If I were an animal among animals, I imagine I’d be a seagull. But alas, I’m not. Instead, I’m the landlocked proprietor of a botched life, hours passing unheeded. What dreams I once had of rising from this wretched state! Of course, it isn’t always wretched. I text with friends and find a book on Tai Chi in the Goodwill bins. I meet the day’s paper-grading quota and go for a run midafternoon. Alan Watts coaches me in the Taoist principle of wu-wei, which he defines as acting without forcing, “in accordance with the flow of nature’s course which is signified by the word Tao, and is best understood from watching the dynamics of water” (Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, p. 2). My reading for class teaches a similar lesson. We act, say the Palanese of Huxley’s Island, “to make the me more conscious of what the not-me is up to” (243). The day ends with a minor life achievement: I prepare a biga so that tomorrow I can bake my first loaf of Italian bread.
Plug in to Experimental Lakes by Peripheral Living.
And while doing so, look up the story of Swiss pharmacologist Peter N. Witt, who, beginning in the late 1940s and continuing throughout his career, researched the effects of drugs on spiders. Witt dosed his test subjects with delicious treats like Benzedrine, marijuana, mescaline, and LSD, and then recorded in turn each drug’s effects on web production. Despite my limited scientific literacy (and by “limited,” I mean “minimal”), I remain fascinated, eyes rapt in experimental observation of insects, birds, dirt, greenery. Aspects of my immediate environment. I sit in my backyard riding the ululations of a siren from a nearby fire engine. I am “growing in a certain direction,” as Alan Watts would say: growing tired of a certain kind of game. No more superior and inferior classification. Just flowings and becomings. “An oak,” he chuckles, “is an acorn’s way of becoming other acorns.” Despite however many hit-points it delivers in damage to my hipster street cred for me to say so, say it I must. I have great admiration for early Randy Newman records. I mean, I get it: who wants to admit to liking a songwriter best known for scoring a bunch of Disney-Pixar films? But I do. Tracks like “Political Science” and “Sail Away” are among the most bitter, damning portraits of this country ever set to music. The dominant ideology captured with its pants down. Then again, I also really dig the Butthole Surfers. Psychedelia comes in many forms, contains many sub-species. Is my presentation of all of this a bit too Pacman-consumerist? Would it bug you, for instance, if I flipped to Angel 1’s Terra Nova, a new tape out on Constellation Tatsu?
This is what my ideal warehouse rave scene would be pumping now, if life wasn’t such shit. In honor of our fallen arachnid comrades “utilized” in the above Dr. Witt’s experiments, I gift unto consciousness Andreas Brandal’s The Work of the Spider.
A sonic neck muscle relaxant. Psychonautics is alright, but I’d much prefer to be an oneironaut, like April Larson. That’s about where I wind up by day’s end. It’s about perceiving the concealed, reasserting control of a voided reality.