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Dreams

Hypnopompic hallucinations

I woke up this morning staring at the ceiling, and on the ceiling was the clear image of a young woman’s green eye staring back at me.  I blinked my eyes, made sure I was awake, but the image lingered.  After a moment, it faded away, but I thought the incident was rather bizarre and somewhat creepy.  It was as though a random dream image had been burned into my retina so that I could see it even in waking life.  I’ve had minor sleep-deprivation hallucinations before, but this was more vivid than those.  It looked a bit like a fragment of a Vermeer painting:

greeneye2

Some internet searching confirmed that I’m far from the only one to experience this sort of phenomenon.  According to Wikipedia’s article on the hypnopompic state (the state of consciousness leading out of sleep):

When the awakening occurs out of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, in which most dreams occur, the hypnopompic state is sometimes accompanied by lingering vivid imagery.

So, assuming the vision was not actually a dream-seer from another dimension spying into my waking life, or a mystical prophecy that I am to meet and wed a green-eyed beauty (although I’ll leave those possibilities open), I’m guessing a “hypnopompic hallucination” is what it was.

And, come to think of it, I’ve had these sort of hallucinations before — with music.  It’s not uncommon to wake up to beautiful music that isn’t there.  I’ve just never had it with such vivid imagery before.

Oh, and the dream that preceded the hallucination was quite nice.  I was exploring a university campus, but it was in some royal futuristic steampunk world.  The university buildings were like gilded palaces, curved like the sides of pirate ships.  In one room, I witnessed a number of gamers playing a grand war game involving a bunch of little toy soldiers that were moved about a wire mesh grid.  When soldiers from opposing armies clashed and fought, mini-games involving dice and cards were played to determine which piece would defeat the other.  It looked like a lot of fun; I need to design the game for the real world now.