19 November 2014

Techno-calm

I am wearing a weird, rubbery headband that not only makes me look like an escapee from some techno-hippie cult, but also uses flexible electrodes to peer inside my brain and relay the data over Bluetooth to my smartphone, which at the same time plays a repetitive, New Age piano loop over beach sound effects into my ears. Wait, this is supposed to help me relax?

For $299 you can now buy a consumer electroencephalograph (EEG) device called Muse. It comes with premium-styled, Apple-like packaging and a very hard sell. Muse will help you “do more with your mind,” by teaching you how to calm it. Because, the box explains, “once your mind is calm, your focus can become clear. Your perception can sharpen. Your ideas can flow more readily and with greater purpose.”

Just reading this annoys me. Was Nietzsche calm when he wrote Twilight of the Idols? Was Dostoyevsky calm when writing The Brothers Karamazov? Do ideas flow best from beatific drones with maximally placid brainwaves?

I try to put such unquiet thoughts aside as I adjust the Muse to sit across the middle of my forehead, with the ends of its arms resting behind my ears.

Read the rest at the Baffler.