Dreams

These are the terms I use to describe things I experience in-dream. It’ll be useful if I start writing things up again. These are my terms for things I’ve experienced. Your mileage may vary.

I’ve also added some rare and theoretical terms, designated by an “*” here. These are things that are theoretically possible, but normally would not or currently cannot be experienced by typical dreamers.

AMALGAM:
A person, place or thing that is almost a DOUBLE, but has an added characteristic. An example: You see a man who is your father, but is also a barber or a police station that is also a bowling alley.

APPARATUS:
Some device that doesn’t exist in the waking world, but whose function the dreamer FLASHES on immediately, or is able to figure out with no issues.

ASSEMBLY:
A type of dreaming where you’re dreaming about the construction of dreams rather than the dreams themselves. It feels close to a LOOP for me, because it’s very unsatisfying. It’s a sort of trap I can fall into when trying to set up a FIX.

ASSUMING:
Taking on a character that is wholly different from your waking life. This is not the same as being undefined or an observer. This is becoming a werewolf, being a different sex, becoming your childhood self, etc. This could be a TELL, but normally happens without breaking COVER.

BASE THEORY:
Can be seen as more expansive version of SANDBOX THEORY, or an extremely dangerous version of the TABLE FOR ONE THEORY. The idea is that the worlds of a dream are just as real as the waking world. The waking world is simply a “home base” dream which the dreamer can return to when the going gets tough. With this theory, a BREAK is actually a SNAP and FREAK is actually CREEP. Somewhat compatible with either CONSTRUCTION THEORY or FLOW THEORY because either of those could simply be the way that COVER integrates the other dream worlds with the DODGE of the waking world. Those who ascribe to the base theory need to have excellent HOVER if they don’t want to be considered crazy by even the most casual observer.

BLEED:
Conditions from outside making their way in the dream. This could be a sensation from the outside making their way in, or a thought or memory from your outside life that contradicts an action you’re involved in. So, the sound of birds outside your window would be bleed, as would suddenly remembering that you have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday while dreaming you’re a pirate.

BLUFF:
A very specific type of DODGE that deserves its own entry. The dream keeps you under COVER by creating a dream world where you’re in a dream and not in cover. It provides the illusion of being SHARP or ON without any of the true benefits. In addition, the dreamer may find it impossible to BOUNCE out of the dream. FEEDBACK in this state is still possible, and therefore gives the dreamer in a BLUFF state some illusion of minor control. It’s usually particular to people attempting to “wake up” in their dreams, but is also an aspect of some dreams with TOXIC PLAYGROUND, GORGON, or FURY elements. Bluff is a counter to HOVER, because you’re going all-in that you’re dreaming.

BOUNCE:
A sudden drop out of the dream state, caused by a SHOCK.

BREAK:
The antithesis of SNAP, the complete and utter belief that your waking life is a dream. Avoid this.

BURN:
The certitude one has immediately after waking that a SCENE or SOUVENIR is so solid in one’s memory that there is no need to record it which rapidly melts away along with any useful information. Can be used as an adjective, such as a burned scene or a burned souvenir.

*COLOR RADIO:
An experience where BLEED from audio outside a dream forces a PATCH that creates a SCENE incorporating the exact events in the audio. I have experienced this once, but attempts to recreate it have failed.

CONSTRUCTION THEORY:
The concept that the act of “remembering” a dream is actually the creation of it. So many of the things I’ve experienced indicate to me that construction theory is false, but I can’t discount it entirely.

COVER:
Your natural state within a dream. It is open and accepting of all things that occur to you, and keeps you from realizing you’re dreaming. If in effect, TELLS will seem perfectly normal.

CREEP:
The growing realization that you’re dreaming, eating away at your COVER culminating in a SNAP unless you fall victim to a DODGE or a STALL. I call it “creep” because in my experience this feeling is usually unsettling.

