Schrodinger’s Control Panel
With kudos to Karl for the concept, his comment on my last post reminded me of a singularly unusual experience I had while teaching at the drama retreat this last weekend.
One of the other teachers was a professional hypnotist, and she and I talked for hours about the way trance worked, the power of triggers and suggestions, and the like. I’ve always been somewhere between skeptical and respectful of hypnotism, and it was fascinating to get a look under the hood, so to speak.
I accepted her offer to hypnotize me in an attempt to improve my memory for names, a constant struggle with the amount of travel I do and people I meet. As she took me into trance (using a “falling” induction, perfect for a movement specialist like me) her voice gradually led me towards picturing a “control room” in my brain.
There were a few aspects of that control room that I found very interesting.
- While I spend a lot of time with the latest technology and interfaces, my “control room” looks like a cold-war era bunker, something out of Dr. Strangelove. Since it was built in 1969, I suppose that’s fitting.
- The “corridor” I pictured going down (the only word the hypnotist used to describe it) was fleshed out in my brain as a very dark, dusty, seldom traveled passage deep inside. Hmm. My control room hasn’t been visited in a while, it seems. Who’s driving this thing?
- When it came time to picture the “memory” panel, there were two parts. One was an old-school rheostat, like you’d see on a classic guitar amp, which I used to set the number of seconds it would take to retrieve names from my brain’s indexing system.
- The other thing was a switch that would turn on the indexing system, and the hypnotist said that obviously it was turned to “off” (hence my difficulty). She asked me to switch it to “on”, and I did…but still could only see it as OFF. I flipped it to “on” again…and still could only picture it as OFF. Schrodinger’s panel indeed, but finally I was able to vaguely see it as ON.
- There were two moments of confirming and accepting these changes to my Control Room I had to do before I left. Both appeared in my head as floating holographic green buttons, as high tech as you can get. It was nice to know I’d had at least one or two upgrades over the years.
I know what you’re wondering: did it work? The answer is indubitably yes – I spent the rest of the event remembering names more clearly than ever before, and today, at the start of another weekend of classes in Salt Lake City, I can feel part of my mind cataloging the people I’ve met (Jodi, Bill, Christopher, Jeff, Dee).
Is it the power of hypnotism? Or just the power of me thinking I was hypnotized? Does it actually matter, if it’s working?
More interesting to me, though, is the thought of what other panels might have been in that control room. There’s the question of whether it might be possible to upgrade things beyond the bomb shelter that was built in my head.
There’s that question above: if this is the first time I’ve been in the control room…who’s been driving this thing?
Feel free to share in the comments what you imagine your own control panel looks like…