Monday, March 31, 2008

Hypnogogic myoclonic twitch...

The release of consciousness is a complex and fascinating process. Over the centuries, many an artist has malingered in this sleep-wake borderland state, smuggling fantastic creative booty from one side of the fence to the other. As we drift from wakefulness to sleep we enter the hypnogogic state, which is basically the twilight zone. It is here that we experience the "hypnogogic myoclonic twitch" or the "hypnic jerk" for short - that dual feeling of falling and electrical shock that jolts the waking daylights out of us. The experience of falling is really a hallucination triggered by muscles going slack and one part of the brain thinking that the body is, in fact, falling and sending a rush of tension throughout the body to brace for the impending fall. As this is happening, another part of the brain gets the "we're falling!" signal and incorporates this information into the narrative of a fast unfolding microdream.

It has been suggested by some hairy non-doctors, that as we enter the hypnogogic state we face two doors - sleep and death. Most of us will opt for sleep of course, but plenty of velvet-wrapped hey-man rock'n'roll folklore will have you believe that any number of bright lights at the close of the 1960's (such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin) were curious enough to try the other door. Which brings us to another occurrence in the realms of the hypnogogic state - "Exploding Head Syndrome." It's recent acknowledgment (1988) could suggest a colorful scenario: See maybe like Jimi, Jim, and Janis are trapped in a hallway of doors, yeah man, a cosmic limbo, and each time they burst in on one of these doors, they're like entering another mind and exposing another individual's hypnogocic state to their explosive collective cacophony. Whoa!


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