Ariel asked me the other day if I’d heard of something called Image Streaming. I thought this might have something to do with YouTube, so I absentmindedly said yes, but that was a mistake. Image Streaming turned out to be a technique she’d read about for unleashing certain amazing powers hidden in the human brain. Ariel believes the brain is full of amazing hidden powers, and any talk about unleashing them gets her full attention.
This twist in the conversation was a problem for me. I hadn’t seen it coming, and I prefer to have some warning before discussing New Age concepts with Ariel. I like to think that if I have enough time to prepare, I’ll be able to avoid getting a certain look on my face that Ariel claims I always get when I’m exposed to New Age concepts.
I’m not qualified to explain Image Streaming in detail, but it has to do with attending to the seemingly random pictures that your brain sometimes generates. This part was interesting to me, because when I’m in a completely darkened room I see things – sparks, clouds, geometric shapes swirling around, sometimes even familiar places and people. I’ve asked a lot of other people if they have the same experience, and about half of them seem to know what I’m talking about. Sometimes when I go to bed at night I watch the pictures and it helps me fall asleep, but I’d never thought very deeply about what it all might mean. I’d figured my optic nerves were just fidgeting, the way my feet do when I’ve been sitting for a long time.
Well, to the image streaming people, spontaneous mental images are a big deal, because they offer a path to all sorts of intense mental growth. If I understand it correctly, the technique involves describing the images you see out loud, to a friend or even to a tape recorder. This is supposed to open up pathways between the right side of your brain (where the pictures are) and the left side (where your verbal faculty is). Opening these pathways is what unleashes your powers. Some practitioners of image streaming are said to have become phenomenal business successes; one became an excellent violinist with very little practice; some have even developed psychic abilities. You also can’t read about this subject for long without coming across Albert Einstein, who is supposed to have used similar techniques to become a great genius and develop the Theory of Relativity.
I can’t say whether image streaming works because I’m much too lazy to give it a fair chance, and anyway it seems unfair to pick on one particular brain-enhancement scheme when there are a hundred others out there to choose from. If only a small percentage of them work, there will soon be thousands of New Age geniuses bestriding the landscape, predicting the future, cornering global financial markets, and playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” until no one can sleep at night. Then we’ll have all the data we need on the subject.
At the same time, I do have a couple of modest suggestions for any mind-power theorists who would like to reach me personally. First of all, could we back off just a little on the left brain/right brain business? I understand that my left brain is analytical, while my right brain is intuitive. My left brain is standardized testing, my right brain is doodling on a napkin. My left brain is the math class I flunked, my right brain is the art class where everybody got an A. Even in the most wide-open, free-spirited Montessori creative writing workshop, no one should be allowed to work a metaphor this hard.
Second, I wish you guys would give Albert Einstein a day off. Right now every web site peddling its own special brand of mental Viagra is calling in Albert Einstein as an expert witness. Other bureaus of the New Age movement are working him to death as well – just Google “quantum physics” together with “Law Of Attraction”. Albert is tired and he wants a rest. He told me so this morning.