I had a really, really strange dream yesterday in the morning, while I was half sleeping, half awake. There was a frame made, like painted from thick black lines, and in it there were simple color drawings of objects, two at a time. And these drawings were exchanged at a frequency of 6-8 times per second (which means wall clock time, as I could compare the dream frequency, or the subjective impression of that, with the real-world time while slowly awakening). At first (while mostly dreaming) I was able to recognize some of the objects being shown in that high speed, but later (when being more awake) not so any more. Too fast.
This made me get on an idea about the (yet largely unsolved) meaning and role of dreams: namely, to develop and to train the raw material and the speed for flow state thinking. Because dreams go much faster than the real world, and flow state imaginary thinking of “what probably happens next” is just like that, much faster than reality and than normal thinking.
You know “flow state” from these horrific little moments when you see something bad happening to you physically some 0.5 to 2 s before it happens indeed. These seconds feel like slow motion: you think so much in this time about what happens and what to do to avoid it that you later wonder how it all did fit into these fractions of a second. That’s because thinking is much faster in this state of mind – and because reality provides no training to react to such situations, maybe the fast pace of dreaming is this training for the dangerous situations in life, training our mental abilities to react fast enough to avoid the worst outcome.
All speculation of course, but perhaps somebody feels inspired to do some research 😉