THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE…

The Midnight Disease:
The Drive to Write, Writer”s Block and the Creative Brain.
by
Alice W. Flaherty

I don’t recall how I came across this book, but it is the most influential text I’ve read on the brain and writing. I’ve used bold for chapter and subchapter headings below. Those notes followed by a T. were contributed by fellow writer Terry Kanago. JH

Introduction (pp. 1-16)

Writing is the supreme human achievement. It is by turns exhilarating and arduous, and trying to write obsesses and distresses students, professional writers and diarists alike. p. 1

Concentrating on the brain structures underlying creativity provides surprising answers to such diverse questions as how we learn to write, the nature of metaphor and even what cause the strange sensation of being visited by the muse. p. 2

Beauty drives copies of itself, whether in art, or when we want to make children with someone we love. p. 4

Medicalization tends to lead to pathographies of artists: El Greco”s elongated figures are explained away as mere stigmatism, Dostoevsky”s writing as nothing but epilepsy. Pathologizing the process of writing could make us see creativity as abnormal or even dangerous. Yet affliction is everywhere, perhaps especially in writing. Suffering has driven great writing, and problems with writing, notably writer”s block, have caused great suffering. p. 5-6

To give a simple instance, many writers who hate themselves every winter for their sluggishness and lack of productivity could be aided not my more motivation, but by bright, full-spectrum light for a half hour every morning to treat their brain”s seasonal response to the shortened days. p. 6

To admit that your will is sometimes ineffective is terrifying. p. 7

“It seemed to me that I had undertaken too lofty a theme for my powers, so much so that I was afraid to enter upon it; and I so remained for several days desiring to write and afraid to begin,” Dante on the writing of his Inferno. p. 8

My postpartum mood disorder, which had several manic as well as the more typical depressed features, came after I had given birth prematurely to twin boys who died. They were so small – one grasped my finger before he died, and his hand hardly fit around it. For ten days I was filled with sorrow. Then suddenly, as if someone had thrown a switch, I was wildly agitated, full of ideas, all of them pressing to be written down. The world was flooded with meaning. I believed I had unique access to the secrets of the Kingdom of Sorrow, about which I had an obligation to enlighten my – very tolerant – friends and colleagues through essays and letters. p. 11 [This is what happened to Anne Rice when she wrote Interview With A Vampire. JH]

Hypergraphia: The Incurable Disease Of Writing (p. 17-48)

Hypergraphia in temporal lobe epilepsy and is interictal, i.e. it occurs between seizures.

…as Teresa Amabile has shown, work driven by intrinsic motives tends to be more creative than that triggered extrinsically. p. 25

…many aspects of Alice in Wonderland probably drew upon Carroll”s own experiences of seizures. p. 27

…jamais vu (the feeling of never having seen something which is in fact familiar – a phenomenon perhaps linked to the freshness of perception that creative writers need), and the illusion of a presence only partly distinct from the patient or writer – whether of a doppelgänger, as Dostoevsky described in his novel The Double or of the muse. p. 28

The work of [Kay Redfield] Jamison and others shows that writers are ten times more likely to be manic-depressive than the rest of the population, and poets are a remarkable forty times more likely. p. 30

Depression, when it does not incapacitate a person, may actually make them see the world more accurately than normal people do. p. 32

The scientist in me can quote the study (the single study, I must point out) that finds manic-depressives artists to be more productive when they are adequately medicated. The residual psychiatric patient in my is not convinced – it thinks I wrote better when I was at least a little bit ill. p. 37

What other than medical illness spurs normal people to write prolifically? The chief cause is not quite illness, but nearly: love, especially unhappy love. p. 43

Drug-induced hypergraphia is not rare. (For instance, Robert Louis Stevenson”s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written during a six-day cocaine high during which he generated sixty thousand words.)

