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ACT Question for January 19th

          NATURAL SCIENCE: The following passage is
          adapted from Dreams by Henri Bergson.

               The subject which I have to discuss here is so
          complex, it raises so many questions of all
          kinds, difficult, obscure, some psychological,
          others physiological and metaphysical; in order
(5)      to be treated in a complete manner it requires
          such a long development, so I shall go at once
          to the heart of the question. A dream is this: I
          perceive objects, but there is nothing there. I see
          people; I seem to speak to them and I hear what
(10)   they answer, but there is no one there and I have
          not really spoken. It is just as if real things and
          real people were there, but on waking all has
          disappeared. How does this happen?
               But, first, is it true that there is nothing there? I
(15)   mean, is there any sense material presented to
          our eyes, to our ears, to our touch, etc., during
          sleep as well as during waking?
               Close the eyes and look attentively at what
          goes on in the field of our vision. Many people
(20)   questioned on this point would say that nothing
          goes on, that they see nothing. This is not
          surprising, for a certain amount of practice is
          necessary to be able to observe oneself
          satisfactorily. But just give the requisite effort of
(25)   attention, and you will distinguish, little by little,
          many things. First, in general, a black
          background. Upon this black background
          occasionally brilliant points which come and go,
          rising and descending, slowly and sedately.
(30)   More often, spots of many colors, sometimes
          very dull, sometimes, with certain people, so
          brilliant that reality cannot compare with it.
          These spots spread and shrink, changing form
          and color, constantly displacing one another.
(35)   Sometimes the change is slow and gradual;
          sometimes again it is a whirlwind of vertiginous
          rapidity. Where does all this come from? The
          physiologists and the psychologists have studied
          this play of colors and have given the names
(40)   “ocular spectra,” “colored spots,” and
          “phosphenes” to the phenomenon. They explain
          it either by the slight modifications which occur
          ceaselessly in the retinal circulation, or by the
          pressure that the closed lid exerts upon the
(45)   eyeball, causing a mechanical excitation of the
          optic nerve. But the explanation of the
          phenomenon and the name that is given to it is
          not what is important here. It occurs universally
          and it constitutes, I believe, the principal
(50)   material of which we shape our dreams.
               The American psychologist Professor Henry
          Ladd has devised a rigorous method of testing
          this hypothesis. It consists in acquiring the habit
          on awakening in the morning of keeping the
(55)   eyes closed and retaining for some minutes the
          dream that is fading from the field of vision and
          soon would doubtless have faded from that of
          memory. Then one sees the figures and objects
          of the dream melt away little by little into
(60)   phosphenes, identifying themselves with the
          colored spots that the eye really perceives when
          the lids are closed. One reads, for example, a
          newspaper; that is the dream. One awakens and
          there remains of the newspaper, whose definite
(65)   outlines are erased, only a white spot with black
          marks here and there; that is the reality. Or our
          dream takes us upon the open sea—round
          about us the ocean spreads its waves of
          yellowish gray with here and there a crown of
(70)   white foam. On awakening, it is all lost in a great
          spot, half yellow and half gray, sown with
          brilliant points. The spot was there, the brilliant
          points were there. There was really presented to
          our perceptions, in sleep, a visual dust, and it
(75)   was this dust which served for the fabrication of
          our dreams.
               Will this alone suffice? Still considering the
          sensation of sight, we ought to add to these
          visual sensations which we may call internal all
(80)   those which continue to come to us from an
          external source. The eyes, when closed, still
          distinguish light from shade, and even, to a
          certain extent, different lights from one another.
          These sensations of light, emanating from
(85)   without, are at the bottom of many of our
          dreams. A candle abruptly lighted in the room
          will, for example, suggest to the sleeper, if his
          slumber is not too deep, a dream dominated by
          the image of fire, the idea of a burning building.
(90)   Such are often the dreams provoked by a bright
          and sudden light.
               I have spoken of visual sensations. They are
          the principal ones. But the auditory sensations
          nevertheless play a role. First, the ear has also
(95)   its internal sensations, sensations of buzzing, of
          tinkling, of whistling, difficult to isolate and to
          perceive while awake, but which are clearly
          distinguished in sleep. Besides that we continue,
          when once asleep, to hear external sounds that
(100) the dream converts, according to circumstances,
          into conversation, singing, cries, music, etc. But
          let us hasten to say that sounds do not play in
          our dreams so important a role as colors. Our
          dreams are, above all, visual.

The author refers to the real-life sources of the sensations in our dreams as:

The best answer is A because the author asks early in the passage, “is there any sense material presented to our eyes, to our ears, to our touch, etc., during sleep as well as during waking” that causes dreams? (lines 14-17) The sense material, then is the material present to our senses that causes what we experience in our dreams.

The best answer is NOT B because this phrase is used to describe the movement of the phosphemes (line 36-37).

The best answer is NOT C because this term is too general; it refers to a wide variety of occurrences.

The best answer is NOT D because this term is too narrow; the author uses this term to refer to sensations involving sight, but dreams involve hearing as well as sight.

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Question ID: 1261