A Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke
Dream Science Excerpts
Dangerous Dreams, Version 1
Excerpts from Chapter 5
She threw her notepad across the room like a Frisbee then stood and walked to the bookshelf. After scanning the titles, she removed a book, opened it to the table of contents, and ran her finger down the list of chapters. Nope. She put it back, withdrew another, same result, then another. “Yes!” She opened it to the chapter entitled “Dreams.” Haven’t looked at this one since freshman year. She walked to the desk, sat, opened the book, started reading in the middle of a paragraph.
First, we don’t usually ask for dreams to happen; they do so on their own during specific sleep periods. And when they occur, they include feelings, emotions, landscapes, people, strange images, and more—some bizarre and some almost orderly. Though dreams have been with us since mankind’s beginning, relatively little is known for certain about why they happen and what they mean. Indeed, throughout history, dreams have never failed to stimulate great curiosity, conjecture as to their meaning and interpretation, and sometimes even dire reactions.
She opened a new Word file, read and typed for a half hour, then sat back, closed her eyes—saw the dead man lying in the sand, bloodied, motionless, alone. Her eyes flicked open; she shook her head to exorcise the vision then quickly refocused on the notes.
My paraphrased comments
- Dream during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep
- Periods—10 minutes to 1 hour
- Remember more if wake during REM
- Alternate between Non-REM (NREM) sleep and REM sleep
- Fall asleep—descend through 4 stages of NREM sleep
- After an hour, back up through 4 NREM stages
- 1st REM sleep after 90 minutes, short dream period
- Back down through NREM, stay awhile, back up to REM, dream and repeat cycle—each REM period longer
- 4 or 5 REMs per night, sleep 8 hours, dream 2 hours
- Things that happen when dreaming—brain activity picks up, heartbeat and breathing become erratic, muscles tend to change tone, and genitals experience a surge in blood flow, which prompts enlargement.
She thought about Erik for a second. Focus, Allie. Hmm, wonder how you remember stuff from an early REM when you can’t even remember the last REM very long? She snickered. But I remember all the REMs and for as long as anything I remember in real life. She snickered again. Now I can’t forget my dreams. Keep coming back—people sitting on the beach in the fog, yelling at each other, finding the dead men, building the fort, houses, conversations, Indians, crabbing . . . crabbing . . . killing . . . feelings. The nausea hit her again like a shock from a cattle prod. His head, arrows . . . my God.
She looked back at the notes.
- Dreams—connected to the unconscious
- Normal & ordinary, also surreal & bizarre
Hmm . . . surreal and bizarre. She shook her head. Not mine.
- Scary, exciting, mystical, depressing, adventurous, sexual
Scary, yes . . . more like terrifying . . . adventurous too, but not sexual, at least not yet.
- Content beyond dreamer control, except for “lucid” dreaming, when dreamer aware of dream while dreaming
I’ve had those. Knew I was dreaming, told the dream what I wanted to see, and it happened. Keep moving, Allie.
- History – Freud—dreams represent unconscious desires, thoughts, and stimulations
- Thought repressed feelings and instincts manifested themselves in dreams
No way. No repression here. I’ve never even thought about the stuff in these dreams. But they started right after the fight with Erik. Maybe I want him more than I know, and I’ve repressed it, and it somehow shows itself in the dreams. She pondered the possibility for a moment. Nah! Too big a stretch. I’m dreaming some kind of random history, nothing to do with Erik . . . hate history . . . boring . . . but the dreams aren’t boring. Maybe the fight was a trigger, started the whole thing off. Think about that. Am I suppressing history because it bores me? If so, why this history? And how the hell can I suppress something I’ve never seen or heard of before?
Allie typed dreams into the search box of the library website, scanned the list—too many to count. She printed it out, headed for the library.
A half hour later, Allie pulled Dreamlife by Rufus Goodwin from the shelf and read that in the 19th and 20th centuries, Freud had not had the means to scientifically verify his theories as could be done today. Thus, though some still subscribed to his theories, they remained only theories and had been largely superseded by more modern concepts. One such modern theorist was a prominent scientist named Allan Hobson, a Harvard professor of psychiatry and director of the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. Nice credentials, she thought. She found Hobson’s book, The Dreaming Brain, on her list, marked it for a full read. Oughta be good. She then read Goodwin’s summary of Hobson’s views on her laptop and logged her interpretation of them in her notes.
- Lots of stimuli when awake—make “brain-mind” outwardly focused
- Scant stimuli when dreaming—“brain-mind” inwardly focused, but with similar level of activity
Wow! Didn’t know that.
- Dreams not from mysterious sources—but from auto-actuation of brain in REM sleep
So the mind, or the brain-mind as he calls it, is just as active when you’re dreaming as it is when you’re awake, but it looks outward when you’re awake and inward when you’re asleep. Interesting. And he says dreams don’t come from a bunch of external stimuli, but from somewhere inside . . . inside the brain-mind, whatever it is. Of itself, this doesn’t seem to preclude Freud’s sexual repression theory, but I take Goodwin’s tone as suggesting that Freud isn’t very credible anymore. Lots more to learn here.
- Goodwin says,“. . . summation of two hundred years of advances in physiology, neurophysiology, and psychology”
Physiology and neurophysiology. Now there’s my science. Physiology of the body and the nervous system. And it’s in the same breath as psychology. Love it!
- Goodwin says we measure dream activity with:
- Polygraphs—breathing rate, pulse, blood pressure, perspiration
- Electroencephalograms—brain activity
- Electrocardiograms—heart activity
- Electromyograms—muscle electrical stimulation
- Electrocardiograms—electrical activity in nerve cells at the back of the retina—gateway to the brain
- Electrooculograms—potential that exists between the cornea and Bruch’s membrane at the back of the eye
“That about covers it. Neat stuff . . . exactly what I want to do. With all that hardware you’d think they could nail it all down. But they’d have to correlate the readings with the dream events, and that’s the fresh cow pie you just stepped in, Allie: people can’t remember the details of their dreams very well, and what they do remember is fleeting. So they can’t do a very good job of correlating dream events with the data.” Allie felt like she was being watched, looked up, saw three people staring at her. She smiled abashedly at them as she realized she’d been talking out loud. “Sorry. Got a little excited.” She resumed reading and summarizing.
- Freud—“experiences” are the roots of our dreams
But how could my dreams come from experiences? They have nothing to do with me or my experiences. Maybe someone else’s? Hmm. She added whose experiences? to her notes then read on.
- Bulkeley (other author referenced by Goodwin)—just because contemporary science can’t conceive of something doesn’t mean dreams can’t do so
Now that’s a powerful statement. Don’t limit your thinking just because the science isn’t here yet. Right on.
- “Other-dimension” dreams are a good example—dreams of unimaginable:
- “Strange and beautiful” things
Wow. That’s me. Weird stuff out of nowhere.
