Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sleep Mechanics

Allow me to introduce myself: I'm Dr Malcolm Byte, a surgeon of the mind, and a connoisseur of the somnolent. No, that's right, you won't have heard of me. A good friend of yours, (and I'm afraid, as one of my ongoing clients, she will have to remain anonymous), contacted me, and told me that you were having difficulties dealing with your feelings about a previous relationship. Well, this is very common, and easily dealt with.

Unfortunately, even when a relationship ends, it leaves hazardous mental residues in its wake. These can either be allowed to fade away over long periods of time, (the default option, it seems, for most people), or more advisedly, can be disposed of immediately by an expert in the field.

The procedure is quite simple and painless. First, we must terminate the mental processes which are running those damaging thoughts and feelings; then we need to delete the memories from which those processes spring (the executables, if you will); and finally we need to remove the registry entries created in the subconscious by the experiences associated with your relationship.

How is this done? Well, don't be alarmed, but the successful completion of the therapy requires me to enter your mind. This is not as difficult or disturbing as it might at first sound. You see, humans have, over time, evolved a clever thing called the empathic mechanism. This is the innate skill most of us possess, to imagine what other people are thinking and feeling. The empathic mechanism gives us the ability to predict how the people around us are going to behave, and in evolutionary terms, that's a distinct advantage.

One application of the empathic mechanism enables you, once you've known someone for a sufficient period of time, to create a subsystem of your mind devoted to that person. In effect, you'll have a simplified version of that individual's mind running inside your own. By this means, you'll be able to anticipate what that person might think or feel about something, without them even being there. This helps with relationships, but it also, in effect, creates a backdoor that practitioners like myself can exploit, to enter your mind, and to alter its contents.

Now, to speed up the process somewhat, I'll need to exploit another loophole in the mind's defences, and this is where my qualification in Sleep Mechanics comes into play. There are, you see, a continuum of mental states between full consciousness and total unconsciousness. People often seem to think that there is a well-defined boundary between the two, with a surface tension, if you like, that prevents the casual exchange of material between the different realms. But the operating space of the human mind is more complex than this. It has many dimensions, and myriad levels of interacting intricacy.

How's your astrophysics? Well, are you familiar with the idea of a black hole? That's fine, you'll only need the general idea. Have you heard the speculative proposal that a new universe is created inside every black hole? Well, minds are rather like such fertile black holes: they suck in perceptions, impressions and sensations from the universe around them, like information sink-holes, but inside each mind a new universe is created, a continuous torrent of thoughts and images, a fountain of the imagination. To get inside your mind, I need to exploit the information flows between your public and private worlds; to be specific, I need to induce a hypnagogic mental state, in which the distinction between the consciously perceived world, and the personal world of memory and imagination has been dissolved.

Are you familiar with that feeling when you're half-awake and half-asleep, the feeling that you can control and direct your dreams at will, sometimes slipping deeper into a dream to enjoy the ride, then pulling back momentarily to re-direct its course? Well, on this occasion, I'm going to be the director.

So lie back, close your eyes, and relax. Let your breathing subside. And remember that warm Summer's day, when a pleasant sense of satisfied exhaustion and comfort blended with the countless shades of green sweeping over your flickering vision...a gentle brook, winding through the verdant meadow as a tinkling harmony of innumerable tiny tintinnabulations...a portly bumble-bee's eager hum, briefly superimposed over the mechanical drone of a lawn-mower in the middle orange glow silhouetting the trees at sunset, the merest zephyr rustling the highest branches...the colour leaching from the sky, flowing with an inky-blue gradient from a jet black zenith...a jewelbox of silver and golden stars speckled across the velvet sky, twinkling across the lonely lightyears with silent yearning...

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