The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, April 01, 1894, Image 10

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    among the cells of the brain and spinal-cord
while the real master, the "Mind" is "absent ?"
Are they the faint echoes of the waking scenes,
the products of the brain machinery run "at a
minimum ?" Or, are they simply illustrations of
the universal properties of matter, to retain and
repeat under changed conditions, the impressions
imparted to it at others? In a general sense,
these questions cannot be answered, any more
than we can say why we are conscious at all.
Consciousness is a term of absolute unity. It can
be defined only in terms of itself. Why we
should experience states, called dream-conscious
ness, is as inexplicable as that we Aould be con
scious at all. So that our query must narrow it
self to the conditions of dream consciousness,
that is, the incitements which may occasion this
or that dream, rather than another. Thus de
fined, our topic becomes a fruitful one.
The first determiners of dreams are those sensa
tions arising from the vital organs, the heart,
lungs, stomach, etc. The curve of consciousness
drops so low in sleep that these organic processes
stir a sort of "cord" consciousness, directing its
eblrand fhw. Nightmare is doub!less caused by
the obstructed action of one or more of these
vital organs, giving rise to the dream attacks of
giants and demons. During the Middle Ages,
such was actually thought to be true, so that the
Pope of Rome "deigned" to, issue a bull against the
visitations of his satanic majesty in the guise of
nightmare. Degrees of hunger and thirst are
powerful incitors of dreams. Indigestible food
taken in quantities before retiring is sure to pro
duce characteristic dreams, and novelists have re
sorted to this "novel" method for the discovery
of their plots. Nor do we know hOw much of the
world's great poetry, music and song we owe to
the author's dissipation at some "swell reception"
with all its late and sparkling excitants. Michael
Angelo is said to have sketched some of his mas
terpieces in his dreams, while to an Italian artist,
the devil appearedone night and played a beau
tiful strain, which was reproduced on the succeed-
ing day and named, "The Devil's Sonata."
Reinhold testifies that the chief idea of the cate
gories was elaborated in a dream. Certain forms
of stimulant act in similar ways and the man filled
with new wine, well•nigh bursts with the joys of
this "too utterly titter world" as Prof. James
says, in which he finds himself. In my youthful
days, the festive peanut always had its peculiar
dream, and who has not heard of the proverbial
"grandmother" and the "half mince pie ?"
A second group of dream excitants cluster
about the muscles, joints, tendons, etc. The re
cumbent position causes them to relax, thuS fur
nishing to the sub-conscious synthesis, materials
for the construction of its fairy world. It is well
known that we are taller in the morning than at
night, showing the expansive result of the stated
rest. So the lessening of pressure upon any of
the bodily members by numbness, occasions a
feeling of lightness which is expressed in the
dream of flying. Many a person has mounted
upward in the night with the steeds of Queen
Mab, because the normal circulation of the blood
had been altered suddenly. Prophetic dreams
are likely thus caused. For example, a person
dreams of the bite of a serpent; the fact being
that a deadly disease had begun to fasten itself
upon him. So Aristides in a dream "encounters
a bull and receives an injury in the knee," the
truth being that a tumor is forming on his knee.
A careful record of my own dreams for a year
has given several cases of a "pure prophecy,"
but they are too lengthy to detail at this time.
A third series of causes are those springing from
external stimulation of any sort. Noises, changes
in temperature, the moonlight or morning sun,
are all responSible for portions of our dreams.
This is a field for direct experiment an I much
has been done. I quote but two examples. M.
Maury found that when his lips were tickled,
his dram-fancy interpreted it a , . a plaster being
torn off his face; while a warm iron placed near
his feet, gave risa•to the impression of walking
over the hot lava of Mt. Vesuvius. Anyone may