A framework is developed for the total response to all potentially meaningful sensory stimulation within the window of 40 to 220ms post-onset. The framework is intended explain the temporal invariance of the N400 ERP component (Kutas & Federmeier 2011) as a deadline for anticipating needed system-wide change in preparation for conscious control in action, rather than the binding of a preliminary semantic representation (Federmeier & Laszlo 2009). The pre-N400 window includes affective responses (Barrett & Bar 2009), recapitulation of sensory information, selection of LSF object and scene analogs, guidance from scripts, and 'proxy percepts'. Proxy percepts are offered as an alternative to simulation. I illustrate the framework with a moment-by-moment scenario of a whale watcher perceiving 'a blow'. I also argue that Noe's (2004) theory of virtual presence has use for proxy percepts and that proxy percepts offer an understanding of eye saccades more parsimonious than Grush's (2004) emulation account.