Friday, October 30, 2009

Your dream companion.

Few days ago, in the metro newspaper, I have noticed a weird article about some man that everybody keeps seeing in his/her dream. It seemed a weird thing of the kinds that are interesting to me, somehow related to paranormal phenomena also to collective unconscious or it could also be a psychological experiment to see how this spreads and if actually everybody is going to start seeing him in their dreams or even imagining him in their realities. It's kinda scary actually and I like scary and weird stuff like that. I was already reading the contents on a website dedicated to the phenomenon and I thought that I would probably see him because of self-suggestion but it didn't happened yet (if this things goes on the internet like a meme then be sure everybody will be seeing him and it won't be unexplained anymore :).

Actually I had no sleep yesterday. The last time I stay awake till I can see the rise of the sun outside my window was when I was playing civilization in my 386 :). But I think it will be finally a more frequent thing from now on. When I was studying mathematics in Greece, we almost never had assignments and they didn't count anyways. Ok,. mathematics was the only department I think that also didn't required a final project. And you could also fail epically and still take the diploma after 8 years. But now I just got introduced into what means having to finish written assignments (with code too of course, but that's my favorite part anyway :) once per one or two weeks and also go to the lessons (because you want to go to the lessons of an MSc that interests you and you have payed too) and maybe find a timeframe to read what you were actually taught. The funny thing is that I find the assignments doable. I thought they would be harder. Maybe it's because I am already familiar with graphics, programming and maths. But I manage to only do it in haste in the last time because of procrastination. I don't like this :/

Anyway, going back to the thing, yesterday we were doing the math assignment (which was big and required also a lot of matlab code, I haven't used matlab before actually so that's a nice opportunity to get used to it) and it was a bit funny because I was connected with two other people on MSN and all of us didn't sleep and had some chat about the assignment or other non related stuff. This is going to be a regular occurrence in the future for sure :)

Ok,. and going back to the primary idea (because I was lost in other stuff :). Now I was sleeping and maybe I will go back to sleep more because I need sleep. The reason I woke up and started reading this, is because I had a revelation.

First of all, things related to dreams are interesting to me for some reasons I am not sure exactly. It's just the weirdness or strangeness of it (Btw,. I recently watched this movie and I'd like to watch it again). One aspect that I recently defined and is very interesting to me is the idea that someone has a personal dream companion. That thing (person, creature, whatever) is someone you keep seeing frequently in your dreams, yet he is not someone you know in real life, he only exists in your dreams, he is like maybe a friend or a foe or a mysterious being which although you keep seeing in dreams and when you encounter him in another dream that you have seen even years after you instantly identify him and that lucid feeling bumps in that, you know, I have seen him in my past dreams and he is like a living entity in a dreamworld or something. I don't want to put any metaphysics in here, just define a kind of special dream encounter that you know who he is and what are his characteristic like he was a regular resident in a place you frequently visit in your dreams.

Of course, that scary face in the website Ever Dream this Man that people go crazy about is only a dream companion few people have seen. The kinda funny or interesting part is to try to remember on very characteristic dream companion you kept seeing in your dreams. Which one is your personal dream companion? Which are his properties, attitudes or relation to you? Was there maybe a special place that you also kept seeing in your dreams where that companion appeared more frequently? I would like to describe mine in the next paragraph but before doing that I'll just like to point a funny thing. The first two persons the man in the website reminded me are Alfred E. Neuman and then The man from another place (from twin peaks). Funny coincidence. Or maybe people are just watching strange caricatures on their dreams of things they watched on tv or seen in illustrations :)

I also discovered today that my dream companion when I was a kid was actually something I had seen in a video game once in my life (then) and later left it in my unconscious. Although applying my own additional properties to it. I remember a dwarf blonde girl, very tiny in size (maybe in the size of chucky) that I loved and had to care about it's safety. That little creature had a negative property. When for some reasons it got wet, it grew up a little in size (but still being too small), had more scary hair like nails and scary teeth and face, like a monster and created havoc around. Then I had to find her, take her with me and go to a place with very bright sun so that she finally returned to it's regular size because of the light or the heat. Preety charecteristic thing. Most of the times I encountered her in the home at the village of my grandparents, Arnea of Xalchidiki (somewhere in northern Greece) but the place was slightly different (bigger and more interesting) than in reality (this is another thing I like in dreams, that you see a place you know in reality but now it's a more interesting alternative version of it). So there was a special place where I could meet my special friend.