DIVA:
Your higher self? Alien beings? God? These figure appear in your dream and make you feel really honored and good about meeting them. Usually appear in my dreams as a celebrity I admire, but I suspect may appear as spiritual leaders to people less shallow than me.

DODGE:
A thing that pops up right when you notice a TELL that diverts you from SNAPPING, perhaps a thing of beauty or a new person arriving, an interesting idea, or a sudden realization that you’re supposed to be doing something. A common dodge for the “pulling out teeth” tell is suddenly thinking, “Wow, that’s funny, normally I only pull out my teeth in my sleep.” Dreaming that you’re awake would be another.

DOUBLE:
A person, place, or thing that appears in a dream just as in waking life. A double may be a type of BLEED, but only if it appears somewhere unexpected.

FADE:
The lack of conscious awareness from waking to a dream.

FADE-IN:
The transition from a waking state to a dream state.

FADE-OUT:
A slow break from a dream to a waking state.

FEEDBACK:
The phenomenon of having a conscious thought in a dream, and having the dream world play it back. For example, you’re petting a cat in your dream and then think, “Oh no, this cat is going to bite me,” and then the cat bites you. FEEDBACK can bring about both instances of KNACK and SUCK, but is unnecessary for either instance to occur.

*FIX:
To deliberately insert an person, place, thing, theme or event into a scene into the dream-world. Unlike FEEDBACK or creations that occur when one is ON, these are conscious decisions made *before* the dreamer goes to sleep. Similar to a SEED, but a seed is an accidental insertion, while a fix is intentional. For example, one might say, “I’m going to dream about hammers tonight,” and then have a dream that they are in a hardware store. This would be a successful fix. A fix, if done successfully, won’t break COVER. Its goal is to allow a dreamer to experience a specific type of dream, but to experience it in the way they would any other. A fix designed specifically to be a TELL is called a TRIGGER. It should be noted that my success rate with fixes is quite low at this point. Increasing my success rate is one of the goals of my experiments.

FLASH:
Sudden insight or knowledge about the dream world, like staring at your kitchen counter and knowing it’s infested with bugs. This near-psychic awareness is often a TELL.

FLOW THEORY:
The idea that dreams occur in a Point A to Point B fashion, and that the dreamer experiences them in a “real time” fashion, whether or not the timeline is compressed. Flow theory must be correct in order for concepts like PING, PONG, and TANDEM to work. Because of my experiences with COLOR RADIO and being ON, I believe flow theory is at least partially correct. However, due to other experiences CONSTRUCTION THEORY seems valid as well, and I wonder if they aren’t actually two different types of dream states.

*FREAK:
The antithesis of CREEP, where you begin experiencing TELLS and FLASHES in your waking life. Can lead to a BREAK, or at the very least a diagnosis of Schizotypal personality disorder.

FURIES:
Pursuers, either known or unknown, who are relentless but not inescapable for small periods of time. Guards chasing you in hallways, hordes of children chasing up stairs, dogs or other animals trying to get at you to bite you, are all forms of this.

GORGON:
A dream figure with a hidden face, or that exists behind a door, etc. You hope it doesn’t turn around, but when it does you collapse in hysterical horror. Usually causes a BOUNCE.

HIDDEN FORTRESS:
An in-dream labyrinth you enter from either a familiar or generic location. Once you enter, you’re certain you’re not supposed to be there and will normally be threatened by FURIES, or the threat of them.

*HOVER:
The optimum balance state for someone who is actively experimenting with their dreams. This is basically a “playing along” frame of mind, that says, “Nothing I see may be actually happening, but I’m going to proceed as though it is.” It’s a form of, “this too shall pass,” mentality that keeps the experimenter under COVER during CREEP and holds off BREAKS during FREAK.

INSIDE:
The dream world.

*INTERMEDIARY
A theoretical device that would receive PONGS from several dreamers at once, and then send out PINGS or control BLEED to allow the dreams to experience a shared, interactive COLOR RADIO experience.

