Monthly Archives: October 2011

Sensory Deprivation, Anyone?

I’m fantasizing about floating in a sensory-deprivation tank like the one featured in the 80s sci-fi/horror film, Altered States. (No LSD or ketamine, thanks.) Let me explain.

In days gone by, you could retreat to a windowless room, ignore any phone calls, and invite the Muse to visit. Today, more extreme measures are required to find what I call the Imagination Zone. Creating a painting, a poem, or a piano sonata requires a lengthy stay in that inner world where imagination flourishes. It takes a lot of effort to get there, and once you’re there, the slightest interruption can pull you right back out again. Window views, ringing phones, and small children were bad enough, but those pale in comparison to the siren song of the Internet. News! Shopping! Social Media! A surfeit of distraction and stimulation lies only a click away.

There are writers, artists, and musicians who retreat to remote cabins to escape the myriad distractions of modern life. Others banish Internet connections from their offices and studios. Some of us strike a bargain, setting aside specific times during the day to check e-mail or read the news.  It takes prodigious amounts of self-discipline to manage this, day after day, and for me, it’s often an uphill battle. Hence the appeal of that sensory-deprivation tank, just for an hour or two.

I can’t help wondering about the effect this nonstop distraction and stimulation will have on future generations. Will our imaginations atrophy like unused muscles if we don’t use them on a regular basis? Will our inner worlds become wastelands—places where the wellsprings of creativity no longer flow? And what will that mean for art, music, and literature?

My novel, Yard Sale, is available from Amazon.