Duncan McCloud Frazier is flying over the Grand Canyon. Unencumbered by the inflexible bulk of skydiving gear, he has a clear view of the dazzling, flame-colored striations below him. He circles the shimmering waters of the Colorado River, diving closer to the deep fissures at will.
On a whim, he raises one hand in a sweeping gesture, like an orchestra conductor. Geological debris floats up from the canyon and dances in the air, responding to his movements. As they shift, the rocks produce a philharmonic melody that rings through the valley. Frazier has never heard it before.
He knows he can do anything, until he wakes up.
The ability to become lucid in a dream — in essence, to know that you are dreaming while you are dreaming — is a highly sought after skill. Even more exciting is the thought of being able to control your dreams: to have tea with Oscar Wilde, to tap dance across the rings of Saturn, or simply to become a child again and build sand castles by the ocean — whenever you wish.
Unsurprisingly, developing this skill is a little like capturing lightning in a mason jar.
In April 2012, Frazier and Bit banger Labs co-founder Steve McGuigan launched a Kick starter campaign for Remee, a sleep mask that aims to replicate just such a state. By flashing a series of light patterns during REM sleep, the mask alerts the wearer that he is dreaming. The pair had hoped to raise $35,000 on the crowd funding platform in order to produce 300 masks. Instead, they received nearly $600,000 from 6,000-plus backers around the world.
Beyond the simple acid-trippy wonderment of it all, lucid dreaming is seen as a viable method of accessing subconscious creative channels. Paul McCartney is famously said to have composed the song "Yesterday" in a dream, waking up with the melodies fully formed in his mind. There is also evidence to suggest that lucid dreaming can alleviate chronic nightmares and that practicing physical skills in a dream can improve a person's performance in real life.