KNACK:
The ability to do things in a dream that you’re not able to do in your waking state without fully SNAPPING. An example is the ability to glide down a flight of stairs.

*LINE:
A line is completely hypothetical in my experience at this point. The goal, and the goal of my current experiments, is to be able to cause a piece of information similar to FLASH to be communicated to the dreamer without breaking COVER via a TRIGGER.

LOOP:
A very uncomfortable dream state, where you repeat a task over and over again, often with a large amount of SUCK. This normally only happens to me when I’m sick.

MAD BOOK:
The literary equivalent of an APPARATUS, this is a recurring object archetype in my dreams. Each one is a book on a subject I find interesting. In fact, I often get the feeling that it’s a book that I’ve been trying to find for a long time. Unlike many people have reported I can “read” these books in my dream, up to a point. However, when I go back to reread something, I find the text has changed. These often take the form of comic books, or books with pictures and illustrations as well.

MUNDANE THEORY:
The idea that dreams are worthless and hold no value. While holders of this belief may couch it in scientific terms, it has never been expressed by any scientist or mathematician I’ve met. To the holder of the mundane theory, whether the FLOW THEORY or CONSTRUCTION THEORY is correct is of no consequence, as dreams are a “simple chemical process,” and should be ignored. I separate this from the folks who claim that dreams serve some function we don’t yet know, or those who claim they’re useful in psychiatry. This is the hard-line “dreams aren’t worth remembering” crowd.

ON:
The condition you reach after you’ve SNAPPED. It’s a near-omnipotent state that many people describe as “lucid dreaming,” but for me is very unstable, usually leading to a near-immediate BOUNCE.

OUTSIDE:
The waking world.

PATCH:
A dream’s attempt to counteract BLEED, preventing a BOUNCE. A patch is almost always a TELL. An example would be a train that makes the sound of your alarm clock beeping.

*PING:
An intentional form of BLEED, designed to create a PATCH that acts as a TRIGGER. This patch is *also* known as a ping, giving the illusion that the outside stimuli and the in-dream trigger are a continuation of the same signal. At this point the ping is only theoretical in my experience.

*PONG:
The theoretical ability for the dreamer to somehow answer a PING without breaking COVER. I have yet to attempt this because I have yet to get a ping to be successful, and I have no method to measure a pong, even if such a thing were possible.

QUIRK:
A bit of FLASH logic that upon waking appears faulty, but doesn’t break COVER in the dream. Can be a type of a TELL, but is mental rather than physical. An example might be having a dream where you remove your pants to get into an elevator, because “that’s how it’s done” in that particular dream world.

*RIDE:
A theoretical dream construct I have yet to execute. The dreamer would use FIXED environments, environment-specific TRIGGERS and LINES to essentially “program” a dream experience without breaking COVER. A successful RIDE is my main goal with my dream experiments.

SANDBOX THEORY:
The antithesis of the TABLE FOR ONE THEORY, this idea is that all dreams exist in a different level of reality, and this reality is shared by all dreamers. In this theory WELL-KNOWN STRANGERS, DOUBLES, AMALGAMS, and DIVAS may all actually be other dreamers. If this theory were correct, TANDEM could be achieved without the use of an INTERMEDIARY.

SCENE:
A distinct point of a dream that you can fully articulate. For example, you remember walking with a group of people who were all dressed as rabbits. Depending on how well your COVER is working, you may be able to remember how you got there, and one scene might transition smoothly into the next. For me, however, scenes are quite often fuzzy at the edges.

SEED:
A thought or event that occurred in the waking world that informs a SCENE in your dream world. An example might be watching a TV show about sharks and then having a dream that you’re in the ocean. Similar to a FIX, but a fix is intentional while a seed occurs spontaneously.

SHARP:
A state between ON and COVER, where you have access to your memories of waking life but have none of the omnipotence of being on. FEEDBACK may still be in effect. Differentiating between BLUFF and being SHARP may be impossible during the dream state, needing to be verified that the “you” you remembered in the dream was accurate.

