Monday, July 12, 2004

Waking up

(Transitional state of awareness)

NEILL says:

Increasingly these days I am inclined to think of consciousness as being essentially cyclical in nature. One's thought processes on any given day will generally consist of about five or six topics which will just repeat in cycles of varying frequency, over and over and over again. These five topics can generally be broken down into a fairly small number of major categories: sex, food and work being the biggies, with a couple of spots reserved for one's current cirumstances and major preoccupations of choice. I've drawn a handy diagram to illustrate this, what I would like to call 'Cameron's Theory of Orbital Consciousness'. Pay attention now, you'll probably see this repeated in the next edition of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy...

That's just me, anyway. The composition and relative frequency of the cycles will vary in accordance with various factors, notably age, gender, social position and level of drunkenness. The frequency of a cycle is hugely variable: to take one example: on the fateful day that young James got wed, for the roughly one-hour period that I in my Best Man-ly role was actually in possession of the wedding bands, the single thought 'Shit! Have I lost the rings?' increased in frequency till it was cycling at a rate of approximately once every two point five seconds during the final minutes before I got to give them to the vicar and breathe a massive sigh of relief. Once something has been running on such a 'hot cycle' it cannot simply disappear, and for the rest of the day (indeed, the week) I was still having sudden panics and checking my pockets, albeit with increasingly long gaps in between. It's been a couple of weeks now, and I think I'm okay, but I would not in the least be surprised if I find myself years from now, tramping up a mountainside in some far-flung part of Asia, suddenly thinking to myself 'Fuck! Where are the rings?'

Anyway, waking up: the great thing about waking up is that it is a chance to observe this process kicking in: you can take a few moments on waking to to simply lie there and pay attention to the first cycle of the day lazily running its course. By noting the first five things that drift through your slowly activating brain, you will get an exclusive teaser preview of what you are in fact going to be thinking about all day. For example, on my first attempt at this exercise, my first 5 thoughts covered the following subjects:

  • this girl that I like

  • giant robots

  • how to lay out the first two panels of the page I'm working on

  • how 'Quality' by Talib Kweli really is a fantastic album and certainly deserves a better mark than I gave it in my review

  • how consciousness is essentially cyclical in nature and I should really get around to writing something about it some time

That was one day at random, but to be fair, it could have been any day of my life for the last couple of years. Sex, comics, hip-hop and philosophy. You'll notice how my actual JOB doesn't even get a look-in there...

I would invite all our readers to partake of this simple exercise; it's an extremely easy and often highly revealing bit of self-analyis; a kind of quick mental daily diagnostic (although it can be quite hard to remember, as you tend to be a bit sleepy at the time.) I would further invite all our readers to post, here, on the messageboard or via e-mail, their lists of the first five things they think about in the morning. In this way I hope to compile a psychic census of the nation, or at least of our glamorous and bohemian little corner of it. It'll be fun, and when I'm on 'Richard & Judy' selling my best-selling pop-psychological book on the subject I promise to send you all a postcard.