When I was a kid I was susceptible to faints, spontaneously, usually as a result of stress, trauma, over-excitement or something similar. Once, on Christmas Day, I fainted in the Anglican church in Martinborough and had to be carried outside by my father and laid under a tree. All I'd had to eat so far that day was a single plum. Even as an adult, this sometimes happened to me - I remember slicing open one of my fingers with a Stanley knife while making a bamboo aeroplane that was to be a prop for a Red Mole show, telling no-one, going downstairs, washing and binding up the wound, then going back upstairs - there was a house full of people - and fainting in the kitchen. There's other occasions too but what I'm thinking about now is the strangeness of the world as it appears just before, and just after, such episodes. Sound changes, slowing down and become both distant and yet very loud. If people are speaking, you hear their words break up into phonemes that are rapidly leached of sense. Visually the effects are as alarming: it begins to look as if the world is in the process of disintegrating, like the words, into constituent parts that have no inherent meaning, sense or even structure. It is like a trompe d'oeil curtain being pulled back, but what's behind isn't anything at all. Certainly not blackness - if pushed, I'd say white, the white glare of nothingness. I imagine that all these effects can be explained as the architecture of perception, your point of view, crumpling as unconsciousness advances. When you wake up afterwards, this process is presumably reversed, but what I remember most is the intense, almost repellent, physicality of the things of the world intruding upon that blessed blank state: faces, even loved, familiar faces, look grossly swollen with blood and tissue and pierced with hairs; textures of wood or stone are brutally hard; sounds too are transgressive, unbearably loud; and so on. There is a sense of fraudulence about the returning world: how, since it has shown itself to be an illusion, can it insist so importunately upon its physical reality? I don't think, since that first childhood faint, I've ever entirely believed the construction of the world that my senses bring to me. Of course drug experiences in my late teens, early twenties and intermittently thereafter have only reinforced this Berkeleyan skepticism. I don't faint much any more but quite often - like just now, or rather a few moments ago - I get what can only be called a feeling of imminence, as if the painted veil is about to slip once more and I am going to fall, not unwillingly, again into that white glare.