I only got the funny revelation today by refreshing my memories on the formation of this encounter that this dwarf girl was actually two versions of a sprite from a computer game, actually Gianna Sisters on C64. The very "exited" version of it was when you get the bonus to grow stronger in the game. But I hadn't thought then that she was just created in my dreams from my memories of the game. The thing is that during that time I had only seen Gianna Sisters once in a party of some schoolmate who had a C64 and it was the first time I had seen one (Oh,,. it took awfully long to load compared to my CPC experience then!). I played Gianna Sisters much later through emulators but that was years after the frequent dreams. Just one time of watching someone playing this new game was enough though for keeping this in my unconscious and letting it surface in my dreams. On the original game of course you wouldn't transform into the scary version by touching water. That was my imaginary additional construction that I made up on my dreams for reasons I can't think right now :)

So, I just woke up from my sleep (that I really need now!) to tell you this strange, funny or boring story. I am wondering if you ever had a dream companion or a reoccurring dream or characteristic place on your dreams. Of course this question is for anyone bothering thinking about and discussing his/her dreams because the last time I discussed my dreams with some guy and wanted to hear his own weird stuff he probably thought I was weird and avoided the conversation. (and that was so early in elementary school :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Success / Honor

Yet another piece of information to help me solve the puzzle of myself. Yet another moment of getting the feeling that it fits, that it explains everything I do and I everything I strive for. And another factor that can also make a sense of my frustration in life and might help me see where I should focus on to be happier.

It's like another one of these selfviews, not unique, not better than the rest, just derived from a different focus (interesting word I just thought of, think of the term worldview but now applied on self, it's like different kinds of perspective on yourself, different math trying to fit in the selfmodel (like worldmodel :))

It's nothing new I haven't thought before. I just focused more deeply into the idea and tried to view things under this perspective. Actually it occured to me after my first few weeks here at UCL, thinking about my hopes, the original reasons I wanted to do this, what percentage of it did I got till now, how some things doesn't fit with myself or some things lacking from me to match well with my aspirations. And then that reflected back at every little moment of success or failure I had in real life or the demoscene or even in the most tiny things and I have noticed more how this thing totally affects the little happiness or sorrows I get from life.

For example, I always had this feeling of failure when I was in my previous degree on mathematics. Of course then I wasn't doing something that I entirely wanted, I was just under pressure and all I wanted then was to join the scene and make a good demo which was also another needed source of the personal success feeling. It took me 8 years to finish the degree and it generally was more than the average. Anybody will jump in my monologue and say that I shouldn't be so negative of myself. But I am just realistic and even if I am failing on this, depressive realism is what I think describes me. Or just the exact opposite of this effect.

So, to go on with the story, one of the little aspects that made me happier with the idea of studying the computer graphics module at UCL is the fact that I am already experienced with the subject and so I would feel like home. I wouldn't feel like an average student who doesn't understand a thing and stares in the lectures like a fool. I would feel like knowing what's going on and that feedback effect, an inner feedback effect where I assure myself that my cognition on things is going fine and I feel like a conscious part of the process and not an outsider (Hmm,. now I am thinking it, the lack of it is what pisses off people who are like external observers to our geeky tech talks). Till now it's working fine here of course. There are though some interesting new lessons like machine vision which I understand that I am not supposed to understand everything at first sight because it's genuinly more complex than graphics and that keeps me away from feeling like a fool.

It's only on some of the practicals where I felt a bit the frustration that I am not good, not worth or not successful but that feeling could be avoided by the same logic. Although, when I felt I wasn't successful on one, I thought it wouldn't be the same on the graphics practical. At least there I should do nicely easily. The subject was to change the code of a raytracer and for once I had almost coded one in the past and knew the logic. But spending some time to review the java code and it's classes, half an hour configuring the compiler of a chinese girl, more minutes to get used to the compiler and for some reason more time because I had to use "instance of" to check the type of a class (and I totally understood object oriented programming in java, I just hadn't used one and I think something was wrong with the compiler too or I was doing something wrong), somehow two hours passed and I didn't rendered a single thing!!! I mean, not even normalized a simple vector! When you have that constant feeling "Oh, I suck, I suck, I suck,. at least on the graphics practical it will prove different" and it doesn't, it's the worst feeling ever. You know,. before coming here I was telling this little 'tantrum' and eternal fear to myself: "Ok. I code graphics for a hobby. If I even fail on a master that has totally something to do with graphics which is my main thing, then what can I say? I am for NOTHING!"

Pretty hard stuff to say to oneself. But somehow I feel like I am constantly chased by the ghost of not being good enough or of even be very lame. Of course the more I know it the more prepared I am to fight with it. The thing is not to exclusively seek success but to try to face those emotions because it's easy to fail and I should be prepared for it. It's like when someone tells me that maybe I should do a really really good demo to prove to myself that I can do it and break the negative spell of my eternal demoscene sucking. But then I think, would it prove anything? I know now that if I work hard my ass on anything I can even fly to the moon. So, is there something to prove?

