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Nausea - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
[I tried to post this yesterday but LJ was playing up. Better luck this time.]

As I looked at them, suddenly the shops, the signs, the self-advertising logos and slogans ceased to have any meaning. It was as if my mind had been severed in an instant from the experience, from the ability to parse even the physical objects around me, let alone their cultural connotations; and the shock of the split was so great that it made me feel dizzy and sick. What were these heaps of multicoloured things? These shapes, these random orderings of letters? It wasn't a questioning of the validity of a way of life, a questioning of the purpose of things; it wasn't a sudden realisation that the things around me were shallow and superficial. Those feelings are inevitable. It was more like forgetting how to read: suddenly I was locked out of the semiotic universe in which until then I had been immersed.

The moment passed, but I remained dazed and confused. I began to regain a sense of connectedness, but I still found myself looking vacantly past things which ordinarily I would have looked at with interest. It wasn't until I bumped into people or objects that I'd realise that I wasn't focussing on anything, I was just staring into the middle distance. I felt as though I was hearing everything from the other side of a glass wall; when I walked, I felt as though my feet weren't quite connecting with the floor. Not like floating, or flying; more like running in a dream towards a destination which you know you will never reach.

I tried to remember the words, the mouth movements, with which to apologise to the people I bumped into. My mouth felt alien to me.

I took advantage of the sunshine to walk home along the riverside. As I stared into the dark green water I thought of Millais' Ophelia, her chestnut hair streaming out behind her like a substitute for her past. Urban legend has it that he made his wife lie fully-clothed in the bath for hours as a study for this painting. If this is true then I wish he had painted the wife in the bath as well, as a companion to his famous painting; but then I like my illusions to be dissected and demystified so that I can appreciate them better, believe in them more.

It always seems that drowning should be a painless and peaceful death; all expression leached from the face by the washing of the waves. I felt that it would be so easy to lie face-down in the water and slowly let dark green become blackness and silence. There is a silence where no sound may be. In reality, though, it would not be like this; the body would fight death every step of the way. The lungs would burn with the need for air, and death would come as a panic, a grasping and gasping for something out of reach.

I felt detached from thoughts of drowning. I feel detached from these words. I can connect / Nothing with nothing.

Fear death by water.

Lots more that I want to say but I can't work out how to formulate it into words at once true and kind / Or not untrue, and not unkind.
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From: kaet Date: May 21st, 2003 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I know someone who nearly drowned and she says what terrifies her about it is that after a very short time she didn't actually struggle and that the hypoxia and coma were such a beautiful experience that she's not really ever experienced anything so wonderful. She finds it disconserting because it adds to temptation for something she feels she should intuitively fight against. She knows that it varies lots and that she experienced (in some ways) an improbable thing at that time. It seems really to have deep down disturbed her, dark things silently shifting like cargo in a hold upsetting the balance of a ship. It's more terrible that I have strong feelings for her and am impotent.

I've felt something like the detatchment that you describe, but it's a bit different. It seems to me, the thing I've felt, like a failure of the mechanism of implication. There's sensation, and there's also evaluation and association of sensation and autonomic responses to that. There's also action according to roles and scripts, deliberate changes of environment and circumstance and interaction with the world. But there's no connection between the two, no implication. A thing is done because there is no reason not to. It seems like you're normal and functioning, but only because of the effort of stopping. Something really minor happens and you don't do it any more, at first because it's a reaction, but then because there's no reason to start doing it again. No that's wrong, there are reasons to, but there's not that connection that because something's better you should do it, that basic orientation of duals. A kind of Ophelia-like drifting. Like she fell in, by accident, didn't plan to fall in, but then once in there wasn't really a reason to get out, rather, it would be better to get out, but why do a better thing rather than a worse thing?

It seems like what you felt was closer to the sensational side of things, that the sensation was there, but it was unassociated; pulling apart civilisation how fog pulls apart space.
From: ex_lark_asc Date: May 21st, 2003 09:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That description of drifting and 'why do a better thing rather than a worse thing' sounds much like descriptions I've read of what SMers call 'sub space'. I wonder if endorphin trance and so on might be related somehow?
From: kaet Date: May 21st, 2003 09:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes! I'd not thought of that. It is very like sub-space, for me anyway. On a psychological level it's kind of like dissolving identity, sort of giving up intent in some complicated inside kind of way. There's not the endorphin thing with this, though, unfortunately.

The discconection does feel very opioid in that way, though, feeling the pain but not caring, but it doesn't feel positive as endprophin stuff tends to; and it's not pain, it's some how kind of at a higher brain-level. I say that because cutting or burning is often an effective way out of it, in that acute physical pain, endorphins, and so on, are often a way remaining means of experience that can knock things back on. If I was also somehow opiod-sedated I don't think that would work.

I'm not sure what it might be biochemically. Internally it feels like its seratonin related, bliss-related, I guess is the closest I can come to it. It feels like there's a Seratonin kind of steady-state backup circuit. So that if you don't get stimulated by the environment there's this kind of slightly crappy survival thing which just lets out a constant quiet note of Seratonin, completely disconnected from the environment and from good things and bad things. Everything turns off, all the shutters come out, and there's this little quiet note. I don't really know that it's a bad thing short-term (though, for me at least, its 'level' seems very much on the depressed side, but if you'd otherwise be very very depressed that's not bad), but it's like artificial light, the constancy of it all and the lack of light-and-shade string you out.
From: ex_lark_asc Date: May 21st, 2003 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Much as I hate to be prosaic, that sounds disturbingly like what I get when I've got a migraine coming on, especially the sudden loss of semiotic comprehension and accompanying random aphasia - do you get migraines?
j4 From: j4 Date: May 23rd, 2003 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope, never had a migraine (touch wood)...
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