- Hard to refute due to “other dimension” dreams by credible people throughout history
- Aldous Huxley
No kidding! At least I’m in good company. Better check Bulkeley out. She retrieved and opened An Introduction to the Psychology of Dreaming by Kelly Bulkeley; skimmed the first two chapters, the second of which was on Freud; then opened to chapter three, entitled “C.G. Jung Descends into the Collective Unconscious,” and read that Bulkeley considered Freud and Jung the predominant dream theorists of the twentieth century. But, Allie noted, predominant doesn’t mean right. She also noted that Freud and Jung had been friends but eventually suffered a theoretical split. She interpreted Bulkeley’s description of their theoretical divergence to be that Jung believed dreams were an open presentation of the dreamer’s inner self, while Freud believed dreams had hidden meanings to the extent that dreams differ from the material that stimulates them. However, Allie observed, they agreed that a dreamer’s past has a lot to do with what he dreams. Experiences again, she thought, but that’s definitely not me. She further paraphrased that:
- Jung believed that while dreams reveal stimuli from the dreamer’s unconscious, they also present material that exceeds the bounds of the dreamer’s own experiences.
Wow! Here we go!
- There’s more than an individual’s personal history (which is contained in their “personal unconscious”).
- There’s also a “collective unconscious” that ties us all to the entire development of humankind from the beginning of its existence.
- “Memories and experiences” are the instruments of connection to the personal and collective unconscious.
Now that’s cool! She reread the second entry: ties us all to the entire development of humankind from the beginning of its existence. History again . . . personal and collective unconscious . . . memories and experiences . . . says we can connect to the history of our ancestors. What does that mean? She wrote, Jung—learn more, understand, important.
- Dreams try to be candid and truthful.
- Try to accurately interpret the background material and present it forthrightly
- The driving force of dreams often comes from somewhere beyond the dreamer’s own life and experiences.
Sounds like the collective unconscious again. She closed her eyes, contemplated what she’d read. So he’s theorizing that maybe one person’s psyche, or personal unconscious, connects with other people’s unconsciouses, somewhere beyond the bounds of the person’s own memories and experiences, a.k.a. the collective unconscious. So when I’m dreaming in REM sleep, my unconscious connects to the collective unconscious and pulls thoughts or experiences from it into my personal unconscious, where I dream about them in some kind of format. But which thoughts does it pull in? And why those particular thoughts? How does it choose? And how does my personal unconscious know where to look in the collective unconscious? Wow. This is fun. I could think about it all day, and the best part is nobody really knows the answers for sure—all theory, wide open.
As Allie flipped to another page, her cell phone vibrated on the tabletop. It was her advisor; she had an unexpected opening; could Allie be there at 5:00 p.m. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll be there. Thanks for working me in, and again, I apologize for missing this morning.” Great! What am I gonna show her? This oughta be good.
On the way to her meeting, Allie’s mind wasn’t on her dissertation. It was on the list of dream definitions she’d interpreted, paraphrased, and summarized from Goodwin’s book before leaving the library. She memorized it as she walked, wondering how she might use it to persuade her advisor to introduce her to a faculty member who knew something about dreams. She glanced at her watch—plenty of time—then sat down on the grass under a shady cottonwood tree. Nice grass, like that girl in the dreams sat on . . . she’s sure pretty . . . see her in my mind. She unfolded the notes, read down the column, penning parenthetical comments as she went.
- “Image” = how clear the dream images are (very)
- “Scenario” = plot (well defined)
- “Features” = characteristics (very real)
- “Intensity” = strength of dreamer’s evoked feelings (strong, like real life)
- Vividness = sharpness, brightness, amount of color, detail (all very real)
- “Places” = where it happens (real or movielike)
- “Persons” = who’s in the dream (all unknown; but remember faces, what they said and thought, have smell & taste)
- “Dialogue” = script (understand languages I don’t know, full paragraphs, remember most)
- “Lucid” = dreamer knows they’re dreaming (had these before)—proven (not sure if current dreams are lucid)
- “Mutual” (“Lucid Dreaming,” by Waggoner) = dream experienced by multiple people (scientifically proven)
- “Dreamlight” =amount of light or brightness (like real life)
- “Dreamtime” = pace of a dream (normal when dreaming, quicker time between dreams)
- “Frequency” = how often dreams occur (multiple REMs, over days—so far)
- Several types of dreams
- “Somatic” = related to the body = brought on by sleeping on arm or too hot (no)
- “Sensory” = stimulated by senses picking up external events (no)
- “Synchronicity” = coincidental with some occurrence in the external world (no, at least not a current event)
- “Revelatory” or “prophetic” = reveal something or foresee something (History?? Maybe)
Damn, these are good, should make sense to an expert . . . better type in my comments when I get home. She stood, proceeded toward the psychology building at a brisk pace fueled by her new knowledge and the fact that someone, somewhere had thought about dreams and might be able to understand what was going on in her head . . . her brain-mind as Hobson called it.
Excerpts from Chapter 7
She then surveyed her collection of dream-related library books, which included An Introduction to the Psychology of Dreaming by Bulkeley, The Dreaming Brain by Hobson, Dreamlife by Goodwin, Lucid Dreaming by Waggoner, and The Presence of the Past and Morphic Resonance by Sheldrake. She had no idea why she’d picked any particular title or even what some of them meant; but they’d all come up in her search, along with myriad others, and she’d randomly selected these to review. Since she’d already started Bulkeley’s book, she decided to pick up there and take a more detailed look.
Three hours later, Allie leaned back from the computer, read through the notes she’d made. She’d put an asterisk by comments that seemed particularly pertinent to her dreams; and she now focused on those notes, pausing after each to analyze how they might connect with her dream characteristics.
- *“Psychology of Dreaming”—Bulkeley—summarizes other dream theorists
- Some of what’s in our dream comes from ancestors.
- The scope of the unconscious greatly exceeds the limits of our own lives.
Now that’s interesting because my dreams have zero to do with my personal life; and this basically says some content can be inherited, and that the contents of the unconscious go way beyond what’s happened to us in our lives. Inherited . . . unconscious. Next to the entry she penned, “how, from who, why?”
- Hobson—“reciprocal-interaction” theory
- “Groups of neurons” vie with each other continuously—result is our repeating “cycles” of wake-sleep-dream.
- The periodic dominance of one group of neurons over the others causes the cycles.
Reciprocal basically means return-in-kind; so this would mean that the dominance of various neuron populations ebbs and flows, and whichever one’s dominant at a given moment determines which cycle you’re in—awake, sleeping and dreaming, or sleeping and not dreaming. Pretty logical.
- Process happens automatically and in a repetitious manner—inherent in our physiology.
Well, that’s interesting, too. Physiology and neurology interacting. Makes intuitive sense. Second time I’ve seen that. She looked back at her earlier notes. Yeah, it was Goodwin. Starting to sound like the psychology-science connection I’ve been looking for.
- Hobson—“activation-synthesis” theory
- After reciprocal interaction stimulates REM sleep, more-sophisticated processes in the brain integrate arbitrary input data into dreams.
- Dreams visual because during REM certain of the brain’s “neuronal processes” activate vision receptors.
- Dreams emotional because brain’s emotional elements are randomly stimulated.
- Mind reacts by trying to generate sensible stories via integration of available inputs (pictures and tales).
- After reciprocal interaction stimulates REM sleep, more-sophisticated processes in the brain integrate arbitrary input data into dreams.
