You are getting sleepy…

Listening to Strange Days (1967). It tracked me down after I played a piano riff plodding and repetitious. Thinking about the rain, of meditation, of the malleability of drowsiness. 

When I was a junior in high school I volunteered to get hypnotized in an oh-my-god-you’re-going-to-be-seniors kind of event at the end of the year. Before her spheel the hypnotist did this thing about closing your eyes and imagining holding a book in one hand and a balloon in the other (hold your arms out, book flat, string in fist). The book keeps getting heavier and the balloon keeps getting lighter. I wanted it to happen so I imagined real hard. She kept describing it. The book is now so heavy getting heavier, you feel pages adding one by one and the balloon… Ohh and ahh in a calm–the calmest of voices…like waves and someone blowing in your ear, trees wishing or silence–
… and now… open your eyes and the larger the distance between your two hands the better your success of being hypnotized will be. 
My hands were maybe an inch or so apart. Whatever. I wanted to see what it was like.

Her calm voice is what I remember and an incident where I was a washing machine on rinse (with my fingers twiddling for the watery effects) and then the spin cycles (turning around and around) along with the time I spoke in the place of an imaginary purple octupus at the bottom of the ocean saying: zeeba zeeba zeeba zeeb zeeba zeeb zee zeeb and the finale where I recited the pledge of allegiance (even though at the time I swore I was forgetting it) while doing situps. But I was there the whole time. You know what you’re doing–you have control and can come out if you choose or don’t ”believe” but it feels so nice not to (once you’re in) that you just don’t want to. It’s like wonderful sleep. Complete relaxation and giving in. You get to be you and calm and comfortable while standing in front of an auditorium of jeering teens. (Ah–if I had a nickel for every time I wish I was back in high school…) You sometimes want to laugh (I did) and sometimes my muscles would shake, but overall it’s a pleasant experience. Really–I would pay all of those nickels to listen to that woman talk, I’ll tell you what. 


I don’t know how many people went to the (free) Dan Deacon show at CMU on the 2nd but it was the closest I’ve been to hypnotism in quite a while. The man’s the 21st century’s Ken Kesey . Going to the show was an experience in the fullest extent of the word. Crowds parting for not only an orchestrated impromptu dance contest (between two dudes…one of which turned it into capoiera-like thing) but also an orchestrated group meditation/dance. Hypnotic in the extreme. 
Deacon even began his show by telling the crowd to find a star, reach up, grab it, and consider that star–all of its potentials and makeup and the place that it sits in, everything possible for it and you and then woosh! with a word we’re back on the ground feeling lonely. But he turns that mood into collective individualism, where we not only listen to the silence of the outdoor space we’re in, but also all turn around and scream at the building opposite to determine the echo-potential of the facade. Everyone is happy. 
Music pulsing and happy. Snips of pop songs cut tight, played loose, over and over again. He tells the crowd to disperse so people can dance with room. People listen and the elevation is elevated. Everyone collected in happiness. Dulled by drugs sex and music, the focus dis(appears) and life becomes connected for life. Get everyone high and they won’t care enough to argue. Then maybe they’ll feel something together. Feel together. Together.
Sorry–I don’t mean to be going out on a limb, but the people who where there know. Again, see: Ken Kesey  (39-42 (or all of that chapter if you’re not in a rush)) 

Anyway…
I was reading/watching/listening to
Inside: A Journal of Dreams, The Virtual Disappearance of Miram, Floppy and Clearance  and I noticed the elaborate(ly simple) way that all of these pieces used sound to create a sense of environment for the reader. Room noise, on repeat is pretty much the sound track to each of these, where mechanical pumping and hissing (like the end of a record layered twenty times) create an environment of intense focus and infernal concentration on the nonsense (?) writing of dreams (how can one interpret if this is the only information given of a character?  real or fiction? is there a distinction? what makes a symbol carry weight? what gives meaning to language?) in the Journal. 
Droning Thievery-Corporation-esque trance-hop populates the background of Miriam and gives the reader not only a sense of urgency (textually manipulated in the speed of the scroll/density of the text about suicide and the looming gameclock) coupled with a Videodrome sense of quest and battle (and sexual interest?) but also a certain type of concentration and focus that these texts fuel themselves on.
In the turning off the externally conscious part of your brain by limiting external noise and internal thinking patterns and (to fill that mental vacuum) imersing the experiencer into the fictional environment the musical loops allow the words on the page take on new meaning, new life. The sense of textual affect and absorption is intensified and even though these pieces, in terms of word count, aren’t exactly dense, the environment in which the text is presented fills in the gaps (or) removes us from the nettling cranial sections that would pose questions about in depth development in the first place. 
It’s like dancing and not caring about the people around you. Doing situps for the hell of it–because they feel good. Listening to the Doors because of the piano line you made because of the Donnie Darko website’s musical score simply because you want to feel hypnotized, absorbed, interacted. Breathe deep. This is all going on around you. 

–Josh Barnes

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~ by hobodreams on April 11, 2010.

One Response to “You are getting sleepy…”

  1. The soundtrack to Floppy had a similar effect on me. It was repetitive, “non musical”, with a lot of noise to it. Kind of industrial really, but the effect was similar. It made me feel that I had just put the floppy into my computer and was the only one witnessing this narrative unfold. I felt like I was in a movie: a movie about me navigating and thinking about it. Your thoughts are very introspective and beautifully articulated. I remember a hypno show where the performer opened with the exact same trick. The ones who are most susceptible to hypnosis have one hand raised way up and one left way down: easy targets, more open to suggestion. You miss a lot of these texts if you aren’t willing to completely enter their world, and you did a great job of making it crystal clear that the soundtracks played a vital role in this process, wrapping you in a sonic blanket that lulls your brain into that sleep you so eleoquently described. You are now free to be lead on a strange journey.

    -EvanLeet

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