Archive for May 10th, 2011


I saw the movie Limitless this last weekend.  There’s a scene in it that just about every writer can identify with.

It’s the one where Bradley Cooper’s character is trying to write his novel and can’t even get the first sentence down.  He stares at a blank computer screen forever.  He looks and feels like hell.  He has a contract with a publisher that he can’t fulfill.  Then along comes a Magic Pill that makes him use 100% of his brain and he writes the whole book in just over four days.  The publisher swoons in ecstasy over the manuscript.

Talk about the ultimate writer’s fantasy.

Then again, an unpublished novelist getting a book contract without a track record or even a manuscript is the ultimate fantasy element in this movie.

Anyway my point is that if it weren’t for the nasty side effects of the Magic Pill, it would be so tempting to have a supply of them and that way be like Bradley and get stinking rich and learn languages nigh instantly and write whatever you want perfectly and freaking fast.

Of course I’m talking action hero fantasy here.  But I couldn’t resist tracking down a few rumors about brain-enhancement science research.  Here’s an interesting factoid I found:

There’s a field of research dealing with something called a transcranial magnetic stimulator.

Basically the researcher applies a bunch of electrodes to a subject’s forehead, which attaches him/her to the stimulator.  Electromagnetic pulses are then directed into the person’s frontal lobes to “enhance” them.  Doesn’t hurt in the least.  But after about 10 minutes you can ask the person to draw something like a cat and, while the electrodes are still pulsing away, the odds are pretty good the individual will draw a far better picture than he/she ever has before.

This same researcher used TMS on a group of university students, 40 percent of whom exhibited new and “extraordinary” mental skills including performing mathematical functions.  Take the students off the machine and they go back to being normal.

And that’s the interesting angle of Limitless – the scenario of a poor, unemployed schmuck writer morphing within minutes into a genius.  Of course the drug’s brain enhancement ability is temporary, and like I said the side effects are hell.  But in real life maybe something like TMS will turn out to be safe and the effects permanent.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep plugging away at my usual sub-genius level.  And writing my books over a LONG period of time.