So it’s all about groups of neurons competing with one another to determine the stage we’re in and then activating various receptors and systems—and feelings, too—in the brain to produce dreams. But all this is just as unproven as Freud’s stuff. Still . . .
- We dream about things we’ve encountered when awake, such as things, personalities, and situations.
- The things we hope for and are afraid of in dreams do not differ from those we experience when awake.
Nope, not me. Not with these dreams, anyway.
- A succession of dreams is easier to interpret than a single dream.
Makes sense. And I’m watching a whole story, about people I don’t know; but I feel strangely close to the girl, and it’s all unfolding in chronological sequence. And I’m certainly not seeing anything that requires interpretation. These dreams have no meaning at all—just stories with no relation to me. Makes me wonder why all these guys keep looking for hidden meanings, like Freud. Why does there have to be hidden meaning . . . or any meaning at all? Maybe some dreams just happen and tell a simple story—without deep, dark repressions or unpleasant happenings from someone’s past . . . but why so many times? Why these people? Why me? But maybe there is meaning, and maybe that’s where the answer is.
- Dreams not crazy, spurious things. On the contrary, they’re quite organized.
Mine sure are.
- Since dreams appear to incorporate recollections from our near- and far-term experiences, they might assist us in recalling and blending certain types of memory.
Hmm. She reread the statement. So, what if my dreams are from something stashed away in the deep recesses of my memory rather than being something I’ve repressed? But how would they have gotten there? I’ve never, ever seen or read anything like what’s in these dreams. And what would have caused them to surface? Crazy. But wait a minute. She looked back at the top of the page to Jung’s theory.
- Some of what’s in our dream comes from ancestors.
- The scope of the unconscious greatly exceeds the limits of our own lives.
Wonder if there’s a connection between Jung’s and Foulkes’ theories. She looked at her notes on Jung—comes from ancestors—exceeds the limits of our own lives, then Foulkes—near- and far-term experiences. She penned a note: “What are his far-term experiences? How far is far-term? Is it far enough to be ancestral?” Now that’s really something to think about.
- Sleep lab subjects seem to have greater “dream recall.”
- Stress appears to increase dream recall.
- People with better imaginations & enhanced capability to visualize and create when awake seem to have better recall.
Don’t know about labs, but the other two sure fit; and this is my stress connection for the dissertation: if someone is stressed from something, they should have greater dream recall, which means we should be able to analyze their dreams more easily and accurately, figure out how they relate to their particular stress generator, and finally, use that knowledge to develop a coping strategy that helps them. “Yes! Good job, O’Shay!” She reached around and patted herself on the shoulder. I think you’re onto something, kiddo. She looked away from the desk, let her mind run for a moment. But why am I having these dreams? Well . . . they did start right after the fight with Erik—an unqualified stressful event, but—her heart suddenly accelerated; a warm glow tickled the back of her head and neck. Haven’t thought of him today, wonder how he’s doing. Really want to see him, but . . . but better give it more time. She looked at her watch. Time for one last look.
- *“Morphic Resonance”—Sheldrake
- “Formative causation” proposes that “nature is habitual”—creatures and things of a species both take from and give to a “collective memory of their species.”
Wow. Collective memory of their species. Hmm. There it is again. She penned, “like Jung’s collective unconscious?” And memory, like Foulkes said. Could all of our memories be floating around out there somewhere in a collective memory of our species? If they’re out in space somewhere, I have the same question I had with Jung’s collective unconscious: how do we access specific things? And what happens to our memories when we die? Do they go with us, or do they stay in the collective memory? I think Sheldrake’s saying they stay in the collective. She shook her head several times. Starting to hurt. Last one.
- “Memory is inherent in nature”—communicated via “morphic resonance,” which uses “morphic fields” to do so.
So morphic fields, whatever they are, transmit memory. Another memory connection; but damn it, I’ve never seen the stuff I’m dreaming before. Never, never, never! So how could it be in my memory . . . but what about someone else’s memory . . . that I have access to? Wow! She looked at her watch. Whoops! Gotta go.
Excerpts from Chapter 13
Allie spoke in a flat tone. “So as always, it was like a TV serial and ended at a dramatic, scary moment and left me hanging. Why in the hell does it always do that? Pisses me off.”
Dressler stopped writing, looked up at Allie, smiled. “Well, that’s how it always seems to go with us cowardly humans. When stuff gets scary and we’re about to die, we instinctively wake up to preclude our demise.”
“Hmm. Well, Emily keeps managing to stay alive, but things are really turning to shit. So let me ask you this. I know I’m a lucid dreamer, but I haven’t tried to make anything happen in the dreams, which lucid dreamers are supposed to be able to do . . . and which I’ve actually done a few times with normal dreams. Do you think I could change anything . . . like maybe command her to escape from a situation where she’s about to die?”
“Won’t know until you try it; but don’t forget there’s an old time-travel adage: you can’t change history. And if you’re dreaming real history, the same may hold true for your dreams.”
Allie frowned, looked away. “Well, as I told you, my mom says my Great-Great-Grandma Ian knew for sure the dreams were true, and this morning she told me that Ian also knew for certain they were of our family’s ancestors. How about that?”
Dressler’s eyes squeezed into a tight, academic squint; he nodded slowly several times. “Does she know how Ian knew?”
“Nay . . . damn it.” She slapped herself mockingly on the cheek. “There I go again—second time today I’ve talked like them. Getting spooky. No, she doesn’t know, but she says Ian was absolutely certain.” She handed him a piece of paper. “Here. Take a look at this. Just found it on the net this morning.”
He scanned the sheet. “Very intriguing. I actually read this study, and it made great sense to me . . . even before I met you. But now it makes a hell of a lot of sense.”
“So if it really works that way, and we assume Emily’s my ancestor—possibly my Many-Great-Grandmother, as I call her—and I have her genes and DNA, and she’s my channel to the collective unconscious where all this history is stored, how can I see and feel things that other people besides Emily see and feel and say when Emily’s not there? And how can I understand the Indians? And why are there apparently just a few of us in the history of the world with this gift, and why are we women, and why does it skip generations?”
He smiled. “Don’t know yet. I haven’t considered it all together in context . . . but I do have some preliminary thoughts.”
Allie’s eyes widened, enlivened as she leaned toward him. God, let him figure it out. “Hit me, Doc.”
“Well, I’ve started working my way back through my library and—oh, by the way, you might want to read some of my books . . . could possibly stimulate a few thoughts that haven’t occurred to either of us . . . so I’ll give you the list. So, for starters, a guy named Waggoner suggests that lucid dreaming connects us with our unconscious at greater depth and breadth; and I think you’re seeing that, for sure . . . at least the immensity part. Then in the book Healing Dreams”—he glanced at the cover—“Barasch suggested—and I’m paraphrasing—that maybe we should examine dreams less symbolically and more as an anthology of ‘stories’—stories that can exceed the limitations of ‘time & space’ . . . time and space . . .” He glanced at her. “That would be your dreams, Allie. He also talks about dreams being well-crafted, meaningful tales full of vivid realism and senses, emotion, movie-like scripting and characters, and the twists and turns of real life—all of which rise above the personal realm and tend to hover in our memories. He says lots of other stuff, too; but one you’ll appreciate is that the psychoanalytic idea that dreams have to do only with the dreamer’s life is a joke to native people . . . like the Indians, who’ve always had visions and vision quests as an integral part of their cultural and spiritual existence.”
