Tuesday, 16 February 2010

On the benign species of ecstacy

- I write of the enthusiastic, dilated, receptive phase between euthymia and hypomania -

(much of what follows is in notational form and an explanation of why this should be is proffered at the end)

In its beginnings there is first the quickening and the brightening; an excitation of the skin, a tantalising of the taste-buds, a clarification of vision. Expansions occur; in the visual field and in the availability and accessibility of sensory data. Focus is simultaneously sharpened and honed.

The skin of the mind stretches and thins to a translucent film. The pores in the brain-filter dilate.
Thought is fluid, sinuous or dendritic. It darts from node to node, unfurls spectacularly at each apex. Mind-buds shed their integuments and expand. Their petals relax and spread, revealing intricate, endless whorls.

Vision is keener, sharper and brighter. The world’s resolution is higher. Subtle yet distinct auras emanate from the most ordinary of objects. Colours are purer with a richer gloss. They vibrate and shimmer – a dance of atoms conducted by light.

- The intense blue of the neighbour’s door: the dazzling ultramarine of a clear, bright sky in midsummer. A Titian sky. Supreme blueness. The blue of Our Lady’s robes. Exquisite. Lustrous. Vitreous. As if installed by the medieval monks of Chartres. A shrill and startling blue. The glass shattering soprano’s high C. The blue of the deepest moment of fire. The cold at the very heart of the flame.

All colours lustrous, glowing, numinous, illuminated from within.

Attention to detail and its compelling allure. An intense, singular yet effortless focus penetrates and comprehends at a glance the infinite patterns in things; veins branching, whorls diminishing, ripples radiating and receding. The eye’s lens is both telescopic and microscopic but the lure is towards myopia, the rapt fascination with the intricacies of surface; the labyrinthine cracks in the tree’s bark, the swirling paisley and voluted patterns in a spread of tarmac. Reflections transgress the rules of verisimilitude.

The grubby veil through which we ordinarily apprehend the world dully, is, for now, lifted and removed.

The nascent raptures of the early, elevated stage of hypo-mania are similar and sometimes identical to the early onset of effects from psychedelic agents such as LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), ‘magic-mushrooms’ (psilocybin), 2CB (4-bromo-2, 5-dimethoxyphenethylamine – a synthetic hallucinogen chemically similar to mescaline), and to some extent MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). There are many others, but the above list comprises the extent of my own experience. Some claim to arrive at these euphoric planes through preparatory acts such as meditation, fasting, austerities or other forms of sensory deprivation. They should count themselves lucky (I can do none of these things) just as I do for having access to such rich distractions through the better part of an intrinsic condition. I haven’t used hallucinogens in almost 20 years. I don’t need to. They’ve taught me sufficient to enjoy and manage well the wonderful, perceptual wierdnesses wrought by my ‘condition’ that might otherwise provoke distress.

I hope to return and edit or supplement here and there. Grammar and syntax were not a priority whist simultaneously scrawling on the back of a cereal-box and stirring the soup.

These lists of impressions, perceptions, clarifications and distortions will hopefully be soon extended with further explorations into the more aggressive forms of hypo-mania and its evil cousin - the ‘mixed state’. Forgive me if I baulk at producing an excursus on depression. Just as the mere thought of vomit compels me to retch, pre-meditations on gloom have a similar effect.

1 comment:

David said...

"All colours lustrous, glowing, numinous, illuminated from within." Yes, almost as if there was another, brighter world overlaid, or underlaid, above or beneath the fabric of the mundane one.

And of course that brighter world can turn to a dull world too, and all is ashes and sackcloth.

Lovely description. I'll try and find my old post on 'salience' and see if there is something salvageable from that.