The dark side of The Head Trip

A while back, I mentioned an interesting book on consciousness I read called “The Head Trip.” The book, written by a Jeff Warren, talked a lot about — in terms a layman could understand — consciousness altering techniques such as hypnosis, meditation, REM sleep etc. If I had one minor quibble with the book, I found the author’s humorous manner little overdone. Humor can be a great way to break up dense, technical passages, but when it’s in there for its own sake, it feels like it’s merely fattening up the material. But, like I said, this was a minor quibble. Like a quiblet.

Today I stumble across this New York Times essay on the topic of meditation written by the same Jeff Warren. But gone is the humor. He states…

Seven years ago I started meditating because I was in agony. I had nothing ostensibly wrong with me — I was healthy, I had friends and romance and interesting work. The problem was in my mind. I felt trapped behind a spinning barrier of rumination. I couldn’t connect — not in a real way, not in an intimate reassuring way. It had gotten so bad that I could hardly look people in the eye, convinced they could see the shadows of my anxieties and my alienation flickering behind my gaze. It made me desperate — panicked — as though I were strapped to a bomb I could neither explain nor get rid of.

This makes me get a better sense of what I found distracting about the humor in “The Head Trip.” I suspect it was more of a defense mechanism that Warren was using to avoid revealing too much about himself than a way of making the text more readable for readers. It was humor that was supposed to serve as a distraction.

But this new article, which gets into Warren’s emotional battles, helps explain why he delved into the subject of consciousness, which is a rather obtuse, hard to digest topic. He was openly looking for the cure for his bleak emotional state. Did he find it? As the article makes clear, the answer is no. But he seems to be on an interesting journey, and it’s a fascinating read.

  1. No Comments