Besides people who are suffering, another not-completely normal class of normal writers is professional creative writers…. Several factors besides skill are more significant in professional writers than in most amateurs. One is love of the surface level of language: the sound of it; the taste of it on the tongue; what it can be made to do in virtuosic passages that exist only for their own sake, like cadenzas in baroque concerti. Writers in love with their tools are not unlike surgeons obsessed with their scalpels, or Artic sled racers who sleep among their dogs even when they don”t have to. Another difference between amateur and professional writers, almost by definition, is that the latter more successfully engage their audience. p. 46

“When Shirley gets in front of the typewriter it”s like a pissing sow,” Stanley Edgar Hyman on his wife Shirley Jackson. p. 46

“I assure you, there is very little that is compulsive about my life, either in writing or otherwise. I believe that the creative impulse is natural in all human beings, and that it is particularly powerful in children unless it is suppressed. Consequently, one is behaving normally and instinctively and healthily when one is creating – literature, art, music or whatever. An excellent cook is also creative! I am disturbed that a natural human inclination should, by some Freudian turn of phrase, be considered compulsive – perhaps even pathological. To me this is a complete misreading of the human enterprise.” Joyce Carol Oates upon being asked in an interview: is there a compulsive element to her writing. p. 47

Literary Creativity And Drive. (p. 49-78)

…a useful definition of creative work is that it includes a combination of novelty and value. Creativity requires novelty because tried-and-true solutions are not creative, even if they are ingenious and useful. And creative works must be valuable (useful or illuminating to at least some members of the population) because a work that is merely odd is not creative. This two-pronged definition of creativity also provides an explanation of why the creative can lie close to the insane (unusual but valueless behavior). p. 51

…of about 250 Western composers, three alone – Mozart, Beethoven and Bach – are responsible for almost one-fifth of the standard repertoire. p. 53

While strong intrinsic motivation increases creativity, surprisingly, adding extrinsic motivations – even positive ones – can actually decrease creativity…. Reward may encourage the writer to stop work as soon as he or she has completed the minimal amount necessary for the reward, resulting in what the economist Herbert Simon calls satisficing. Extrinsic motivation may also have a negative effect on creativity by distracting the subject”s attention from the task to thoughts of reward and punishment. p. 55

We are born to work, to make and do things. The businessman in Cancun is understandably as miserable as a Border collie trapped in a Manhattan apartment, dreaming of chasing sheep. p. 58

The thought of a life of happy mediums depresses me; if enjoying my work passionately means that I become agitated when I can”t work, that seems like a fair price. p. 59

The goal should not be to protect ourselves from suffering, but to be strong enough to bear it. Writer”s block, for instance, can stem either from the fear of failure or from insulating ourselves so well from the desire to succeed that we weaken our motivation to write. p. 59

“All creation is really re-creation of a once-loved and once whole, but now lost and ruined object, a ruined internal world and self. It is when the world within us is destroyed, when it is dead and loveless, when our loved ones are in fragments, and we ourselves in helpless despair – it is then that we must re-create our world anew, reassemble the pieces, infuse life into dead fragments and re-create life.” Hanna Segal. p. 60

…some researchers call creativity a process of alternating between states of unfocused and focused attention; others say it requires alternating between high and low arousal… p. 61-62

“What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.” Augustus Saint-Gaudens. p. 63

“He who approaches the temple of the Muses without inspiration, in the belief that craftsmanship alone suffices, will remain a bungler and his presumptuous poetry will be obscured by the songs of the maniacs.” Plato. p. 63

…the people who are most creative – or at least productive – are not the mentally ill but their close relatives. Researchers think that most mental illnesses are caused by multiple genes and that close relatives have some, but not all, of those genes. One explanation of why those genes have persisted through the ages, and do not get bred out of the population, is that they may give some advantage – perhaps creativity – to people who have a smaller number of them – even if a larger number cause the disease. p. 64

…obsessive-compulsive disorder personality traits, if not full blown, are useful in work that requires a high degree of accuracy. [i.e. my father as draftsman/designing engineer.] p. 65

“When you are insane, you are busy being insane – all the time… When I was crazy, that”s all I was.” Sylvia Plath. p. 66

All the works of the spirit are made with corrupt bodies. p. 73

Singing and melody are closely tied to the right hemisphere”s ability to produce and recognize prosody, the intonational and emotional component of speech. (Chanting is an ancient example in which the distinction between singing and prosody blurs.) p. 76

One very preliminary study has used transcranial magnetic stimulation over the temporal lobe to induce the sensation of being visited by the muse – an experience presumably linked to drive more than talent. p. 77

Writer”s Block As A State Of Mind. (p. 79-107)

…all blocked writers share two traits: they do not write despite being intellectually capable of doing so, and they suffer because they are not writing. p. 80

Why is suffering a major criterion for writer”s block? Because someone who is not writing but not suffering does not have writer”s block; they are merely not writing. p. 82

Some aspects of block may be culturally determined. The phrase “writer”s block” was coined by an America, a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler. Jay Parini has slyly suggested that not only the name “block” but even blocked writing itself may be a peculiarly American habit…. One literary critic points out that the concept of writer”s block is peculiarly American in its optimism that we all have creativity just waiting to be unblocked. By contrast, Milton when he could not write felt he was empty, that there was no creativity left untapped. p. 84

Mark Twain was blocked for eight years in the writing of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because he had Huck and Jim going up the Ohio River. When he sent them down the Mississippi, the block disappeared. p. 89.