He flipped to the next page. “Then, get this, even Jung wondered how the collecting house of experiences and memories passes from generation to generation. So whose experiences and memories—essentially their pasts—was he talking about? Well, he was probably talking about their personal pasts; but I think, per your article, a person’s personal past might include their ancestors’ pasts, which means Emily’s experiences, feelings—everything in her memory and unconscious—are now part of your past, whether it’s accessed in the collective unconscious or carried in your genes and DNA, or some combination of both.” He paused for a breath. “You know, to avoid confusion in our future discussions let’s say that memory and the unconscious are functionally one and the same, regardless of where they reside. So from now on, we’ll just talk about memory, be it personal or collective. Okay?”
He nodded. “So to conclude, Barasch talks about dreams sometimes inserting dreamers into other peoples’ existences, which, of course, can greatly broaden their perspectives on things.” He again looked at Allie with sad, sympathetic eyes and parted lips. “If that ain’t you, nothing is.”
Her face was a picture of gloomy surrender; her head nodded like a metronome. “That’s me.” She looked away as a single tear worked its way down each cheek. “I know it’s that way because everything about Emily is so real, so personal, so me.”
“Are you alright, Allie?”
“Yes . . . I’m just emotionally drained, sad, feeling helpless and utterly consumed by Emily and the dreams.” She took a deep breath. “What else?”
“Have you ever heard of atavism?”
“Yeah, I think so. Doesn’t it have to do with traits being carried from generation to generation?”
“It does. It’s the inclination to go back to an earlier ancestral type . . . like a backward leap in evolution . . . where long-gone traits suddenly reemerge. And one way atavisms can occur is when genes for an earlier trait are carried forward in DNA and eventually show up again due to some aberration—perhaps a mutation—that allows the old traits to dominate the new ones. So if we assume that atavisms can be selective about when and where they occur, this might explain why only you and Ian, two women, generations apart, have had this dreaming gift. Now understand, I’m extrapolating from a theory that applies to non-dreaming entities, like organisms, and applying it to dreaming entities, like people; and I’m doing that because we’re organisms, the theory fits, and there’s, as yet, no reason not to apply it. By the way, the word atavism comes from the Latin word atavus, which is a multiple-great-grandfather—a distant ancestor. So in the spirit of modern thinking, where we’ve started down the pathway of psycho-physiological dream theory—as opposed to Freud’s purely psychoanalytic approach—we have a melding of things of the mind, genetics, and physiology, and I understate when I say we haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s there. But, Allie, my dear research assistant, that’s where we’re going.”
Allie curved her lips into a modest smile. “Let’s go!”
He held his own warm smile as he fixed his inquisitive eyes on hers for a moment, repressed a sudden urge to hold her. “Okay. So to summarize, I believe the answers to your questions are in some combination of the collective memory, genetics, the stuff I just read to you, and several other theories, such as morphic resonance, formative causation, activation synthesis, Lamarckian inheritance, and a few more; and we’re going to analyze all of them, along with the results of your sleep studies, with respect to each of your dream characteristics.” He paused, waited for her to process what he’d said. “But for now, if Emily’s your—how did you say it?—”
“your many-great-grandmother, you have her genes and DNA, and I think, somehow—TBD—they direct your personal memory to the right spot in the collective memory to access all her experiences, feelings, thoughts, and memories; and that’s why you feel the thoughts and emotions of those who were associated with her, even though she might not have always been present; they’re in her temporal and personal section of the collective memory. Or, another possibility is that she acquired knowledge of those things, and it was stored in her personal memory, and you received it directly via her genes and DNA with the same result: the ability to access exactly the right place in the collective memory to find the personal memories of all the people who interacted with Emily.” He smiled. “And as I inferred a moment ago, it’s like all these fragments of causality are floating around out there somewhere in space, and we have to pluck out the right ones and meld them together into the best possible theory that explains human dreaming . . . and most especially, Allie O’Shay’s dreaming. Allie, are you sure you’re alright?”
Excerpts from Chapter 16
Dressler said, “Well, Allie, you told her right. Though they don’t seem to dream like you, the males in the family quite probably carry the gene. So yes, it’s possible that you’re descended from Emily’s brother rather than her; but it also appears you’re going to dream about Emily until the end of her story, whatever and whenever it turns out to be; and as your mom told you sometimes happened to Ian, the ending could be unhappy . . . even if she is your ancestor. I know that’s a disconcerting thought; but based on the history, it would seem possible. Remember though, so far we’re dealing only with theories here and don’t know anything for sure . . . yet.”
Allie stared at him with despairing eyes and a faraway look. Her mind swirled as she tried to fathom life without Emily, concluded that she could not and that Emily would therefore survive. Great logic, O’Shay. “Okay. What will be, will be. So what’s next?”
“Well, I spent some time reviewing theories—some pretty interesting and potentially applicable stuff—which, by the way, you should begin delving into, as well. You know, it’s funny. I’ve read this stuff lots of times before, but the context added by your involvement and capabilities is astounding in terms of the life, realism, and perspective injected into what were previously dry, lifeless theories on a piece of paper . . . like a jigsaw puzzle of a map, where you can write a name and location on each piece of the puzzle until you identify them all and put them together.” He shook his head. “For sure, we’re only beginning, but I couldn’t be more excited about where we’re going.”
Allie forced a smile.
“There seems to be a fair amount of acceptance as to what happens, but the theories focus mostly on how it happens, and there’s some divergence there. But although there are divergences, there also appear to be connecting threads that draw theories together. And as I’ve said, what we need to do is weave the right threads together into the best possible theory and then focus our analysis on testing it.”
“So which ones did you look at?”
“Morphic resonance, formative causation, activation synthesis, and Lamarckian inheritance, but mostly the first two.”
“Let’s see, I’ve read a little about morphic resonance . . . that’s Sheldrake, isn’t it?”
“Correct, Ms. O’Shay.”
She nodded. “And didn’t he basically say that all flora and fauna, wherever and whenever, withdraw from and input to—how did he put it . . . oh yeah—a collective memory of their species? And didn’t he also say that memory of previous generations is part of nature and integrated with it?”
“He did indeed. And he believes it’s the result of a theory called formative causation, which suggests that organisms are ‘influenced and stabilized’ by all previous generations of the same organisms, whenever or wherever.”
“Okay, so what does that mean?”
“It is a little obtuse first time through, so let’s start with an example. When an animal of species A learns something—a hunting technique, for instance—we know that later members of the same species, under like circumstances, worldwide, and without any sort of contact with the first animal, will learn the same technique, but faster. And the greater the number of animals that learn the technique initially, wherever they are, the quicker the learning of the subsequent members occurs, everywhere.”
Allie looked at him quizzically. “Wow! You mean it just happens . . . with no physical contact . . . but how?”
