Do you ever have that thing where something you are doing with considerable regularity seeps into your subconscious?
During my A-levels I would play a game of chess every night in bed on a pocket chess computer. I wasn’t very good. I didn’t get any better, but I did get a little obsessed. For a while I would see the knight’s move replicated in real life – one up, two to the left – two down, one to the right. The pattern would show up in floor tiles and… well mainly just floor tiles.
I never claimed it was a particularly sophisticated obsession and I’m still not very good at chess.
Then later I discovered Tetris. Stand-up, coin-operated Tetris, not the greyscale Game Boy version. I used to take breaks from the library at university, cash in a fiver buying a Ripple and some Fruit Gums and use the change to play Tetris.
Again, I’m not saying I was any good, but I did start to see those tetraminoes showing up everywhere I looked.
Turns out there’s a name for this kind of thing. It’s called the Tetris effect.
The Tetris effect was identified, anecdotally at least, as early as 1996:
Many people, after playing Tetris for more than an hour straight, report being plagued by after-images of the game for up to days afterwards, an ability to play the game in their head, and a tendency to identify everything in the world as being made of four squares and attempt to determine “where it fits in”.
Oh yeah, I had it bad. Then I stopped playing Tetris. Then it went away.
This week I had my first SMS dream. It was a normal dream except it finished up with me sending a text message. I didn’t just dream I was sending a text message. I dreamed I was looking at my phone and typing out each letter with my thumbs. Including the punctuation. Including the backspace when I made a mistake. I was full-on dream texting.
This is how it went. My friend Jeremy had just called me from the States. He was going to be heading up a new company that handled some kind of unspecified medical procedures. He wanted to make me one of the regional managers along with two other friends. The line wasn’t very clear, so after we hung up I started to send him a dream text.
Sounds exciting. How soon before Michael stops giggling every time he hears the words “breasts”?
To be fair I don’t think I made it to the final question mark. I woke up just as I was deciding to go back and place the word “breasts” in quotation marks.
I guess I must have been doing a lot of texting recently for my dream to have been so detailed, but I still woke up feeling like an odd-bod.
All things considered, I would rather I was still seeing tetraminoes.
Sorry. But “breasts” crack me up every time. Without fail.
OK, Michael, I think I was very careful not to give too much away in the post. The truth is you were the Michael in the dream. First of all you were in the States on the phone with Jeremy and then I bumped into you somewhere here. I think my text was meant to be funny rather than critical, but it seems like I’ve found your Achilles heel. You will never be able to work at the chicken counter in the supermarket.
Back in the seventies my Mum and Dad had an old Persian rug in the room where the telephone was kept. After Space Invaders – and later Pacman – came along – the irregular tapestry shapes started shooting and eating each other. It sort of ruined a lovely old rug.
Yes! Exactly. Damn those invaders. And those multi-coloured ghosties.