…the solution is not to choose to stop cleaning and live in squalor – that would be misery. The solution is never to see the squalor because you are so wrapped up in your project. p. 103

…only a few of the most notable poets manage to escape the blocking influence of their literary parents, and they do so by misreading the predecessor”s work in a way that clears the imaginative space for their own work. In a crude sense, the successful poet invents a fault in the predecessor in the same way an adolescent invents reasons to criticize their parents as they try to become less dependent upon them. p. 105 [Wow! JH]

Harold Bloom proposed six ways in which such creative misreading allows escape from writer”s block (p. 106) [No wonder that Flaherty chose to not elaborate on Bloom”s lexicon. There is a ton of stuff on the web about this and the little bit I”ve scanned reads like nonsense. JH]:

Kenosis – action of Christ in humbling Himself, or divesting Himself of divine attributes, in becoming man.

Tessera – a small tile in a mosaic

Daemonization – to make a daemon.

Askesis – self discipline.

Apophrades – dismal or unlucky days upon which the dead return to inhabit their former houses

For Roland Barthes, the conflict between writing and truth arises by definition: a creative writer is someone for whom writing is a problem. p. 107

“There”s a time to go to the typewriter – the way a dog before it craps wanders around in circles – a piece of earth, an area of grass, circles it for a long time before it squats. It”s like that – figuratively circling the typewriter,” James Thurber. p. 107

Writer”s Block As Brain State. (p. 108-148)

If a pill exists that will remove someone”s taste for extreme skiing and cause her to finish her papers on time, does she have an obligation to take it? Doctors, whose goal is often to minimize suffering, might argue that she should. If her goal is to maximize joy, perhaps she should not. p. 112

Writer”s cramp: put a wax pencil in the shower stall for wall writing, so that you do not forget your insights. p. 114

Procrastination: recent evidence suggests that although people may feel they work better with deadlines, in fact deadlines hinder creativity. p. 117

Depression can be agitated, with increased, or what is sometimes called melancholic depression, with apathy and lethargy. (T) [Notes from Teresa, JH] p. 118

Depression: Of course, that is one reason that we write, to prove to ourselves that the wreckage is not complete. p. 119

In Broca”s aphasia, patients can comprehend language better than they can produce it. Most are frustrated, struggling with each word, and very often become depressed. (T) p. 121

Cycles of productivity: There are worse things in life than being unhappy. p. 129

Relating the causes of block: … there was a time when eating was a strange and sometimes alarming process of taking alien material from the outer world into an equally mysterious body. Bringing products forth from that body, and casting them into the outer world of limitless space, was no less frightening. The process of creating a book is not so different. p. 147

How We Write: The Cortex. (p. 149-182)

Animals may communicate, whether through noises, visual displays or scents, but their interactions lack key aspects of true language such as syntax and the ability to generate novel sentences. p. 149

Reading and writing: writing can create a sense of community when there is no community to talk to. p. 165

Many who read voraciously would balk at being labeled hyperlexic. All the same, there maybe a subset of avid readers whose reading has an especially compulsive quality. We make sure never to be without a book directly in front of us, partly because without one we can”t help reading, over and over, cereal box labels or the newspaper used to wrap the fish. [This is SO true. JH] p. 174-5

In fact, writers in the throes of composition tend to read less, in part for the same reason that they mow their lawns less and don”t return phone calls, and in part because as one of my colleagues said after being needled for not keeping up with the relevant journals in his field, “At some point you have to decide whether you are going to be a producer or consumer of text.” p. 176

At a more abstract level, readers what a narrative that makes the world seem to make sense, and they sometimes choose stories that fit their worldview rather than the stories that fit the facts. [Is this the secret of Dan Brown”s The Da Vinci Code? JH] p. 176

When other”s obsessions are not ours, we are sad for them, and we talk of how empty their lives will be if they don”t achieve their empty goal: the gymnastic prize, the firm partnership. But there is a monomania in which it is the focus, the sense of transport, that is the real pleasure. The kind of compulsive reading in which you lose yourself, which brings no medals or talk-show appearances, is one example of that. p. 177

