Patrick had an interesting observation on the comment thread of my post on jump discontinuities in identity (whether induced by prayer or otherwise):
As for discontinuity of identity while asleep… I suffer that every night, and I suspect everyone else does too. I can’t remember the moment of falling asleep. There is a period of time between laying down in bed and actually falling asleep that I experience every night, but which I am incapable of remembering. Likewise I have dreams but only remember some of them, and only partially. I don’t think you can get more discontinuous than an amnesiac episode- anything you thought of during that time, any changes those thoughts had… kaput. I’m pretty sure that discontinuity of identity is a continual aspect of being human.
Those discontinuities are strange and at least somewhat discomfiting. I’m less troubled by dreams, since I default towards the useful brain rest time/interesting perspective on your issues school of thought, (Tristyn had a thought-provoking piece on dreams recently. I have a plenty of sympathy towards her position, even if I tend to apply it more to daydreams). But, no matter what, I am always suspicious of lost time.
As a somewhat straight-laced college student, I feel most justified in my prissery when it comes to excessive drinking — specifically drinking to deliberately induce blackout and the next-day pride plenty of people have in achieving amnesia.
To me, that behavior has always seemed like the deliberate, contemptuous annihilation of self. Making the choice to drink to blackout seems like a choice to undergo possession, since heavy drinkers are not in control of the choices they make. At its mildest, it seems like a decision to wipe your brain a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but here the decision is made preemptively.
As an atheist, I fear the end of life as a total obliteration. I have no idea why anyone and other atheists in particular would decide that the best way to spend a weekend is aping death.