A Hand at Cards
Dreamed c. December 1916, by Loomis C. Johnson
This account is from The Dream World (ed. Rodolphe L. Megroz, 1939)
Another type of the homely dream, inspired by a waking interest of the mind, in which the prevision claimed by the dreamer contains details that would put "coincidence" virtually out of the question, was sent in January, 1934, by Mr. Loomis C. Johnson, who now lives in Paris. Declaring the details to be true, literally, Mr. Johnson offered "if at any time you should want me to do so, I will be very glad to put them in the form of an affidavit." The subject of his dream should have quite a popular appeal.
"For many years I was one of a group of seven men, in St. Louis, who used to meet regularly every Saturday night for a game of poker, in the home of some one of us. We were all professional men; the majority like myself belonging to the Bar of Missouri.
"On a Wednesday night my dream came to me. It was as follows:
"It seemed to be the following Saturday night. The weekly poker game was in full swing, and I had been losing all evening. Finally on one deal I picked up my hand, and found it to contain three kings, a knave [jack] and an ace. Naturally I 'opened' the 'pot.' And, still in my dream, the betting was brisk. Finally came the draw. I discarded the ace (being superstitious concerning 'knaves') and asked for one card. When, in my dream, I picked up the card that had been given me, I found it to be an ace, but, as things sometimes happen in dreams, without causing surprise, even as I looked at the card it gradually changed complexion and finally became a 'knave' thus giving me a 'full house'--three kings and a pair of knaves. Yes, even in my dream, I won the 'pot', and it was rather a good one.
"So vivid was this dream that the next morning I made notes about it, intending to show them to my cronies at the close of play the following Saturday night. 'At the close of play'--for obvious reasons.
"Now mark the sequel. Toward the 'shank of the evening' on the following Saturday night, luck having developed as it had in my dream, I picked up a hand to find myself holding the identical hand of my dream--three kings, a knave and an ace, and the betting also developed as it had in my dream. I had been looking for it, that I must confess, but I did not see how the ace could turn into a knave.
"Nevertheless when the time came for the draw, I discarded the ace and asked for one card. Under American poker rules when a card on the draw is faced, that is falls on the table face upwards before being touched by the drawer, it is a dead card. The draw then proceeds in its regular order, and at the end the player whose card was faced receives another in place of the dead card.
"When I asked for one, it was faced in being dealt to me, and it was an ace. The draw went on and finally I received my card to replace the faced card and it was a knave. Thus was my dream fulfilled.
"Then I showed my associates the notes that I had made the previous Thursday morning.
"It is hardly necessary for me to add that for a long time thereafter, before anyone would bet against me on a hand, I had to give an assurance on my honour that I had not again been dreaming!"
--Loomis C. Johnson--
Noting that the dream was apparently an old one, I asked for the date, and Mr. Johnson confessed frankly to uncertainty, but was able to give an approximate date by "noting its relation to the dates of remembered events--the entry of the United States in the war, and my departure from St. Louis in connection therewith, etc.--sometime between the middle of November, 1916, and the middle of January, 1917, would I say, mark the time of the dream. October 31, 1916, I had completed my services as the Attorney for the Receivers (Liquidation) of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, and at the end of January I left St. Louis for Washington in anticipation of the American Declaration of War against Germany."
Mr. Johnson's method of fixing the date resembles that of the majority of people who make no methodical record of an extraordinary dream, and it seemed well worth quoting not merely as an interesting example but also because it is the kind of report that impresses with its air of honesty, though from a scientific point of view lamentably indefinite about some of the matters of fact connected with the dream but not a part of it.
--R. L. Megroz, 1939--
Megroz emphasizes how unconvincing "coincidence" is in explaining this dream. After all, what's predicted isn't just a rare hand. If the dream foresaw only the starting hand with three of a kind, then discarding the jack would be the logical play--more so since the deck turns out to be dealing him an ace in exchange, yielding a stronger full house, with an ace pair. Only the wildly unlikely combination of the starting hand, a misdealt ace, and a jack several cards down the deck in the right spot, will allow the dream's prediction (and advice) to win him the pot.
You can label such a dream chance not prediction if you like, but it's functionally indistinguishable from a predictive sense. True, it's an intermittent sense at best--most of us rarely have dreams offering us a tangible reward.
From 30,000 dreams of my own, and countless other people's dreams, I've tentatively concluded that clear predictions like this come through only when one of several conditions apply:
And proving the case for ESP is as adversarial as you can get! To skeptics, telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition all connote superstition, credulousness, even willful ignorance. For the open-minded, they can imply a world without privacy or free will. And those who've experienced ESP feel accused of lying, stupidity, insanity. A perfect recipe for emotional conflict!
I can't help thinking of elk butting heads, or lions hunting zebras... over and over. For in the vast majority of natural conflicts, the outcome is, well, equilibrium. All that carefully honed Darwinian speed and strength? The other guy has them too. And cares as much. We reveal our full abilities only outside the constraints of competition--when exploring, or making friends, and above all, in play. With or without aces.
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