Beginning at five years of age, I often experienced the following event before sleep. It visited me frequently throughout childhood, into my early twenties, then did not return.
In bed, in a hypnagogic state, neither fully awake nor fully asleep, huge blisters of color burst forth at high velocity into vast space. Each explosive pulse blows out in vivid color, scattering its profusion, revealing yet another form different in color and roiling complexity, rushing out from its core. Burst after burst, then slowly the center opens, wider with each radiant pulse until the hole becomes all and I’m deep inside an infinite black space filled with light. The boundless space is utterly black but breath-takingly radiant.
Everywhere present are millions of tiny motes, each separated by vast reaches of distance. Brilliantly white, illuminated from every direction as if lit by a sun surrounding all space, each is a tiny homunculus, a miniature human form, perfect in every detail. All are identical.
They do not tumble in space. Their axes are fixed. All are moving, but each figure, held by the void, floats in unique orientation to all others: arms like this, feet are there, body over, head turned down, that way another, skin under arm here. In an infinitude of combinations, there is terrible beauty in the geometry of relations as each figure’s gesture subtends that of every other. The loci of differences form a vast, infinitely complex crystalline structure coincident with all of space. Like silent music, this faceted completeness is present but not visible.
I am each of these complete, distinct, miniscule beings. Not limited to some part or aspect of myself, each is entire, and I am all. I am full in each being, yet I’ve lost myself completely. My awareness has no location but is everywhere at once. Yet I am, in my multiplicity, alone in this universe.
Then I notice that each tiny body, each me, is getting larger. I can’t actually see or feel the expansion because the process is so slow as to be imperceptible, but the figures are changing. It’s as if the bodies are inflating from the inside, not growing, but ballooning. The beings retain all their features and figural detail yet seem to be losing mass. The bigger they become the less they are. Increasingly, they seem to be all surface with nothing inside: a thin, delicate surface, like very fine, just fired, porcelain. As the figures get bigger and bigger, my anxiety grows concomitantly at being unable to perceive or track the movement of expansion.
As the distance between each figure shrinks, I realize, to my horror, that they will continue to expand until they occupy all of space. Fear rising, I hold my breath, attempting to retard them. As each figure approaches its multiple twins, I see how each form, all surface, every differing shape, must interlock everywhere, all at once. Precisely conjunctive, their fit will be complete, unnaturally perfect, and inalterable.
The immense ballooning figures, squeezing away all space, leave me nowhere to go, nowhere to breathe, nowhere to survive. With dread worse than fear of death, I’m certain that even though I am all of these beings, once they expand to infinity I will be annihilated. As the huge figures close the last distance to interlocking, my terror becomes insupportable. No matter how many times this vision comes, I experience the same fear and try to escape, sometimes coming fully awake, crying out and weeping.
In one vast silence sounding once, the figures lock. Every surface seals, all senses one. Infinity leaps as immeasurable differences join. Utterly and irrevocably, all motion stops, in every place.
I am in, or am, an existence of space without qualities. No description holds, words fail. I’m inside all figures, but there are no figures, but there is no I and all is in me. But none of this tells of no differentiation, no existence, yet nothing lost. Space is neither black nor not-black, light nor not-light, and it is not space; platinum, dense but neither of these and nothing; no movement, no stillness, no point, no vastness, no being, no not-being; no differentiating qualities but nothing is denied, nothing excluded, nothing included. Nothing proceeds, nothing stops, nothing seen.
Terror is now peace and becomes sleep.
Brian Wood, Red Rock, NY 4/2010