NB: the following interview is a full transcript of the CBC Radio One interview with Morpheus, Shaper of Dreams, in November 2012. Used and printed here by special permission of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Interview by: Sandra Kripke; Transcription by: Kevin Teller.
SANDRA KRIPKE: Welcome to CBC Radio One, it is currently ten minutes past one here in beautiful Vancouver, BC and ten past five in Newfoundland.
Today’s discussion focuses on the study recently released by Oneiros Incorporated.
The average person dreams only two hours a night, but as little as 200 years ago, we used to dream four hours a night. What happened, and what we can do about it?
We’ve invited Morpheus, Shaper of Dreams, and CEO of Oneiros Incorporated, to the studio today to discuss the past, present, and future of dreaming.
Hello, Morpheus, and welcome. Thank you for joining us here at CBC Radio One. I know it was a long journey from the Underworld, so we appreciate you coming to talk to us.
MORPHEUS: Hello, and thank you for having me.
SK: So, tell us a little about the study you released recently.
M: The study is called, Modern Dreaming Begins in the Garden. We made a PDF copy available on the Oneiros website this week, and there are condensed print versions in the CJEP, CJS, CMJA and JAMA.
The study is comprised of two parts: first, a study on dreaming; what people dream, how much they dream, when they dream, and even theories on why they dream. The second part came out of our findings from the first. We learned that people dream a lot less than they used to, which in turn directly affects their physical and mental health. And that affects things like the economy, and the social structure at large – how we work, play, learn, and live – all of that is directly affected.
SK: That’s a really wide scope of study.
M: (laughs) You have no idea. The study is actually fairly narrowed down from the original scope! But it was one of those things that started out as a simple question – “Why are people dreaming less?”, and that, of course, created far more questions than answers and then it just snowballed into this massive undertaking. My partners and I have been in the business of dreams for a long time, but even we hadn’t truly considered just how much sleep and dreaming affects people and the world they live in. The effects and implications of dreaming, or not dreaming, or not dreaming enough, et cetera, are very far-reaching.
SK: Perhaps we could start then with a little about you and your partners; your history and your relationship to human dreaming – and how you first noticed people were dreaming less.
M: Well, my brothers, Icelos and Phantasos, and I are known collectively as Oneiroi. We started out as attendants to Hypnos, the god of sleep, but with the human population being so large now, we’ve actually taken on a lot of his duties as well, and we facilitate dreaming in humans. We send out dreams from the horn and ivory gates in the Underworld to sleeping humans. Some of the dreams are deliberate and specific sendings from us personally, but most of the dreams that go out are reshaped energy from the human mind.
SK: Two questions here: can you explain more about the energy, and is there a type of person you send dreams to?
M: Good questions. OK, the first one: Human thought creates a certain amount of energy, and that energy doesn’t just dissipate into the ether – it finds its way to us, or to other realms. In ours, it is reworked into dreams which we release every night from the Underworld to go where they may. Human brain tissue generates electrical fields when it’s active. In fact, when large numbers of neurons show synchronised activity, the electrical field produced can be large enough to be measured outside the skull.
SK: That’s pretty powerful.
M: It is. And, like anything else that produces energy, there is always some loss – not all the energy produced gets used. That energy is the kind that we reshape into dreams.
Your second question, about who we send dreams to; usually we send specific dreams to those with some innate ability or talent, those with a powerful sense of curiosity – and sometimes to those in positions of power who may not possess those traits, but need to be creative in order to wield their power properly and well.
SK: Can you name a few of the people you’ve sent specific dreams to that our listeners might know?
M: Well, there are confidentiality rules, so I can’t name anyone living. But there are many writers, artists, scientists, explorers, revolutionaries and inventors, to name a few, we’ve sent very specific dreams to – and not sendings that told them what to think or make, but dreams that allowed them to expand their already considerable creativity. For instance, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Jean d’Arc, Aldous Huxley, Titian, Gustav Klimt…there are many people we’ve sent dreams to.
SK: Are there people who don’t dream?
M: There are, but it’s rare and usually the result of some kind of trauma. Physical trauma from accidents, psychological trauma, naturally occurring defects in the brain – usually related to some kind of psychosis. Even some of the early forms of psychological treatment, like electroconvulsive therapy, could damage or erase a person’s capacity to dream. But, the healthy brain dreams; it’s part of the brain’s normal function.
SK: I don’t usually remember mine, so I’m never really sure I dreamed anything. Is that normal?
M: Very. Most people have trouble recalling their dreams. But, if you truly didn’t dream at all, you and I would not be having this conversation. You’d be too psychologically damaged to have a complex conversation.
