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Dream diary, 1/11/12: Christopher Hitchens at Tufts

I dreamed that Christopher Hitchens was teaching philosophy at Tufts, and that I had moved across the country to take his classes. I liked his first class — but most of the dream was taken up with frustration and annoyance at having to live in a dorm again, getting lost on a confusing campus, and vague bafflement at myself for having decided to become an undergrad again.

I woke up remembering that Christopher Hitchens was dead, and wondering if my dream-brain had been mixing him up with Daniel Dennett.

Comments

  1. Physicalist says

    I taught philosophy at Tufts at one point, but I’d be really really surprised if you were mixing up Hitchens with me. The Dennett connection seems like a strong hypothesis.

  2. Barn Owl says

    If my dreams have ever included famous people, I don’t remember them. I’ve had the “return to undergrad” dreams, though, many times, and I suspect that they’re anxiety-related. First there’s the inexplicable oddity of being a middle-aged undergrad, living in the dorms, and then there’s never enough room for my stuff in the dream dorm room. Sometimes I wake up feeling vaguely guilty about all the stuff I’ve accumulated. The dream campus is usually a confusing mix of undergrad, graduate, and postdoctoral university buildings and walkways. o.O

  3. Hunt says

    “Just goes to show that XKCD is never wrong:”

    It’s odd what sticks in your mind as a recurring dream. I’ve had that one many times, or close to it. For me it usually involves technical classes, like math or physics. I’ve forgotten that I signed up for them and then realize the date for the final is at hand.

    My other predominant recurring dream is being in a car that I can’t stop, and then running successive red lights without being able to slow down. Usually I’m pressing down and pressing down, but the car keeps going faster and faster.

    I think it has something to do with actually experiencing real situations like this. For instance, actually falling behind in a class, or driving a car with bad brakes.

    Makes you wonder about the dreams of people who have had really bad experiences, like vets.

  4. Eric O says

    I think it has something to do with actually experiencing real situations like this. For instance, actually falling behind in a class, or driving a car with bad brakes.

    That was certainly the case for me. My first year of undergrad was absolutely horrible. It was how I learned that the study habits that served me well in high school weren’t suited to university-level classes. Naturally, I get this recurring nightmare all the time.

  5. carolw says

    And then there are the ones when you’re in the class for the final, and you haven’t been all semester, and you’re naked. Or is that just me?

  6. Eric O says

    And then there are the ones when you’re in the class for the final, and you haven’t been all semester, and you’re naked. Or is that just me?

    My unconscious mind allows me a certain modicum of dignity in these sorts of dreams. Usually, I’ll at least have some boxer shorts on.

  7. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I occasionally dream about one professor in college who was a bullying tyrant to his students. I graduated in 1976 and this professor gave me an A in the only course I took from him. But I still have nightmares about him.

  8. Hunt says

    I find dreams really interesting, though I hesitate to give them any meaning at all. I really just think it’s our brains being jackasses while our conscious selves are at rest.

    I’ve heard that the best way to boost memory of dreams is to either talk about them, or if you can’t remember any, just make something up and think about having dreamed it. This is one reason I think the “return to college” dream is actually a meme-like artifact of ex-graduates discussing the content of their dreams. The near-ubiquitous flying dream may have the same type of etiology.

    The other thing I find amazing is how upset some people get over revealing the content of dreams, which is one good reason not to do it. People get genuinely pissed when I reveal that I’ve had dreams wherein I’ve been a real bastard, like even a murderer. But I really think these are of the same origin as the “missed finals” anxiety dream. You’ve broken a taboo, and your mind is attempting to deal with what you would feel about it.

    Much outward anxiety in our society and in historical cultures may well stem from the world of dreams, particularly in those that did not recognize a definite line between the waking and dream states. Suppose for instance you were a prince and awoke having dreamed that you’ve killed the king. I can just imagine how that would screw with your mind.

  9. KG says

    I’ve had the “return to undergrad” dreams, though, many times, and I suspect that they’re anxiety-related.

    I’m usually either back at school and having to take another set of A-levels (the final high school exams in England; in the dream I’m usually too old for school, but much younger than my real age of 57), or I find I’ve got to rewrite my doctoral thesis (I did, in fact, have to make major revisions after my first viva), or else write another one.

  10. Gingerbaker says

    You all have high-functioning academic/work nightmares. I’m jealous.

    I can’t even find my dorm, my room, nor remember the room number. I have no recollection of my other courses, after finding myself in the exact xkcd scenario, yet I know that I have left my car – which may be any/all of the cars I have owned in my life – somewhere in the crazy quilt of nonsense streets and rural pastures.

    I have a similar career nightmare involving conference schedules, hotel rooms, and transportation requirements.

    I have had these dreams so often I actually enjoy them now. There is often a new incarnation of an old memory which rings happily nostalgic, which makes these disturbing journeys somehow endearing.

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