Awesome! I’ve been waiting for this since he hinted it was coming in his last post (also brilliant). What a brilliant and brave mind! Why do so few who experience these amazing states of consciousness ever discuss them so openly as this? Could our cultural hysteria and puritanism have anything to do with it?
What do you want to bet his next fundamentalist nutball debate opponent makes an issue of this to try and discredit him since they can’t touch his arguments logically? And what do you want to bet it won’t, at least with some of his idiot listeners, work as intended?
Even Harris’s footnotes are fun. Here’s the one elaborating on his advice toward pot smoking:
What is moderation? Let’s just say that I’ve never met a person who smokes marijuana every day who I thought wouldn’t benefit from smoking less (and I’ve never met someone who has never tried it who I thought wouldn’t benefit from smoking more).
As I discussed in The End of Faith, I view most psychedelic experiences as potentially misleading. Psychedelics do not guarantee wisdom. They merely guarantee more content. And visionary experiences, considered in their totality, appear to me to be ethically neutral. Therefore, it seems that psychedelic ecstasy must be steered toward our personal and collective well-being by some other principle. As Daniel Pinchbeck pointed out in his highly entertaining book, Breaking Open the Head, the fact that both the Mayans and the Aztecs used psychedelics, while being enthusiastic practitioners of human sacrifice, makes any idealistic link between plant-based shamanism and an enlightened society seem terribly naive.
What a clear and profound statement of truth the whole post is. Brought back some frightening memories.
The concept of Larger Mind has always scared the crap out of me, deeply, because that has always been the experience I’ve had with psychedelics. The feeling that something Terribly Important is going on just beyond perception —
The fabric has made us, and shapes us, and we whirl through space with our wide eyes, and sometimes the experience is too painful, and sometimes too perfect. WTF.
Yesterday I was pondering the Gacy post again — I had not really intended to let the story breathe again, but Michelle made me do it. And I read the wiki detail, and experienced the awfulness of it all over.
But this time, I had a vision. And the vision was of Gacy underneath his house, digging quietly in the night by flashlight, burying his seventh victim next to the sixth in an orderly row, and then emerging to shower, and then sleeping and eating and living over them until the next, when the shovel and flashlight would emerge again after bloody screaming horrors the psychedelic-enhanced Mayans would have found interesting.
The look on his face as he dug, down there in the dark — so quintessentially primitive, so awfully fucked up, and for a moment I could see it, and it struck me. Bleah.
He had a blood clot in his brain, from a swing. Undiagnosed for four years. No one noticed anything until he started having blackouts at sixteen. His Larger Mind became a pinpoint, a black hole that sucked in thirty three lives without apparently flinching.
That brain. That powerful instrument of Reality Carving, the Decision Machine — the sifter, the constrictor, the suffering orgasmatron, looking for a ledge in the endless starry fall.
Of course dear friends, the Bellamy family name is hewn from Norman French stock (it means ‘lovely friend’), while Mc/Mac/Kinnon’s are of Celtic/Scots extract… as are MacDuff, McDuffy & etc. of my own line (as well as Murray, Pierce, and (tres Anglaisw) English Howard, etc.)…
We of the Isles bred, don’t call the French ‘Frogs’ for nothing… they like to eat FROGS!… not to mention SNAILS! (escargot)…
But, since 1066, when the Normans (‘sort of’ French speaking Vikings) conquered England, we’ve been hopelessly entertwined…
We love to speak of America as (in principle if not in fact) a ‘melting pot’, but long before the United States, the Island of Britain has endured, and indeed been ENHANCED by many waves of immigration and acculturation!
The Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxon-Jutes, Vikings, and Norse French (‘Normans’)… they ALL twisted and changed our shared heritage into the goofy shape we have today… and our surnames (ignoring Mommy’s origins BTW) betray a strange ‘witches brew’ of Northern European humanity!
Most scholars think that the builders of Stonehenge and Brittany’s (that names’s a dead giveaway) ‘Carnac’ stones were late paleolithic people of ‘Aurignacian’ heritage…
The ‘Celtic’ people were a much later invasion… a fact that many Irish people fail to recognise.
The fact is that we’re all mixed together in a modern and moderately tasty stew! We enjoy (and SHOULD!) our little perceived rivalries and cultural differences… but our essential SAMENESS is very clear. But our differences are in reality SO slight, and SO intermixed as to make it downright SILLY to ascribe characteristics as ‘French’, ‘English’, ‘Scots’ and ‘Irish’ to each other…
Only our family myths create the difference! byronius (a ‘Belle Ami’) may have MORE ‘English’ blood than I (a ‘Howard’ (meaning castle [‘howe’] guard [‘ward’]), and a Mac (‘son of’) Kinnon may (and I suspect does have French blood… !!!