“According to Sheldrake, via morphogenesis—in my words, the genesis of characteristics and shape in living organisms. Characteristics would be instinctive behavior, such as that displayed by the animals learning the hunting technique; and shape—he calls it form—is the outer look and internal structure of something, like a cell, a plant, an animal, or even a galaxy—pretty amazing concept.” He paused for a breath. “Now, Sheldrake describes form and characteristics in terms of morphic units, which are unique to each form or characteristic. Think of morphic as meaning to-do-with-form or to-do-with-characteristics.”
“Then, he says things called morphic fields organize the morphic units through a process called morphic resonance.”
Allie’s eyes bloomed with mixed interest and bewilderment. “Too much morphic. What’s it all mean?”
He nodded. “Okay. Let’s start with morphic fields. They’re influential fields, like gravitational, electrical, quantum, or electromagnetic fields, in that you can’t see them, but you know they’re there. They organize the basic structure and patterns of activity of their morphic units—somewhat like earth’s gravity, a morphic field, determines what the atmosphere, a morphic unit, looks and acts like.”
“And how do they do that?”
“That’s where morphic resonance comes in. According to Sheldrake, morphic resonance affects and actually steadies the morphic fields—and this is the most important part—it steadies the morphic fields with resonance, or synchronizing, if you will, by all earlier, comparable morphic units, without regard for time and space—like the animal hunting-technique example. Now that’s one powerful concept, and he says it’s the process by which the past influences and actually becomes the present within morphic fields.”
Allie stared at him for a moment, her lips parted but wordless. “I think I get it, but what makes the resonance by all earlier, comparable morphic units happen? Like, what physically makes the past become the present?” She smiled. “As they say, the devil’s always in the details.”
“I love your critical thinking, Allie. To begin with, morphic resonance seems to happen all by itself—there are four theories on how. Again from Sheldrake, but in my words: the first is sort of like the old time travel idea, where people go through some kind of warp that circumvents space and time and lands them in some other age and/or place. Second is via some as yet unknown level of existence or consciousness. Third is through some kind of wormhole. And last, maybe the morphic presence of the past is always here and everywhere else, and all around us; in which case, a specific instance of the morphic presence of the past, and its present system, would somehow have to find each other and merge.”
Allie whistled softly. “And your favorite is?”
He laughed. “It’s all a giant extrapolation from the world of organisms to the human body and mind, but why not? And if we take that leap, the basic paradigm is that through formative causation, all the memories and experiences of our ancestors are morphic units organized by morphic fields, stabilized by morphic resonance; and therefore, all those ancestral memories and experiences become part of our present . . . whether or not we know they’re there. And to your question, I think it happens via the fourth possibility I mentioned—the morphic presence of the past is right here and everywhere else all the time—and that thought, by the way, meshes rather nicely with Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, which we agreed we’d henceforth refer to as the collective memory. Also recall that the collective unconscious is where Jung believed all those ancestral memories and experiences reside. So the operative question then becomes, if the morphic presence of the past is right here and everywhere all the time, and it and the present system need to find each other and integrate, how the hell do they do that?”
Allie waved her hand like a first grader. “I know, I know! By having something like my ability to dream the past.”
Dressler pointed at her. “Bingo! I think you and any others with your gift somehow have the ability to reach out and grab, or find, all this knowledge and experience, feeling, thought, desperation—the morphic presence of the past—of your ancestors, that’s floating out there, perhaps in the collective memory, and instantly pull it into the present; and meanwhile, the rest of us aren’t even aware it exists. In other words, it’s functionally inaccessible unless you have the right search software and inputs to find it and download it. And Allie O’Shay has that . . . but the rest of us don’t, except for occasional instances where smidgeons of information somehow randomly slip through to us.”
“I love it.”
“And somewhere in here, we need to address the possibility of something very special also going on with your family’s genetics . . . and perhaps the possible mutation we discussed that enables some women in your family to express those genetics by dreaming like you do, every fourth generation or so, while the others can’t. So, we’ll also do some genetic analysis on you and your family to explore what’s there, but I’m getting way ahead of myself. You know, Allie, we’re barely scratching the surface of the relationship between the brain-mind, genetics, psychology, molecular cell biology, and physiology, and we’re going to have to delve into them all to get just an inkling of what’s really happening. But I think we have a start; and I’ve got to say, it’s intoxicating.”
Excerpts from Chapter 18
Wanted to check out activation synthesis and Lamarckian inheritance to see how they play. You mentioned both yesterday, but we didn’t discuss them.”
“Fair enough. They’re examples of what you were saying about several ideas nibbling on the same chunk of cheese from different sides but sometimes together. According to Hobson, activation synthesis kicks in after pro-REM neurons dominate the anti-REM neurons and REM sleep begins. The brain then strives valiantly to integrate its inputs—the same as it does for our more focused inputs when we’re awake. But when we’re asleep, those inputs are mostly random and unfocused, so it’s much more challenging for the brain to construct a sensible tale. Thus, the brain creates, or synthesizes, its own stories from these rather random inputs, and the result is dreams—often bizarre dreams. But in your case, the higher brain functions find real, meaningful inputs to integrate; and those inputs are always very focused, which occasionally happens with normal people—sorry again, I didn’t mean normal the way it probably sounded.” He smiled, hesitated a moment, studied her amused eyes. “The question then becomes, how does your brain do this, and how does it do it every time you dream? Theory says that individual dreams can reveal specific conscious mental styles or elements of an individual’s view on something but also—and this is key—their specific historical experiences. But with you, those historical experiences are those of your ancestor . . . we think . . . which brings us back to morphic resonance, the collective memory, and your unique ability to summon therefrom the experiences and feelings of that ancestor. And this, in my hypothesis, suggests a unique blend of neurophysiology and genetics, which inputs a special code, passed to you by your ancestors, that grants you unique access to the collective memory—like a secret username and password to access special data.”
“Oh my God. This is fascinating.”
“It is indeed.” He studied her for a moment then continued. “So Lamarckian inheritance is the inheritance of characteristics absorbed by previous generations of a species, which would seem to be related to atavism—which, as we previously discussed, is the reemergence of long-dormant or periodically dormant ancestral characteristics in current generations of a species. Given that both Lamarckian inheritance and atavism are real, one must conclude that genetics play a pivotal role in your dreaming ability . . . probably that of others, as well, but in some different way. Thus, while we proceed with neural testing, which, as I’ve said, will become much more focused as our theories mature, we must also incorporate genetics into our theories and conduct focused testing there, as well.”
“Which is why they chose a psychologist-geneticist-molecular biologist-practical neuroscientist like you for this job. And here I am back in the Dark Ages.”
He smiled. “Well, I may have academic credentials, but you’re the living laboratory, the walking, talking—smart, if I may say so—vivid exemplification of every aspect of dreaming. So I’m confident we’re going to figure this out and, in the process, learn a whole lot about how other folks dream, as well . . . and we’re going to get Allie O’Shay through it in one piece.” He searched her eyes with a look that went beyond academic esteem.
