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March 21, 2010

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Biddie

First!

Well done Kliph. Another thorough and interesting article.

Has this article convinced you to do acid again then?

Derrick Bostrom

Here's another great piece of Cary Grant LSD ephemera from "Uncensored" magazine (1968):

http://bostworld.files.wordpress.com/2006/04/cary.jpg

Herb Blackschleger

Another awesome post ! Thanks , Kliph

bartelby

"I learned that everything is or becomes its own opposite"

Is central to most of G.W.F Hegel's writing that the essence of a thing, apart from it's aspects; the quantities qualities and categories it expresses cannot be directly experienced and thus to our perception is the same for any object. In other words the essence of something that which makes it distinct, is also exactly the same. In this way both things are negated.

In Marx, this would be consumption - in drinking a cup of orange juice I negate it, it is no more but I have a direct experience of it. To do so I must participate in the social relations and economic system which make possible a glass of orange juice.


While there may have been a time where psychedelic substances gave people enlightenment I would argue that nowadays it's more a party hardy thing and thus has become it's opposite.

Reading The Phenomenology of Mind never convinced any of the Linkletter progeny to hop off a roof.


K.

It was like waking up and realizing I was only dreaming I was asleep.

bartelby

or like a fighter being barred from fighting for refusing to fight

Vic

Judy, Judy, Judy in disguise...

bartleby

I think it is in the interest of international brotherhood that I now disclose my status as a card-carrying and I might add founding member of the Committee to Re-purpose Donald Trump's Combover as an Orbital Tether

Vic

my most profoundest lsd insight was the making of a positive correlation between the white panted butt of Captain Gavin McLeod and the prow of the Love Boat

bartelby

I think these sort of substances work better when used in a culture where the tripper is in the presence of an octogenerian tribal elder and not a bunch of his dopey friends goofing on that Quiet Riot video. Gong Show, Donnie and Marie, Love Boat, Fantasy Island in rapid succession is going to come up wanting in the profound realization dpeartment.

Murray Van Creme

Funny...a lot of people imagine me as a giant penis launching off from earth like a spaceship...except for the "launching off from earth like a spaceship" part.

vic

Bartelby, the thing you said about culture is just a form of ethnocentrism (i.e. authenticity is elsewhere).

In the 80s, which was my psychedelic era (almost nobody does it for longer than a certain period of time), kids often thought that the acid must have been stronger in the 60s because now nobody was jumping off buildings. That wasn't it at all. People in the 80s brought less apocalyptic expectations to psychedelics, and people doing it for the first times seldom were without informal experts along to guide them. And there were fewer guides with a big agenda: while they weren't always fonts of wisdom, they also didn't usually have the downsides associated with Leary types, Kesey types, psychiatrist types, or, yes, Manson types.

Despite my joke about the Love Boat, the truth is that whatever the setting, psychedelic experience will not stay confined to goofy good times and often leads to interesting (and not always fun) forms of immediate personal crisis; people often learn useful things from these experiences. Sometimes I could see my own contradictions, my own cognitive dissonance easier that way. It can indeed be dangerous, too. Anybody who doubts that psychedelics are right for them should probably go with that hunch.

Anyway, the only octogenarian tribal elder around was Ronald Reagan. He was, I admit, pretty enlightening when sampled on Fred Frith's "Cap The Knife".

bartleby

Um, if authenticity resides in people who have a greater amount of life experience than a 16 year old, and I'm the 16 year old then yeah authenticity resides elswhere. Honestly in cultures with a written language and wide ranging discourse stemming therefrom this stuff is just a pathetic short cut. It's like the free the weed people arguing why we should all use hemp. If weed didn't get people high how many would stick around to advocate agrarian reform, bo-o-o-o-ring.

bartleby

Sorrry, I didn't mean for that to come across as if I were saying you or people who feel like they've gotten something out of an LSD experience are "pathetic" but I do think it is a shortcut. Too many details get lost behind the phrase "I don't know I was trippin'" There are many things that clarity and focus, which are often absent for the person on LSD, which offer opportunities for enlightenment. Things which you can remember and communicate to someone else the next day or the next year or write down or otherwise record in a form that is coherent.

