I’m with my parents, visiting a great-aunt and uncle in their home in a nearby small town. Aunt Amanda is one of my mother's favorite people, pretty much responsible for her being married and thus indirectly for my very existence. But to me, their house is a stifling museum where I'm not allowed to move around on my own. I'm expected to stand quiet and motionless beside my mother’s chair for the entire visit.
We’re in their kitchen, lit only by natural outdoor light through the windows. But there are a lot of windows - most of one wall has windows onto a glassed-in porch.
But there is a new wrinkle today. I’ve never seen the primitive version of Warp’s Glass-Weave, the plastic film window covering that they have wrapped around the entire glazed porch. I’m used to the diffraction effects from insect-blocking window screens, how they create a fluttering pattern that seems to hover in the air around me when I move slightly. But this is more like being underwater, or drowning in a thick syrup. There is still a grid of reinforcing fibers, but much larger than normal window screen. Inside each grid opening the wrinkly, translucent plastic dips inward in a meniscus, getting thinner and more transparent toward the center of each square. But never clear enough that you can recognize anything outdoors. Only one small window on the far wall is spared the plastic film, but it is covered with a fine white mesh curtain.
Combine my visual sensitivity with the kerosene fumes and combustion products from the unvented portable oil-burning heaters they ran in each room, and the utter boredom... “He can’t see...” I whispered toward my mother just before I collapsed near her feet. (I always referred to myself in the third person then.)
I know I was later taken to the doctor and put in the hospital for tests that found nothing wrong, but I can’t find any records of this event. Of course nobody asked me what happened... I was accustomed to boredom and fumes, and it was clear to me it was the visual effects of the window plastic that led to my loss of consciousness. I just backed way out of my body into the translucent waves of light outside the porch, and lost track of the dimly lit “real” scene in the kitchen. After finding out what happens when you let your entire visual field go black, I quickly learned to maintain a small conscious attention point in the “real world” while experimenting with blacking out parts of my vision.
I’m pretty sure this happened after the Consumed by the Light experience. This was not physically or emotionally traumatic, it was actually a relief from the muscle tension that ripped my physical self-identity apart in the Light experience. I found a way to simply back out of the immediate visual world, to keep my sense of self safely distant from whatever stress might be inflicted on my physical eyes.
Over the following years I would spend similar periods of motionless boredom, particularly while sitting through church services, selectively blacking out the edges of my peripheral vision. Once an area faded to black, I was able to reprogram its size and motion sensitivity relative to adjacent areas, and when it materialized again my visual world was less stressful. But my world became more and more concentrated in a bubble in front of my face, while my awareness of the space beside and behind my body went dark and was forgotten.
It was my experimentation with psychedelics in the late 1960’s that re-opened my awareness of all this blacked-out and forgotten space which I have come to call the Psychoros. But getting from that awareness to some level of understanding and control has taken most of fifty years, and is still an ongoing journey. Right now, I’m in a constant battle between being sucked into the world of words on this computer screen, and remembering to extend my view of the world of things out away from the screen and around behind, over and under my body.
Twenty-plus years after losing consciousness in the plastic-wrapped kitchen, when I was investigating the Berkeley Psychic Institute, people there zeroed in on Carl and Amanda as the most active “uncontrolled psychics” from my childhood. I don’t remember them seeming that unusual among my elderly relatives, but then lots of my relatives have been called out as uncontrolled psychics. I still don’t know whether to blame them for seducing me into a shadowy world that is not valued by modern society, or thank them for forcing me to the explorations that still occupy my life.
Looking at their photo now, the lines in their faces seem like something from a cubist painting, and I get little shudders of recognition of the space far outside their bodies where I suspect they lived. Where I learned to visit them...
Revised 27 May 2014