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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fugue Dreaming the Stroop Effect

At one point when I was about 15, in 1971 (and not on any drugs,) I dreamed (while sleeping) something like the link below that you can try. This little optical illusion game is quite an experience.

In this dream I was watching a movie like "Fantasia," when I discovered that my thought could affect what was on the screen of the movie. Since I was an artist at the time, I began to think color, and I found that sploooshes of color effectively danced across the screen in the direction of my thinking. As I began to play with it, I somehow entered into the movie itself, where the screen was all around me, like Mary Poppins jumping into the chalk painting.

After playing for awhile with color in buckets of thought, I began to shape color into specific words as I had been doing in my paintings; and of course, I used the names for colors, being
a literate artist. However while I was playing with it, I made some words the words of colors that did not match the color they actually were, such as Chartruese always seemed to be to me a pink word rather than the limey green it's really supposed to be. I got a little confused there...the sort of confusion you 'll experience soon if you go to that link below...

So, I decided to switch my attention to the music. While this confusion about colors was going on I began to attend to how I could make my thought influence the music track also; with seven notes on the scale and seven main colors in my palate, I began to control the light or dark of the color with the high or low octaves of sound, and the saturation was controlled by the loudness; the hue by the interval, etc. However, soon there were complex chords with sounds that I could not assign to a color combination...

It all was a marvelous experience, but soon, like the poor little apprentice in Fantasia who learned to start the spell for the brooms but didn't know how to make them stop, it became a little too overwhelming and the effect of it all drove me out of my verbal mind.

In my case, this dream made me so completely pre-verbal that I could not thinkg of any word when I woke up; except after I gropped along the wall and found the light I discovered that I could count in Spanish. It was a little frightening, but it seemed temporary. After I waited about fifteen minutes, I could have thoughts in words again.

Then I went out the next day at art class in school and painted these words that I had dreamed in different colors, different from what they said. When I had people name them by their colors and not what they said, they had trouble doing it as I did and it made them laugh. I thought, "Good, at least I'm not crazy then."

You too can put yourself into this state! Well, maybe not as well as I could. Someone else discovered the same effect and they had a PhD and I didn't so it was named after them and not me.

It gets pretty tricky when you realize you are reading the name of the last color you named, but it's a different color now and now you still have to think of the color you're seeing and now it's a different color and you're not getting your prain (poor brain) and mouth to work that fast. I'm curious to hear when, or with how much practice or if people can get through the whole twelve without flinching.

If this link goes away for some reason in the distant future, you can search for the "Stroop Effect."
(This link points to the website of