Vic

I'll be brief yet still perhaps boring: clarity and focus are delightful, sustaining, and should be communicated as clearly as possible. Experiencing what Keats called negative capability is also important to intellectual development, and there are many ways to get there. I'll stack my book learnin' against anybody's, and still I know the differences for me mentally pre- and post- psychedelics. To each their own.

My "authenticity" comment was obscure - I meant the idea that certain kinds of experiences are only open to or valid for people in cultures variously described as more "natural," "primitive," or "closer to the earth".

bartleby

I think that the way in which LSD is described as dissolving or suppressing the subjective ego may have something in common with differing magnitudes of expression of the subjective ego in differing cultures. In Julian Jaynes' book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind he speculates that humans may not have posessed a subjective ego for all of their history. He argues that in the old testament as well as the Iliad and other surviving literature the text is written so as to suggest that the writer was simply recording a voice he or she was experiencing. This is to say that the subjective ego may not have allways been part of the consciousness but rather at one time was subconscious and people enountered it as a voice from without. Each city and indeed each person had their own god or gods and as humans approached the present these disembodied voices recede into the sky so that now it is only on rare or at least atypical occasions that they are experienced.

Jaynes in plain simple manner describes what the mind does when it constructs a metaphor. Hegel does this as well and while both employ neologisms and there is considerable divergence one from the other in their respective texts Jaynes is a way easier read.

This adding of one level of abstraction to thinking happened in the interest of survival, that when the folks fromthe next valley came and enslaved the troop they had to change the structure of their mind in order to survive. It would have been naive to fight if they could only expect to die and they couldn't return to that naivete if they expected to survive.

I'd say that the traditional use of psychedelic substances was/is an attempt by people's who had already had their cherry broken in this regard to summon back the voices and sensations. From what I've heard it can be hit and miss and perhaps even more so for people living in a culture of mass media.

I think this is relevant to music and also to radio. Music is obvious. I mean there is no other art form which inspires the kind of physical activity that music can. I can look at Cubism all day but it's not going to make me start boxing.

And radio, since folks have varying degrees of consciousness of their subjectivity they reactions to a disembodied voice, as on a radio encompass a wide spectrum.

I found out after reading the book that the single of David Bowie's "Boy's Keep Swinging" had an inscription in the center hear the label which read "Your Bicameral Mind, Mind your bicameral. Indicating he was at least familar with Jaynes' book. It's intended for a mass audience and is a pretty good read. While I do have a material interest in people buying books, I don't stock this one, primarily because it goes for such a low price. You could do worse than to check it out.
Most if not all of what he says is not provable but it provides an interesting starting point.

Sorry if I come off like a crabby professor, I guess I am past the point where I should be employing the fact that I had to drop out of college and start work as a rationalization for such behavior.

Vic

See, I'm glad I wrote back. That sounds like a book I should read.

And I can relate. I spent years as the guy in the break room reading...."so what are you reading?" I would tell them what I was reading. ".....oh...uh-huh..."

milo

Great article, Listener Kliph. Only, Cary Grant didn't star in ARABESQUE; Gregory Peck did. It's an easy mistake to make, as ARABESQUE is essentially the same movie as CHARADE.

Kliph

Whoops, thanks Milo.

K.

Now now, B, the Buddha resides just as comfortably in the ass crack of Captain McCleod as he does in the many petaled lotus. You are sounding less like Bartleby and more like Harry Haller. The true shamanic tradition is based on direct experience, no book or teacher will get you there. That's what made Kliphs post so sad; clearly Grant was not much affected by the drug. In truth, only about 5% of the population is going to get any real benefit from these sacraments. Whether this is neurological in basis or something more abstract remains to be shown. But as you say, for most people it's either an amusing party trick or a brush with psychosis. Neither of which is bad. But for those who are comfortable when the internal monologue ceases and the facts of our existance are laid bare, it can mean the difference between a life of endless suffering and a quick exit off the Karmic wheel.

Last night, I dreamed I was crucified on the Wheel of Fortune, and Vanna White was coming to give me a spin. See what I mean, B?

M.

Response to a comment posted above saying that people taking LSD in the 80s didn't seem to have as many accidents or come to as much harm as people in the 60s did. In the 80s, three of my friends (the years 1987-1990) took LSD. The first one leapt off a bridge - he broke his back and many other bones, forcing him to quit university and be hospitalized for a year. The second one had a psychotic episode in a foreign city, disappeared, and tried to hang himself. He had a lot of flashbacks and his personality became dull and quiet.