Excerpts from Chapter 20
Need to start matching dream characteristics with theories. But first, let’s review and summarize a bit. She opened a new Word file, reviewed her old notes, re-examined activation synthesis, formative causation, and morphic resonance. As a first step in her devil’s advocacy of formative causation and morphic resonance, she read a paper by G. William Domhoff on the neurocognitive debate between Hobson and a man named Solms. She then listed the highlights of her paraphrased notes and reviewed them again.
- Goodwin, “Dreamlife”
– With the right cognitive stimuli, dreams can draw upon temporarily suspended or sleeping powers of the mind.
– Can access other peoples’ (including past generations) “experiences”—stored in mankind’s collective memory.
- Hobson, “The Dreaming Brain”
– The “dream plot” is crafted from our “experiences.”
So assuming I really am dreaming ancestral experiences, past experiences and memories must include ancestors’ experiences and memories; otherwise, I couldn’t dream them. Okay, that sets the stage; but how do ancestral memories and experiences get into my head as dreams, when they don’t do that for other people?
- Sheldrake, “The Presence of the Past” & “Morphic Resonance”
– Some view the “mind-brain” (Note: Hobson calls it “brain-mind”) association like that of computer software and hardware: mind=software (input), brain=hardware (computer).
“So maybe my dreaming gift somehow activates or commands the right software in my mind to access a specific story; and the brain, the main computer, then runs the software and finds that specific story somewhere. But how?”
– (Steve’s extrapolation of Sheldrake) Our own memories and experiences, as well as those of our ancestors, are thought to be in morphic units organized by morphic fields, which are stabilized by morphic resonance.
– TV analogy for morphic resonance (Barasch, “Healing Dreams,” on Sheldrake)
- TV programs not in the TV itself—they’re at the TV station/transmitter.
- And the TV station/transmitter continues to exist and transmit, even if the TV itself is turned off or destroyed.
So when you want to watch a specific program or movie, you select the channel that tunes the TV to the station and transmitter that have that program or movie. And if your TV croaks, all the programs and movies are still at the station, playing for all the other TVs that tune to the right channels. “Awesome analogy.”
- Similarly, the content of our dreams isn’t in our heads—instead, the brain (TV) is a receiver for dream images transmitted by a morphic unit (TV station/transmitter) organized by a morphic field that’s stabilized/tuned by morphic resonance that contains mankind’s individual and collective memories—like a TV station’s library of programs and movies.
- And the morphic unit still contains those individual and collective memories when a given dreamer dies.
“Makes sense to Allie O’Shay, but same question: how can I dream my ancestors’ memories like a movie when normal people can’t dream theirs?” Somehow I always find exactly the right place in the collective memory to find Emily’s story . . . every time I dream. So it’s gotta be in the genes and DNA, maybe even some kind of mutation. She shook her head, pressed her lips together. The gift has to be what starts the sequence: gift activates right software in mind; brain runs software; brain finds right story in personal memory, which includes ancestors’ memories; personal memory then goes to greater collective memory to find memories and experiences of other players in the story; and I dream the story. She picked up a pencil, placed a pad of paper on the desk in front of her, quickly sketched several boxes with arrows between them, wrote words in the boxes. “That makes it much easier; probably ought to make a PowerPoint of it.”
She stared at the drawing. “Really fits, but what triggered me to dream about Emily the first time, and why do I always go back to her?” She thought back to when the dreams began. “Erik! It was right after the fight with Erik.” But what triggered me to Emily instead of some other ancestor? She stared at the wall for moment. “I know. He wanted me to move in with him, like Tayler wants Emily to do. And when I refused, he said something like, Damn it, Allie, you’re not back in colonial times when premarital sex was a big deal and condemned you to a life of shame and misery. I’ll be damned. That’s gotta be it! But . . . but how does the gift know the right software to activate, and how does it make it happen? Jeez, the plot gets thicker by the second, and my head hurts again.”
Her mind flashed back to Erik. Haven’t thought of him for a long time . . . haven’t thought of partying, or friends, or the ranch, or anything but the dreams for a long time. Kinda scary. Liked Erik, wanted to get back with him, then totally blanked him, completely immersed in Emily. She shook her head, sighed, looked at her watch. “Focus, Allie. How does the gift work?”
She squinted at the desktop, glanced at her sketch, tried to wrap her mind around her thoughts. Seems kinda like the internet cloud, where we access information by logging on with the right username and password . . . and in my case, my dreaming gift provides the right username and password to access a specific story in the individual and collective memories. But there might be a different username and password for each ancestor. So again, the only way this could happen is if something—probably genetics and/or a mutation—gave me the dreaming gift . . . the specific usernames and passwords . . . to download and play ancestral and connected-person stories as if I’m experiencing them myself. But what makes the gift do that? She smiled. I know. A trigger does . . . a trigger like the fight with Erik . . . a trigger that stimulates the gift to send the right username and password to the mind-brain. That’s gotta be it! Wow! I’ll bet Sheldrake never encountered anyone like me, so maybe he never even thought about this part of the process. Anyway, enough on that for now.” She penned another note: Make sure Steve talks genetics.
“Now, what about the personal memory? Sheldrake implies it’s in the collective memory, but convention says it’s in the mind-brain; but if that’s true, how could I access Tayler’s thoughts, or Waters’, or Baylye’s? Makes sense that it’s in the brain, but it must also be in the collective memory along with a copy of everyone else’s personal memory. How else could individual memories live on when a person dies, like the TV set analogy? And oh, by the way, memories ain’t memories unless you experience them or are aware of them before they become memories. Therefore, ancestral memories and experiences must be in the personal memory; and for the reasons I’ve stated, the personal memory must, therefore, be in the collective memory, even if it’s also in the mind-brain. So let’s do the PowerPoint.” Twenty minutes later, Allie proofed her drawing, made a couple changes, reviewed it again.
Good. “So in summary, dear PhD committee: a rare dreaming gift I inherited via my genes and DNA, and possibly a mutation, gets triggered by some stressful event and sends the right username and password to the mind-brain to activate and run the right software to access the collective memory, find Emily Colman and people associated with her, and send their story to me via movie-like dreams. Wow again! My personal memory then goes out into the greater collective memory and connects to the individual memories of all the people who interacted with Emily in that story.” She looked at the wall, nodded, smiled a philosophical smile. Can’t see how it could be otherwise! “And, ladies and gentlemen, morphic resonance is the enabler because it puts all the individual and ancestral memories into the collective memory, which lives forever.” She suddenly frowned, slapped herself on the cheek. Don’t forget. Steve said much of this is at the organism level, and we’re extrapolating from that. She stared thoughtfully at the desktop for a moment, shrugged. “So what? It’s a start, and it feels right. So onward.” She checked her watch again. “Okay, let’s look at Hobson versus Solms.”
- G. William Domhoff, “Refocusing the Neurocognitive Approach to Dreams: A Critique of the Hobson Versus Solms Debate”
– Talks about activation synthesis, which, without focused inputs, makes the best of random inputs, which Hobson thinks often results in bizarre dreams
“But in my case, the random synthesis doesn’t happen, because my brain immediately goes to the real stuff in my personal memory and then to the collective memory.”
