Monday, November 9, 2009

A Trip, Some Conclusions

Psychedelic mushrooms heighten whatever my natural reaction would be to a given scenario. So if a certain conversation makes me uncomfortable, that same conversation would make me really uncomfortable while on mushrooms; or if something is beautiful to look at normally, it would be strikingly beautiful on mushrooms. One other effect mushrooms have on me is that they allow me to see more clearly the causal (or fractal) nature of the world and my mind-- I am able to see more clearly the causes of my thoughts, the consequences of my words, the effects of stimuli, and the natural emergence of life.

I posted this quote from Ernst Casserer, two posts ago:
"Physical reality seems to recede in proportion as man's symbolic activity advances. Instead of dealing with the things themselves, man is in a sense conversing with himself. He has so engulfed himself in linguistic forms, in artistic images, in mythic symbols or religious rites that he cannot see or know anything without the interposition of an artificial medium"

David Abrams in The Spell of the Sensuous says that the big leap in man's symbolic activity occurred when man invented alphabetic language. Before the existence of alphabetic language, man would say a word and it would have a direct relation to the physical thing:
Word ---> Physical thing
After the invention of alphabetic language there was an artificial intermediary, the alphabetic word:
Word ---> The alphabetic word ---> Physical thing
At first this seems like a trivial difference, until you realize the profound consequences it has. Suddenly, the mind can stop short of the physical thing, and operate in a completely human realm -- it no longer needs the physical landscape from which all language sprang. Thus, "man is in a sense conversing with himself"

It is important at this point to note that the argument above isn't stating that once symbolic activity is invented, physical reality immediately disappears- but rather there is a proportional shift; as our use of symbols advances, physical reality recedes. The invention of alphabetic language is just one of the most notable historical occurrences of the advancement of symbolic activity.

When I recently took mushrooms, I noticed a causal (fractal) link between symbolic activities and deep feelings within me of stress and discomfort. When my mind strayed to things like advertisements, office jobs, fashion, pop-culture, or comedy bits, I would find myself in a deeply uncomfortable mindset; which, as I said previously, is just a heightened version of my normal reaction to these things. On our trip we walked to the lake; The walk there, along Belmont, was intense & stressful- but as soon as we arrived at the lake the stress and discomfort fell away from me. I was suddenly overcome with feelings of deep pleasure, comfort and belonging-- again, a heightened version of my normal reaction. While at the lake, my mind wasn't cluttered by any symbols and so I was able to clearly experience the moon appearing just above the horizon, I was able to smell the fallen leaves, to hear myself breathing, to feel the air on my skin, feel the ground beneath my feet-- i felt as if I was no longer chained by the world of symbols but free to be myself: a physical, sensuous being in a physical world.

At that moment it was abundantly clear to me that symbols have no real existence. When I give them power, they overwhelm me and pull me away from the world where I feel most at home. As such, I have lost all patience for people or institutions who force their symbols and subsequent stress & discomfort into my life. I just can't be a victim to a non-existence force-- so I'm taking the reigns to my life back. I'm going to be more forceful in the acquisition of the things I need to be happy and more discriminating in the activities I involve myself in.

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