Global Perspectives and Psychedelic Poetics

1994
New York New York
Transcribed




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[Note from transcriber: I thought I would be able to finish this but due to some unforeseen events I am not, so I will just post what I have. Maybe I will return to it and finish it later if someone else hasn't already. Excuse any mistakes and especially the poor (or lack of) formatting.] Global perspectives and psychedelic poetics is what it says in the, uh, in the propaganda, which I assume is simply permission to rave about whatever comes to mind. Global perspectives... I guess what, uh, I could say about this from a psychedelic perspective, the thing that is, uh, different for psychedelic people, looking at the global dilemma that we’re in and that increases, that continues to deepen around us, is that it’s, uh. From my point of view permission to hope rather than despair, because I think that, uh, processes, institutions that for a thousand years or more have been building toward some kind of symmetry-break, some kind of definitive self-revealing moment that we now are, uh, turning final as pilots say. We’re now deeply embedded in the pattern, we can see enough of what’s ahead of us to begin to actually feel the texture of the end of human history. It’s no longer an abstraction. Even the straight people who own the world with their, uh, long-term and short-term projections; looking at population growth, spread of greenhouse gases, disappearance of the ozone hole, uh, rising third world expectations so forth and so on. When you propagate all these trends, it seems very clear that business as usual is no longer an option. Nobody’s talking about that. So, we’re either in some kind of final fatal meltdown of the values of western civilization, revealed now after a thousand or two thousand year run to essentially be bankrupt. Or, we’re going to transform ourselves unrecognizably. There really isn’t any middle ground. The most radical and least likely, uh, future of all, it seems to me, is the future in which we continue just to stumble forward, as we have been since the industrial revolution. That’s no longer an option. And, so then the question becomes sort of a gnostic conundrum. Yea-, is this the final act of some kind of great cosmic tragedy in which intelligence rises out of the slim, is shown to be inadequate and sinks back into the slime, or is this, uh, you know, a tale of, uh, difficulty overcome and heroism won. And are we going to be able to shed the monkey nature, and shed the ego and actually move up to some kind of shining ideal. Eh, you know it’s, uh, if you think of us as the descendants of the angels this is a pretty tacky circumstance we’ve come to rest in. On the other hand if you think of us as the descendants of shit-hurling apes screeching through the treetops, then it’s pretty amazing, [audience laughs], what has been accomplished here. Uhm, we-eh, you know one of the dilemmas that I feel very strongly, and I’m just sort of talking off the top of my head here, because whenever a crowd is small enough I sort of feel like I’m in my own living room, we don’t have to have the pretense of knowing-lecturer and, uh, you know eager-to-be-educated-audience. Uhm, the real, the real challenge, I think, is trying to decide what is baggage, and what is ballast that’s going to have to be dumped. Can the future be a celebration of humanness as we have known it? Meaning in the animal body, with all its, uh, uh, you know, joys and pains, with all its frailty and, uh, potential for ecstasy. Or, is what we call human nature somehow transcendental and did we only rest for a moment in the monkey body as once the cutting of evolution must have rested in the great reptiles and at some earlier phase in history rested in the fish and so on. Is consciousness something uniquely human, and must we keep the animal body with us? Is our destiny to become gardener/caretakers of a revivified earth or is the earth like a placenta of some sort, that we have literally sucked all the nutrition and potential out of, because we’re on our way to some grander, higher domain of being? I don’t have the answer to these kinds of questions. I feel it very poignantly. It’s very poignantly focused in the psychedelic - in the experience of psychedelic plants and psychedelic shamanism, because, e-, you know, as any of you who have followed my ideas on this know, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Amazon basin with human populations that seem to have struck some kind of dynamic balance with the earth. And yet the paradox of that dynamic balance is that when you take the sacraments, the hallucinogenic plants of these people, you’re propelled into a worlds of, uh, science-fiction-like strangeness. Transcendental dimensions of titanic implication. And then, at least I personally have come to the realization that this is how those cultures have chosen to deal with the faustian impulse in human beings. It’s been somehow confined in the domain of the imagination. We, meaning we who trace our, uh, our ancestry back to Europe are part of a different style. A