I & Alex

by ceph


“I don’t know, Alex. It’s kind of disappointing.” 

“What is?”

“Hypnosis. I mean it’s kind of a let-down when you really think about it.”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean it’s - well, I wish it were more mystical. Like if it had power rings, or just whatever. I don’t know.”

“Stoned. I see it though. I mean obviously I like it. People look like they’re in heaven, it feels like you are, but how is it really that easy? It’s better than any drug.”

“It’s not like we don’t smoke weed too though.”

“Better than doesn’t not not mean better with.”

“Stoned on you. So obviously the next thought is, well, I should help people.”

“And you feel like you could.”

“Yeah. But the ethical question is, do I have the right to help people? How can I guide them? Their life might be better than mine already. Lots of theirs are. I mean I’m a barista.” 

“A six-figure one. You with the ethics, when you have a pocket full of twenties.” 

“I swear I don’t intentionally do anything. It’s all in the music.”

“This theory.”

“It’s real. It’s just based on the feeling. Something driving and felt. That’s what people want in the morning. Plus I fill them cups fast.” 

“I’m not sure if I believe it, but let’s say I do. So you’re saying that financial gain from hypnosis is not something one should do.” 

“Mm, not necessarily. Just that if you do, it should be in an explicitly hypnosis-related context. And I don’t think you should just sort of “sell” it as a service. You should teach it, which of course involves experiencing it - and all experience teaches, to some extent, but it should be…constituted as a mutual experience.”

“Meaning what?”

“That because I - well, properly, one - can’t say that I know more about “how to live life” than anyone else, never knowing perfectly how or why they really feel inside or do the things they do, that I can’t sort of teach them in a way that a teacher teaches.”


“Well, teachers have authority, right? They have authority because they have learning and qualifications. I don’t. I can make someone feel really good, but so can, like, a good dick stroker.” 


“I guess I’d say that something so personal, like, I can’t handle commercializing it. I can’t do that because I can’t draw that line. If I’m helping someone, if someone earnestly asks me to help them, I am doing it with every power I have. You know? Like I don’t care, I’ll fight your parents.”

“For free?”

“Well, not yours. Or not for no reason, rather. My point is that hypnosis is such a deep connection that I can’t block out anything. I have to have everything with that person, in that moment. Not like “mystical friends forever and ever” but, like, truly, for a moment. Like we just got trapped on an island together.”

“And then you…do it?”

“Dude, everything is like beyond sex. It’s such a close encounter that it’s moved past that. Sex requires distance. A delta. Which we all have naturally, because we’re different people. It’s a coming together. Hypnosis is coming together in a different way. And because it’s so personal, there’s also the question of what happens after. Like I just go home to my girlfriend and bye? I might text you back, I might not? How can we just close off these connections and expect to be okay? Now that’s, I mean, I’m thinking about if someone is really, you know, they want to kick something, or be fit, or diet, or something like that, someone really asking me for help in changing something actual in their life, that I can’t help but take seriously. I don’t consider it moral at all to work a little feel good magic on somebody for an hour a week, and maybe they kinda quit maybe they don’t and you just say you’re welcome and move on. No. If someone asks me for that kind of serious help I will give all I can give.”

“This is big talk for someone who has not, to my knowledge, done any of this.”

“Well, nobody has asked.”

“Maybe this, uh, Naruto-run approach is kind of frightening.”

“It’s not like I warn people. I just haven’t been really asked.”

“Well, fine, for now, I guess, but I think it’s a lot of talk for virtue never tested.”

“I guess. I mean I think that’s what I’d do. Not that I’m even saying I have anything to offer, like epistemically. I mean maybe it feels a hundred times as good for them to smoke cigarettes as me, I would never know.”

“But you do hypnosis with people. Presumably they ask.”

“Well, just to learn. That’s the difference. If they think I have knowledge they want, I will answer all their questions. But I’m not going to put on a hat that says ‘I have the knowledge.’ I’m not gonna be Mr Knows Things. Maybe if I finish one fucking real thing other than feeling excellent I could be Mr Knows Something.”

