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Dreamed summer 1964 by Chris Wayan

I was nine; nearly ten. One evening I was babysitting my sisters while my parents were at a party. My sisters went to bed at last. I stayed up to finish a kid's book by Isaac Asimov, "Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn." I'd read it a few years earlier, when I was six or so, but had gotten hooked again. I finished it and went to bed.

Or so I thought.

My parents told me the next morning they found me asleep on the sofa, only halfway through the book.

I never bothered to reread the rest, because I'd already finished it--in my dream. From years earlier, my dream had recalled every detail. Every word. And presented them in stable form, indistinguishable from a real book. I flipped through the unread pages the next day, but they were all familiar. I'd read another copy--stored in my mind.

Lucid dream pioneer Stephen La Berge suggests you can detect that you're dreaming by looking twice at numbers or books in your dreams, because "dreams can't seem to keep them constant; dream text and numbers will change on rereading." Stephen La Berge is wrong.

My dreams rarely pull such elaborate memory stunts. But they've done it now and then. I think they were making a point. Dreams are not random noise, or simple rehearsals of learning, or suggestible children, or superstitious fools. Mine know more than I do. Dreams remember everything. Every word.

So if words or numbers mutate in your dreams, maybe they're choosing to. Those may be deliberate, easily identifiable prompts, telling you're dreaming. What La Berge saw as a disability could well be dream cooperation... a courtesy to the slow-witted conscious!

If your dreams want to keep continuity, they can. That's not static on your radio, weeds in your garden, noise in the signal.

The noise IS a signal. Unplug your ears.


The friends I've shown this dream to are less startled by novel-length cryptomnesia than by the fact I was babysitting alone at nine. Several called it parental neglect, even abuse. Middle-class Americans just don't leave kids this young alone. Was I like an alcoholic's kid becoming cook and nurse?

For once, I feel inclined to defend my folks. I was a child prodigy, reading at age two or three, IQ somewhere above 180. How do you treat someone who's chronologically nine but looks eleven or twelve and talks and thinks like seventeen? Common sense is not much help and you can't look that up in Dr. Spock's book. I probably was a competent babysitter. A bit flustered in a crisis, but that was more my personality than my age--I'm still that way. All those tests and school psychologists (and my parents believed experts) had said I was mentally mature, certainly more so than many of the teens usually hired as babysitters. I knew what was dangerous and had no intention of allowing it. Normal nine- or ten-year-olds seemed (and still seem) alien to me: impulsive, blind to consequences... retarded.

LISTS AND LINKS: cryptomnesic dreams - giftedness issues - family - kids - dreams on dreams - dreamwork - Isaac Asimov dreams

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