Consciousness and altered states


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Photo by Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum

Essay/
Sleep and dreams
Nightmares becalmed

I’m a dream engineer. Through touch, scent and sound, we help people rescript the dramas of their sleeping lives

Michelle Carr

Photo by Berenice Abbott/Getty

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Consciousness and altered states
Brain wifi

Instead of a code encrypted in the wiring of our neurons, could consciousness reside in the brain’s electromagnetic field?

Johnjoe McFadden

Paul Giamatti as Hamlet in Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of 2013. Photo by Joan Marcus

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Dance and theatre
Phantasia

Imagination is a powerful tool, a sixth sense, a weapon. We must be careful how we use it, in life as on stage or screen

Paul Giamatti & Stephen T Asma

La vie (1964) by Marc Chagall, La Fondation Maeght à Saint-Paul de Vence. Photo by Getty Images

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Sleep and dreams
In exile from the dreamscape

We live in a wake-centric world that devalues dreaming, yet we need to experience dreams to be our authentic selves

Rubin Naiman

Photo by Mayr/Flickr

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Consciousness and altered states
Consciousness regained

After years of deep therapeutic pessimism, emerging therapies offer hope for patients trapped between coma and wakefulness

Aurore Thibaut

Photo courtesy Wellcome Images

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Neuroscience
Frames of consciousness

Can electrical impulses in the brain explain the stuff that dreams are made on? What a new consciousness-detector reveals

Joel Frohlich

Detail from Self Portrait (1500) by Albrecht Dürer. The text to the right broadly translates as ‘Thus I, Albrecht Dürer from Nuremberg, created myself with characteristic colours at the age of 28 years.’ Courtesy Wikipedia/Alte Pinakothek München

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Consciousness and altered states
Consciousness is real

Consciousness is neither a spooky mystery nor an illusory belief. It’s a valid and causally efficacious biological reality

Massimo Pigliucci

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians pray on the last day of ‘Abiy Tsom’, fifty-five days of fasting ahead of Easter, at Medhane Alem Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 7 April 2018. Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty

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Rituals and celebrations
Divine transports

Whether via music, dance or prayer, the trance state was key to human evolution, forging society around the transcendent

Mark Vernon

Detail of Picture from 8 Sides (1930-6), by Kurt Schwitters; oil and wood relief on panel. Courtesy Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

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Consciousness and altered states
The consciousness illusion

Phenomenal consciousness is a fiction written by our brains to help us track the impact that the world makes on us

Keith Frankish

A Huichol culture yarn painting from Zacatecas, Mexico. Photo by Charles Mahaux/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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Consciousness and altered states
The whole-planet view

Psychedelics offer a sense of expansive connectedness, just like astronauts have felt looking back to Earth from space

Rosalind Watts, Sam Gandy & Alex Evans