SK: When did you and your brothers notice that people started to dream less?
M: Some of it was a natural result of human evolution. As humans evolved, the brain became even more refined and sophisticated; it became larger, too, and more capable of making connections between things in the waking world and so could rely a little less on dreams for assimilating new facts, or coming up with new ideas that could be integrated into the everyday life of ancient man. This process took nearly two million years. Homo sapiens sapiens, modern man, dreams in a much different way than his predecessors, say, Homo erectus, or Homo habilis did.
There were other factors at work too: the development of stable and persistent writing systems, art, architecture, trade with other tribes and cultures, more integration between those different cultures, new means of travel that allowed people to go far from the places they were born…all of these, and numerous others, made a huge difference in how humans communicated together. The trade of ideas and new technologies, the adoption or rejection of those ideas and technologies, these things kept people more grounded, and allowed humans to understand their world, and survive in it, in ways that were less tied to superstition, and had more to do with logic and reason.
SK: Do you feel that religion ties into dreaming as well?
M: Religion and superstition are as much the product of the human mind as reason and logic. When the human brain was geared toward survival and little else, it would be easy to see the things you could not control as being controlled by something outside of the human experience – god, or what have you. As the brain evolved and developed into something more sophisticated, it was easier to work out the actual reasons things happened, and more often than not, the gods were not involved. We try not to meddle too much..
But even now, a dream that may actually be meaningless can be interpreted by the dreamer as having significance.
If you read Dr. Patrick McNamara’s article Religion and Dreams in Psychology Today, he suggests that religion, religious ceremonies, and beliefs could very well begin with dreams. He gives the example of ancestor worship that is and has been prevalent in many religions – that might very well have begun with a dream of a person the dreamer knows to be dead. And if the dearly departed speaks in the dream, the dreamer can easily interpret it as a sort of sending from beyond the grave.
There hasn’t been a great deal of study on this yet, but the field is becoming more interesting to the scientific community at large, so I think within the next 20 years or so we’ll start to see a lot more information and study on this come about.
To return to your original questions though, the sharpest decline happened at the time the Industrial Revolution started to take off, and then there was another decline in the 1950’s or so when modern technology and conveniences started to become more mainstream. Once there were machines to do the things that used to be done by hand, the time spent dreaming dropped sharply.
SK: That seems like a contradiction, wouldn’t more free time mean more time to dream?
M: We thought so too, but that proved to be untrue. Machines did, in many respects, make lives easier and create more free time in terms of manufacturing the basic things you need to live – clothing was easier to come by and cheaper, food could be preserved for longer periods of time, building materials could be made in large quantities and were available for less money. There were more things available period, and many of those things certainly improved the daily quality of life for many.
I think it was really the pace of technological progress that changed things. A human life, and even the lives of a few generations of humans, move very quickly when the scope of time is considered – and this revolution moved almost as fast.
SK: What do you mean by ‘the scope of time’?
M: If you consider all the time there ever has been, from the moment of the creation of the universe to right now – and all the time that ever will be until the heat death of the universe…a human lifetime, even a long one like that of Jeanne Calment who lived for 122 years, is over very quickly when seen against that backdrop.
To me, for instance, it seemed that one moment, modern humans had just developed a decent and reasonably reliable postal system, I blinked, and suddenly everyone was using telephones to call across continents. And the pace never slackened – it picked up speed and momentum.
The pace of that change, of those advances in technology, were so fast that I think it was overwhelming on a lot of levels. It was delightful and fascinating, of course, but it changed expectations of how daily life should be lived, about what the average person was entitled to, about how fast the pace of living day to day should be. Humans began to live in a very conflicted headspace at this time.
SK: You mean the whole “we wanted it yesterday” attitude?
M: Exactly – that was a huge part of it. You look at your average city dweller today: they have a computer, they have a cell phone, they have a car, they travel on planes, they buy all their food at stores and it’s mostly ready to eat, or to be cooked right away. If you break each of those things down, you’ve got the following: unprecedented access to huge amounts of information. The Internet is a constant source of never-ending content about everything a person can think of wanting to know – and that access is extremely fast. Even the slowest Internet connection is faster than the old method of going to the library, looking up a subject in the card catalogue, and then reading the book. You can just Google something now and get instant results. Same things for cell phones – just dial a number from anywhere you have reception, and you can connect instantly. Cars and planes give people the absolute freedom to go nearly anywhere in the world over the course of a single day. Ready to eat and prepared foods means you can eat whenever you feel the tiniest bit hungry.