SHOCK:
Either a dream event or BLEED that is so severe that it leads to you either SNAPPING or BOUNCING. This includes being in a situation where you’d normally be killed, having an extreme guilt reaction to engaging in behaviors that you honestly would not do in the outside world, or being terrified by a GORGON or caught by FURIES.

SIDE FADE:
Where you go from one SCENE to another with little break in continuity. Often this involves ASSUMING the form of someone in the current scene.

SINK:
Something that causes you to alter your state of consciousness in the dream. An example would be dreaming that you’ve taken some sort of mind-altering drug. You’re actually simply still dreaming. Could be seen as a type of DODGE.

SKIP:
A transition form one SCENE to the next with a break in continuity.

SLIP:
Falling back into a dream state after you’ve SNAPPED.

SNAP:
The knowledge, with absolute certainty, that you’re dreaming. I call it a “snap” because for me it’s usually instantaneous. Once you’ve snapped, you’re ON and can basically do anything, but it’s really easy to BOUNCE.

SOUVENIR:
Something you carry with you from the dream state. Usually an idea, but often emotions for WELL-KNOWN STRANGERS and DOUBLES can happen as well. An example might be a musician who remembers a guitar part from their dream. Another example may be when you find yourself angry at a friend for something they did to you in a dream.

STALL:
Something that keeps you from SNAPPING, causing a SLIP. Usually, this is a simple task that’s impossible to complete due to SUCK.

STOCK:
The unassuming parts of a dream that are neither AMALGAMS or DOUBLES. A chair is just a chair, a motel is just that. The people aren’t special, the places aren’t weird, it’s all backdrop.

STRAND:
The tiniest inkling of a SCENE or SOUVENIR that’s been BURNED. It may be all that you get, like “Something about an egg…or a plate…” and then the memory vanishes completely. However, a strand can be followed to an entire recovered scene or souvenir if finessed correctly.

SUCK:
Opposite of KNACK. The inability to do even the most basic task in a dream. Often part of a DODGE. An example might be a car suddenly becoming completely unable to steer, or a knife falling apart while you’re using it. You try to punch someone in the face, but your hand won’t do any damage. You’re running but not getting anywhere because your legs, “Aren’t doing that running thing.”

TABLE FOR ONE THEORY:
This is the commonly-held belief that our dreams take place within our own heads, and have no reality save for the SOUVENIRS we are able to take with us. If this theory is correct then a true “sharing of a dream” would be impossible, the closest experience being a synchronization of individual dreams along with interaction: the TANDEM experience. Either CONSTRUCTION THEORY or FLOW THEORY is compatible with table for one.

Note: While seen as the most logical and skeptical of the dream theories, if combined with BASE THEORY it basically states that the dreamer’s mind is the ONLY mind in existence which is a dangerous road.

*TANDEM:
The holy grail of my experiments which I doubt I will ever see achieved. The purely theoretical idea of using COLOR RADIO, PINGS and PONGS to have two or more dreamers experience the same SCENE and interact through an INTERMEDIARY. Of course, if the SANDBOX THEORY is correct, it may require nothing more than practice. If the BASE THEORY is correct, then our entire world is either a TANDEM experience or an elaborate DODGE within a TABLE FOR ONE.

TELL:
An incongruity in a dream that lets the experienced dreamer know they’re in a dream. Being able to read text, a lightswitch not working, not wearing shoes, teeth falling out, etc. Noticing a tell can lead to CREEP.

TOXIC PLAYGROUND:
Various forms, but all with a similar feel. They may be worth separating out, but I prefer to lump them together. This is where you experience something that should be a SHOCK, but isn’t. You end up doing or experiencing horrible things, but maintain COVER the entire time. It’s not until you wake up that you wonder what the hell is wrong with you.

TRIAL:
A social nightmare, usually filled with both QUIRK and SUCK, where you are hated and berated by people in your dream. Often takes the form of showing up to perform a play without having rehearsed, arriving to work or school without completing an assignment, etc.

