Hallucinogenic Desktop Themes & Screensavers

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One might wonder whether there’s really any good use for free hallucinogenic desktop themes and screensavers. Way back in college, a couple of decades ago, I was one of the few students in the dormitory with a computer system in my dorm room, complete with a hi-fi sound system attached, and of course one of the most funkadelic screensavers in the world.

Now, we had some odd neighbors across the hall who were heavy into smoking just about anything they could get their hands on. Inevitably, during their weekend gatherings, at least one of the “stoners” would catch sight of the swirling patterns on my desktop,  and he would stumble his way across the hall to get a closer look.

By the end of the evening, my roomate and I would end up with two or three doped-up college students mesmerized by the hallucinogenic screensaver, and saying “woah…” over and over.  It would have been annoying if it wasn’t so funny.

Putting Hallucinogenic Desktop Themes & Screensavers To Good Use

Here at MakeUseOf, we’ve covered a wide variety of screensaver topics, such as Varun’s article on how to Use Videos As A Screensaver or Wallpaper, or Saikat’s article on 5 Ways To Make Your Own Screensaver.  However, hypnotic and trance-inducing screensavers have always fascinated me.

Now, I’m not suggesting that readers experiment with hallucinogenic drugs in order to get the full experience of these screensavers, but I am pointing out that these patterns and moving images have the ability to take a hold of your mind in an almost hypnotic way.  But what are these images really doing to your mind, and why should you install them on your computer?  The answer is simple – mental foreplay.

V. S. Ramachandran, a neuroscientist at the University of California, and author of A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness. wrote that the human mind, when faced with patterns or images that aren’t recognizable, has a tendency to immediately get to work on grouping colors and shapes based on those patterns that it can recognize. When a person looks at a “camouflaged” image, the brain works extra hard to decipher at least parts of the strange image, and when elements are recognized, the brain has multiple “aha!” moments which Ramachandran describes as “visual foreplay before the final climax of object recognition.”

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The following free hallucinogenic desktop themes and screensavers are a few of the best on the Internet, and they are sure to provide you with many hours of mental foreplay (just make sure the wife doesn’t catch you).

1. Drempels – A Screensaver and Desktop Theme in One

Drempels is one of the most popular mesmerizing screensavers available. Like many other “trippy” screensavers, Drempels brings you colorful, swirling patterns that morph your screen into a kaleidescope. However, what makes this application so popular is that you don’t have to be in screensaver mode for it to hypnotize your senses.

Drempels can actually be configured to run as your Windows desktop image, so that instead of some boring static picture of your dog, you can enjoy a constantly moving desktop image. It certainly takes some getting used to, but once you do you’ll never go back to a static desktop again. And the cool thing is that setup is from one basic screen, not a series of complicated tabs and menus.

Currently Drempels is only offered for Windows, and keep in mind that you’ll need DirectX 5.0 installed.

2. Really Slick Screensavers – A Collection of Mind-Bending Imagery

Really Slick Screensavers is a set of amazing free 3D OpenGL screensavers that feature some of the most eccentric, hallucinogenic morphing images. Installation is just a matter of downloading the .scr files and placing them in your screensaver directory. I have three favorites from this collection of eleven.

Solar winds launches a series of streaming beaded lasers across the length of your desktop. I guarantee that if you spend even five minutes staring at the imagery created by this screensaver, you’re going to get yourself hyptnotized.

Euphoria is really hard to describe, but it’s amazing to watch. In this screensaver, ghostly streaks of color blend and mold, almost like strips of paint from a paint brush that can never seem to settle on a spot on the screen where it’s willing to stay put, or remain the same color. These dancing phantom colors will soothe your troubled mind and calm your nerves.

Helios is easily my favorite “really slick” screensaver of all of them. It might be my personal fascination with science and quantum physics, but these objects that morph, form and reform on the screen remind me of the ever-changing processes of cellular biology and the evolutionary process of nature. The imagery in this screensaver is one of the most striking of any I’ve seen, and I keep this screensaver at the very top of my list both at work and at home.

3. Znow Desktop – Use Hallucinations to Relieve Eye Tension

Finally, the last hallucinogenic screensaver on the list is actually one that’s been around for years.  Znow from Deskex is a screensaver with a long list of effects that it can perform on your entire desktop, even while you are busy using applications. Znow will overlay special effects over all windows and applications. The effects include snow, rain, fire fall, northern lights, hallucinations and more. The effect is selected from a drop-down list when you first launch the application.

Each of the effects is surreal, especially if you forget that you’ve configured “hallucinations” to start taking effect on a timer. Suddenly, while you’re in the middle of writing a paper or surfing the web, little “happy bubbles” start attacking your screen and eating up each of the windows and all of your work.

The software creators tout this as a feature that allows you to give your eyes a rest. In my opinion the effect is surprisingly unnatural, but in a way it forces you to take a step back and remember that you’ve been sitting at your computer for a full three hours straight…time for a break!

These are only a small sampling of the thousands of hallucinogenic desktop themes and screensavers that are available throughout the Internet. Do you have a favorite that you’ve used before? Share yours in the comments section below.

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