Tag Archive for 'books'

Lucid Dreaming with Haruki Murakami

I recently finished reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. I thought it was a very easy, pleasant read. Towards the end it started to get a little too Yamazaki-surreal on me, but other than that I enjoyed it very much. The story was peppered with random graphic sexuality, much like Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

But what really struck me about the book is how much of an effect it started to have on me. Specifically, how this book triggered vivid and lucid dreams.

Like many others, I first started toying with lucid dreams after seeing the brilliant Waking Life. In what is probably Richard Linklater’s best film, a kid travels in and out of his dreams, plays with existentialism, and asks the important question: are we mere spectators in our dreams or can we control them? This is the premise behind Lucid Dreaming, the idea that you can become self-aware in a state of dreaming, and ultimately control the events that occur in your dreams. After seeing the film in 2002, I set to initiate lucid dreaming without much luck. I couldn’t even turn on a light switch in my dreams, which is one of the interesting tests Waking Life suggests. The best I could do was realize that I was in a dream right before I woke up. My conscious brain wanted to take over the moment it realized it was not in control.

Vivid dreams are slightly different. Vivid dreams occur during REM sleep. Various drugs have been associated with vivid dreaming. Others insist herbal and natural ingredients can induce vivid dreaming. In any event, it is different than lucid dreaming in that you are not necessarily in conscious control of your actions or the actions of others in the dream. I would think that most people have experienced vivid dreams at some point in their life.

In any event, while reading Kafka on the Shore, I started experiencing vivid dreams, and when I realized this, tried as hard as I could to actively control them. I had fleeting moments of control, but nothing like complete control. After experiencing more than 5 vivid dreams while reading the book, I wanted to find out if others have had a similar experience. And of course, they have! I found at least eight places that either directly or indirectly linked vivid or uncommon dreams to Kafka on the Shore. Link1, Link2, Link3, Link4, Link5, Link6, Link7, Link8.

What is it about this book that stimulates vivid dreaming? Is it the intersection of plots both surreal and ordinary? I’m not sure, but I would love to hear if anyone else out there has been able to attribute vivid or lucid dreams to having read this book.