Results are in for 'Dream Lab: The Big Library Experiment'. Ten thousand library-goers filled in questionnaires about their reading and dreaming habits, and the numbers have been crunched by Mark Blagrove, a psychologist at the University of Wales, Swansea. It turns out that readers of fiction are more likely than non-readers of fiction to have 'bizarre dreams' in which impossible or unlikely things occur. Last night I dreamed that I was an assistant rhinoceros trader in ancient Athens called Ali Shah. How this might be connected to John Updike's 'Rabbit Remembered', the last bit of fiction I'd read, I don't know. Waking up, I thought the dream might be useful for Short Cuts and, taking the notebook and pencil I keep handy next to the bed, scribbled down the name 'Ali Shah', worried that I might forget it as the dream faded. The curious thing about this event, though it didn't seem curious at the time, is that I don't keep a notebook and pencil next to the bed. I had been, I realised when I really woke up, still dreaming. Or rather dreaming again. Had I realised that I was dreaming as I picked up the pencil, or even as I haggled fiercely over the asking price of a prize rhino, I would have been having a 'lucid dream', something only 58 per cent of adults have ever experienced. By contrast, the altogether less enviable business of dreaming you've woken up is too common to merit enquiry.
LRB 27 June 2002 | PDF Download