Day 6 :: Jen :: Swiss Cheese composure

It felt like Saturday morning for a long while. Time-befuddled, I kept falling victim to a creeping fear that we’d looped back to last Saturday morning and were about to begin the week again. I feel under-slept but not sleepy. It’s a state we layfolk call wired, and it reminds me of pulling all-nighters in my student days long ago. I know it can’t be last Saturday. Still, the prowling, paranoid hallucinations that float up and down the corridor are finding many ways in through my Swiss cheese composure.

Even these paranoid moments are quite benign. This space which at first seemed so sinister and dimly lit is now relatively comfortable, and our miniature social network experiment is giving good cohesion. I am even used to the electrodes, and could probably administer my own if I ever had the equipment and the inclination to record my brainwaves at home. I’ll be very interested to find out what they were doing two sleep periods ago, when I had a few moments of lucid dreaming – nothing flash like flying, but I managed to shake the hand of a strange, curly-haired man named, inexplicably, Lamb, who looked like a jobbing soap actor but seemed to be some kind of guardian. I’d realised I was dreaming when he told me to go to sleep, but faced with the infinite possibilities of lucidity I thought too much and woke myself up.

I wish it had been Bill Murray. Bill Murray would have known what to do.

After an age of Saturday mornings, one of the scientists let a time cue slip, so now we have an idea of how much time we have left in here – and  how much less time it is than we thought. Morale is low since this discovery. Where before I was reflecting on my practice, excited by imminent freedom, now I am mooning around aimlessly and “creativity” has either become a luxury or a sham. Writing anything imaginary is impossible in this despondent state but I can still draw, even if it’s just my horribly fatigued self:

Fatigue, confinement, and disempowerment are wearing us all down and I feel peeled back to my bare self. Conversations hover on grief, trauma, lost time, and those we miss. We talk about Manus Island and Guantanamo Bay. About dementia and memory and place. We are trying to shore ourselves up without the protective layers the world provides us. The imagination goes where it is needed most – imagining the outside. All of the processes are having deleterious emotional effects – the test are beginning to feel like attempts to strip words and numbers of meaning, the identical meals like glitches in time, the routines attempts to strip us of our will. I have lost six hours of my life to pressing a single button on the PVT. I know what it means to say that you surrender to sleep.

Once again they are laying out the electrodes and preparing the tests: the pattern repeats. It is like being trapped in a cruel fiction, more Kafka than Orwell. I hope someone’s written an ending. I hope one of these days to wake into the right Saturday morning, and be able to go home.

Jennifer Mills

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