different strain of human being, if you will. We are the idea-excreters. Not ca- not, uh, satisfied to have a canoe, a net, five fish hooks and, uh, a bowl. But instead we take matter, we, western civilization, western technology, and we impress upon matter ideas. Millions of ideas; cities like Manhattan, uh, high performance weaponry, uh, enormous works of art. All of this is is a kind of impulse, very strong in western human beings to bring the ideas out of the domain of mind and to somehow solidify them in matter. Permanence, the cult of the west is permanence. Ye-, I always feel that when you can find the obsessive center of a society you probably have put your finger on its, uh, on its central neurosis as well. I remember when I spent time in India; India is rife with talk of shakti. Shakti is energy, conceived of in various ways; it can be sexual energy, or it can actually be electricity flowing through wires is called shakti. And I realized being in India that the Indian obsession with shakti was a consequence of there not being any, that this was a society where energy had become the hardest commodity to encounter. And I think in the West permanence is the thing - is our great bugaboo, because we, uh, are born into the realization that everything is slipping through our fingers at the very moment that it comes into existence. The hardest psychedelic truth to assimilate, and you don’t have to take psychedelics to assimilate this, if you just live this will be hammered in on you again and again, and it’s not , uh. Well, uh, it’s a cause for exaltation, it’s a cause for despair, it’s that nothing lasts. Nothing lasts. You know, not your fortune, not your misfortune, not your lovers, your enemies, your children. Ultimately, not even your own life and body. Everything fades. And so the western response to this is the attempt to create something permanent; civilizations, enduring ideas, enduring institutions. All this is doomed to failure. And, I see this western, uh, obsession with the cult of permanence as a consequence of the western obsession with ego. Ego, to my mind, is the very thing, that if you had to, somehow, meld each problem into the next problem to try and reduce all problems to one, what you would eventually come to is the realization that ego is what is destroying us. Our inability to displace our loyalty away from the unique locus of space and time represented by our own bodies. You know, community, communalism, these are the things that we fear, that we repress, and that we at the same time struggle to realize. I mean, the collapse of communism on one level was the collapse of a repressive nightmarish paranoid social system, but the dream which lay behind that was a dream of community, of unity, of sisterhood and brotherhood. And the great concern now is that with the collapse even the, uh, a pretense of that position, that we are further fragmented, further atomized into individual competing microbes of greed and need, and this is precisely the attitude which will push us, uh, ever closer to species-extinction and to global ruin. Well, when you look at thousands and thousands of psychedelic experiences, you, to my mind what you come away with is the notion that, you know, no matter who you are; Amazonian shaman, Hasidic rabbi, n-n-nuclear physicist, the psychedelic will dissolve boundaries. It will dissolve your boundaries, and force you to realize the commonality of the flesh. You know, it’s, a-, a startling thing to realize that what you represent is nothing more than a point of view, and that we each are such a point of view triangulating perception through what is essentially simply a nexus of our past history. We always are talking about “the past”, and “the future”, but it’s worth noticing that we all managed to get here this morning, this place, this time, and not one of us has the same past as any other of us. This moment, like any moment, is not a confluence of the past, it is a confluence of many pasts, and these many pasts come into a nexus of connection, and then move on to become many, many futures. The reason I’m interested in the psychedelic potential, and willing to speak about it, is because I think that our, the myth of our separateness, which was the glory of our institutional accomplishments; parliamentary democracy, individual rights, uh, uh, liberation of various classes, and so forth, has now turned somewhat sour. There has got to be something more to it, than just turning people loose to loot the planet so that everyone can pile up more and more up stuff. Stuff which doesn’t satisfy anyway. And, I think, n-, in talking about the future what we somehow have to do is dematerialize the future, and there are several ways or many ways to do this. Uh, people have preached voluntary simplicity, and some people are into this, uh, however it’s hypocritical to preach this in the third world to people who have nothing. You know, we have everything so we have seen the fallacy of condominiums and Mercedes so then we preach this in Bangladesh. Th-this is a bit disingenuous. Uh, the dematerializing of culture, uh, somehow, you see, what we