Although, perhaps my whole “holiday from everything” plan is totally misguided. Jack Vernon believed it was “man’s need for change” which makes sensory deprivation so powerful:
I believe that the human cannot endure a completely homogeneous situation no matter how good or desirable it is. What is homogeneous soon becomes boring and undesirable. Caviar and champagne may be very desirable for breakfast, but not for long as a steady diet. No matter how positive a thing may be, it loses its value under unvarying use. Man’s appetites soon become jaded, so that he ever seeks new gratifications or, failing this, finds increasing complaint with his status quo.1
I don’t really identify with that worldview at all. I like completely homogeneous situations.
Caviar and champagne doesn’t sound particularly desirable to me for breakfast. What I consider desirable for breakfast is two slices of granary toast with Marmite and a cup of tea. And I have that every day for breakfast. And I like it. It doesn’t lose its value under unvarying use.
I have the same thing for lunch everyday too – a chicken and mayonnaise sandwich with spinach and a slice of gouda cheese, a little salt and black pepper and a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes. And I like this sandwich. I eat it, and then I have a cup of tea and a Cadbury’s Twirl.
Actually, I don’t have this sandwich every single day. Sometimes, if I went out the night before, I might forget to make it, so then I’d need to buy something for lunch instead. In these situations, I used to go to Pret a Manger and buy a Herb Chicken and Rocket sandwich, but then I became paranoid that the people in the shop would start to notice this habit (the Herb Chicken and Rocket sandwich is also one of the cheapest that Pret do, but that wasn’t a factor in me buying it so frequently. I just really liked it) so I forced myself to try to vary what I bought (and it’s this enforced novelty I find increasing complaint with).
I suffered a similar situation of enforced novelty when I was in Sixth Form. During my lunch break each day, I would go to Londis across the road and buy a packet of Jaffa Cakes and a can of Dr Pepper. I liked this routine. Then, one day, just as I put my Jaffa Cakes and Dr Pepper down on the counter and prepared to pay, the woman in Londis said to me “Oh – the usual is it?” It was a year before I stepped foot in that Londis again. I had to develop a new habit, a new routine. I went to Gibbs, two doors down, instead. Here, I would buy two packets of Salt & Vinegar Discos and a can of Pepsi. They sold Dr Pepper and Jaffa Cakes in Gibbs too, but there was no way I could continue buying the same thing from a different store. What if the man in Gibbs and the woman in Londis ever talked about their regular customers and the woman in Londis realised I’d made the switch? I’d look like a lunatic. The only solution was to become a brand new person.
If I like doing something once. I’d like doing it a second time. Why would I want to change and do something else? If I’m having two scoops of ice cream, I want them both to be the same flavour. If I had two different flavours, one would (neccessarily) be nicer than the other. Each time I had some of the inferior flavour, I’d know that I could have been had double the superior flavour instead. I’d grow to resent the inferior flavour (I also find the idea of the junction between the two flavours, meeting and melting into each other, quite revolting).
If I like Falco, then I want to listen to Falco. Over and over again. Thousands of times.
I don’t seek new gratifications. I don’t want new experiences, new sensations. I want the same experience repeatedly. Variety isn’t the spice of life, it’s an excuse for people who can’t make decisions.
1 Jack Vernon, Inside The Black Room: Studies Of Sensory Deprivation, 1963, p180