Tuesday, November 06, 2012


I am interested in psychoactive substances.  I grew up in Oregon during the '70s, after all. Plus I have some excellent fun awesome brain abnormalities, come to find out,  that left me recently looking for safe ways to cope in the interval between when one SSRI failed and the next one took effect*.  That's why I go visit Erowid.com frequently.  They have the scoop on that stuff.   You should go there too.  They're doing important work there and they deserve every thoughtful persons' support and encouragement.  Now, do I contribute?  HELL NO, I LIVE ON AN INTERNATIONAL BORDER FOR CRAPSAKES.  Kind of nuts: yes. Stupid: no. Black helicopters: bad.

Part of what happens on Erowid.com is the collection of anecdotes relating to recreational psychoactive use. This is important information, and makes for entertaining reading too.  I think it's nothing less than a new folklore genre:  the folklore of trippin' balls.

A lot of the folks on Erowid style themselves 'psychonauts'...By which most of them mean they are not to be mistaken for simple forest turds getting wasted for fun, but something far nobler: intrepid travellers though innerspace exploring different levels of consciousness for the good of all mankind. Which is charming in a 'lets go to Burning Man and get sand in our asscracks' kind of way.  You want to say 'Get over yourself, kid.  We all do drugs for fun and that's perfectly ok.' That leaves a small but significant percentage that really do believe that 'venture inward and learn cosmic truths' psychonaut stuff. 

The ability to perceive consciousness is chemical. You screw around with those chemicals, you'll experience a lot of shit that has nothing whatsoever to do with places in the conscious mind and everything to do with clogging the pool filter of your brain with used condoms. What you tend to experience using psychoactive substances, particularly in massive dosage, is 'malfunction'. Malfunction has nothing to teach you, even if you experience things during that interval as profound truths. They aren't. They're artifacts of temporary (you hope) brain damage.  And then there's this: just because you've had what you perceive as an extranormal revelatory experience doesn't mean that what was 'revealed' wasn't bullshit.

I saw a lot of people from the generation right before mine get lost on the way to enlightenment in the exact same way. All those 'LSD ascended masters' are still out there; cleverly disguised as unwashed vegetarians living in Volvos out in the parking lot behind the Food Bank.  Truth doesn't come solely from WITHIN.  It comes from the correctly perceived experience of efficient interaction with the world outside yourself. 

I'll let you in on the one true and useful thing I've learned from having this past year cave in on my like a fucking mining disaster: The chief difference between what you experience as meaning or nothingness is only a matter of the kind of chemicals that happen to be sloshing around in your head at any given moment.

There ya go.  You see what you can learn here at Paul?

I wish like hell I'd realized this years ago.  Of course nobody was talking about this stuff years ago and certainly not in mainstream America, where Jesus is in charge of that shit and your relative sanity is a moral issue, determined by the quality of  your relationship with the Lord.  Sanity, as it turns out,  doesn't spring from faith in God, it cannot be obtained by force of will or right thinking or good health or even happiness.

 I've just been on a grand tour of the malfunctioning human mind, and lemme tell you,  I have a whole new perspective on what it means to be temporarily somewhat almost insane, and judged for it.  I also got several bold lessons on how little chemical imbalance it takes to turn normal into a nightmare, and vice-versa.  The merest hint of a biochemical alteration...just .05mg of medication, made the difference between five nightmare months filled with obsessive thoughts and suicidal depression, and normal function. 

As far as exploring consciousness goes, I've come away from all this with some some terrible, amazing insights as a matter of fact.  Not because I paid 2000.00 to spend two days in a self-imposed state of schizophrenia barfing my guts out in some Vancouver loft so I could tell everyone back at the frat house that I communed with the Ayahuasca Mother, but because I was drug through hell by my eyeballs, and realizing those things came as a result of having had to claw my way toward some kind of sanity. It sucked, too. 

Each time I've gone though this it's been a result of overwhelming stress and a subsequent failure of my SSRI medication. Every time, I've come out of it with everything that was stressing me mysteriously dealt with, which means that on some level I kept on dealing despite the crawling horror ooging around in my head. 
Now here's what I wonder: what's at work there?  What keeps the story going?


*Not to mention those spaces in between insurance deductible periods.  Those are a laugh riot.

**A good part of what's happened this year came as a result of having been overdosed on ADHD drugs.  I've got to say, if you have to overdose (amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate), it's best to be overdosed by the medical community. You just cannot beat the quality.


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