind is a master of conservation; it simply isn’t needed.
What else might lie beyond the known electromagnetic bandwidths? Our biological limitations make it impossible to say for sure, nonetheless our understanding of human perception as skewed allows a far more accurate definition of consciousness to emerge. Consciousness is, dare I say it, a form of nonphysical energy spreading across infinite wavelengths. Cognitive neuroscientists tell us that language is a localized function whereas memory is spread much more evenly about cortical and subcortical networks in case of localized injury or trauma. The basic pattern emerging is that lower functions like sensory processing are domain specific in the brain while the higher ones demand distributive processing by virtue of their complexity. Extrapolating from our phenomenological knowledge, rationality would decree that transpersonal functionality such as the extrasensory intrusion of precognition, clairvoyance, and other “psi” phenomena are not contained in neural correlates and morphological structures of the physical brain as such, but rather that underlying physical and chemical changes of brain-mind states (i.e. lucid REM-mode, REM-mode, psychosis, wakefulness, non-REM, etc.) may allow information flow from nonconscious wavelengths and ambient fields into the conscious mind of the individual. Put another way, we might choose to regard the brain with its newly evolved prefrontal neocortex as a provisional transfer-and-storage mechanism for consciousness. Sometimes the interplay between chaos and self-organization is conducive to partial and incomplete glimpses of the higher representational process, and sometimes it isn’t.
At this stage, we don’t quite know if telepathic and telegnostic intrusions infiltrate conscious awareness purposely and actively or if they are simply part of a nonconscious continuum beyond discernible frequencies to which the individual brain-mind can access under certain physical and chemical conditions. This in all honesty remains very, very speculative and ambiguous. On the other hand something as clear as the star-studded sky of the nocturnal countryside is that there is a definitive brain-mind state that enables this exchange. Where is it located? It’s an integral state at the farthest boundary of REM-mode, experienced when we’re on the knife’s edge between dreaming and waking. This most lucid and vivid form of consciousness incorporates both internal and external stimuli, and is powered by high metabolic processes with neural activity at near-seizure levels. Acetylcholine washes over the pons in the brainstem, causing the visual brain to hallucinate; the visuo-motor and emotional circuits are buzzing like Luna Park on long weekends; and internal generation of motor programs has jolted aminergic neurons about the pons to switch on the cognitive functions of the frontal cortex so that there is a reinstatement of top-down processing. At this time the thalamus, a limbic system structure on which neurons of the cortex synapse, is only partly activated and cannot intercept unwanted data.
All these changes have precise correspondences on the phenomenological side; the self-aware “I” which judges, plans, and machinates has re-entered the dreamscape and can watch in the guise of detached observer or remould the energy environment in any way it desires. Unlike the normal REM-mode, we become acutely aware of inconsistences and incongruities and find ourselves repossessing our semantic, rational, and analytical faculties. We can orient to place, time, and persons. We know we’re dreaming. Furthermore we reflect emotional and cognitive self of the waking state in its entirety. This is when we’re likely to interact with preternatural entities and unknown figures that have far more knowledge, wisdom, insight, and extrasensory powers than we. The unprecedented disorganization of activity patterns of brain cells in this lucid state somehow enables transmission of information telepathically.