Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US

    Writers, artists and mind-altering substances

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Steerpike, Aug 6, 2011.

    In 1967, well-known science fiction author Harlan Ellison edited a science fiction anthology called Dangerous Visions. Among the works that appeared within was the story "Faith of Our Fathers," by Philip K. Dick (known for stories that became movies like Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, etc). Ellison asked Dick to (if possible) write the story under the influence of LSD. Dick did as asked (and probably would have even if he wasn't asked).

    Ellison, in the introduction to the story, writes the following (in part):

    Ellison didn't know the answer to the question. I'm posing it here. His view seems to be that by and large, mind-altering products like LSD or other drugs are going to produce trash, or at least something lesser than what the author would produce without them. He sees Philip K. Dick and others are "rare exceptions" for whom such tactics seemed to produce an incredible outpouring of artistic quality.

    We hear this about other writers, or about musicians, or about artists like Van Gogh who probably had some mental issues that allowed him to see the world a certain way and without which he would not have produced the art that he did.

    Do the rest of you think, as Ellison does, that someone like Philip K. Dick is an exception and that for the most part such experimentation with drugs is going to drag an author down rather than help him?

    For the record, I do agree with Ellison. I've seen firsthand some tremendously creative people self-destruct thanks to drugs, and it didn't seem to improve their artistic output one whit.
     
  2. The-Joker
    Offline

    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    742
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Africa
    Narcotics are a bad idea for anybody. While the sudden high might break your mental shakles transiently, perhaps allowing your mind to reach new creative heights, be it through euphoria or hallucinations, in the long term it will cause brain atrophy. And the frontal cortex is first afflicted, the seat of your creativity. So in other words even if it does help, I think the point is moot, because whatever gain you achieve will be reversed tenfold in the near future.

    Now there is something else I've been meaning to try, purely for experimentation. Ritalin. Used to treat ADHD, it basically enhances focus and counters distractibility, a somewhat essential ability if you wish to write for hours upon hours. I get way too distracted on my laptop, venturing to internet sites in the middle of writing a scene, which is pretty counterproductive. From what I've read and heard from others, Ritalin streamlines your thoughts, allowing your mind to target one specific goal without fatigue or distraction for several hours.

    Kind of like Limitless. You know where the guy with writers block takes the drug then writes his novel in three days. Though I would assume not to that extent obviously...
     
  3. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    Good points, Joker. Philip K. Dick developed mental problems and died after suffering a couple of strokes at around age 52 or 53, and I can't help but think his heavy drug experimentation in earlier years contributed (not sure to what extent he was still doing it).

    As for the Ritalin, my understanding is that if you do not have ADHD Ritalin will make you kind of hyperactive and may make it harder to focus. The brains of people with ADHD respond differently than normal.
     
  4. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    I have to agree with Joker. I don't think the temporary gain is worth the net loss.

    As for the Ritalin. I had always heard the same thing, Steerpike. However, my son has ADHD and he used to take Ritalin (he now takes nothing). Several years ago his dad accidentally (truly accidentally, was in a hurry, grabbed the wrong bottle) took his Ritalin instead of his own medication (for back pain, he does not have ADHD). While he was what you might call hyper - I would call the way he was that day "hyper-productive". It seemed as though his brain was in overdrive. He got everything done incredibly fast, was completely focused on what needed to be done. He ended up spending the later half of the day looking for things to do because he NEEDED to do something, and everything he had planned to take the whole weekend had been done in half a day.

    Downside - he literally slept for 14 hours straight when it wore off.
     
  5. The-Joker
    Offline

    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    742
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Africa
    Steerpike, as you know, ADHD is Attention Deficit and Hyperactive disorder. While someone without the condition might become hyperactive, they will not suddenly develop attention deficit. Hyperactivity without the attention deficit could be a huge advantage.

    What Trish described is very similar to what others who've tried the drug have reported. It's a constant urge to keep active, and you have enough focus and drive to complete whatever task you've set for yourself.

    It's been used by students for years. It's called "academic doping" and I wouldn't be surprized if some of the overachievers you went to school with, were dosing themselves with Ritalin just before exams. It's all kept under the table of course.

    The down side is that if you use it long enough, Ritalin becomes the only way you can focus.
     
  6. Rassidan
    Offline

    Rassidan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Erlanger, KY , United States
    Just because a drug can make you temporarily more creative doesn't mean that the writing will be any better. I could say by drinking a bottle of whiskey and jumping in my car I will make a the car ride more exciting and it might be for me alone. It is everyone around you that will notice the bumps and crap that your brilliance has created and in the end kill you. Only in the mind of a substance abuser can something good from bad things.
    And on a similar note the odds are without drugs or alchohol or anything to enhance your mind you probably could have done it on your own. It might have taken a while longer but the point is it should have been in your head anyways just waiting for you to stumble on it.
     
  7. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Drugs have done good things for us. Cultures have even been based on them.
     
  8. AfterBroadway
    Offline

    AfterBroadway Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Utah
    Harlan Ellison would ask someone to do that.
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    From the site rules:
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page