This is all expected now – not necessarily appreciated, but definitely expected. There’s a growing sense of entitlement to have a thing as soon as a person conceives a desire for it. You look at the complaints people make about technology and the biggest complaint is usually related to something’s speed.
Conversely, in that same individual who expects instant gratification, there is also a growing desire to have more time to simply be without any demands being made on their time or person. They want complete autonomy while still being totally reliant on technology for that autonomy – and while still expecting their other wants to be satisfied instantly.
Add in the sense that time is something that can be, and is, personally owned – phrases like, “My time is valuable.” or, “I’d rather spend my time doing X.” and you’ve got a real mess on your hands. Time, as humans think of it, it is a human construct. That is, once it was broken down into hours, and minutes, and seconds and then into even smaller and more precise pieces, there was a sense of ownership of it. As though by labelling it, it could be conquered. And tied directly to that labelling of time is the fear of dying. These time constructs are essentially a countdown – all the little math problems people do in their heads, you know, “Well, I’m 43 now, so if I live to 95 like my great-grandmother, I’ve got 52 years until I die. There’s still time to write a book and learn the piano.” There’s a bizarre comfort in that, but also a sense of panic that time is running out – and the answer to that panic seems to be “go faster.”
So, when things move as fast as they appear to now – and that speed is expected and encouraged, but is also exhausting – and all the information the brain must take in and sort out even over the course of an hour…
I’m getting a little off topic I think.
SK: It’s interesting though – I hadn’t thought about time that way, or that by thinking of it like that, and not really knowing that I do, could affect things so much.
M: (laugh) You can see the issues we had in trying to really pinpoint how humans ended up with a 50% loss in dreaming over such a short period. There are so many factors, internal and external, and accounting for them all is a huge task.
SK: So, tip of the iceberg, really?
M: Pretty much.
SK: Was there anything that really stood out from all the data you collected from the beginning of the industrial revolution to now?
M: Well, to backtrack a little, the consequence of machines and more readily available things for purchase, and more access to information was a faster pace of living and higher expectations – both of which caused stress. To deal with that stress, the purpose of dreaming shifted heavily toward being a method of just breaking even mentally, a way to off-load the excess stress of nearly constant sensory input and so-called ‘thwarted’ desires – especially now when that input is largely useless, or excess information that the brain doesn’t need in the first place, but is forced to process just so it can be discarded.
And there were definitely a couple of things that stood out; the first was dreaming in relation to proximity of technology.
SK: Just to clarify – dreaming is affected by how close we are physically to the technology we use everyday?
M: Yes. We noticed a small but significant trend: those who worked in the city, but lived away from the busiest centre points dreamed a little more than their city-dwelling counterparts. Not a lot more, only a couple of percentage points, but it was such a consistent finding that we had to look into it.
As it turns out, things like cellphone towers, power stations, telephone and Internet cables, wifi access, the sheer amount of electricity used to run even the most basic of things…they all interfere with and damage the electrical field that is produced by brain activity in the neurons. The more a person is in the thick of that interference, the less they dream.
We know now that a lot of that damaged energy got lost en route to dreamers, or arrived so incomplete that any dreaming was extremely minimal. Some of the energy was so damaged that it broke down completely into a type of noise – the kind that interferes with the technology that damaged it in the first place.
SK: A sort of energy Catch-22.
M: That’s a good way to put it.
SK: Was there a sense of panic when you discovered this?
M: Initially, yes. We started to keep much better track of it, monitoring it and studying what was coming in, and if we were making it worse when it was sent back out. We learned that we were not damaging the energy further by attempting to shape it, but that the shaping wasn’t correcting the damage either.
The damage levels have evened out and stayed steady for some time now, so while it’s not ideal, this is the new normal until we can find and implement something to correct for it.
SK: Have there been other consequences from this damage besides the decline in dreaming?
M: Definitely. The human mind needs an outlet and release for the daily stress I talked about – and since the outlet of dreaming isn’t working as it should, people have found alternatives, most of which are technologically based.
Dreams are often strange stories that play out in our sleeping minds: they may make no logical sense, they may allow you to do things you cannot do in the waking world, and sometimes they show you scary things, or things that disgust and repel you. These are very normal sorts of dreams, and they are a kind of story. But if you can’t dream much, if your mind only gets the bare minimum to break even, it will turn to other sources of story and off-loading – in the modern day, that source is usually the TV.
The average person watches 28 hours a week of TV. That’s nearly the same hours the average person spends at a full-time job. And, if you do the math, that’s four hours a night, seven days a week – about the same amount of time humans used to spend dreaming. That’s no coincidence.