have to recognize in the wake of the collapse of communism is that capitalism as well is a system with a fatal flaw that is set against human nature. Capitalism assumes an endlessly exploitable frontier of resources. This we have got not. So, capitalism is now essentially, unless it can be radically retooled an anti-human philosophy, it’s literally chewing up the ground we’re standing on. But there’s nothing in the, uh, the basic notion of capitalism that says we have to be thing-dealers. This is simply the style of capitalism that we have fallen into. Somehow we have to dematerialize existence, and I don’t know whether that means virtual reality, some of you have heard me say that my vision of a perfect future is, you know, 25% of the world population, living in ecological balance, living in an apparently primitive, naked, aboriginal state, but when you step into the minds of those people and look behind their closed eyelids there are menus hanging in bio-tele-electronic space. Culture, you see, can be downloaded into a chip, installed behind the eyelids, so that is, you know, freely commandable, as an experience in the imagination. But, if we insist on continually extracting resources from the earth and fashioning our dreams out of the stuff of earth, then our dreams are destined to turn to nightmare. It can’t be any other way. So that’s one thing about the future, the future needs to be dematerialized. Uh, u-, and then, you know, since people always accuse me of being a hairbrained dreamer, uh, I’ve tried to come up with something approaching a practical suggestion, and I, I took this need to the feet of the mushroom-gods, a-being, having been challenged by somebody at a talk like this, they said, “Well, you’re always saying these mushrooms speak, why don’t you ask them, uh, uh, how to save the world?”, and I thought this was kind of disingenuous, but, uh, the next time I had the telephone to hyperspace in my hot hand I did make the inquiry. And, uh, the suggestion which came back I think is at least food for thought. The suggestion was, “You wanna save the world? You wanna overcome male-dominance, the momentum of consumerism, so forth and so on? Uh, every woman should bear only one natural child”. This is an interesting idea, whether you take it seriously as program or not. If every woman were to commit herself to bearing only natural child, the population of the earth would fall by 50% in 40 years without war, or famine, or epidemic disease. If this program were continued for another 40 years the population would fall by half again. This means in 80 years the population of the planet could be reduced 75%. Why have we not heard anything about this? Even for it to be denounced, I’m not saying it has to be embraced, but why is it a tiny fanatical minority advocating this? I think it’s because, uh, it’s inconceivable in this society to try and practice capitalism in a situation of retreating demographics. It also would be, a s-, a solution which would place enormous power in the hands of women. Women are often heard to complain about their powerlessness, yet here is a plan which requires very little input from white guys. Uh, I took this idea to demographers and said, “What about it? This seems so simple, most people think there are no solutions, here’s a very simple solution, what about it?”, and they said, “Yes, well, it’s more startling than you realize, because women in upper class high-tech western society, uh, a woman, say, on the upper east side of Manhattan, or Malibu, or the sea cliffed district of San Francisco. A child born to that woman will have eight hundred to a thousand times more negative impact on the earth than a child born to a woman in Bangladesh. If you were to go to Bangladesh and meet a woman in the back streets of Dhaka who told you that her ambition in life was to have nine hundred children you’d think you were dealing with some kind of sociopath, a kind of, [audience laughter], a kind of typhoid Mary of the demographic scene. And yet, every child born into moderately well off yuppie families in high-tech societies is in that position. We prefer to not to think of it, this way. I think it’s very interesting that one could make a case to, uh, women in western societies, you could say, “How would you like vastly increased leisure time. How would you like increased disposable income? And how would you like to, uh, take upon yourself a truly heroic social role?” This is what’s being offered with this suggestion to limit reproduction to one natural child. No more heroic, no more politically correct can be taken. And, interestingly, the women you want to convince of this position are the women you are most likely to be able to convince; educated, white, uh, women, with, uh, above average incomes. So that’s a very practical suggestion. More likely to be implemented than my dream of, uh, lunar inoculations with psilocybin for the entire population, [audience laughs], to, uh, dissolve the calcareous ego formations that have sprung up in the bloodstreams since the last full moon. Which I also think would be, uh, a fine idea. You see, boundary dissolution