– Good theories on where in the mind-brain commands and signals come from
– Dispute centers on the definition of “bizarre,” the number of bizarre dreams people have, and where the brain’s commands and signals come from.
– Author says bizarre dreams are rare.
“Not so for Allie O’Shay! I had mostly bizarre dreams before I started dreaming about Emily; only occasionally did I have an organized one—same with Steve. So except for the part on the origins of commands and signals, I’m hard-pressed to agree with the author . . . especially since I don’t see any indication they’ve ever considered anything like what’s happening to me. Need to press Steve to get on with more theory-specific data gathering focused on the parts of my brain where we think the signals and commands come from, as well as on where and how they’re activated. “Okay, now on to my dream characteristics.”
Allie examined each dream characteristic, logged her best guess at a theoretical explanation, and noted where none existed. When she finished, she decided the twenty-three characteristics and explanations drove the document to an unwieldy length for a lunchtime discussion, so she took an inverse approach. She listed the three applicable theories, including unknown, tabulated all the appropriate dream characteristics below each theory, combining characteristics where appropriate, then reviewed the completed chart.
Dream Characteristics Attributable to Formative Causation/Morphic Resonance
– Historically accurate
– Play in real time when dreaming, like movies, but keep playing when I’m not watching (see next) as if once activated, they must play to completion
– Same story from dream to dream
– All dream characters initially unrecognized, but recurring thereafter
– Several mutual dreams with Emily—she’s in my personal memory, and the Vikings are in hers and mine because if they’re her ancestors, they’re also mine (I think).
– Hear & remember dialogue—all dialogue sensible—in my personal memory & collective memory—easier to remember orderly things
– Understand different languages and hand signs—if ancestors knew them, I would know them from personal memory
– Feel emotions and thoughts
– Emily’s the conduit—gift takes me to her place in my personal memory (also see genetics)
– Lifelike—real history (I think)
– Emotionally attached & close to characters (ancestors, I think)
– Detailed breadth and depth of recall—can recall scenes from a movie far better than from disjointed, bizarre dreams
Dream Characteristics Attributable to Genetics/Mutation—the Dreaming Gift
– Stimulated by stress
– Subject-matter-selection methodology—content new and unfamiliar (1st time)
– Emily’s the conduit—genetics/mutation are the reason why.
– Butterfly birthmark—Ian and me—what about Emily and Tryggvi’s English girl? TBD, but know they were both dreamers
– Frequency is every time I sleep—once activated, the movie doesn’t stop, plays to completion.
– Mom says dreams happen every 4 or 5 generations—mutation? Do men carry the gift dormantly?
– Ian said that when a story ends, another follows, but not necessarily right away—do they wait for a new trigger event?
– Dreams cover several scenario days—seem to fast-forward between REMs and when awake—maybe think you’re not interested in that part because you’re not watching.
– All dreams lucid—know I’m dreaming, but can’t will anything to happen—maybe because you can’t change history (good argument for why dreams are true history)
– Ian said dreams were true, but Mom doesn’t know how she knew.
– Mom knows more than she’s told me—she’s scared—probably of depression, insanity, and/or suicide for me.
Okay. So where are we? She studied her PowerPoint drawing and dream characteristics for a moment, pressed her lips together, nodded several times. “I think, via formative causation and morphic resonance, everyone’s personal and ancestral memories and experiences are out there in the collective memory. But since they don’t have the gift, which allows me to repeatedly access and dream that information, they don’t know it’s there, and they can’t find it and dream it. So our two tasks are first, to validate formative causation and morphic resonance, and second, to determine the genetics that carry and activate the gift. We do the first by using advanced measuring techniques focused on tracing the sources, directions, and magnitudes of the information flow in the richly active mind-brain of the test subject . . . Allie O’Shay. And I have no clue how we do the second. Steve will have to figure that one out. And that’s it, team.” She smirked. “Piece of cake, right? Wrong!”
After overviewing her analysis and showing him the chart of her dreaming process, which impressed him, she presented her rationale for concluding that formative causation, via morphic resonance, was the only possible fit for what she’d experienced with her dreams. She argued that there could be no other way to access both her own ancestral memories and experiences and those of connected individuals like Elyoner, Tayler, Baylye, and Waters unless a collective memory that held those connected memories resided somewhere external to her own mind-brain. She then presented her logic that the master copy of each person’s personal memory resided in their mind-brain, while a duplicate copy resided permanently in the collective memory like books in a library, for all time. “Then when I looked at my dream characteristics, I found that they fell quite neatly under morphic resonance, genetics—which you’re going to tell me about in a minute—and unknown. The three unknowns were: first, why the dreams go into fast forward whenever I’m not dreaming; second, why I can’t change anything when I’m lucid; and third, the stuff about Ian, which my mom and I are going to dig into this weekend. By the way, I think the very fact that I can’t impact the dreams when I’m lucid is a great argument for why they’re true history. Remember, as you said, you can’t change history.”
She walked to the desk, sat, picked up Dressler’s genetics paper, and commenced reading.
Molecular Biology & Genetics—Top Level Overview (Note to Allie: We’ll need to dig very deeply into this in the near future.)
. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid)—The material of genetic inheritance—carries the actual genetic code (heredity) of a living organism
– Genetic code is made up of 4 chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).
– The 4 chemical bases combine in multiple ways to make 3-letter “words” that orchestrate protein production—like letters of the alphabet combining to make words, and words combining to make sentences that direct certain actions.
– Do different things, but regulatory proteins are like switches that direct metabolic responses—how cells look, grow, and act
Yup. Seen that before.
– The epigenome (see below) helps decide which genes are active, and accordingly, which proteins a given cell produces.
Now that’s a new one for me.
– Units of the material of genetic inheritance (DNA)
– Short segments of DNA that carry the genetic sequence and information (the 3-letter “words” responsible for the production of proteins)
“So genes are segments of DNA that are the units of genetic inheritance, while the DNA they carry is the actual material of genetic inheritance. Got it.”
– Segments of a chromosome that code for one protein
– If DNA is a “how-to” book, then genes are the individual “how-to” instructions for the various tasks encompassed by the book = the instructions that, via the proteins they encode, tell cells what to do and what traits they should show.
– Structures in a cell that hold the genetic code passed on from one generation to the next
– (See “genes”) An individual gene, with its bundle of DNA, is a short length of chromosome that codes protein to create a particular characteristic of an organism.
– All of an organism’s hereditary information
– Total set of DNA in a cell
– Inherited from parents
– Contains 2 copies of every gene—1 from mother & 1 from father—can mutate
- For some genes, only the mother copy switches on; for other genes, only the father copy switches on. (Note to Allie: possibly why only women have the dreaming gift)
- Can skip generations (Note to Allie: possibly why dreaming gift is every 4th generation)
Real interesting, really fits. Wonder what makes the mother’s or father’s copy switch on?
- Human Genome project said 20,000 genes define human biology.
^ Those 20,000 genes = less than 2% of the total human genome.
“Whoa! Are you kidding?”
^ The other 98% of the genes were previously called “junk DNA.”
^ But new data indicate most of the “junk” isn’t actually junk.
