life


I started to learn Polish. Very interesting. As a start I did an “About me” page in Polish.

I have started to learn to play the guitar recently, and in order to play freely it’s beneficial to know song texts by heart. Having read about how people on various TV shows manage to remember a huge amount of information in a short time, I decided to try their methods to learn “Hotel California” by the Eagles by heart.

The idea is to remember the text not word by word, but to remember just the key words in each line and build a mental story with these words. The story doesn’t have to be convincing or anything; it’s just a tool to help you remember. Do try this at home! I’ll offer my key words and my mental story for part of this song. I only had time for two stanzas:

(I won’t reproduce the whole text here as it’s probably copyrighted.)

highway
hair
colitas
rising up
distance
shimmering light
head heavy
night

doorway
mission bell
thinking
heaven hell
candle
show way
voices
heard

(refrain)

tiffany
mercedes
pretty
friends
dance
sweet
remember
forget

captain
wine
spirits
1969
voices
night
say

I wrote these words down from memory, about 14 hours after coming up with them in the marshrutka on my way to work. That took me about 15 minutes. Do repeat the text without looking at it after coming up with your words / story. After work I could recall everything. I now have more trouble remembering the 8 accords that you have to play in a stanza than the text :)

The scene (mental story) I imagine for second stanza goes like this: It’s a warm sunny day, some rich women went by car to a street cafe where she sits now. Because she’s rich, pretty guys desire her. She calls them friends, although these guys are only after her money. They dance for her in the courtyard, she finds that sweet and they sweat. It’s summer. Some of the guys dance well (to remember), some not so well (to forget). Then the first-person narrator calls the waiter (the captain is the waiter in my story) to ask him to bring him his wine. Wine contains alcohol — spirits. The waiter tells his story.

I don’t have a story for the last four lines, as they are pretty easy to remember by itself. The words were enough.

I encourage you to try this at home :)

Lucid dreams are dreams in which you are aware that you’re dreaming. Being able to control your actions allows for some interesting challenges. I specificially thought of two such challenges:

  • Find a computer, sit down in front of it and play Minesweeper.
  • Teleport yourself to a foreign country the language of which you don’t know and try to understand the people, talk to them and write in their language.

Playing Minesweeper is especially interesting: You play against yourself. Or rather your awareness observes how your ego in a dream plays against a computer that exists only in your ego’s dream. Try to catch your brain on making a logical mistake while you open more and more fields on the mine field.

I’ll add to this list as I think of more challenges. Leave your ideas for challenges in lucid dreams in the comments.

I had a lucid dream today. I don’t remember everything, but I was walking through a German town (I’m from Berlin, Germany). When I realized that I was dreaming, I started to look around, fascinated by the degree of detail that the human brain is able to create in imagination. Being more interested in what was happening, I started to lose the dream a few times, feeling my real body lying on the bed, sleeping, or rather dozing. But somehow I stayed in the dream for long enough for the following experiment:

I was walking by a bus or tram stop and saw a transport network plan. I decided to read it. As it turns out, I was in Cottbus, a middle-sized town in East Germany. I have never been to Cottbus in real life. The network plan contained all the stations the buses, or trams, in Cottbus stop at. Suddenly I had an idea: I wanted to challenge my brain, challenge the completeness and correctness of its imagination. I tried to read the station names, with the intent to later, when I was awake, find them on the real transport network plan of Cottbus.

As it stands, my mind couldn’t lie to my awareness: I plainly wasn’t able to read the text. I saw lines that resembled something that could be text in some other language, but it weren’t latin letters. (The text “Cottbus” was written readably with latin letters.) Everytime I looked at one specific bus stop label, it seemed to hav changed from the last time. For this reason I had problems remembering a specific label. I do remember though how the script generally looked like: It contained strokes, mainly from top to bottom and diagonal ones, and arcs like in C or ). These elements were less connected that latin letters; in a word of the length of 10 latin letters there were maybe 20 such strokes and arcs.

Why did my mind allow me to read the plan in the first place? As I’ve never been to Cottbus and have never seen the plan of public transport, it couldn’t possibly show me the real plan. I knew that, as well as my mind. (That sentence sounds a little insane, so let’s rephrase it: My awareness knew that as well as the mind of my physical ego, which was dreaming at the time. Read more about you, awareness and ego on Steve Pavlinas web log.)

On the time line in the dream, I first saw the plan and only then decided to take a detailed look at it, so it was too late for my mind to not let me see it. And I hadn’t thought of the challenge yet. So I didn’t expect to see something that I will later compare with reality. Before looking at the station labels though, I already thought of the challenge. And my mind knew that I was specifically after tricking it. So it decided to do something about it. After all this is a dream, and in a dream it’s possible for text to be just not readable. In the end my mind tricked my awareness.

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