is what is needed here. Boundary dissolution of all type, our separateness is an illusion. There is a kind of human bedrock. That’s why I think that the world sweep toward democracy is far more than simply a political trend. Democracy is not exactly a style of government per se. Or, exclusively, democracy is something, is, a biological institution of some sort. Because, there is no theory, there is no abstraction, there is no ideology. I mean democracy is as close as you can get, uh, to anarchy, and still have any theory of organization at all. You know, I wrote a book, which is around and about, called “The Archaic Revival”, and that’s why my belief in the archaic revival is what brings me out to events like this. I mean I think the term new-age and some of these other terms are pretty trivializing and basically designed by the mavens of marketing to draw you in. uh. But there is an impulse throughout the 20th century, in freudianism, in abstract expressionism, in dada, psychotherapy, sexual permissiveness, psychedelic experimentation, jazz, rock’n’roll. These are all facets of an impulse toward the archaic, toward the primitive, the non-straight, the anti-bowtie, uh, the wish to blow up the stayed world created by the fine ladies and gentlemen of the 19th century with their christer-ethics and their long dresses and all of that business. There is an impulse toward the archaic. This is very healthy. This is what happens when a society seeks to revivify itself. When the medieval world exploded in the face of the Italian city states and the new classes that were emerging, uh, they. It reinvented classicism. It was actually the second time classicism had been rediscovered, it was also trotted out by the Arabs in the 9th century when they needed a stabilizing metaphor for the Ummayad caliphate and those civilizations. Now, in the 20th century, we can’t go back to ancient Greece and Rome, or Babylon, a-and in a sense the new age, I think, is an effort to go back to a kind of, uh, Minoan/Egyptian world, which never existed except perhaps in the minds of certain menopausal theosophists. [Audience laughs] But, but the impulse is, uh, the impulse is laudable, however screwy the results. But I think we have to reach further back, that all of history is what our earth text, the bible, tells us it is. It’s a confusion, a kind of punishment, a wandering in the wilderness, and that where we really want to be is naked, singing in the rainforest, stoned, and exalted. Uh, one with the souls of the ancestors, one with the s-, gaian spirit of the planet. And I don’t mean to imply that psychedelics ar-, simply act negatively; dissolving ego, dissolving social constructs, dissolving programming and neurosis. That’s all true, but what is left when all this dissolving has taken place is not simply a tabula rasa, a clean slate. What is left is, uhm, what we forgot, what we have been so long away from, which is a connection into the reality of the gaian mind. The great news that all shamanism can attest to, and is built on, is the news that there is a sentient, minded, caring entity that surrounds and holds the planet in its hands, in its heart. S-, beyond comprehending, I mean call it Gaia, call it God, call it the spirit of nature, it doesn’t matter what you call it. It transcends the natural apprehension of higher primates, and yet it is there. We know that our own peculiar form of self reflection emerged in just a couple of million years, out of animal organization. Well, what we don’t know is how many other forms of mind there m-, are possible, and how many times in the two billion year history of life on this planet, uh, uhh, intelligence has been able to shed the dark chrysalis of matter and launch itself into nearby dimensions in which it finds completion and happiness. Uh, and I think that this is the great news that informs the shamanic religions, that we are not alone, and that The Other that we can make our way toward, is not, uh, you know, a galactarian intelligence from Beta Reticuli that is part machine-symbiote, part banana slug, or something like that, [audience laughs]. That, the, the coherent-minded entity that we make our way toward is actually a reflection of what is best in our hearts. That we carry in ourselves the seed of this thing, and that we are like, the, the peo-, the, the guy in the story of the prodigal son. We have fallen into history, and out of this misfortune, out of this experience we can come gold. If we return to the fold of the ancestors, if we can, somehow, take what we’ve learned from history and fold it back into the experience of being truly human. And this is the challenge. And it faces us on the political level. Issues such as, you know, all kinds of community issues, such as racism, and sexism, and classism, these are community issues. And then issues between the human community and the planet. Our inability, you see, to emotionally connect with the consequences of what we’re doing. I mean, we as a species present a perfect picture of pathology, b-, uh, because what real psychotic behavior is, is behavior th-, that one cannot emotionally connect