I’m Gonna Make Your Life So Sweet

I dreamed I was painting… all night. And woke up to an ear worm, “I’m gonna make your life so sweet”. Over and over. What song is that? “I’m gonna make your life so sweet”. Ok, ok — got it. The Archies.

The Archies? Andy Kim. Where did that come from? I know why I was painting in my sleep. I have been painting for the last two weeks. You know, “if the girls don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy”. It was the same after those all-night poker games — back in the Pleistocene. You’re dreaming of cards the minute your head hits the pillow. Programming was the same. Streams of code, all night. So the dreams make sense. But the Archies?

James Kellaris called it a cognitive itch in his 2001 paper, Identifying properties of tunes that get stuck in your head: toward a theory of cognitive itch. It has come to be formally known as “Involuntary Musical Imagery” (INMI), a term introduced by Lassi A. Liikkanen in his 2009 paper, Music in Everymind: Commonality of Involuntary Musical Imagery.

Surprisingly, although such a common phenomenon, the study of INMI seems lukewarm at best. Liikkanen chalks this up to its “… seemingly private and unstable nature…” In other words, you can’t bring in a group of people and tell everyone to experience an ear worm so you can study it. It’s a pity, because there is a hint of a link between the ear worm and intrusive thoughts. The latter just one in a number of symptoms that make up the “constellation of personality traits” that are typical of schizotypy.

It’s a compelling association since schizotypy may be a defining human characteristic. A holdover from what Julian Jaynes called the bicameral mind. Food for thought.

Ear worm gone.

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