Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Failure of Imagination

Like a lot of BBC Magazine articles, this one is only of the mildest interest and coherence, but I found a certain aspect of it intriguing because it's indicative of a tendency I've sometimes noticed for people to attribute works of highly imaginative fantasy and SF to the author's use of narcotics. Usually, as in the case of Lewis Carroll, this is based on no evidence other than, "Well, he must have been on drugs, because that book is really weird!"

I think that sort of assumption says more about the person making it than it does the author. If you lack a good imagination of your own, I suppose it is natural to assume that everybody is that way, and could only possibly create amazing works of imagination under the influence. It doesn't seem to occur to them that, yes, some people just are that creative.

Not that I'm against trying to be the next Philip K Dick if that's your thing. Just don't diminish the creative power of the human brain by pretending everything weird is down to artificial stimulation.


  1. Well said and I thoroughly agree. Bill Bailey once commented that he found the idea of someone describing something wacky as being like "(insert reference) on acid" laughable as people on acid tend to just sit there staring at their feet.

  2. Yeah, this is a pet hate of mine as well.

  3. Well Scarecrow, you could say the same about any experience from the outside- "I don't get those Ipods, you just stare and can't seem to hear anything."
    I really don't understand people's overweening pride at not doing drugs (Pendleton Ward for instance).

    1. Don't know who Pendleton Ward is. I'm not particularly bothered by people taking drugs, god knows I drink enough. All I'm objecting to is the silly kneejerk of "creative = on drugs".

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  5. If you are an artist, hallucinogens can be pretty boring, since you just see a lot of things you know you already made up or dreamed. Your unconscious is closer to the surface so you're kind of already aware of the baboon with the ears lining the inside of its nose. A lot of well-known artists have noticed this phenomenon--I think Anais Nin did it first.

  6. Pendeleton Ward makes Adventure time. I wasn't directing my statement at you or anyone else commenting- I think in a lot of the cases you're talking about though, much of the work is arguably drug-inspired if not literally inspired by taking drugs- many of these works owe a debt to the imagery and concepts of psychedelia, and or of music inspired by drugs. To some extent, I do find the creation of "trippy" material without first hand experience a little silly, especially when the refusal to use drugs becomes a point of pride. Virgins making porn and so on.
    That said, ascribing any unusual creative work to drugs is of course silly.

  7. Aside from the time-distortion and symmetry (not necessarily a feature of Adventure Time or many other "trippy" things), drug imagery is a lot like dream imagery.