with the consequences of what is being done. And when you realize that we are literally, uh, looting the cradle of future human life. That we have decided that we are not simply transient occupiers of this domain, but that it is ours to trash, to use up, to do with as we wish, leaving nothing for the future, then you realize the depth of our need for immediate and widespread, uh, therapeutic, indeed, pharmacological intervention on our state of mind. Because, we have wandered from anything like real human values and the reason psychedelics are so threatening in this society is because they immediately throw into high relief the internal contradictions of the dominator style of doing business, and this is must what happen. The momentum toward catastrophe, built up over centuries, is immense. The only antidote to that, that I’ve seen, extrapolating from what I’ve seen it do to single individuals, are the shamanic hallucinogens, because, when you cut right to the bone, what has to happen is; we must change our minds. If we don’t change our minds we are going to go down with this self-generated titanic called western civilization. And we have the power to change our minds, but it won’t come from hortatory preaching. If that would work then we would have turned the bend on the Sermon on the Mount. But as it is, I think we turn the bend, uh, sometime in the 20th century; either when Albert Hoffman invented LSD, or Gordon Wasson found the mushrooms of Huaca[?], or Richard Schultes brought back news of ayahuasca from the Amazon basin. You see, we have to humble ourselves, we have to give up the titanic ego-driven idea that we can do it by ourselves, as religions and yogins and all that beady-eyed crowd are into promising. The first step on the path of self-, real self-transformation, is the admission that you must humble yourself so thoroughly that you need to form a pact with an organism that begins its life in a mound of manure. You know, it’s a true alchemical journey. You return to the droth, and out of that which everyone has rejected; literally, the compost, uh, of s-, of being you find the jewel. And the jewel can be grown, cultivated, brought to fruition, internalized, globalized, shared, to create a transforming option, that, uh, does honor to a human experiment that has been going on far too many millennia for us to fumble the golden opportunity away. Is there anybody who’s burning with their own agenda that i-, oh, here’s a “burning person”, yes. Audience member: “I had a experience, about three years ago now, nearly four years ago, where I-, I was on a hallucinogenic. And, I had a feeling that I was talking to some people, and they were telling me that when we leave this planet we become stars! I was wondering what. Have you got any more on the outer space connection?” Terrence: W-well, I-I mean, I think, you know, I mean... It’s funny for me to be talking at a, at a place like this because my, I am actually a rationalist, i-it’s simply that my experience has been very, very peculiar, and I thank God for it, because I think most rationalists actually live lives which reinforce their rationalism. Maybe because they don’t poke around enough in the edges of things. I mean, you know, we have orthodox ideology, I don’t know what it is now, free markets, democracy and physics or something, and then you press out a little bit to the fringes and, you discover that reality is not only not as you supposed it to be, but it’s not like anybody supposed it to be. The, the s-, the maps we have are largely based on, uh, conjecture and naive hope. The hope that there’s hiding woods, the hope that there’s nobody waiting behind the hill. Uh, uhh, when I first started talking psychedelics it all ran pretty much according to hoil[?], uh, LSD, it seemed like a tremendous tool for insight into the structure of the personality, kind of high-powered, turbocharged self-directed psychotherapy, you know? Uh, which is certainly useful, illuminating, but n-, doesn’t violate the laws of physics, or threaten the, uh, the foundations of western science and philosophy. W-what has interested me, and become the focus of my personal life, I guess, are these tryptamine hallucinogens; DMT; psilocybin, and then ayahuasca, which is a, simply a strategy for making DMT orally active. And, you know, one could accept, I think, insights into one’s upbringing, uhh, insights into the structure of philosophy or mathematics or something like that. But what is hard to accept, are, uh, you called them “gibberish people”, I call them self-transforming elf-machines, or tyches, or fairies. And, t-to my mind, this i-, this is confounding, this is no mere extension of the models of the psyche that we inherit from Freud and Jung. It begins to look as though, uh, that, uh, you know, the mind is not even in the brain. There’s some kind of extended landscape of possibility, and I, uh, I speak as, uh, somebody who’s been there, who’s seen this stuff, but who doesn’t, I don’t have an agenda, I’m, uhm. In a sense I’m sort of chicken-shit, because the motivation for my public career is to get a whole bunch of people to march with