For the most part, I don't have a whole lot of faith in dream interpretation; if [A] supposedly means this and [B] supposedly means that, it won't be long before I say something like [F], out of sheer frustration. There are stories from history in which dreams are said to have played a pivotal role, but the amount of impact I can reasonably expect to have on history is negligible, so I tend not to take my dreams too seriously, especially the one where I'm playing Chutes and Ladders with Snoop Dogg.

Actually, some of my dreams over the years have been downright frightening, or so they seemed at the time; remembering the worst of them is something I'd just as soon not do, though as a rule they are seldom connected to Real Life as I know it. What's more, their arrival is wholly unpredictable, which has led me to the expedient of trying to clear the battle space before the fight begins: I watch a brief video or read a short story, with the hope that the story line will remain in my head and will fend off whatever wickedness the Sandman may have brought along. Sometimes, though, I just wing it. More than once I've put my Inner Child, a girl of nine, to work on these matters. In these imagined scenarios, she's about to turn ten or twelve or thereabouts, wondering which way things will go. And this sort of works, if only because I protect her reflexively; something within me won't let her come to any harm.

If I have any actual advantage here, it's because relatively few of my dreams don't mirror my waking life. Others, I am told, are not so fortunate:

They say you should never go to bed angry, and perhaps this is one reason why: whatever unpleasant thoughts you may have had, you certainly don't want them exacerbated, and if something has been bothering you all day, there's no good reason why you'd want it to bother you into the night. I definitely don't miss worrying the way I did during my period of Ridiculous Indebtedness. It took me several years and $55,000 to clear that mess out of my head, and good riddance.

Still, emotions remain a weak point, even for us feigned Stoics who are sworn never to let them see us sweat. I have begun experimenting with ASMR, a term I almost understand:

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia and may overlap with frisson.

ASMR signifies the subjective experience of "low-grade euphoria" characterized by "a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin". It is most commonly triggered by specific auditory or visual stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attention control.

A search for "ASMR" on YouTube turns up several thousand videos, mostly from the non-professional side. Historically, I have responded better to aural stimuli rather than to visual: a voice pitched just so — I'm not quite sure how to describe it in technical terms — will hit me harder and last longer than most pictures. After a while I stumbled upon a half-hour session starring My Academic Hero character Toru Hagakure, who is somewhat short on visuals but, in this incarnation anyway, seems to have the voice I'm looking, or listening, for. The subject matter — makeup application — is probably of more use to the aforementioned Inner Child, but the idea here is not to pay attention, but to have the sounds wash over you. I have no idea how this will turn out, but if it dispels even one nightmare, it will have been worth the effort.

The Vent

  18 February 2019

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