TV is essentially a dreaming substitute. As are movies and video games. They are presented as entertainment, and they are entertaining, but the real desire behind watching or playing with these mediums is the stories they tell; the stories that we are no longer telling ourselves.
SK: Video games, though, can be very interactive, and they are useful tools for improving hand-eye coordination, and even teaching.
M: Oh, I don’t mean to imply there is no value in these mediums, though my own opinion is that TV programmes, in general, have very little value. Video games are fun – I play them myself. They are definitely interactive to a point. l agree, too, about them improving hand-eye coordination. I’ve never used one to learn anything specific, but I could see them being an excellent method for teaching. I’d even say that immersing yourself in a well done video game, or film, can be similar to the experience of enjoying a really great story in the form of a book.
That being said, I think that too much time is spent at these things, and TV in particular is a very passive activity, if calling it that isn’t an oxymoron.
SK: And movies?
M: Movies are just a longer form of passive TV shows. That sounds harsh, I know. I enjoy movies, too – but I think the problem is not the just media, it’s the frequency with which people indulge in these various media types.
TV bothers me most because it is something people watch in excess, and often to the exclusion of other activities. And the human concept of time goes really sideways here. People often say, “I never have time to do the things I really want.” Yet, they deliberately make, or find, time to watch 28 hours of TV a week.
SK: What about social media?
M: Social media, and even texting, can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows very easy and instant communication between people, which is nice and convenient. You don’t need to wait for letters, or hope that the person you’re calling remembered to turn on their answering machine so you can tell them you wanted to talk to them.
So, the enhanced communication is great, but humans are a social animal. They crave society – and by that I mean being with other people in the physical world – even if only a small group of people.
Humans require other humans – if that were not so, the use of solitary confinement as a punishment would have fallen by the wayside a long time ago. A solitary existence, unless chosen deliberately and carefully considered, is a punishing and miserable existence.
SK: So, you would say that even though texting and social media is between humans, that it’s still lonely?
M: It can be. Most people use social media in particular to talk about themselves in some fashion. What they are doing, where they are, the things they like, the things they don’t like…and everyone else using it is doing the same thing. So if you have a lot of people talking about themselves, who is really listening? And if no one is listening, then what sort of communication is that?
SK: Do you think that social media use is related to dreaming, or, should I say, not dreaming?
M: I think nearly everything is, but yes, I think social media is as well. After all, what is social media essentially? It’s a way to tell the story of ourselves to other people. It’s another way to process thoughts and ideas that are not being processed by the sleeping mind.
SK: So what do you feel are solutions to these issues that prevent people from dreaming – what is the impact of not dreaming, or dreaming so much less?
M: I think I’d like to tackle those in the opposite order, if that’s OK.
M: The impact is very far reaching. Because people dream less, and because there has been some measure of adaptation to that state by substituting other things – TV, video games, movies, et cetera – there has been a certain levelling out of creative endeavours.
That’s not say there are no creative people, or that creativity has entirely stagnated, but it has slowed down in several areas. And areas that were once moving forward quickly are declining through neglect, or active dismantling. At the top levels, the visible ones that get reported in the news, you’ve got cuts to space exploration, environmental protection, arts, education, social programmes, health care, and foreign aid – all things that require huge amounts of creativity and direct connection and interaction to other human beings. And in place of those things you have more defence spending, heavier taxation on the middle class, and wasteful things like gun registries, fighter jets, and higher salaries for the people who think these things are a good idea. And it’s not just a greedy lack of foresight, or arguments about ethics and morals and other ideologies tinged, or not, with religious overtones – it’s an almost total absence of creative thought, an absence of person to person contact – and we have tied that directly to the decline in dreaming.
It’s the same for the current work-structure of most places: unmotivated, disengaged, unhappy employees with little to no autonomy, or outlet for the creative parts of their mind. Instead of using all the talents a person can bring to a task, the mind is divided between doing the boring and repetitive job to pay the bills, or doing something creative and perhaps not being able to support themselves financially.
This is slowly starting to change in some places, there are some creative minds out there willing to take risks in this area, and we’re seeing excellent outcomes from that – including a small upswing in the time spent dreaming.
But, by and large, most work places are built on the old nine to five, assembly-line model of getting things done, and every worker is assigned a particular task with little chance to go much further.