me, in there, to check again, because, uhh… Y-you know, u-, well, I-I talk in the book I wrote for Bentham, Food of The Goods, about DMT, because I think, it’s, in a sense, the, uhm, the case where all the issues are most intensely brought together. Uh, it’s a naturally occurring neurotransmitter, indigenous in the human brain, it also is very fast-acting, it clears your system very quickly, Not only clears your system, but leaves no trace whatsoever. You can’t even n-, feel that you have done some kind of substance a half hour after you do this stuff. Nevertheless, the content of the experience itself is absolutely paradigm-challenging, and the chief reason is because there are these entities in there, and on psilocybin you hear them; they speak to you. What you were describing, it’s almost as though this is some kind of, uh, of a mandala of pharmacological approaches to the mystery, and DMT lands you right in the center of the bullseye. I mean, thirty seconds after smoking DMT you confront these things, which look like, I-I mean, it’s very hard to force language into these dimensions, and then e-, bring it back, but what they look like to me is self-transforming, self-dribbling basketballs, or something, I mean, they come bounding forward. When you enter into the space there’s a kind of a cheer, you know, “Hooray!”, and suddenly you’re there. And this is not the cumulative eff-, effect of spirulina or hanging out at finned horn[?] or imbibing any of these ideologies that permit this kind of thing. I mean, I come out of, uh, u-, you know Jean Genet, and existentialism, and Sartre and m-, very much more mainstream, down, dreary, western approach. These things do not require belief to sustain their existence. You may doubt, you may deny, and yet there they are. And they, un-, it is not, uhm, it’s not some kind of neutral panorama, like window shopping. It’s an encounter, it’s a situation in which you see them, they see you, and the, uhh, uhh, relationship between you and them is very rapidly evolving. They seem to have been waiting, and the impression I get is, well it’s not an impression I get, it’s what they say. They say, “Here you are again, how wonderful!”, it’s not exactly in English, you understand… And they have, uhm, e-, you know, they’re not made of matter. The questions, you know, what is the ontos of these things, what is their exact ontological status, and as far as I can tell, they’re made of language. They’re, they are not composed of DNA, sinew, tissue and blood, they’re composed of syntax. They are like self-articulating sentences, or language with the, that has no requirement for a speaker. It is its own self-generating system of meaning, and, in, you know, the immediate impression you have, is, if you’re a sane person, is, you know, “My God, what is this?”, and then, “Is it okay? Am I, number one, am I still alive?” And you check through, you know, take a quick inventory; breathing, normal, blood pressure, normal, heart, normal, but what you’re seeing is a complete replacement of the ordinary world. And these things which are not enough like elves, gnomes and fairies, it’s almost as though, you know, you’d look to folklore to, uhm, uh, to, uh, b-, provide evidence for the existence of these things, but the elves, gnomes and fairies of folklore are a little too predictable, a little too humanoid, a little too disneyesque for what you’re dealing with. These things actually appear to be as alien a form of life as it would be possible for a human being to imagine and still cognize that it’s alien intelligence at all. And, they are performing an extraordinary activity in that place. Which is; they possess a language that can be seen, with the eyes. And this is fascinating to me, I really think that there’s something to be learned here. This is what they want you to learn, they s-, they come forward, they utter statements. Which, remember, you don’t hear with your ears, but which you see as condensed sculptural objects, which are like Fabergé eggs or beautifully tooled machines of glass, shell, and crystal, except these things are in motions. They’re opening up in front of you, and they’re, they’re pressing in, there’s a kind of frantic intensity to this kind of an encounter; it’s like a Bugs Bunny cartoon running backwards at twice normal speed. I mean, stuff is just flying all over, and they’re saying “Don’t abandon yourself to amazent. Don’t just go ga-ga with disbelief. Try and focus on what we’re doing.” And then, if you are able, you can moderately to focus on what they’re doing. What they’re doing is they’re offering you these objects, and they’re saying “Look at this! Look at this!” As is it is passed you before you, as you look into it you have a very strong, and I believe, genuine, impression that this thing that you’re being shown, though it’s no larger than a kaiser roll is somehow absolutely confounding to the principles and assumptions of this world. That, in other words, if I could condense this thing into my hand right now I wouldn’t have to convince you, I wouldn’t have to preach to you, I could just show you. Hey, look at this! And in the visual