If you are determined to use it, have sober, caring people nearby who will check on you, like Cary did.

Vic

That's very sad, M. I'm glad my luck of experiencing it from 1981-1988 was better - out of my 50 or so trips, and the hundreds that occurred around me, there was a total of one violent incident (luckily nobody came to serious harm - I got the worst black eye - the friend who did it suffered a minor legal mishap that didn't impact his road to worldly riches). There were about a half-dozen "bad trips" that were noteworthy for causing long-term distress (I had one of them, ultimately learned some valuable life lessons, was pretty shook for a while). No suicides or other deaths; no serious bodily harm - unlike with friends who crossed streets, had love affairs, played quarters...

Psychedelics ARE dangerous; people should not do it lightly; people who want to, should start with people they trust. (If you don't trust anybody then that would be a clue not to.)

In an amendment to or disagreement with your formulation M., I think the people they trust should either be sober, caring people who have experienced it, or be people they trust who are taking it with them, from the same batch. This will help with any feelings of paranoia. (Am I scaring anybody? Excellent.)

My friends and I used to talk about the relative dangers all the time, and it was weird that in 1985 as it reached a certain level of popularity in our town, we observed an increasing incidence of ridiculous tripping situations resulting in unnecessary psychic disturbances. It was pretty hard not to develop an elitist, this-isn't-for-everybody attitude (like Voltaire talking of the necessity of God for other people...the need for structure, for other people of course...)

And to underscore one more time, M., that's very sad, and it would be irresponsible not to consider those consequences.

K.

I thought some about M.s comment as well, trying to come up with a person who I knew for a fact got permanently damaged from use of psychedelics. It took awhile; most people who have problems are people who have problems, if you know what I mean. The big killer I know is alcohol. I had a friend, a professional dancer, and noted lush, pass out on the streetcorner in the Village one snowy December AM never to wake up again. He died of exposure. Another put his head through a plate glass window. Many succumbed to the long term effects, liver damage, etc.

So I am thinking about this, and it finally hits me. Dr. John Lilly. I met him at a conference at the UN in the mid 80s. It had nothing to do with psychedelics, and I think he was roped into it as a "futurist" or some such thing. Anyway, he was buzzing around the hallways where we were all chatting each other up for business reasons, and he approached us. He was with a rather striking woman at the time ( my employer was sort of smitten ) who it later turned out from a Spy magazine expose was what used to be called a "bad influence" on the good doctor. And visa-versa, you know? John was wearing a one piece jumpsuit, and reeked of urine. He tried to talk to us, but mostly what came out was gibberish. I asked him some about his isolation tank experiences (something I had played with as well) and we (employer and I) talked about work we were doing relevant to the conference.

So it reconvenes, and the MC introduces him as the next speaker. He comes down the aisle, mounts the stage, and falls flat on his face with a resounding thump. The whole audience rises to its feet. "What's happened, has he had a heart attack?!?!". Lilly then slowly rises, brushes himself off, and commences his speech. The cloud bursts into applause in relief. He then proceeds to say all the stuff we told him. Clearly, he was fishing when he was out talking to us. Had nothing himself to say. He was pretty much toast.

So I would say he's a good example of how not to do psychedelics. 'course, his big thing was ketamine, quite a different kettle of fish, but it's the closest I could come to a solid example.

I think M. needs to elaborate here on those stories. I am having a hard time believing that ordinary, healthy people, after taking a dose of LSD, jump off bridges or try to hang themselves. This sounds like the Linkletter story; his daughter was suffering from severe depression and that fact was convienently ignored by Mr. Linkletter in his attempts to find a scapegoat. But please, show me mistaken.

MK Kraus

Kliph, another extremely well written and researched post. Are you SURE you don't just want to use this space to embed nifty little YouTube videos you've found? You're shaming all the other writers, or rather, they should be shamed, but will probably go on doing as they do. I hope you're putting a book together of all this great fringe history!

Matt B.

I'd heard of Cary Grant's LSD use before this; never knew what an ass he was under it, though...

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