Sep 15, 2022

I don’t often remember my dreams. When I do they feel like something in my subconscious stirring around. Having a vivid dream is notable, having one about Mel Brooks is something else. It was not very long, at least the parts remembered, since what we remember quickly fades away when we wake up.

We were at the Bushnell , a performing arts center - off broadway, stuff like that… lot of good stuff goes there. Specifically it was one of the rooms upstairs or one much like it . Maybe not even the Bushnell, but that sort of fancy place.

Mel Brooks was there, full tux, flanked by several very serious looking men in dark suits with those obvious security earbuds. Why on earth security would still block one ear when bone conduction is so much better for that sort of thing… maybe it makes for good visual in movies. They had set up siege around a coat check room and were rummaging through pockets of coats. After a comically large pile of coats had accumulated on the floor Brooks let out a big “THERE YOU ARE, THIS IS IT BOYS!” holding up a small black address book. His security remained completely nonplussed. For those of you younger, before smart phones people would collect phone numbers in tiny black books. He started, comedically of course, leafing through the pages muttering each letter lounder than the last. a, b, c, D, E, F - “Hah, there you are you little bugger!” He meticulously tore out the tab identifying that page as “F”. He held the tiny tab up to his eyes, studying it for a moment, popped it in his mouth and made a big show of swallowing.

With a great look of satisfaction he slapped the book against his other palm “OK boys, let’s see a show…”. He dropped the book and they all moved on, I would assume to find their seating - or at least his… I don’t know what security would do. Seats are expensive. I also don’t know what became of the coat pile

So dreams…

Over humanities existence there has been a lot of trying to explain them. Giant books exist to help you interpret dreams. I really liked a recent theory from machine learning that theorizes dreams are just chaos. When a computer is learning how to do something (not being programmed but actually learning) there is a problem called “overfitting”. My summary: Consider teaching a child to catch a ball. The the first 5,000 throws are a gentle arc up coming down right in front of the lad. After all these, the child may learn that when the ball is thrown, just hold your hands out and the ball lands in it. The next 5,000 prove that out. Throw #10,001 is rolled across the floor. It would take some time to break a computer out of the habit when only 1 out of 10,000 is different.

Dreams mix all that up and let the brain process it in addition to the repeatedness of life to keep up flexible. This lets the mind not become locked in on a single version of events and remain flexible. This is terrible. I would recommend the following for a good explanation:

How dreams help restore the brain’s flexibility

The overfitted brain: Dreams evolved to assist generalization

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