The sense of light and other issues with not knowing what you’re looking for
In the previous post I mentioned one issue which, for me, has always been a particular problem in exploring some of the more interesting issues in neurology or psychology. With the fields growing as intensively as they are, there are often problems with, basically, knowing what exactly to look for.
That is, I might have a certain phenomenon in mind, but without knowing if:
a) it has been already researched
and, more importantly
b) under what name it was researched,
I might have serious problems finding information about it, even if there is plenty.
Obviously, I might try looking for it descriptively, but that does not always work. Either my description might be a bit off, or, more often then not, I’m stuck with dozens upon dozens of useless references. If I knew what I’m looking for is actually hidden somewhere in there, I might be determined enough to just pick a metaphorical shovel and dig, but if I don’t know if there’s anything even findable… It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, but without knowing if there ever was a needle. Not the most fun way of spending an afternoon.
Sometimes it’s possible to ask others for assistance, and that helps, but even that has its limits.
For example – and one I’ve tried researching quite a lot, without any results – there’s this optical illusion I tend to regularly experience. I tend to think of it as “a sense of light”. Basically, at night, when I’m trying to get to sleep, if my head is in one of a few specific positions, and I roll my eyes up and to the right, I experience a sensation of the whole room being bathed in soft, fairly bright light. Upon opening my eyes there is no light present and the room is actually in pitch darkness (I tend to sleep with closed curtains and no light sources present).
Dealing with Ockham’s razor first, while the option of a light shining into the room from the outside could be possible in some places I’ve lived in, in others I’ve slept on the 16th floor, with no buildings of similar height, from which a light could come. And in recent years it’s been happening with closed curtains.
There’s no pressure on the optic nerves here, given the positions I’ve experienced the phenomenon, so physical retinal stimulation is probably out of the question.
These aren’t photopsia or anything similar – these are quick, while my “sense of light” can last for several minutes at a time.
Hypnagogia are possible, but highly improbable, if only for the reason that I have a lot of experience with purposefully causing hypnagogia (through hypnosis, lucid dreaming and the like) and so have a fairly good reference point to what my internal state is when hypnagogia appear. This state is not present here. Also, I can easily shift between awake with eyes open and this “light sense” state several times in a short period of time, which would be unlikely in the case of hypnagogia.
Finally, there are probably not typical CEV’s, given that they are position dependent.
Well, one other option possible is some kind of a tumor and a reaction to it, but given I have no troublesome markers on my results so far, and no way of checking otherwise, I’ll skip this explanation.
So I don’t know what this “sense of light” might be. I mean, I’ve tried looking and asking around, but I’ve had no suggestions as to the specific issue. I don’t know if it’s been tested and/or described by anyone. I have had other people mentioning experiencing this phenomenon, so it’s not a neural kink specific to me. And I can’t find out more, at this point.
Which is a shame, because I can think of some fascinating connections of this phenomena. Experiences of so-called “visits” from angels or deities or UFOs are often described as involving strong light in the middle of the night. Now if I was so inclined, say, living several hundred years ago, where bright lights at night were pretty much nonexistent, or living today in a shack somewhere in the middle of the rust belt… Well, if I experienced such a “sense of light” then, possibly after I prayed or thought of my diety of choice, I could see myself describing it as a religious experience. Possibly even building up a whole significant story as to what happened, why the light appeared. Or, if I wasn’t feeling particularly religious, and had an image of aliens warmed up somewhere in my brain, I could easily explain that “impossible” light as an “extraterrestial” visit. As such, this cute little phenomenon might actually have very significant impact on human culture and beliefs. It’d be lovely to check… but of course I can’t because I don’t know if there’s any mention of it… Because I don’t know what specific name to look for.
It’s a small case, but it also illustrates a broader problem, one with which I don’t really know what to do at this point. The large scale of knowledge and the problems with getting to specific data samples. I’m already drowning in the data I know of, all of the research publications, books and reviews I’ve read. Already have problems recalling which specific research said this or that, just knowing that I’ve read this research at one time that described a specific connection. And it’s all such an infinitely tiny portion of the whole thing. What I know is ignorable compared to the richness of the available knowledge. Sorting through it, finding the right data – this is starting to be a real issue. One I’m not quite sure how to deal with….