So even as I know the barbs are intended in FUN and (more or less) gentle ribbing, my simple point is that our blood is SO mixed up as to be hard to distinguish!
It might be quite entertaining indeed to take our respective DNA patterns to see where we ALL came from! I suspect there would be a few SURPRISES! (who the hell was in the woodshed???)… I’m especially surprised to see the remnants of the BASQUES (of ALL people) show up ALL OVER the countryside of Great Britain!
But don’t let me stop the ‘frog’/’pict’ jokes… even if they’re ALL completely MISPLACED!
As to Cat-eyes’ original comment and reference article (before I so rudely interrupted… ‘-})
Harris is essentially correct of course… we ‘alter our consciousness’ with almost every thing we do!
My response is (forgive me) so what?
Usually, we just wish to release more endorphins into our brains… we call it ‘pleasure’. Likewise, we wish to avoid ‘icky’ things like ‘pain’.
Why do we ‘like’ art, or music, or sex for that matter?
I’m not (I hope) being facetious! It’s of COURSE not as simple as an ON/OFF switch! But it IS the accumulation of a thousand, a MILLION little on/off switches!
Once again, we’re talking about COMPLEXITY. When you get enough ‘stuff’ going on a once, SOMETHING NEW just might happen!
It’s not about mind-altering drugs anymore!
In this light, LIFE is inevitable, it’s just gonna HAPPEN… I think of it as a sort of ‘rust’ or ‘algae’ on various planets… fairly humbling to be just ‘rust’, yes?
But given organic chemistry, snd given THAT (a big step I admit), awareness (ie: complexity) ‘eventually’ must occur… (it’s taken this planet 4.567 Billion years), we are in a sense looking right back at OURSELVES, trying to figure it OUT! ;-}
… Which raises the even grander question…
(wait for it)…
Why is there ANYTHING?
Current cosmology wobbles rather badly on this… the ‘anthropic principle’ is circular: We are here because the Universe is ‘designed’ for us to be here!… which requires a…. This kind of thinking can only lead to Eternal ‘navel gazing’.
There is a ‘multi-verse’… taking the ‘many-worlds’ hypothesis to its logical (if you say so) conclusion: Everything that COULD be IS, just not in your particular ‘bubble’…
I guess there’s no harm in wondering about such things, but the blunt mathematical TRUTH is that we CANNOT EVER KNOW… by definition we are on the INSIDE of the system and we can NEVER see OUTSIDE!
Kurt Gödel, (a much, MUCH smarter bloke than I) PROVED it in 1933 with his Theorem of ‘Undecidibility’.
Bottom line? We CAN NEVER KNOW! We’re stuck in the ‘maze’ if you will… where contentment might be just a tiny piece of CHEESE…
Whoever, whatever or NOever is WATCHING the ‘experiment’ we call ‘The Universe’ will ALWAYS have the last giggle. Because BY DEFINITION, we are NOT ALLOWED to EVER KNOW!
NOW do you see why I said the question leads nowhere?
Our French pals enjoy frog legs (the other OTHER white meat ;-}) and escargot…
But I can’t resist a further comment on the so-called ‘cuisine’ of the British Isles…
Let’s face it, England is famous for its lousy food! ‘Fish and Chips’ (‘pommes frites’) are fine for a week or so I suppose (with malt vinegar), but ‘kidney pie’ (actually beans)? Spare us! To be fair, the Brits have begun to reform themselves over the last few decades and today you can find pretty much the same fare as you find in most American cities… but watch out for some of those curries! (courtesy of the British-Indian ‘Raj’) ;-}
Scotland’s food was unspeakable! (I would even say ‘uneatable’… but if you get hungry enough…) ‘haggis’… really? REALLY?
When we think of Irish ‘cuisine’, we think of corned beef and cabbage and potatoes (which I rather LIKE btw ;-})… But actually rather luxurious fare for your average Irishman or woman until very recent times!
All told, the culinary history of the British Isles has been a pretty drab story… While just across the channel, our ‘frères de la France’ were creating subtle concoctions et la ‘Cordon Bleu’ (Blue Ribbon) masterpieces… go figure.
True to my own heritage however, I still enjoy mostly quite simple fare… a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of guy…
My vegan friends will blanch and turn away… but until you’ve devoured a really good New York (thin crust of COURSE) brick-oven pepperoni pizza or a really good Kosher deli pastrami sandwich…