I’ve had to resort to muh gudfriend, Harry Google*, to re–search why it is I sometimes wake myself up with a start at the point of falling asleep.
Fans of the TV panel gameshow QI will know, there is a kind of joker you can play when you get a question to which there is no known answer: ‘Nobody knows’.
It seems the point at which we fall asleep is so evanescent that science has yet to penetrate its secrets. Nobody knows, in short, exactly how we fall asleep, or why sometimes the body gives a violent reaction to it: principally because we so rarely are aware we are falling asleep. It just happens.
The best suggestion has been that we evolved from tree-dwelling mammals for whom falling asleep could mean a lethal plunge into the jaws of a waiting crocosaurus underneath. A violent convulsion reminds us that we are on the point of relaxing dangerously.
It’s not a very good suggestion, since nobody would ever get any sleep, but hey.
As you would expect, however, science has at least managed to come up with a name for that as-yet unexplained liminal moment. It’s called the ‘hypnagogic state’.
Certainly, the hoarse cry of terror I imagine I have just emitted, to the possible alarm of the family next-door (sadly, there are no other witnesses) as I fight so desperately to escape the encircling arms of Morpheus is a response to what I often perceive as an existential threat.
The threat has changed over the years.
I recall a period of my life in which I dreamed in that moment, that a great and violent darkness smashed in through the windows and extinguished me. Sometimes, I had begun to dream that I was in a very old house by the seashore, when the waves poured in.
At another time, I used to see everything just go out, like an old-fashioned CRT TV screen being switched off, the world outside fading rapidly to black and the image shrinking to a bright, white dot in the middle of the screen.
Lately, my waking image is of the world having just literally fallen apart, I am being buried alive in a chaotic jumble of everything, out of which I am frantically trying to claw my way.
A bit like the real world, really.
Fascinating. Now Hunzi wants to take me for a walk. I’m not surprised, I think he knows when it’s about to rain.
So, Hunzi was right.
It had been sunny when we got up, but I wasted an entire hour of sunshine writing the thought above in order to get it down before the elderly sodden sponge that passes for my brain had absorbed everything into the general air of bewilderment. And the sky turned grey.
By the time we reached the usual place where it rains, somewhere around the apogee of our daily walk round the sewage works, a fine drizzle had begun. (We do a very fine drizzle, here in Boglington-sur-Mer.) We got home just in time. Now, a howling wind and battering rain are trying to tear off the roof.
And I hadn’t got round to finishing the thought, before my lovely mysterious Spanish ladyfriend, Lalocabruja, whose own posts I don’t understand because she blogs in Dutch (I can manage a bit of French, Italian, German, even a little Portuguese or Welsh… I’m not too stupid), had Liked it!
So anyway, the rest is maybe a bit trite, so you haven’t missed much.
I just wanted to add that long before the Wachowski brothers invented The Matrix, I had begun to suspect that the apocalyptic nature of my momentary hypnagogic visi0ns was not just a conflation of vague threats drawn from impressions of the day. These visions had the quality of memory.
A race-memory of the end-time, as they say.
*Further re–search reveals the fascinating history of the Googling machine. It was first invented in 1893 by Hiram P. Google, the Muncie, Indiana-born son of Latvian-Polish immigrants. His father had changed the family name from Goglewitsky. A studious boy, young Hiram evinced an early ambition to capture and copyright every fact in the known universe, on the premise that God might one day need to start over and not be able to remember everything. He became known as the Father of Lists. When he died in 1943, his house was crammed with thousands upon thousands of lists of facts and figures; he never, however, cracked the problem of how to find a matching pair of socks.
(© Wikipedia. Editing required.)