A video which takes part of a speech by Terence McKenna and turns it into a text driven challenge to stop consuming media and start creating it is something I have talked about for at least a decade.
I contend our modern media environment is being redirected to our phones for the simple focus of having us consuming media all the time, when we walk, while we are in bed, while we wait for our kids during soccer practice.
All-consuming, all the time.
Complete with the commercials we don’t want and in the online medium cannot prevent, like you can with your DVR and your home TV. Hence, the corporate-drive, directed toward hand-held smartphone-pushed media and the current lack of controls to skip commercials. Because advertisers hate DVRs; they render their very expensive product (commercials) obsolete, thus preventing their ability to push you to consume.
I say: this ubiquitous eye, this cyclopean mind thief, stealing your thoughts, your volition, your dreams, this procrastination machine, this time bandit, a beast not content with your mind, but one bound to seek the depths of your soul, using whatever means, religion, misinformation, sexual frustration, sits waiting every night ready for you to be too tired, to be too stressed to resist its sirenesque charms; stealing from you, one minute at a time, your irreplaceable, your non-renewable, non-refundable, living covenant with reality, heading in one direction, ever toward your end, the fuel for all of your creativity, endeavors and accomplishments: your time.
I say to you this: Stalk into your bedroom right now with the largest sledgehammer you can find and hit your beloved television right in its Machiavellian orifice.
Kill your TV while you are still able. Don’t look at it. Don’t let its siren call lull you back with the memories of thousands upon thousands of hours spent in its mesmerizing glow. Memorizing television shows, commercials, messages, covert signals of how to be, who to be, how to think, what to think, whether to think…
If you hesitate, you are lost.
I’ve said it before and I say it again. Euthanize the damn thing and free yourself from its pernicious control on your mind. Okay, maybe you can’t put it out of its misery. Or yours. You may not be able to go cold turkey. You may need your sense of the world through a partisan lens. You may need your laugh-track, your canned humor, your failure to launch group of young suburbanites discussing their dating lives.
You still have choices. Use then while you can.
Set your DVR for a month, clear your cache and for 30 days, let it do its job. Collecting the mind-numbing Lovecraftian horror that is television and storing it. Meanwhile, you in the midst of withdrawal begin to go cold turkey and head toward whatever you do for your creative outlet. Now the hard work begins.
It’ll be worth it. I promise.
I will tell you about what happened to me when I killed my television.
Increased Productivity: I was never more productive as a writer than when I stopped watching television and absorbing other’s people’s media. I had more time. A lot more. Television is a great production-killer because it absorbs your time and works very hard to keep you in front of the television, one show after another.
I had more creativity: Television is designed to make your brain go to sleep. You stop being creative because your brain is conditioned to being led (with commercial interruption, of course) and then you are right back to being mentally hypnotized without even realizing it.
TV is volition-sapping. It’s designed that way. It’s mission is to keep you watching it, hour after hour. The average American watches 5 hours of television a day.
Turn off your television for a month if you are a creative. DVR only what you must and don’t watch any of it for a month. Push yourself to write every day. The first few days will be hard, but eventually, you will find your creative mind coming to life because it isn’t recycling dull crap you watched on television.
You’ll have to think about those character motivations beyond the moment you’re looking at. You have to start premeditating what your characters are doing and why. You will have to mentally be ACTIVE rather than passively REACTIVE as a viewer.
Reward yourself with TV at the end of the month. You will begin to discover, the beats, the significant moments in your TV show will become easier to recognize. You will know when something is “supposed” to happen because you will feel the beat of the story just like you do when you are writing.
Jump-scares won’t be a surprise anymore. You will know something needed to happen and a stupid character on Television will do the thing no sane person would. Approach the monster, poke it with a stick, fail to turn on a light, not have a flashlight, leave their phone behind — all contrivances necessary to tell stories these days.
Once you start writing/creating regularly, you will be too happy to give up all but the most important media to you. You will become extremely discriminating seeking only the best writers, best television, and best movies, to include in your mental creative I’m-gonna-steal-that-idea-and-make-it-my-own database.
Everything else will be insulting your intelligence and pissing you off. Who needs that? Now you can start creating something worth reading.
If you want to see what I do now that I don’t watch live television, read this:
Here is the video which inspired and informed this essay.
If you like what Mr. McKenna had to say, listen to his much longer essay: Opening the Doors of Creativity
“Culture — and this is my message to artist and anyone else who cares to notice — is a plot against the expansion of consciousness.
And this plot prosecutes its goals through a limiting of language. Language is the battleground over which the fight will take place. Because what we cannot say, we cannot communicate. And by say, I mean dance, paint, sing, mean. What we cannot say, we cannot communicate.
We can conceive of things that we cannot communicate. And I think every one of us here has done that. And that’s a thrilling thing. That’s the deep homework. The psychedelic inner astronaut sees things which no human being has ever seen before, and no other human being will ever see again.
But in fact this has no meaning unless it is possible to carry it back into the collectivity. And what motivates me to talk to groups like this is the belief that we do not have centuries of gently unfolding time ahead of us in which to gently tease apart the threads of the human endeavor and create a bright new world.
That’s not our circumstance. This is a fire in a madhouse. And to get a hold on the situation, I think we are going to have to force the issue. One way of forcing the issue, or a chemical definition of forcing the issue when you’re talking about a chemical reaction, is catalysis.
We want to catalyze consciousness. We want to move it faster toward its goals, whatever those goals are. Well, I believe that to the present moment, language… again in the broadest sense: speech, dance, musical composition… language has just been allowed to grow like topsy. It’s been a kind of every-man-for-himself situation.
Now, what we really need, as we see ourselves moving from one species among tens of thousands of species on this planet, over the past ten thousand years, we have redefined ourselves. And now, like it or not, we are the custodians of the destiny of this planet.
Our decisions affect every life form on the planet. And yet, we are still communicating with each other with the extremely precise medium of small-mouth noises mediated by ignorance and hate. This doesn’t seem like the way to do business as we approach the third millennium.”
Podcast 123 - "Opening the Doors of Creativity"
Your words at the beginning of this podcast rang a bell somewhere in my head. When you talked about change and how…
From a talk in Port Heuneme, CA, sponsored by Carnegie Museum of Art, early 1990’s. Transcribed from Palenque Norte podcast 123 (7:18–58:03) by Metrophuman.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.