And when you’ve got a workforce of people who were dreaming less to begin with, who work in cubicles at dull, repetitive jobs they have no stake in, who then go home and watch 28 hours of TV a week as a creativity and dreaming substitute… well, you get nothing new from that. Or, worse, there is a desire to just maintain things as they are because it’s easier and less exhausting than change.
There are breakthroughs and advances, of course; look at some of the great things built in the last 25 years: the Large Hadron Collider, the Curiosity rover on Mars, bionic eyes, stem cell research, genome sequencing that can be done in 24 hours, new medical technology to diagnose and help people at the earliest stages of illness, mobile technology…humans are doing things and creating. However, there is a lot more energy spent on making existing technology faster, or smaller, or prettier rather than using it as a starting point for the creation of something new based on that technology.
SK: If the decline stays as is, or becomes worse, what sort of future do you think is in store for our species?
M: Speculatively speaking, it’s our belief that if the decline worsens, humans are looking at the beginning of the end. It will take a good long time, mind you, it won’t happen overnight, but the physical resources here are limited – and at the current rate of population growth, and the rate of consumption of those resources, eventually there will be demands that can’t be met even in the first world countries, and the first world countries are the least equipped to deal with such a reality.
My worry – and I say ‘worry’ because I can’t be 100 percent sure it would happen – is that currently progressive societies may decline in other ways that go beyond fighting just to live, but that the progress that’s been made toward equality for all people, the struggle to end things like racism, sexism, and other various sorts of intolerances by one group of people toward another group, might all be undone very easily if this loss gets any worse.
SK: You mean a turn toward dictatorial societies and government?
M: That’s one possibility – especially if resources do become very limited. People will fight over them, fight to keep them, fight to take them away from other people – and how the remaining or captured resources are used will be very tightly controlled by whoever shouts the loudest and fights the hardest.
On the whole, though, in times of great distress and and trouble, people have turned to religion for comfort and answers. You can still see that way of thinking now when there are disasters. For instance, the tsunami that killed so many and destroyed so much in Japan; even after a quick look at reactions on the Internet – and not the opinion pieces on the news, but the reactions of the average person – I saw hundreds of comments that were all variations on, “Why did God allow this to happen?” or, “This is all part of God’s plan.”, or, and this is the worst one in my opinion – “God is punishing these people for their transgressions.”, and the transgressions varied in nature from revenge for Pearl Harbor to ridiculous racial nonsense.
So, if something happened on a global scale to threaten the immediate existence of all humans, something that will likely come about due to human activity anyway, it won’t be surprising to me to see that reaction on a much larger scale, but it does worry me.
And once people correlate natural disasters and the loss of resources with ‘we made the deity angry’, or ‘they made the deity angry and ruined it for the rest of us,’ we’re looking at a quick trip backward into dangerously superstitious beliefs and the violence that often accompanies them – or worsening this line of thought in the places where it already holds sway.
SK: Not to derail too much into religion too much, but isn’t it slightly ironic for a god to speak against religion and superstition?
M: Not at all if you consider the divide between gods and men – we are here, we are real, but most of us have never asked for, nor required, the sort of worship that humans consider proper. I mentioned that we try not to meddle in the affairs of men, and that’s true. And because we don’t meddle, and because humans are curious, we often end up hearing that we’ve “demanded” this or that sacrifice, or that we’ve commanded temples in our names, or that we desire humans to war amongst themselves because one group sees another as worshipping us incorrectly. These assumptions, to me, are superstition – and they are assumptions that are always dangerous to one group of people or another.
SK: This doesn’t paint humans in a very flattering light. Do you really believe that these things will happen?
M: As I said, I don’t know for certain that they will happen, but given some of the narrow thinking out there now; the issues we’re still fighting with: rights for gay people, rights for women, the need for things like affirmative action in the workplace, the protests against the one percent – and that’s just a few things I can think of from recent headlines here in the western world! – I think that it would be foolish not to consider the reactions of the already very extreme groups should things come to the worst.
SK: Some people claim that you use these possibilities as scare-mongering tactics to boost support for your research, your company, and any products released under the Oneiros name. How do you address those accusations?
M: There are always naysayers, always those who refuse to see the evidence before them. It seems telling to me, though, that most of the censure tends to come from those who consume the most, who have the most power, and who hold themselves furthest apart from the general population of people they are supposedly so concerned for.
To be honest, if the reaction to hearing about those possibilities is actually fear masked as self-righteous outrage, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Fear can be a powerful motivator, and sometimes for the better.
To go back a little to the original question of the impact of not dreaming, or dreaming less – the short answer is that a lack of creative thinking, the interference of technology when it comes to dreaming, hurts the individual – and societies and governments are made up of individuals, so everything is impacted. Absolutely everything.