As attractive as the visual deficit theory of dyslexia is, more evidence has built up for a second theory, which explains dyslexia as a defect in auditory processing of language. Identifying the sounds (phonemes) that make up words is strikingly hard for dyslexics. Thus many have trouble distinguishing between related sounds such as ba and ga. Most children can break a word into syllables well before they can read, but dyslexic children have trouble doing so even after much exposure to reading and writing. Dyslexics can learn pictograms for words much more easily than they can phonetic spelling. Training in auditory skills improves dyslexic”s reading and writing, and oral language exercises are widely used in treatment.

A third theory, the temporal processing theory, attempts to explain both the visual and auditory deficits in dyslexics as part of the same mechanism. On this view, dyslexics have trouble with rapid processing of sequences of all sorts. This difficulty would produce errors not only in language, which requires discrimination between words parts as quickly as hundredths of a second, but also between errors in other sensory and motor tasks. (T) p. 179

Finally, the temporal processing theory clarifies some of the mystery underlying the left hemisphere dominance for language in most people. It turns out that the left hemisphere is specialized for rapid sequence recognition, which it does better than the right hemisphere. This would explain not only why languages end up in the left hemisphere, but also other features of hemispheric specialization, such as the fact that in music perception… (T) 180

…the left hemisphere is better than the right at recognizing rhythm, whereas the right is better at recognizing melody. (T) p. 180

Why We Write: The Limbic System. (p. 183-223)

“Why does my Muse only speak when she is unhappy?
She does not. I only listen when I am unhappy
When I am happy I live and despise writing
For my Muse this cannot but be dispiriting.

– Steve Smith, My Muse. p. 183

The limbic system controls the four Fs (fear, food, fighting and … sex). p. 183

Low brain serotonin levels are associated with depression, and also with aggression. (T) p. 188

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter influential in stimulating motivation – to move, seek rewards such as food, perhaps even to write. (T) p. 188

Large doses of drugs affecting dopamine can produce hallucinations even in normal subjects. (T) p. 188-9

It is this grip on reality that separates a writer of hallucinatory intensity from a psychotic who is hallucinating. (T) p. 189

Arousal versus quiescence. (T) p. 189

… rage involves much more arousal than does melancholia, with its leaden apathy. (T) p. 190

Arousal may be more important than valance in determining whether someone will pick up a pen and write. (T) p. 190

When arousal gets too high it can overload the nervous system so that opposing impulses collide…. (T) p. 190

Pidgins are degraded, agrammatic collections of vocabulary that results when speakers have to interact without the opportunity to fully learn each other”s languages. When young children are exposed to pidgin, they turn it into a grammatically rich language called a creole, which far exceeds what they have heard from their parents. p. 197

The psychologist Dylan Evans has argued that language was the first mood-altering substance. It can improve mood in several different ways: by consoling, by entertaining and by venting. The first two benefit the hearer; the third, the speaker. Language can also worsen mood, of course, as in verbal abuse or the assertion of social dominance, or simply through boredom. p. 200

The neurologist V.S. Ramachandran explains amused laughter as a primate false-alarm call, a revocation of the need for assistance. If someone in your tribe slips on a banana peel and breaks a leg, no one laughs. But if he slips and gets up immediately, there is laughter – at least if you are a monkey, or a human with a taste for slapstick. p. 203

Is it too reductionist, then, to suggest that a major reason for creative writing is an abstract version of the same biological urge that causes you to cry out in sorrow or anger? p. 203

A pen can be a scalpel too. p. 205

A pen can be a scalpel too. (T) p. 205

I no longer know whether it is my children that I long for, or my sorrow. I have an irrational belief, left over from my sensible past, that if I tell enough people about this knot that is always pulled tight, someone somewhere will be able to loosen it. But my new self needs it always to be pulled tight. I don”t write to forget what happened; I write to remember. There are worse things in life than painful desire; one them is to have no desire. p. 205

If language and writing grow out of a biological system for attempting to fill needs, then the notion of self-expression, so often invoked vaguely to explain the artistic urge, can be better understood. Self-expression is not simply a broadcasting of personal characteristics or tastes. It is generally, if subliminally, much more goal directed than that. Educators often justify art courses and creative writing courses on the grounds that self-expression can teach students about themselves. That may be true to some extent, but many creative writers have been quite capable of powerfully emotive writing while lacking insight into the internal conflicts that drive their suffering. While they may not gain insight, they still gain a sense of relief – and a sympathetic audience. p. 205