One important thing is that me, myself and people who read my rants might confuse three similar words.

  • Fame. A word that everyone hates. Even more than money. It's not exactly the basic thing that I am seeking. Even if it can usually interfere with the rest and at little glimpses of it you might even start liking it. Or hating it.

  • Success. More like it. But what is success? What do people mean by this word and how each one understands it through a different perspective? I will split it into two categories.

    • Social Success or generally/socially defined success or what most people understand as commonly accepted success. Getting good grades at school, university, having a job career, a respected family. It's the tantra that elderly people might sometimes bust your balls with yet you won't be able to understand what's the fuzz about.

    • Inner Success, the feeling that you are successful on something that you totally understand, you totally honor, you totally find important or interesting. Someone might be a dropout from college but create neat stuff in his free time in any discipline. That's the thing I was seeking, that's why I wasted time in the demoscene instead of taking my degree in time and others couldn't grasp the importance.

  • Honor. It must be very close to inner success. It could be the same actually. It's the feeling of achieving something that you personally feel it's important. Difference from fame? You are not doing it for the people (that can only come as a bonus), you are doing it for yourself.

Each time I am working on something that I feel it's important and the process flows all nicely, I receive a positive feedback from my brain that makes me happy for a while.

In the graphics practical I was expecting that and didn't got it. Because of unforeseen misfortunes and maybe a lack of clear mind too. But what was the motive? It was just an exercise that wasn't going to be graded. I wasn't going to show the results to my professor to prove something (that I am a graphics god or something :). I could just fail and not care. But I did! Because I had the false view that I was going to finish this easily. It wasn't a fault on my understanding, being not experienced with Java or Eclipse wasn't a reason. There was nothing that I have to ask the lecturers to explain. It was simply my thing and yet I failed. What I was seeking? A reassuring from myself that I am functioning well, that I am successful on doing something well and fast. It just didn't worked because of bad luck. It just happened. Maybe tomorrow I will have a clear mind and it will work. And get my little positive feeling of functioning. I actually need a lot of these little glimpses of happiness at times. I just have to accept it when I bump into a failure. It doesn't prove that I am bad or not. I just need to remember that it makes me feel alive. I should seek for more of these and in different disciplines.

This is definitely going for Part II. Sometime..

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hellos from London!

After finishing with the things that made me anxious (finding a student house, enrolling in the university, paying the fees and other minor stuff) and settling down, I think it's time to start. This is the last weekend before the lessons programme begins. I am really really curious and happy to get started with and I am wondering whether it will be interesting (I think it will be) and whether there will be any pressure or strict deadlines (Well there might be work to do. I have to stop playing Scribblenauts or any other addictive game :).

I haven't visited anything special in London or UK yet. I'd really like to visit the british museum and especially stonehenge oneday. There might be quite more siteseeings that are worth. I just need to find out and plan something (or join some of the clubs that organize tours). What I liked and find interesting here in London is that it's extremely multicultural. I haven't seen such a variety of different kinds of people before. Well, I was in Germany once (in Karlsruhe) but I don't remember such variation, even though it still looked more varied in different nationalities than what I am used in Greece. That's all I can say at the moment. I haven't seen much yet.

I also opened a twitter. Well, that's a lie. I already had the twitter account before but just never used it. It occured when someone asked me why I post a lot of stuff at Pouet and not in my blog (which is also a lie because I post far more text in my blog, only less frequently) and one reason I think I am more easilly tempted to post at Pouet is because I sometimes don't post serious stuff there and the oneliner is for small text. When I plan to post something in this blog it's several times that I cancel it because I need time and I am more obsessed writting with my own pace and also need to plan it more carefully. But in Pouet I sometimes write something that comes in my mind and fits in less than 255 characters. So I thought, it would be fun to write small thoughts, quotes or news in twitter. Now I know why they ironically say it's for ADHD people who are in a hurry or too lazy to write something more than 140 characters. But 140 characters? That's a bit too little. I still had struggle to fit something specific I wanted to post there. I wish there is an option to maybe make it 255 characters or something..

Scribblenauts. It's the best thing since lemmings. I originally read about it from an xkcd strip :). It's so clever and so addictive because you can finish levels with a big variety of different ways and you actually have a big dictionary of things you can use, even the most unimaginable. If you search scribblenauts in youtube you might get an idea. It's only funny when you can summon Cthulhu or LHC and crazy stuff like that. It's crazy summoning god and handing him a bazooka and having him fight with a pterodactylus or something. Who the hell has thought of such an idea for a game?

I think I will write a review about scribblenauts in my Plasmafun blog where stuff like that belongs more. If I don't get busy with my masters programm at least..
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