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The Dreamachine


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"Mr. Gysin and Mr. Sommerville built the first Dreamachine after learning of research by John Smythies and W. Grey Walter, scientists who had noted in experiments that light flickering at 8 to 12 flashes a second against a subject's closed eyelids seemed to slow the electrical pulse rate of the subject's brain to a state of semiconsciousness known as the alpha state and produce rich dreamlike imagery.

Although his fellow Beats were excited about using the device, Mr. Gysin had broader ambitions for it and tried to distance himself from their enthusiasm, says John Geiger, the author of "Chapel of Extreme Experience: a Short History of Stroboscopic Light and the Dream Machine" (Soft Skull Press, 2004).

"He was focused on its commercial potential," Mr. Geiger said. "He imagined a Dreamachine in every suburban home, in the spot formerly occupied by the television set, but broadcasting inner programming."

New York Times Article



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