To the extent that self expression does broadcast and reinforce a person”s character, it clarifies a link between art, eccentricity and mental illness. This is most obvious in people whom society no longer keeps in line: the eccentricity of the very rich, or of castaways. p. 205

“I have forced myself to begin writing when I”ve been utterly exhausted, when I”ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card… and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.” Joyce Carol Oates. p. 206

“No one, ever, can give the exact measure of his needs, his apprehensions or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out our tunes that make bears dance, when we want to move the starts to pity.” Flaubert. p. 211

…a life chosen to maximize joy may be very different from one chosen to minimize pain. p. 212

Is it because science is the mouthpiece of determinism, and literature is the last holdout of free will? p. 212

“My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably.” George Bernard Shaw. p. 214

A desire for self-transformation… (T) p. 214

I wrote to keep from speaking. (T) p. 216

We write instead of speak when we are ashamed to look our audience in the eye. p. 216

The reason we write books is that our kids don”t give a damn. We turn to an anonymous world because our wife stops up her ears when we talk to her… Let us define our terms. A woman who writes her lover four letters a day is not a graphomaniac, she is simply a woman in love. But my friend who Xeroxes his love letters so that he can publish them someday – my friend is a graphomaniac. Graphomania is not a desire to writer letters, diaries or family chronicles (to write for oneself or one” immediate family); it is a desire to write books (to have a public of unknown readers). Milan Kundera p. 217

Narrating the world into existence can reflect our need for contact with what psychoanalysts chillingly call the Object. …. I”m creating a presence which fills that solitude, which takes the place of some ideal Other. (T) p. 217

And the writer is often not only struggling to say it to others, but to herself. (T) p. 218

“The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say,” Anaïs Nin. p. 218

Sometimes the goal of psychotherapy is not to help people make sense of their lives, but to help them make less sense of them – to break a few links in the narrative chain so that behavior can be more unpredictable and creative. p. 219

The universal desire to feel that life has some purpose is perhaps stronger in writers, whose occupation instills in them a mania for meaning – a desire, as Paul Valéry put it, “to erect a minor monument of language on the menacing shores of the ocean of gibberish.” p., 220

…the sort of writing that is driven by the desire to make meaning – limbic meaning – is arguably the most closely related to making literature as opposed to merely making text. p. 221

The limbic sensation of meaning may be the feeling that makes music seem to be not words without meaning, but meaning without words. p. 221

“I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke on various subjects; several being dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously – I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” John Keats. p. 222

…in mixed states such as agitated depression, features of mania and depression do not cancel each other out to produce a normal state; instead, the add up to tormented states of frozen or unsatisfiable desire. (T) p. 222

Metaphor as mediator between thought and emotion.

The concept of alexithymia [the inability to read one”s own emotions or the loss of words for one”s feelings] brings up unpleasant memories of others explaining us to ourselves, the primal case being a parent saying, “You”re not angry, dear, you”re just tired.” To be told that we don”t know how we feel offends our sense of identity, of having privileged access to our own mental states. It would seem that if we have just experienced something, then we must know how it feels. p. 232

…. doctors should admit they are often guilty of a sort of reverse alexithymia, attributing pain to depression simply because the pain does not respond to the treatment the doctors thinks should work. p. 232

Perhaps one way of understanding the possibility of alexithymia in ourselves is to realize that “I know how it feels” is not the same thing as “I can describe what it feels like.” The simile or latent metaphor in the latter statement relates to other mental states, both in ourselves and in others. Thus reading someone else”s description of a state like ours can help intensely, because it translates a direct sensation into words that have links to other mental phenomena. p. 233

What if excessive metaphor is one of the processes that goes wrong in delusions? (T) p. 233

Where the images metaphors or hallucinations? They distracted and tormented me. Metaphor as illness, to misquote Susan Sontag. Yet when medications managed to rid me of them, the world became so dead that my psychiatrist and I lowered the doses until I could have at least some of the tyrannical metaphors back. … there are sometimes worse things than being ill. p. 234

Perhaps it was a distinction without a difference to say I was speaking metaphorically, not psychotically. p. 234

The only way we know we are not delusional, of course, is to see if other people approve of our thoughts. (T) p. 235

The only way we know we are not delusional, of course, is to see if other people approve of our thoughts. How melancholy. In some ways I liked it better when metaphors were supreme, when truths were self-evident and other people”s approval was only dimly relevant. If a cloud was threatening or an idea important, I could see it vibrate with meaning; I did not have to look over my shoulder to see if anyone else was impressed.

