Sunday, August 28, 2011

In lieu of lucid dreams

Last night I dreamt that I was in a city that was slowly being overrun by zombies.  This was, no doubt, a result from the fact that I had watched three straight episodes of The Walking Dead just before going to bed.  Anyway, the dream slowly turned from avoiding these zombies to taking a train to the country to run away from my family.  Apparently somewhere along the way I became a princess or some type of nobleperson, and I wanted to escape my responsibilities by living a simpler life in the country.  But when I got there, the country was not what I thought it would be like, and it was instead full of people just like the ones I was running away from.

(To my family reading this, my dream family was not the same as my real family, don't worry.)

When I got up this morning, I knew I wanted to write something about sleeping, and eventually I settled on writing about dreaming and specifically lucid dreams.  But when I started to do the research, I realized that there was a whole lot of information out there, and I decided I really wanted to take the time to comb through it and actually write something decent and interesting.  So a post on lucid dreaming is forthcoming.  In the meantime, here's a little review on a book I recently read about mutants.  Not like X-Men mutants, I'm talking about genetic mutations that cause dwarfism, albinism, conjoined twins, etc.

This book aptly titled, Mutants, by Armand Marie Leroi, begins with historical accounts of monsters and demons, and seamlessly and effortlessly begins to speculate on the possible genetic diseases that may have been behind these "monsters."  From there, he begins to delve into accounts of more familiar curiosities such as conjoined twins and little people.  All the while, Leroi explains how the study of the people whose bodies and genetic codes differ from the norm can shed light on our understanding of what "normal" really is, anyway.

Leroi's writing style is quite nice, as well.  He manages to describe the physiological processes involved in these mutations without being overly dry and scientific.  Rarely does a science book grab and hold my interest as well while being as detailed as Mutants.  However, I should also state that I did feel like having a background in biology helped a lot when reading this book.  It's not that Leroi's writing isn't clear and to the point, but his subject requires a description of certain processes like DNA replication, or the course of early embryonic development.  Without some background in these subjects, and certain mental diagrams to draw from, a reader could easily get lost.  I would probably not recommend this book to someone who has no scientific background whatsoever, but if you've taken biology at the college level then you will probably understand everything in this book just fine.  And it even has the added benefit of having some shocking photos of some of the subjects described in the book, which can be really fun when you read it on a plane like I did, and you can potentially scare your neighbors.

Here's a sneak peak on the kind of stuff I'll be talking about on my next post (probably two Sundays from now).  This is a clip from this really excellent, really trippy movie, Waking Life, in which the main character slowly realizes that he's dreaming.  This scene in particular is when he begins to realize his situation. - Clip from Waking Life (Lucid Dreaming Movie) Video