Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bored to Waking

Most of us have been bored to sleep at one time or another. Now and then I have had the odd experience of being bored to waking by my dreams.

I work with computers; during periods when I concentrate enough on programming, they intrude on my dreams. I first became aware of this during a computability class, when I found myself dreaming of cars moving out of and back into parking spaces, and realized on waking that this had to with the "pumping lemma" for regular languages.

Such dreams tend to be boring. I explain this to myself by saying that a very important aspect of computing is controlled repetition: do this until that changes. The computer doesn't get bored executing a loop a million times; But the dreamer contemplating it is bored before the dozenth execution.

Such dreams can be mixed up with whatever I have been watching or reading. The parking lot part of the computability dream may have come from a scene in the movie "Tin Men". This summer the dreams have included an as-told-to memoir of Brendan Behan's, a collection of short stories, and perhaps a novel. Such additions do not make the dreams more interesting; if anything they make them more tedious.


  1. Your posting intrigues me. Let me share a different kind of confused and diffused consciousness anecdote. Once upon a time, I was a federal government court reporter, which involved a technology called "closed microphone reporting" (i.e., repeating into a device everything being said by parties in the courtroom. There were times that I would suddenly realize that I had no idea about what had happened in the previous five or ten minutes; however, I had heard, repeated, and recorded everything that had been said in the courtroom but had no recollection of doing so. This example underscore the peculiar nature of consciousness and unconsciousness.

    1. For some reason this reminds me of Mark Twain's remark about Mississippi River pilots, that their memory was powerfully developed but in one direction, and that the man who knew every turn in the river between St. Louis and New Orleans might not be able to tell you what he had for lunch that day.