SK: The title of your study, Modern Dreaming Begins in the Garden, hints pretty heavily at the solution you’re working on, but can you give us some details?
The first step in finding a solution was to accept that technology is such a part of human life now that, barring catastrophe, it’s here to stay and will evolve. We needed to find a way for dreaming to exist with technology, but still correct that 50% loss.
And we did come up with a lot of ideas about how we might approach the problem. It had to be simple, it had to be direct, and it had to be something that nearly everyone could access easily – cost couldn’t be a barrier. We knew it would have to feed into the consumer culture that already exists, and the more we talked about the consumer culture we came to a very simple truth: every human has to consume food just to live. There’s no way around that requirement. Regardless of the things that separate people, food is as necessary as breathing.
Once that was decided on, it was a matter of putting food and dream energy together in a way that would allow it to be consumed directly rather than sending it out the way we’ve been doing so far.
SK: Was that problematic given that the energy is so damaged?
M: You’ve just hit on the first setback we ran into; the damaged energy was definitely an issue. Before industry and technology, we could shape it and send it with little trouble at all; but, the damaged and mutated energy was something else altogether. It wouldn’t hold together and it couldn’t be sent reliably, but we had hoped that by making it a part of something that would be consumed, that maybe the energy would shift in a way that would be less damaged. It was worth a try, but it did not go well.
SK: What happened?
M: We started out with fruits and vegetables to experiment with – organic and non, local and imported, ripe and unripe, every combination of things we could think of to see which might assimilate the energy best. We tried pushing the energy into these, to see if the food could hold the energy in the same way that our targeted sendings do.
SK: And did you have any success with those?
M: If learning a lot about composting is a success, then yes. (laughs). But no, it didn’t work out very well. Regardless of the type of fruit or vegetable used, the energy we used, because of the damage, withered or rotted the food on contact, or it would look OK, but it had a terrible metallic taste, a little like food made of tinfoil. We didn’t create anything even remotely edible, never mind saleable.
SK: What did you try next?
M: We decided to grow our own vegetables from heirloom seeds using only purely organic compost mixed with manure from animals that were fed on organic grain diets. We raised all the plants in greenhouses. We didn’t use any pesticides or chemicals at all, and we used rainwater collected in underground repositories. We tried the first experiment again, and with the more or less the same results: the vegetables withered, rotted, or tasted bad.
We realised that we couldn’t use the damaged energy at all; that we had to explore the damage itself and see if it could be repaired, or cleaned somehow. We’re still in the early stages of understanding how the energy is damaged, so it will be a long time, if ever, before we can use it in our work, but we believe that it’s something worth pursuing further.
SK: That must have been a frustrating setback.
M: To be honest, none of us were very surprised by the outcome, especially given the issues we’d already had in trying to send the energy back out into the human world, but we had to try so we could know for certain.
Our next goal was to find a way to create energy that wasn’t damaged and try that new energy with the heirloom vegetables we were growing. We spent a lot of time researching how we could do that in a way that didn’t involve rotating groups of curious volunteers through laboratories for weeks on end. We wanted to recreate the energy that we used to shape before technology took such a hold on the human world, but in a way that felt natural to the people working with us.
We decided that a modern lab full of equipment was too much like the problems we were already having – we would run into the same tech interference. And even if we used no equipment at all, labs can be awfully sterile which we didn’t think would be very pleasant for a long-term experiment.
We travelled to countries where older methods of working are still in use – equipment that requires human or animal power to run, people planting rice fields, or cutting wheat by hand, animal herding or ploughing done the way it’s been done for thousands of years, hand made things – even if “machines” so to speak were used, such as hand-looms and the like. We wanted to observe and study methods of working that did not involve wall-sockets and electronics. The older ways are much harder methods in terms of the physical toll and time they take, but they can also induce an almost trance-like state of simply being while working, which produces energy that is relatively undamaged. The only time we saw this consistently in more Westernised cultures was in vacation groups and retreats, and we explored those too – so long as there was minimal to no aid from technology. We were interested in the things that took people willingly out of range of modern conveniences and technology.
So, we spent a lot of time learning older farming methods, which was hugely valuable to us given the nature of what we wanted to do, and we spent a lot of time attending retreats and talking to people such as psychiatrists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and those involved in helping people relax, helping people overcome stress and the issues that cause stress.
SK: Did you notice anything different about the energy during this time?
