Waking dreams

In recent months, I’ve developed a curious habit of misinterpreting the behavior of my hands as I fall asleep. This tends to be specific; rolling a matchbook cover between my fingertips, or uncapping a pen — except for not actually holding said items. Sometimes, this is merely contact between one hand and the other, which is perceived as contact with an animal, (a bird, most recently) tool, or piece of mail. In relative terms, it’s a new behavior, and it’s been happening with great regularity.

I don’t actually make anything of this except to notice that it’s occurring, and be intrigued by the fact that, as this occurs as I am in transition between waking and sleeping states, it’s been easy to continually forget that it’s been happening at all. After a sense, it affords the opportunity to observe my unconscious mind in operation; the act of moving my hand as though I’m igniting a disposable lighter may arise without context (I wasn’t actually intending to do anything with it, just misreading the feel of the edge of my comforter between my fingertips) nor bear any relevance to anything that occurred in a conscious state (I did not misplace a lighter at some point nor has there been a similar coincidence that would explain why I found myself thinking of one at all), but the most noteworthy characteristic is that it arises from my sense of touch.

My brain is misreading the sensations from the skin of my hands. And no where else.

It doesn’t really get any more ‘meta’ than the unconscious. It seems odd that part of the time one spends thinking should occur without one actually being aware that anything is happening at all, but this has been observed by people remembering what had occurred to them at a later time for ages. Paired with the behavior of the subconscious mind, there is room for and, I believe, exists a great deal of misinterpretation of it’s meaning.

As a species, we learn complex, non-instinctive behaviors at a subconscious level and only advance to conscious abstraction once we’ve already developed a foundation of cues and responses to external stimuli. We also don’t unlearn this behavior unless it’s done deliberately and consciously and moreover, there are an array of cognitive barriers that exist which arise from these subconscious methods of learning. To say nothing of the impact of social and cultural bias.

Paradoxically, the more introspective one becomes, the greater the tendency to disconnect socially.

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  • Comments (4)
    • Dione
    • February 3rd, 2011

    hi max, do you realize how hard it was to find you?? Not on FB..still want to keep in touch, if you want..i’m on twitter, as FormalWill. But drop me a line via e-mail or something.

    • Max Bell
    • February 3rd, 2011

    I can’t find a ‘FormalWill’ on Twitter and don’t have your email. I’ve been hiding as “max_bell” — the underscore makes me invisible.

    • Dione
    • February 4th, 2011

    Anyway I can get ahold of you via your e-mail? Anyway to send you my mail?

    • Max Bell
    • February 4th, 2011

    email me at hostingthing dot com at gmail, I guess.

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