Sunday, September 16, 2012

Speak of it Only in a Soft, Sharp Whisper

Here's something no one ever seemed to talk about, even though it's totally a thing. I guess no one ever talked about it because it wasn't a universal thing, but it's a thing nonetheless. I've long known this thing from a handful of records, from people whispering around me in classes, and from other sources that escape me just now. Somehow, I never thought to mention it to anybody. Never thought to look it up on the net, either. Certainly never thought to give it a proper name. I just kind of enjoyed it when it happened and thought nothing more of it.

Then earlier this week, a cyberfriend of mine posted a link to an article. The article seemed to think it was talking about my thing, but I'm certain it was actually pursuing something different. But it was enough. For the first time, it was evident that a handful of people out there know the thing and are reasonably excited to talk about it. Even if the article missed the mark, it had plenty of links and references to people who didn't. All the while I was off in my own little world, other people were uniting theirs into one growing, marvelous globe. They even decided upon a name, albeit a clinical one that translates into an unmemorable set of initials.

The name is: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. ASMR for short. And what it is — are you ready for this? No you're not. Unless you've experienced it, in which case I retract that statement. What it is, basically, is this: A sort of upper-body orgasm induced by intimate, yet sharp, sounds. The best example of such a sound that comes to mind is a really close-up whisper on a quiet background, full of well-enunciated Ts and Ss. Sometimes and somehow, those sounds just perfectly hit something within my head, resulting in, at least in my case, a kind of flash-orgasm shooting from near my inner ear down into my upper back, usually on the right side near my shoulder.

I should add that I seem to need to be relaxed for it to happen. If I'm too tense, and given my current life situation, that does happen often, the tension seems to kind of block the sounds from getting through to the "sweet spot". So relaxation is a good thing to have. (When isn't it?)

So there you have it. Apparently, not everyone gets that. But there are plenty of people that do, and they are gradually emerging from the deepest recesses of the Internet (which happen to include YouTube and *ahem* Blogger). And, for whatever it may be worth, I'm happy to join them. This is why I was so stunningly tolerant of classmates whispering around me during class, back when I was actually an enthusiastic student eager to do well. Ah, that seems so long ago now.

This is not the original article to which my friend linked. But it's as good an information repository on the matter as we're likely to find at this point. There is supposedly an official research website, but it hasn't worked since I stumbled upon all this. And there are plenty of other links within this article.

But you know I can't just leave you hanging. I have to provide at least a couple of examples of my own "triggers". I'll start you with psychedelic pstaple Syd Barrett and his old band. Isn'T iT goooooD?



Next up, the acid folk stylings of Linda Perhacs. This demo appears on the expanded CD reissue of her classic 1970 LP Parallelograms. Listen in particular for the middle part with the right-channel-dubbed vocal.



I'll leave you with those two for now. YouTube can only do so much. (I have an mp3 copy of, of all things, Johnny Mathis' "Chances Are" where Johnny's voice is astonishingly crisp in the right channel. I don't think the 'Tube can match it.) And anyway, "chances are", we wouldn't want to overdose on these "back-gasms". Everything in moderation; always remember that.

Peace, love, and limited quantities of euphoria,
~C.A.~



Edit 2013-8-24: Further thoughts on this phenomenon here.

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