M: Definitely. The energy produced was relatively undamaged – sometimes completely undamaged – and given long enough to practise mindfulness, or long enough to adapt to labour and routine, we noticed that some people were able to maintain a lot of that even once they were back to their regular, technology dependent lives.
SK: So, it’s possible to mentally disconnect enough to produce undamaged energy without having to find a way to be on a more or less permanent vacation or retreat?
M: It is, though, I would recommend going on at least one anyway, just to learn how it’s done. It’s no easy thing to learn to clear your mind, especially within the presence of all the interference from technology, which is quite pervasive in most places.
Therapy is also a useful tool for people to help clear the mind of stress that is rooted so far back in their own lives, they aren’t even aware that those things are what is causing their current stress.
We compiled all the data we’d gathered from these excursions and retreats – who attends these, how often, the similarities and differences between attendees, the commonest likes and dislikes regarding food, or sleeping arrangements, travel, cost, location, activities…and then we combined those things as best we could and put together a plan to create our own retreat.
At first, we mixed too many aspects – a spa/hiking enthusiast/yoga/meditation/psychotherapy getaway just didn’t work. There were too many conflicts about how to place people and activities together in ways that didn’t overlap – and still have them near the greenhouses and eventual farms we wanted to build.
So we broke things down into more manageable groups: yoga, meditation, and spas go nicely together. Hiking and spas work well together. Therapy and hiking combine nicely, and, well, you get the idea. Two or three elements together is enough choice for a week or two week vacation or retreat.
SK: I can’t speak for those listening, but I’m relaxed just thinking about going to one of these.
M: That was the backbone of our plan – to have people relax and just be in a place that wasn’t rushed, that wasn’t connected to wifi everywhere or dependent on vast amounts of electronic entertainments.
SK: How are these retreats run – do you use electricity at all?
M: We do use power, but it’s all solar based. Our amenities are basic, but functional. So you can have a hot bath and a hot meal, but there are no TVs, no computers, and we actually ask that people either turn off their phones completely, or, give them to us for safe keeping until they leave.
SK: Do people actually hand in their phones?
M: You’d be surprised at how many people do. For the first two days, people reach for their phones almost constantly – to fiddle with, to take photos with, to use as a way of displacing stress of varying sorts. By the time most people leave and we hand the phones back, they look annoyed at having to deal with them at all. Most people say things like, “Oh, I’d almost forgotten about that thing.”
SK: So how do these retreats tie into the production of food for dreaming?
M: We shape the energy from these retreats the way we always have, except in this case rather than releasing it through the gates of the Underworld, we release it into the growing food – I suppose you could call it a sort of fertiliser.
We started out more slowly than that, though. In the beginning, we grew the food first, then shaped the energy, and then we fed it to lab animals – pigs and monkeys, mostly, as they are reasonably similar to humans in many respects. Our initial findings were very, very promising. Everything turned out pretty much as we’d hoped. We did have a few anomalies, of course – pigs with night-terrors, sleep-walking monkeys – but for the most part, the results were very consistent. Longer REM periods, more dreaming, energy from the dreaming mind that wasn’t damaged. And during the waking hours we noticed the animals seemed less agitated, more inclined to playfulness, less stressed, there was also more brain activity, which of course creates more energy.
SK: Not to take away from your findings, but, pigs having nightmares?
M: Oh, yes. Icelos and I were both bitten by a female pig that was particularly prone to nightmares. But, there are humans who are prone to them as well, so that was bound to happen, and it happened no more in the lab than anywhere else in a given point in time.
SK: So, no nightmare fruit will be on the market?
M: (laughs) It’s only nightmare fruit if you eat it before you sleep, but the same can be said for any food you eat before bed. Nightmare oatmeal, nightmare potato chips…eating before bed can lead to nightmares. It’s a timing issue, and not a food issue.
SK: I’m curious about why you chose vegetables and not, say, chocolate bars, or TV dinners, or bottled water instead.
M: We did look into those, especially in light of the obesity epidemic, and the amount of marketing and research that goes into creating and selling boxed and bagged foods, but we decided against it in the end.
First, we were all agreed that chocolate bars and other junk foods have little nutritional value – and that we didn’t want to promote junk food as the vehicle for having a healthy and creative mind. We feel much the same way about TV dinners – most of them are not very good for you: they lack proper nutrients in the quantities the human body needs them, or they are full of unhealthy amounts of sodium and MSG, and artificial flavours and colours…we don’t want to be associated with poor nutritional choices. Bottled water itself isn’t unhealthy, and water is necessary for the human body, but we think bottled water is going to go the way plastic bags are going: they’re going to be labelled as inherently wasteful and banned – and rightfully so.
