“We open our more than two arms and our many more than one mind.” -Alone Experience
For an hour and a half, I surely looked like a vacant-eyed cultist with a disturbing smile, and the glowing headset did nothing to reassure passersby, but I knew I was part of something big. The mysterious doings of the Enola Foundation always require a bit of effort to uncover. Alone’s offering at ScareLA on August 25-26 was no exception. The spectacle that unfolded from it was hard to miss, though.
Using the Silent Disco headphones that were already being offered at ScareLA for free, Alone led the participants in a meditative aural experience. While to outside observers, it would have looked like a flash mob, or perhaps one of Improv Everywhere’s MP3 Experiments, it took the listeners on a thoughtful journey for approximately ninety minutes.
Upon finding the booth with the headphones, participants were guided to a relatively open and dark area at the back of the convention hall to await instructions. While listeners sat or laid flat on the concrete floor, a basso voice led them through a creepy version of a progressive relaxation hypnotic induction. It then invited them to contemplate that while they were each very alone in one sense, they were also part of a vastly greater whole, and in fact all made of star stuff (in a probable nod to Carl Sagan).
The narrator then put a very physical spin on this bit of stock metaphysics. The listeners stood and joined hands into circles, becoming in fact part of something larger than themselves. Big circles, small circles, “circles” of only two people, spinning clockwise, counterclockwise, dispersing and reforming in a huge dance. The narrator observed that none of these structures were likely ever to repeat with the same people; they were transient.
Like all organisms, this one needed to grow; the narrator urged the listeners to proselytize, to expand this collective self. And thus the listeners fanned out across the convention hall silently, in their spooky glowing headphones, and found unsuspecting con attendees that they could herd tenderly back to the meeting point. The new inductees, lacking headphones, mostly looked bemused, but seemed willing to be the center point of a very gentle, loving mosh pit.
Eventually the new arrivals were released from the press of humanity around them, and the listeners were guided through a cool-down meditation to prepare them for being detached from the greater self they had been briefly been a part of. Soon the headphones were gone, and the participants were once again isolated humans with just a memory of being something larger.
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