Saturday, February 21, 2009

1980: Altered States

Writing Prompt: Write about a time in your life when you were experiencing an altered state. That state could have been grief, falling in love, raging jealousy, depression, sadness, joy, pregnancy, illness, migraine, intoxication, being on a drug-induced high, isolation, a sports high, a moment of ecstasy.

In class, this always draws fascinating responses.

Back in the early 1980s, I had a friend named Frank Freeman whose father collected cuckoo clocks and whose mother collected chimes. The clocks were each and every one -- and there were dozens of them -- set to a slightly different time, so during my one stay at the family house near Charlotte, North Carolina, I was awakened every few minutes by ceaseless chimes and chiming cuckoos, all night long. This experience helped define Frank, who after seeing Altered States, started a company he called Cloud Nine, featuring two isolation tanks. Customers would pay good money to sit in isolation from the world. I tried it once, and to me time seemed almost non-existent, except for the very low rumble of trucks from a nearby street. An hour could have been a day with almost no sensations but the feel of water and a slight echo effect.

Within two years, Cloud Nine closed up shop. Few people, it seemed, wanted to experience the altered state of being alone with themselves while being able to do nothing but sit in salt water in absolute dark.

Today's Rune: Fertility.


JR's Thumbprints said...

Interesting concept. I'm surprised Cloud Nine lasted that long. But hey, I'm convinced you can market anything. Once you create a need, people will "want".

As for me, I think I'm getting too much isolation. I need to get out and about more.

the walking man said...

My state of mind is always different when I walk among the dead.

Sidney said...

Oddly this reminds me of an SNL bit in which Eddie Murphy was doing an editorial response. He was supposed to be a guy who'd gone to see a Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor movie and found himself in the Altered States theater by mistake only he didn't realize it.

Charles Gramlich said...

I loved that movie. STill watch it whenever it comes on. I never got a chance to experience an isolation chamber but I'd like to give one a try.

Lana Gramlich said...

I liked the South Park take on it, when the Dog Whisperer's turning Cartman into a well behaved kid & he goes into the hallway scene after trying to kill his mom & realizing that the world doesn't revolve around him. Classic!

jodi said...

Hey Eric, before I found out about the dangers of tanning beds, I used to go just for the embryonic feel of being enclosed in a warm, humming place. I swear it could transport me to a different conscious level.

nunya said...

Hmm, taking 6 seconds off on a 200 fly was awesome. Hardly felt my feet touch the concrete pool deck after finishing.

The endorphin release after 1200M makes a 1500M easier to finish.

As much as I love the water, I don't love saltwater, the dark, or enclosed spaces. It's no surprise to me that Cloud Nine did't have a lot of business.