Visions of the Night
Introduction by Blake Wilfong

Ambrose Gwinett Bierce (1842-1914?) was the author of many memorable short tales of horror, ghosts, war, and even science fiction. Not surprisingly, his dreams were filled with detailed and fantastic imagery.

Bierce's list of common dream phenomena is amazingly accurate: the scarcity of smells, the tendency to incorporate components from our own--usually recent--experiences, and the frequent suspension of disbelief even in the face of impossible events.

He errs only in claiming that dreams can never deviate from these patterns. Studies since 1896 have proved that olfactory sensations do appear in dreams on rare occasions. We can imagine (and dream) things completely outside our experience, as the bodiless "energy beings" of science fiction authors attest. And skilled dreamers may learn to recognize that the dreamworld is not as it should be--and become lucid (i.e., aware that they are dreaming) as a result! Nothing is impossible in dreams.

To his credit, Bierce recognizes the enormous untapped potential of dreams. And best of all, he gives us tantalizing glimpses into the workings of his own inventive mind with three extraordinary dream reports.

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