Sunday October 1, 2017

Big discovery today: Richard M. Doyle’s Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noosphere. Doyle also blogs at mobiused and wrote an “Afterword” to Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis. Dick’s exploration of Gnostic beliefs and teachings in the Valis trilogy proved to be of great importance to me in the months following my initial encounters with psychedelics, so I’m excited to see what kind of sense Doyle makes of these themes.

Lana Cook at MIT is another scholar to watch. She recently completed a dissertation at Northeastern titled “Altered States: The American Psychedelic Aesthetic.” Along with studying more canonical texts in the psychedelic tradition, like Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, Cook’s project also sheds light on works by early female psychonauts. Adelle Davis, for instance, writing under the pseudonym Jane Dunlap, published a book on LSD in the early 1960s called Exploring Inner Space. That’s about as far as I advance with my research when the dog enters my office begging for food. “No! No food! Stop with the begging!” I tell her. She lies on her stomach and stares up at me, breathing heavily, continuing to whine — at which point I promptly cave to her demand, and then hustle across the street, where my neighbors are screening Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on a sheet in their backyard. Walking beneath trees amidst shadows and streetlights. A videogame offers me work as a courier. Kids play with green, pink, and blue glow-stick bracelets and say, “Wow, trippy, man.” They make such a satisfying “pop,” those glow-sticks. And with floor speakers and a stereo amplifier, it’s quite a set-up, here inside the neural net of a catch-22 fungus from outer space. The activity feels vaguely utopian: a weird sovereign fleet, neighbor-stranger gathering, each of us remotely piloted. Are the characters we play in videogames posthumans? Is my marijuana-enhanced self an empath? The jerk who doesn’t trust anyone is a show that, for fear of bad ratings, never gets made. Young People’s Socialist League versus the planet-devouring Boomer Ego.

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