[-empyre-] echo objects and Barbara Marie Stafford

Barbara Stafford bms6 at uchicago.edu
Thu Oct 2 01:22:24 EST 2008

dear christina and all,

what a wonderful project you have! i think immediately of work on 
indigenous people from equador and peru who take ahauasca--producing 
exactly what you are describing=a wakeful hallucination or aware 
dreamscape. also there is fascinating work on prehistoric 
caves--cognitive anthropology and cognitive archaeology--with new 
interpretations of not only entoptic phenomena but precisely of 
hypnogogia. see, for example, the work of david lewis williams.
am also reminded of jane campion's brilliant film, the piano--which 
could be looked as a highly nuanced analysis of the post -traumatic 
state and then a return to life specifically because of the triggering 
not only of the pleasure centers of the amygdalla and the nucleus 
accumbens but the trigger moment of penetration that brings about an 
immediate transformation as well as a visualization of an alternative 

my best,
On Sep 30, 2008, at 7:28 PM, Christina McPhee wrote:

> dear Barbara and all,
> I really like this warning- or inspiration of Barbara's...
> On Sep 23, 2008, at 4:39 PM, Barbara Stafford wrote:
>> . i still think that's the hardest task facing us: namely, to 
>> identify a common issue/s  that is equally rivetting to all sides of 
>> the disciplinary divide. i took on questions ranging from mimesis to 
>> conscious attention--and, of course, still did not get to the bottom 
>> of them. but from my experience with scientists as well as humanists, 
>> we'll never get anywhere unless we define  a question that is thought 
>> to be equally gripping no matter who you are.
> Traumatic memory after violent experience makes for a nest of 
> questions. I've been obsessed with trying to show or make a 
> visualzation / emulation of post traumatic stress induced nightmare, 
> hypnogogia-- the waking dreamscape.  I wonder if you (Barbara), 
> Lucette, Paul or Tina can point me to other crossover studies (between 
> neurology and contemporary art) that might develop some alternative 
> rhetorics or, to borrow from Barbara, generative 'visual analogies',  
> around visualizations of what I might call a trigger moment-- when an 
> event/dream/chance experience triggers amygdala activation and the 
> release of primitive visual content from amygdala to the visualizing 
> imagination.   Paul's work on the "Shape of Thought"  seems to touch 
> on this but does not isolate specifically to post traumatic stress 
> disorder in its etiology (ie what participants are asked to remember). 
>  Also,  in PTSD, the sufferer doesn't
> recall by request , except (perhaps? ) in hynosis: t's actually the 
> most difficult thing to access  in 'waking life" as well as in sleep 
> because we can predict the probability of hypnogogic or hallucinatory 
> visualzation,  and possibly even chart the aftereffects on it in 
> neural chemistry, but to actually capture the moment of traumatic 
> visualziation as it might arise, as it were, naturally, is something I 
> imagine could difficult for the scientific method.
> Looking forward to any tips, refs  thoughts on this direction.
> thanks for the great conversation this month, too,
> cm
> Christina McPhee
> http://christinamcphee.net
> http://strikeslip.tv
> http://naxsmash.net
> Department of Film and Digital Media
> University of California at Santa Cruz
> 1156 High Street
> Santa Cruz, CA 95064
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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