Psychotics tend to share this indifference to public opinion with a rather different group, visionaries. On occasion, they share another, more peculiar characteristic: the belief that ideas are being put into their minds or dictated to them by another being. In psychotics, psychiatrists call this thought insertion or auditory hallucination. Artists call it the muse. p. 235-6

Melpomene, muse of tragedy. (T) p. 236

True happiness in work almost always involves such a feeling of flow. (T) p. 238

Many normal people get a tune stuck in their heads, a tune the Germans call an ohrwrum, or ear-worm. p. 243

To revive the original poetry-generating mechanism, ancient – and to some extent modern – poets have resorted to trance states, drugs, and other attempts to return the right hemisphere to its full linguistic power. (T) p. 245

…the sensation of free will. That sensation is critical for human happiness. …. It is diminished in procrastination, writer”s block, and depression. …. In manic patients it is greatly increased. (T) p. 246 (Not sure about this. T.)

A psychiatric eminence grise was called in… (An eminence grise is a “gray eminence,” a confidential agent who exercises unsuspected or unofficial power. A reference to the French monk and diplomat Père Joseph (François du Tremblay), 1638, confidant to Cardinal Richelieu. p. 247

Experiences of being forced by the muse to write, for instance, seem by most reports to be intensely pleasant, perhaps even because they are involuntary. … In general, involuntary experiences of inner voices are probably experienced as pleasant since they command you to do something you already want to do. (T) p. 248

Many mixed states are simultaneously religious and creative. …. “The Word of the Lord came expressly to me, saying, write, write, write, write. And ONE stood by me, and pronounced all these words to me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in this paper. (T) p. 251

“Sometimes when I have come to my work empty, I have suddenly become full; ideas being in an invisible manner showered upon me, and implanted in me from on high; so that I have been conscious of a richness of interpretation, and enjoyment of light, a most penetrating insight, a most manifest energy in all that was to be done? (T) p. 251

The original meaning of “inspiration” …. was breath. (T) p. 252

The most fundamental drive: to breathe. (T) p. 252

“It is not inspiration; it is expiration….” (T) p.254

The nuns kept all the sacred offices at matins, prime, tierce, sext, nones, vespers and compline. Were they using sleep deprivation as an aid to mystical experience? p. 255 [A check on the Internet finds disagreement as exactly when each office is offered. One source, gave the following times: Matins – 2:30 a.m.; Lauds – 5 a.m. (omitted from Flaherty”s list); Prime – 6 a.m.; Tierce – 9 a.m.; Sext – noon; Nones (also spelled “None”) – 3 p.m.; Vespers – 4:30 p.m. and Compline – 6 p.m. JH]

Trusting in a favorable outcome is a delicate business for both writers and believers. For Christians, it is a sin to presume on God”s grace. For writers, perhaps the equivalent mistake is to confidently wait of the next spasm of inspiration before starting to write. At the same time, vigorous attempts to induce inspiration are equally harmful. Perhaps one reason many writers prefer quiet, inflexible writing schedules that do not depend on inspiration is that they have some similarity to the strict lifestyles of contemplative monks and nuns. The daily practice prepares and clams the artist, creating fertile soil for whatever seed lands. p. 256

Epileptic religious behavior is not restricted to seizure auras. (T) p. 259 [What about migraine auras? T.]

These writers may have been using a womb-like sensory deprivation to induce literary vision …. (T) p. 260

Meditation seems to enhance this temporal lobe activity. So does communication between the two hemispheres… p. 261 [As suggested by the acquisition of ambidexterity in How To Think Leonardo Like da Vinci. JH]

4 Responses to “THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE…”

  1. eleni says:

    Thank you!

  2. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Eleni,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. We build our community with our conversations.

    Second, you’re very welcome, but I’m curious as to what it was that so excited you?

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  3. Chloe Anderson says:

    dyslexia is not that debilitating but it is somewhat limiting to the kind of job that you can get.`’

  4. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Chloe,

    I have to think that an inability to read in the 21st century has the potential to be more than debilitating.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

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