^ Large sections of DNA actually contain several hundred thousand regulators that help activate or silence genes. (Note to Allie: possible lead to how the dreaming gift calls up specific dreams and plays them like movies)
“Cool. So regulators activate or silence genes that, through the proteins they code for, tell cells how to function and what traits to express. Now we’re talking.” Now that word up above I hadn’t heard of . . . what was it? There it is—epigenome—down on the next line. It must be what tells the regulators in the genome to activate or silence certain genes. Gettin’ good! Read on, Allie.
– Epigenome = above the genome (much of this from Sheldrake).
– Comprised of “chemical compounds” that alter, or annotate, the genome in a way that tells it what, where, and when to do something (Note to Allie: perhaps plays in the dreaming gift being only in women and every 4th generation, as well as why not all women in the family dream)
“Hmm. Never thought about that last part.”
– Helps decide which genes are active and which proteins get produced in a particular cell (See “genome,” above—role of regulators that help activate or silence genes) (Note to Allie: perhaps plays in the dreaming gift being only in women, and every 4th generation)
Just what I thought.
– Chemical marks not part of DNA itself
– But they can be inherited—genome’s chemical marks conveyed to next generation via egg and sperm.
Oh my God. Makes great sense! Gotta be how the gift happens.
– How the epigenome works
– Study of heritable alterations in gene expression—caused by different mechanisms than changes in the underlying DNA sequence
– Talks to alterations of the genome without a change in genes, change only in gene expression (i.e., which genes are turned on or quieted by genomic regulators marked by the epigenome)
– Epigenetics permits past mutations to be inherited as part of normal gene transfer for a family, without present alteration or mutation of the underlying genes. (Note to Allie: This is huge—perhaps how the dreaming gift has been transferred within your family for maybe thousands of years.)
I was thinking of the gift as a present mutation, but this makes a lot more sense. “So the gift mutation probably happened way back when, and epigenetic inheritance passed it down to me with no further mutation or change in the underlying genes or DNA. Wow! Just wow!”
– Random alterations of DNA sequence, the number and organization of chromosomes, and the quantities of proteins produced by genes
– Over many generations, mutations may have caused slight differences in the base sequences of the genes in different individuals (the 3-letter words).
Different individuals . . . like my ancestors . . . before Emily . . . before Tryggvi’s girl. Bingo!
– Responsible for continuous changes in certain traits
She reread the last line. “That really fits. So what does Steve think?”
- A Couple Thoughts
– Sheldrake says when certain mutations occur, epigenetic inheritance can pass them to succeeding generations of a “kind,” or family.
- “Neo-Darwinism” said there could be no modification of passed-on genes save for scarce, almost-accidental mutations; but epigenetic inheritance, which Darwin never knew about, allows mutations to be inherited without present gene/DNA mutation.
- Atavisms (where traits that disappeared generations before, suddenly reappear) can occur when genes for certain previous but currently quiet features, held in genes/DNA, show themselves via a mutation (inherited via epigenetics) that permits the old traits to dominate new ones. (Note to Allie: could explain why only women, 4 generations apart, have the gift)
- Steve’s Integrated Theory
– Formative causation, through morphic resonance, places ancestral memories, feelings, and emotions in each person’s personal memory, and in the collective memory
– Way back in time, a mutation, or more probably a series of mutations (perhaps 1 for the basic gift of dreaming the past, 1 for women to be the dreamers, & 1 for the gift to be active only every 4th generation) occurred in Allie O’Shay’s ancestors and have been carried forward by epigenetic inheritance ever since.
“Gotta be it.”
– So, the dreaming gift:
- Acts like an alarm clock (the genomic regulators) that sounds every 4th generation to command a woman in the family to dream the past
- Some sort of trigger then activates the gift to send the right access credentials to find a specific story in the personal and collective memories and play it, like a movie, to completion, without pause; but it fast-forwards when not dreaming.
- People who don’t have the gift still have their ancestral memories in their personal memory, but they don’t know it and can’t access either the ancestral part of the personal memory or the collective memory, except for rare, random events.
- Otherwise, everyone would be able to do what Allie O’Shay can do.
Allie stared at the paper, sighed, digested what she’d read. Man, if that ain’t it, nothing is. Now all we have to do is prove it.
Excerpts from Chapter 24
“Okay. So let me give you the Steven Dressler and Allie O’Shay theory in layman’s terms. In the course of their lifetimes, all human beings accumulate information, feelings, experiences, etc. in their memories; and all of it is retained in each individual’s personal memory but also in a collective memory that resides somewhere up in the ether, wherever that happens to be. The personal memory is like your own personal hard drive of your memories and experiences; but it also includes those of all of your ancestors, as passed on in your inherited genes and DNA.” He paused for a moment, watched her expression. “The collective memory is also like a hard drive full of information, but it contains the memories and experiences of all humanity from the beginning of time to now. With me?”
Nancy nodded. “Yup. Actually makes sense. Kinda neat.”
“Good. Have you heard of the cloud?”
“Yes. Isn’t that where people back up their computer files?”
“Exactly. So think of the collective memory as being like the cloud—humanity’s hard drive—and each person’s personal memory, or hard drive, automatically backs itself up to that collective memory, which is how all of humanity’s experiences and memories come to be there. We can always access our personal memory; but most of us don’t have a clue what’s there, beyond our own personal experiences, or how to find anything specific. Same for the collective memory, but worse because it’s so huge. We therefore think a given individual needs something like a special username and password to access specific information in both the personal and collective memories, and we think that’s exactly what Allie’s gift provides. But the process doesn’t happen automatically or randomly by itself. It appears to need some sort of trigger to awaken it and stimulate the chain of events.” He paused, smiled, gave her a questioning look.
She returned the smile with a quick nod. “Getting heavy, but I’m still onboard.”
“Good. Now how does all this come to be? Well, without getting technical, Steve Dressler and Allie think a theory called formative causation and its instrument, morphic resonance, are what place all of humanity’s memories and experiences on the collective memory hard drive. So on the project, we’re trying to validate our theories—the roles of morphic resonance, formative causation, and genetics in preserving the experiences and memories of all of mankind. Still with me?”
“Brain’s getting a little saturated, but keep going.”
“Okay, so here’s the punchline: our minds usually can’t find a coherent recent experience to place in tonight’s dreams; so a thing called activation synthesis energizes our minds to fashion dream content from available tidbits of information, which is why our dreams are often weird and disjointed. But for Allie—and her great-great-grandma, and apparently Emily—we think this is not the case because once triggered by some special event, their gift repeatedly takes them, in a very real, movie-like manner, directly to a true piece of history being lived by an ancestor . . . in this case, Emily. And as I said a moment ago, Allie’s gift does this by inputting a unique username and password for a specific story into both her personal memory and the collective memory, to find and download the stories of an ancestor and all the ancillary players in the saga.” He raised his right index finger. “Almost done. And last, we think this gift is passed on in your family’s genes and DNA, and manifested every fourth or fifth generation in females via a generation-skipping mutation. So, there you have it.” He smiled sheepishly. “Now all we have to do is prove it”—he paused, watched her digest the information—“and Allie’s incredible capabilities are what give us the opportunity to do so.”
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