Synopses & Reviews
A world at once familiar and unimaginably strange exists all around us and within us. It is the world of consciousness, a protean mental landscape that each of us knows intimately in bits and pieces yet understands in its totality scarcely at all. Tied to the body and the brain, consciousness is nonetheless beyond our ability to measure or quantify. Despite the attempts of scientists and mystics, poets and dreamers, crackpots and geniuses, to map its contours and explain its secret workings, the mind remains mysterious. And the more we learn about it, the more mysterious it becomes.
But that is not to say that we know nothing about consciousness. In fact, as gonzo science journalist Jeff Warren demonstrates in this provocative, often hilarious, and always fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge research and personal experience, just how much we do know is little short of astonishing. And when Warren fits the pieces together, the implications of that knowledge are, well, mind-blowing.
Warren begins with the insight that consciousness is not a simple on-off proposition, with rigid demarcations separating waking awareness from the murky depths of sleep, but rather a round-the-clock continuum regulated by natural biorhythms. He then sets out to explore, and to experience for himself, the seemingly miraculous, all-but-untapped potential of the human mind.
From the full-immersion virtual realities of lucid dreaming to the esoteric disciplines of Eastern meditative practices that have reached outposts of consciousness far beyond the grasp of Western science, from techniques of hypnosis and neurofeedback to such exotic states of awareness as the Watch and the Pure Conscious Event, Warren takes us on an incredible journey through our own heads–a journey conducted with the adventurous spirit and intellectual curiosity of a Darwin coupled with the sensibility of a stand-up comedian.
Part user's manual and part travel guide, The Head Trip is an instant classic, a brilliant summation of consciousness studies that is also a practical guide to enhancing creativity, mental health, and the experience of what it means to be human. Many books claim that they will change you. This one gives you the tools to change yourself
"Warren, a Canadian science journalist, combines the rigorous self-experimentation of Steven Johnson's Mind Wide Open with the wacky self-experimentation of A.J. Jacobs's The Know-It-All in this entertaining field guide to the varying levels of mental awareness. Beginning with the mild hallucinogenic state that comes just before true sleep, he tries to hone his skills at lucid dreaming, subjects himself to hypnosis and joins a Buddhist meditation retreat, among other adventures. Along the way, he begins to realize that 'dreaming and waking are equivalent states,' and that we can learn how to induce the subtle gradations of consciousness within ourselves. This could come off as New Age psychobabble, but Warren is well versed in the scientific literature, and he provides detailed accounts of his own research. (During one three-week period, for example, he goes to bed at sundown to recreate a period of wakefulness before returning to sleep that used to be common before electric light reconfigured our sleep schedules.) His self-mocking attitude toward his inability to achieve instant nirvana, along with a steady stream of cartoon illustrations, ensures that his ideas remain accessible. More important than the theories, though, may be the basic tools and the visionary spirit that Warren hands off to those interested in hacking their own minds. B&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A sprawling and occasionally goofy examination of a shockingly little understood aspect of our lives." Kirkus Reviews
"This entertaining book, complete with Warren's own black-and-white, cartoon-like drawings, manages to convey a good deal about the science of cognition in an easy-to-absorb narrative." Library Journal
About the Author
Jeff Warren is a freelance producer for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio. He has lived and worked in Paris, London, Montreal, San Francisco, and Vancouver, and currently lives in Toronto.