The other mark against these things is that vegetables and fruits are grown, not made, and there is energy inherent in seeds – even before they become a vegetable or fruit, that works well with the energy we use to form and shape dreams. I guess you could say it’s a purer method, and I don’t think anyone could argue the health benefits of vegetables over candy.
Perhaps some of the things we produce will eventually get used in these less healthy things, but we’re not aiming for that.
SK: Is the food you’re growing ready for human consumption?
M: We still have another two years, at least, before that happens, and maybe as many as five years. We’ve got to have our tests and findings verified by independent parties, and we still need the green light from government agencies, but things are progressing nicely. The food is safe so far as we can tell and we’re hoping to begin human trials in the next six months.
SK: Will there be a call for volunteers for those trials?
M: Yes. We’ll put out the word on the company site to ask for volunteers. The first few are going to be longer term studies, so the paperwork and time commitment will be considerable in the beginning. Volunteers will also be asked to consider a purely vegan diet prior to the experiment as we’re going to begin the study with a vegan only approach.
There are still many other details to work out to ensure that things are optimal for us as researchers, and for our volunteers – and that we’re following government regulations.
SK: Now that you’ve got the beginnings of your plan up and running, more or less, what are the long term plans for Oneiros Incorporated?
M: Long term, and approval pending, we’d like to expand the small retreats and farms into bigger ones, and look at spreading those operations out across North America. All things going well, we’ll look at expanding internationally. But we’ve still got years ahead of us to observe and refine based on how and if things change based on the current plans, so, it’s a very long term project. It will likely take a few generations before we can see the big picture start to emerge.
SK: We have time for a few questions from our listeners, would you be willing to take one or two before we finish up?
M: I’d be happy to.
SK: OK, this question is from John Quinlan, in Goderich, Ontario. John, go ahead.
John (caller): Thanks, Sandra. You said that you send out dreams sometimes, and I was just wondering if you get requests for dreams and how that would work.
M: Thank you for your question, John. We do get requests for dreams, and requests for answers to questions better suited to private investigators, or that could be answered by simply asking the other person or persons involved. People used to make offerings to us, things like nightshade, wolfsbane, moon flowers, pieces of meteorites…anything that sounded even vaguely night or dream related, and leave those in the hopes that we would answer questions by way of their dreams.
My favourite question was from a man in Greece back in the day. He wanted to know, “Who moved my cheese?”. He offered us a lovely piece of pallasite*. We actually did answer that one; it was his nephew. Apparently the cheese was rather fragrant and the nephew moved it downwind to a corner of the garden and forgot to move it back.
Generally though, we do not answer questions. We don’t see everything about any one human’s life unless they are marked for a specific sending from us.
*A Pallasite is a type of stony-iron meteor. Many pieces of this type have been found in the northwest province of Chubut in the Argentine Patagonia. (KT, Trans.)
SK: We have another call, this one from Claire Beaudreau in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Go ahead, Claire.
Claire (caller): Thank you. Will the food you grow to be considered genetically modified?
M: That’s an excellent question, Claire, thank you. Technically, yes, the food would be considered genetically modified. The use of the energy we shape in the growth cycle of the food does introduce a very small amount of change on the genetic level, but far less than currently approved GM foods. These small changes are in no way harmful, and they are being rigorously tested to ensure the long-term safety of consumers, and the land we use to grow on.
We’re very conscious of introducing change, and we want any change to have the least amount of impact possible.
SK: We’ve got just enough time for one more. This one is from Jamie McCross in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Go ahead, Jamie.
Jamie (caller): Hi. I was just wondering what kind of video games you like playing, and what game is your favourite game.
M: Hi Jamie, that’s a really fun question! I like to play fantasy-based games on XBox. Right now I’m playing Kingdoms of Amalur, and Dragon Age 2. Sometimes I play games on the computer, too, like Plants vs. Zombies, but I’m not very good at that one because I’m not very fast. My favourite game is The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – I like exploring the caves and getting treasure.
SK: That’s all the time we have for questions on the air, but is there a way for people to contact you with other questions?
M: Definitely. If you visit oneirosinc.com and look on the contact page, there is a form there. I also recommend checking out our FAQ page as we answer many of the most common questions there. We do get a lot of questions coming in, so if you write, please be patient – it takes some time to get to all the inquiries and to answer them properly.
SK: Morpheus, it’s been a pleasure to have you in the studio today. I hope we’ll get to talk again as things progress.
M: It’s been a really good talk. Thank you for having me here – I’d be happy to come back again.