“If it’s any consolation, I think you know a thing or two.”

“Stop. I’m not being emo. Or maybe I am. Fine. But no, I mean, if someone asks me about hypnosis, yeah, we’ll sit cross legged on the carpet and I’ll teach what I know.”

“And how might a lucky soul find this hidden guru?”

“You did. 

“Oh, right.”

“And I’m not hiding, or a guru. I’m just, like, a guy.” 

“Mr. Doesn’t Know If He Knows Anything, Relatively, Yet.” 

“Fine. My point that I started with was, if there were like magic words or power rings, it would be easier to know if I knew something. As it turns out I have to prove it by actually making a real difference.”

“By pouring just the best damn coffee.”

“Admittedly no. It’s fine. But - no, that still isn’t right. Even if I knew I’d made a difference, I still wouldn’t know if that difference was good.” 

“Like maybe coffee kills.”

“Well sure. I don’t think it does. I think we would know if it does by now.”

“Bean addict.”

“You’ve met my parents. I’ve been nearly numb to caffeine from the womb on.” 

“So anyway. How to know if the difference is good. I don’t know if you can. Especially if you start thinking about the butterflies.”

“I’m not going for some kind of ultimate analysis.”

“I feel like you’re kind of shirking the consequences of all this. Shouldn’t you be helping as many people as you can, as much as you can, if you think all this?”

“That isn’t exactly what I’m saying. I might know how to feel good, to me, but that’s subjective. I don’t know how to feel good to them for them. Not necessarily. I can try to help them to learn what I know how to bring about in myself, to do that in theirself, if you know what I mean - or parallel things, I guess - if they ask me.”

“But aren’t you kind of hiding, by not advertising yourself as someone with this knowledge?”

“Maybe. And maybe this is a judgment I’m not qualified to make, but I feel like that would only interest people who want something transactional. Like ‘make me lose weight week after week.’ It just freaks me out too much to use that deep connection for something so prescribed and constrained. I guess I could say, ‘I will teach people hypnosis so that they can teach people hypnosis, and that is all I will do.’ And ideally the only thing I want for it is that one day when they feel ready they’ll come back and teach me a lesson myself. Because if they’re out there teaching hypnosis, they’ll learn more and more things, and different things, different from what I learned.”

“All this because of one animated snake.”

“Well, he just wanted to eat people. Although, I suppose, did he? He never seems to get anyone. Does he just enjoy the thrill of the catch? 

“Presumably he eats something.”


“Different jungle. Anyway. Stoned.”

“So do you want to eat people?”

“Well, there is, you know, a thrill in connection.”

“A boner.”

“It does sometimes manifest.” 

“Sometimes. Ok. I’m just saying, I don’t think your prurient interest here can be ignored. You’re hardly neutral.” 

“Admittedly. And I suppose a neutral but interested person would have a better grounds to teach people about, uh, the subject, neutrally. But at the same time, most people who do anything hypnosis-related on the internet seem to be, you know, into it. And that gets me thinking, like, why would anyone be a hypnotist who wasn’t into it? I feel like you have to be into it to…to really believe in it. And maybe that’s why we believe in it, because we were into it as soon as we heard about it. And that gets me asking, is everyone who goes into hypnosis doing it because they’re into it? 

But that’s kind of a truism, right? Because they’re going into it because they’re curious. Whether they’re afraid or, you know, into it, they’re curious, and they assign to it a power of some kind. And they do so because they’re deeply, infinitely curious about a form of escape from themselves. And it follows that if someone is really content, right then, not seeking to change anything, not seeking to feel anything different, then why would they seek the experience of hypnosis?

But that’s kind of a silly question, because if someone was feeling perfect, why would they seek anything? Nothing is perfect. New things, new curiosity, every moment. So I think that’s - I guess I could say, if someone is a seeker of truth, about the mind, the self, what the stuff of thought is, and they find the subject of hypnosis in their seeking, and if they’re, you know, curious about it, really curious, and into it the way I’m into it, eventually they might read this, and if they ask, I’ll teach them all I could, and hope to learn.” 

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