Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oxygen is Good (If You're Not Anaerobic)

“Whenever the membranes of the egg in which the foetus emerges on its way to becoming a new-born are broken, imagine for a moment that something flies off, and that one can do it with an egg as easily as with a man, namely the hommelette, or the lamella. The lamella is something extra-flat, which moves like the amoeba. It is just a little more complicated. But it goes everywhere. And as it is something—I will tell you shortly why—that is related to what the sexed being loses in sexuality, it is, like the amoeba in relation to sexed beings, immortal—because it survives any division, and scissiparous intervention. And it can turn around. Well! This is not very reassuring. But suppose it comes and envelopes your face while you are quietly asleep... I can't see how we would not join battle with a being capable of these properties.” Jacques Lacan, The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, pp. 197-198 (emphasis added)

I've discovered these things since two weeks ago:

1) I have sleep apnea. It manifests as waking out of sleep about once every three minutes, by stopping breathing. My heart beats faster and my brain goes into panic. I have about 2 minutes of REM sleep for every three hours' “sleep.”

2) My unconscious doesn't care if I live or die. How do I know? Well,

3) I got a pressurized air machine (CPAP) that stops me from not breathing. As I go to sleep I can feel my body trying to breathe in the snory, apea-like way that it clearly has grown to enjoy. The machine wants me to live more than my unconscious does. Weird.

4) Evolution doesn't care about some things. For instance, flaps of skin in your face. It doesn't seem to care that the sheer existential density of your own flesh could kill you. I probably wouldn't even be alive by now 100 years ago, let alone 3 million years ago, so what the hey. Jacques Lacan talks about the “lamella,” the existential presence of tissue that manifests as a fantasy of a pancaky frisbee of flesh covering your face. He forgot to add: this thing actually lives in your face. It is your face. It weighs down on my windpipe like the larval alien in Ridley Scott's film and it doesn't care if the weight kills me. And the movement of your chest (in a strange lateral direction) pushes acid up from your stomach, so sometimes you wake up choking on acid.

5) Now I've slept and breathed for two nights (first time in about ten years), I have some observations:
a) Oxygen is nice. Unless you evolved in the Archaean period. My blood oxygen at night was about 82% where normal is above 90%. I spent the first few hours of every day breathing again and reoxygenating, for about 10 years.
b) If you stop breathing every few minutes your brain thinks you're dying so it supposedly dumps a lot of the (reputed) neurotransmitter DMT, and that gives you quite strongly psychedelic lucid dreams. Every few minutes. (Yes I've been through the roaring chrysanthemum.) I don't mind swapping these for oxygen. (But hey now I know why I kept dreaming that I had just died...because I nearly had...) Conclusion:
i) dying is not so bad (your body is reduced to a mere trickle, then stops, so there's not much of you left to freak; but various other things continue, quite colorfully) and
ii) there are conscious states that seem to happen after you've stopped breathing (i.e. when you appear dead)—paging Lhasa...

c) I can do more than one thing per day!

6) I am a cyborg who is alive because there is a prosthetic device strapped to his face. I swapped a lamella of flesh for a lamella of silicone.

This thing affects one in five men over 40. Think about it...

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