*TRIGGER:
A trigger is a FIX designed specifically as a TELL. The first step is that the dreamer goes to sleep with the intention to dream about an person, place, thing, theme, or event. The second step is that the person will then either (theoretically) execute a LINE, go into a BLUFF, or SNAP. My success rate with triggers is extremely low. One of the goals of my experiments is to increase my ability with this regard.

WELL-KNOWN STRANGER:
Someone you know intimately in the dream-state, but realize upon waking that you have no idea who they are.

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11 Responses to Dreams

  1. Liz says:

    Do you have a word for something which is a more benign form of Hidden Fortress? I often visit my childhood home in my dreams, but it is invariably much cooler, larger, and more labyrinthine than my real home. It is sometimes my safe base of operations when the Inside version of my childhood town is overrun by Furies.

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  6. Derek says:

    Hi Paul,

    great to read your dream state definitions. I have experienced something like a Tandem Dream. I’ll describe it:

    I was working and living on a boat where I spent 24/7 with the same 12 people. I shared a small cabin with a guy called Damian who I also worked with all day so I guess we were pretty tuned in to each other. Damian slept on the bunk above mine and it was slightly offset with the angle of the hull.

    One night I was having a dream about putting a cover on to one of the outside tables. This was a routine task on the boat and it took two people. In my dream Damian was standing at the other end of the table with the cover, he wasn’t giving me enough slack and I was pulling on the cover trying to get enough to pull it over the corner of the table. At this point everything went dark in my dream and I was looking around and couldn’t see anything. Then I realised that I was sitting up in my bunk and was holding onto my duvet. But strangest of all was that I then saw Damian standing on the end of my bunk holding the other end of my duvet. I aksed him what he was doing and I could see that he too had just woken from a dream. He told me that he had been dreaming that we were putting a cover on one of the outdoor seats.

    So we deduced that one of us must have been talking in our sleep, asking for help to “put a cover on” and the other responded to that and dreamed about putting a cover on except that we didn’t dream about putting a cover on the same thing.

    Anyway I have had many odd experiences during dreaming (including twice dreaming myself seasick) but this is the weirdest one.

    Look forward to following your dream experiments.

    Cheers,

    Derek

    • paulgude says:

      Derek, that’s kind of awesome. It sounds almost like the real-world repetition of the task carried through and put you in sync. Makes me wonder if that might not be an area to explore as well.

      Personally, this is the first time I’ve heard of anything like this.

      Thanks for sharing it!

  7. Liz says:

    Cool story about the tandem dreaming. I sometimes have telepathic moments with my husband. Nothing confirmable, but things that make ya go “huh.” The first time this happened I was dreaming about a game of rock, paper, scissors. I woke up and Dave was muttering about “rochambeau” as he woke up.

  8. ~jG says:

    Hi Paul, HTML ate my previous comment, please disregard it

    This past week I have been taking copious notes on my dreams, including maps, object lists, and so on. It was a delight to find this excellent glossary. I’ll be referencing this from now on in my own dream experiments.

    I have also experienced a Tandem dream with my girlfriend:

    We were asleep on the living room futon with the sliding door open so we could hear the peepers. In the dream, we heard something outside (possibly a Bleed) and had a telepathic conversation speculating what it could have been. As we emerged from the dream into the between state, the conversation persisted until the shock of it fully woke us.

    Anyway, I’m wondering if you have a word for that state between sleep and wakefulness, as it seems to be a time when instinct is enhanced. In that state I have experienced multiple phenomena:
    *Enhanced reflexes and balance
    *Knowledge of the exact location objects
    *Amplified empathy with pets

  9. paulgude says:

    I’ve been calling that stage “fade-out.”

    Your anecdote reminds me of when I was sharing a room with my step-brother and his cousin. I heard them having a very animated conversation, and tried to join in, but they told me to be quiet. When I opened my eyes, I realized they were actually asleep and hadn’t made a sound.

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