The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness

headtrip-canada-pb-webThe Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness. Toronto and New York, Random House Canada and USA, Oneworld in the UK, 2007. Also being translated into Korean and Italian. You can get an audio book too. This cover from the Canadian paperback edition. Buy it here

My guide to all the weird permutations of waking and sleeping consciousness. The UK’s Independent called it “exhilarating” and The New York Times’s Sandra Blakeslee said it was “audacious, enchanting, and often hilarious .” Click here for more reviews.

Head Trip is a science adventure slash illustrated arts and crafts project. My ambition was to classify all the most elemental ways we are aware , the ultimate hopeless quest, because every time you think you have a state of consciousness pinned down it morphs inside your gaze, until you feel as though you are going insane, perhaps because you are insane. “It’s like trying to pin Post-it notes on the ocean,” my friend Matt observed, sympathetically, right before nodding off. Of course, this sort of serious inquiry demands that fun be had, because, really, who gives a hoot?

To write this book I became a guinea pig for all kinds of scientific and quasi-scientific experimentation, including sleep lab analysis, lucid-dream workshops, hypnotic inductions and neurofeedback trials. After several years of bird’s-eye swooping I began to make out patterns in the topography. Most of what I learned is summarized in The Head Trip. Lots on the reality-bending nature of dreaming, one of the first popular accounts of neuroplasticity, and a chapter on ancestral sleep patterns and what it’s like to be awake in the night. The book will introduce you to you own mind, which may cause you to recoil in confusion, for it’s not everyday that you meet such a freak.

Click here for the Head Trip website, which contains little descriptions of each state of consciousness, a long excerpt from the introduction, a cover gallery, reviews and a bunch of other stuff.

Click here for a mini-summary of some of the states I wrote for The New Scientist.