I’m not exactly sure why this seems to be true.
By seamless mental movie, I mean the kind of daydreaming where you completely check out and when you wake up it feels like you’ve been submerged underwater and *poof* you’re back where you were sitting before, completely dry. These can last a few seconds, or upwards of an hour (this was by far my longest experience back in an algebra 2 class), but most of the time it’s a minute or two.
They are either a complex, vivid replay of a memory or two, possibly multiple times with fictional variations (“what if I had done *this* instead?”) or a fragmented montage of some future possibility (“what would I do if somebody came into this classroom and started shooting?”). The most important feature of these is the perfection of logic between moments- this is why insights which arise from these movies are useful and trustworthy.
These happen noticeably more often and more spontaneously when 1) I’m sleepy, 2) I’ve been doing lots of cardio lately, 3) I’ve been repressing my creative drive, 4) I’ve had some caffeine, but not too much, and 5) I’m engaged in one of the following creativity-boosting activities: showering, driving, walking, jogging, or similar.
Low latent inhibition is almost always bad for you and these movies are almost never practical. Back during my bad times, I T-boned a guy in an intersection because I was in the middle of one of these and didn’t see a stop sign. Luckily nobody got hurt, but both cars were wrecked and it set me back about $4K in the end and I spent a lot of extra hours riding my bike, and I couldn’t afford either the time or the money back then.
When they are useful, they are superlative. Especially when you can make it interactive while practicing your particular creative craft, like a lucid dream. I think this mental state is the hallmark of proper creative genius, and I think you can get better at entering it with practice. As I mentioned, these visions are always logical, but sometimes you have to tease out the logic afterward.
In the moment you just receive them passively as if somebody had pulled a theater screen over your mind’s eye, blocking out reality, and played a movie on it. The movie is always about some dynamic system: people interacting, moving geometrical shapes, something like that. It always contains at least one “Eureka” moment and you always understand the dynamic principles as they’re playing out, even if you can’t always put them into words. It’s as if someone put the movie together precisely to teach you about some necessary consequence of the system that you hadn’t understood before.
I’ll use an example from elementary physics. Imagine you recently learned how to solve one of those problems where a weight slides down an inclined plane due to gravity, where fiction is pushing against the motion. Then one day you’re in the shower and you suddenly have a vision of the soap bar sliding across the floor of the tub do to a barely perceptible incline in the surface. But unlike a normal vision, you also “feel” the force vectors on the soap. You feel the gravity pulling it to accelerate and the friction of the tub resisting its motion. You don’t see them on the soap itself like you would on a vector diagram, but it feels like those vectors are inside the soap in the same way it feels like a personality is inside of a person. And if the vectors went away, the soap would feel like just another dead object again, as if its spirit had fled this life.
You also kind of see a memory of a vector diagram off in the upper-right corner of your eye, but it doesn’t feel important. It feels more like some kind of external validation for the idea that soap has “feelings” and a personality. You also see the equations of motion sort of floating around the whole thing, sometimes doing a couple half-hearted algebraic manipulations on themselves. Afterward, you find that you’re quite a bit more comfortable solving this sort of problem on tests because the word problem effortlessly translates into a mental vector diagram, and the mental picture effortlessly translates into equations on paper (with no greater difficulty than a simple unit conversion).
The Eureka moment is that you found a way to measure very small inclines, but you decide afterward that like most Eureka moments this one isn’t very useful because they already make those levels with the little bubbles in them.