The problem of overstimulation


Mara Jebsen on the virtues of boredom @ 3Quarks Daily.

It is Thursday and I am in the café in which the ceiling fan and rock’n’roll seem to make a gentle pact to keep rhythm. To the left of me lies one Brooklyn neighborhood, and to the right, another. Above these ceiling fans are two apartments stacked on each other, but I don’t know how they are shaped or furnished. Above them is the sky, which today is blue-mottled with clouds. The café basement, which I have never seen, hums below us, and below that, I imagine, a lot of native Brooklyn dirt, and the complicated systems of water and electricity that make the city go, go, go —and below that—I don’t know. 

Often I map myself. I've got an ignorant, sensual GPS system. I track what I can and can’t sense. Maybe it’s common amongst those of us who traveled a lot as children—this desire to physically locate oneself in time and space. Then, I was there. Now, I am here. Here smells like oranges. But my mapping habit is getting compromised because lately, I usually have the laptop in front of me. There’s google maps, and all kinds of information that I could use to extend my senses. The sheer reach of it freaks me out.Once, I was blindfolded for a week. It was in Cambridge in 1998, the summer I was 19, the one I now remember as the summer of jazz and the playboy bunny. I was a waitress at the time in a music club, and sometimes I modeled a little for a photography class (I have a distinct memory of clambering around a cemetery during a heatwave in a wedding dress. Polyester lace climbing up my neck) but the money from that wasn’t adding up to rent. The blindfold was part of a medical study that I knew through various channels was safe and aboveboard. They paid me 1,000 dollars to stay in the hospital, to do funny little exercises, and to get six MRIs so they could study the effect of the blindfold on my brain activity.

Image: Martha Fleming-Ives @ F-Stop Magazine

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