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In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Fucked Up Side of the Moon

I've just walked about seventy blocks in the rain, due to reasons that I don't one hundred percent feel like getting into here; besides they're irrelevent to the topic at hand, but it left me lots of time to talk to myself; one of my favorite pastimes.

Well? I mean, I've always got something interesting to say, and I always listen. You gotta apply your people skills to yourself sometimes, you know.

And I am reminded of a conversation I had recently about why otherwise nice, smart, normal people end up doing hallucinogens. It's getting into the toolbox and messing with the wiring, I said, and the person I was talking with agreed. The results, depending on the pilot, will vary. This too, along with set and setting, as Tim Leary would have it.

But it's a lot more than being in a pleasant setting, with people you like and trust, and with your mind in a positive place. That sort of thing strikes me as some weirdly corporate way of viewing your consciousness expansion: be proactive at all times, American, and you'll be just fine.
No: some times it's about putting yourself in specifically difficult circumstances to see how this fine, oversized simian brain of ours reacts.

When I helped Johnson get a job at the hospital, I wondered what the hell I'd been thinking. I nonetheless walked up there on his first night, to see how he was doing. I noted that he was training with the hardest, most doctrinaire, actually runs down the hall Material Transportation Technician there was. But curiously, Johnson was smiling.
"How's it going?" I asked, and he just kinda made this weird little grunting laugh noise I recognized well, and sorta bugged out his eyes at me.
"You're not." I said, but he was. He had decided to take LSD for the occasion of his first night working at a hospital. Not all that long before, GNP and I had walked through there in a similar state, to get my check (and referring to ourselves as 'High Level Officials' all night long), and were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of misery present.
But I gotta admire Johnson for his perceptual fortitude, and later did a lot of the same (my Dad's wedding where the Governor of Oregon is giving away the bride?[!!!]).
Bradfield ...well no. Some more name-play. The Enigma? The Handsomest Head of Hair in Davenport, Iowa? The Yupperstretcher?-Naw. That one's even too much of an in-joke for this setting. Any way, Bradfield, when he was moving out here, took Amtrak and decided that being trapped on a fucking train was a salubrious set of circumstances in which to trip. While going through the Columbia Gorge, he saw (or thought he saw) an eagle swoop down out of the sky, and pluck a salmon from the river. At that point, he was glad about his new home.

And that 'thought he saw' above is important. A lot of people who don't know of which they speak will tell you that you hallucinate in these circumstances. I don't exactly agree: you don't (or rarely) see things that aren't there. You just see a great deal more of the totality of things, people and situations. This is why these drugs worked fantastically in therapeutic settings, and why-if you are of strong enough mind- you may also self-administer some therapy.
And for bad or for good, you always learn something: which of course is also one of life's great lessons. After a while, you realize that there's really no difference between you on drugs and just you. It's always You, having a conversation with yourself.
Or, if you believe in God, you get to meet Him, and perhaps challenge him.

So much psychedelic music (generally speaking made from the middle '60's to very early '70's, at which point it splintered into a million different directions [of course]) you would think, to hear some folk tell it, is of the peace n' love and everything somehow being All Good. Not so much. A lot of the folks who fucked with their own wiring got to see the scary part of the basement of their various minds, and decided to point it out to you, in various ways.
Since you're sort of voluntarily courting insanity ("Drugs are a bet with yr mind", wrote one James Douglas Morrison), it's worth noting that you'll probably encounter some rather serious issues and questions about the world and (especially) yourself that generally you either wouldn't, or Wouldn't Let Yourself.

In this vein, let me say: it's kinda weird how Pink Floyd is such fucking depressing music, where the overarching themes are insanity and despair, and yer average American teenager will so often spend their first occasions being initiated into the Mysteries listening to it.
Nonetheless, Dark Side of the Moon really is a great album to trip to, if you ignore the lyrics completely. (Ummagumma, as the name suggests, is the one you really want, if you ignore the second disc completely.) But if you really wanna head to the dark side, I always suggest:

Strictly Personal, by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, is such an extreme mind-fuck that you'd better know what you're doing, pup. It's a nightmare of over-affected flange rock and Don Van Vliet, as always, skewering the already sacred beliefs of hippies.
From "Ah Feel Like Ahcid", the opening track (and one of the few moments of comic relief), it goes. Sets the mood of Yeah, I do drugs, but I'm not a fool, and songs about this least objective of activities are ridiculous. Mind you, if you're all simple minded, you'll go Heh Heh cuz' this's a song about Drugz.
"Licked a stamp, saw a movie, dropped a...Stamp.
Ooh, I ain't got the blues no more I said
Put me thinkin' the postman's groovy..."
Totally stupid, and funny as hell: sung like an old bluesman. But he's actually got a serious mission (except when he jokes again, on side two- "Beatle Bones and Smokin' Stones":
the strawberry house, strawberry car, strawberry caterpillar. Strawberry Fieeeelds! Long Winged Eel Slither!).
He would like to remind you exactly how susceptible to programming and bad ideas you are in this state: No Good Gurus, and even Dylan never said it this good.
"Trust Us" starts after a weird noise intro, where he says, "I may be hungry/but I sure ain't weeeeeirrrrrrd..." It's a collection of easy to memorize (and easy to write) rhyming slogans. Harmless enough on the face of them, but if made into doctrine...Who knows?
By the time he gets to the psychedelic flange nightmare in the middle, it's become:
the path is you
let the lying lie
the path is you
let the dying die

Half-enlightened advertising slogan transmogrified into something I can kinda hear a vicious idiot like Charlie Manson saying...

And as I've said before, Free Your Mind, and Your Ass Will Follow by Funkadelic is also a broad tour of The Basement, while also being nothing less than a revolutionary document: a perceptual Declaration of Independence. But it too understands that with your new-found power to Remake Yourself and the Entire World, comes a certain amount of responsibility, and you need to not be a jackass. Furthermore, They're Black, so that adds a whole somp'thin' other to it. When it's not poking vicious (and dead-on accurate) fun at the world we seem to have found ourselves in, they're right there in your head, screaming over the noise:
In the background, you can hear one of them saying, "I'm so confused..."
Yup. Welcome aboard.

It's worth noting that at first, this category of drugs were described as psychomimetic, or compounds that imitate psychosis. Then it was hallucinogens (and I've described my problem with that one above), or things that made you hallucinate. Finally, someone (I'm gonna say Humphrey Oswald, but I'm not sure) came up with psychedelic, which just means Mind Expanding.
Of course, in their way, they're all somewhat accurate. "This, like anything, is a mirror: if a monkey looks in, no philosopher looks out."
True. And also worth noting that Albert Hoffman, when he accidentally discovered it (right in between the Television and the Atomic Bomb. How odd.), was trying to synthesize another, better, headache remedy. What happened instead was a cure for...The Biggest Headache of All? Life, perception and the human pain associated with religion and the industrial revolution...
Again, it's just too big a topic.



Blogger cats dig me said...

Hey Rich,

The Space is active again. Gotta release some pent up energy. So whats up with you, besides groovin' on psycho's?

10:07 AM  

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