confrontation with this thing it’s self-evident that this is impossible. Matter like, th-, they don’t behave this way. It’s as though you’ve brought back a chunk of another dimension. And, and then what they’re saying about these things is, uh, “You can do this. Do what we are doing”, and then the urgency becomes almost strident, they say, “Do what we’re doing! Do it now!” And you say, “Wha-, ho-?”, and, and then you feel, or I felt, at any rate, an upwelling in myself, like a calling forth. Then out of my mouth comes language, or at least, syntax, but without meaning. Some kind of glossolalia where the modality of language is preserved, but the meaning is not. It’s a kind of an ecstasy, it’s sounds gibberish in three-dimensional space, but in that space it seems to be the key to u-u-unlocking a world made out of syntax and meaning. And I, you know, I come before you with all of this stuff unfinished. This is not a teaching or a system or an anything; it’s an eyewitness account of a hyperdimensional automobile accident or something. We’re not saying what the conclusions are; we don’t know what the conclusions are, but this is big news. And when I first encountered this kind of stuff I was, uh, I was a-a young art historian at the University of California, and I assumed that any motif, no matter how [french phrase?], or bizarre you would be able to look at the painting, folklore and sculpture of somebody on this planet and find, uh, uh, a trace. And it didn’t, it seemed as though this defeated that idea. It was almost counter the idea of the collective unconscious, because it argued that you, Joe Anybody, Sally Somebody, can break through on your own, an ordinary person, to a place that Verrocchio never saw, Michelangelo didn’t anticipate it, Yates didn’t know, Blake hadn’t a clue, Melville wasn’t briefed, and yet there it is, you know. And this is, uh, a-a-, to me, as an intellectual, was very confusing, because, I think, as intellectuals we always assume that progress will be built on the b-, on the shoulders of the giants that have preceded us. The idea of something actually one hundred percent brand new and unexpected is pretty daunting, and, and here, here it was, thirty seconds away, uh, uhh, simply by the act of ingesting this natural neurotransmitter. Well, those of you who’ve been there know exactly what I’m talking about, those of you who haven’t been there I can’t imagine how you can even sit through this kind of thing [laughter], because, you know, it makes the folks from the Pleiades and all that other stuff out there seem mundane by comparison. The other thing is, we’re not talking about camping out in cornfields night after freezing with your eyes glued to the stars in one hope. This is a no-fail method for plunging deeper into these spiritual, uh, realms than the tantric yogas or the practitioners of x, y, or z dare scarcely suppose. It’s repeatable, it’s on demand, it does not depend upon the state of your moral purity or, uh, uh, you know, tantric accomplishment. It’s something that is our birthright, as much as our sexuality, our language, our eyesight, our appreciation of music. It’s, uh, an innate human thing. And a-, you know, to try and return to the premises of your question; I tried to formulate theories about what could this be. Well, the first impression that I had based on a reading of how weird this all was, was this must be a parallel a continuum á la Philip K. Dick and like that. That just apparently over some kind of neurological energy-barrier that’s all around us all the time, these things are there. And they are not made of matter, so the laws of physics don’t apply. And, hmm, you know, like that. And then, and then I entertained different possibilities, o-, and I still entertain numerous possibilities because I haven’t got it figured out yet. One possibility is that these are things are actually human beings from the future. I mean if you take the content of the experience seriously and say, “I am apparently in contact with diminutive English-speaking creatures of some sort,” well then, they have got to be either intelligent beings from another part of the universe or humans from, uh, some extraordinarily advanced future world where human beings are now made of language and are only two and a half feet, so I would put it rather far in the future. Or, and I just simply offer this in the spirit of, uh, of, intellectual completeness, uh. If you ask a shaman, or a sh-, or, uh, what these things are, they don’t hesitate, they just say, “Oh, well, those are the ancestor-spirits”, uh, this is what it’s all about is ancestor-spirits. Well, it takes a while for the implications of this to sink in. They’re talking about dead people, that’s what an ancestor-spirit is. They’re suggesting that the dearly departed do not evanesce into sunlight or something cheerfully nonspecific like that, but that this actually is, uh, simply one level of, a cosmic system of some sort where birth and death are transitions from level to level. Well, this is just exactly the kind of thing that I’m intellectually set up to doubt, and to feel a kind of scorn for. 50:48