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Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men.
September 13, 2002 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. Carl Sagan commenting (circa 1971) on an experience he had while high on Cannabis over at Marijuana-Users.com. One of the only efforts (along with Cannabis Consumers) to get people to "come out" and help remove inaccurate stereotypes from the mind of the public.
posted by botono9 (64 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Welcome, post 20,000!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:32 PM on September 13, 2002


Now I don't know what to believe.
posted by crunchburger at 9:39 PM on September 13, 2002


Miguel, you are so high.

No, I mean, this post is so high.
posted by sj at 9:46 PM on September 13, 2002


"Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. "

So Carl needed weed to see this? Some genius he was.

No matter how good you think drugs are, reality is much better and much, much stranger. Drugs are for the terminally normal and chronically uncreative.


Dear God, did 20000 have to be this one?!
posted by evanizer at 9:47 PM on September 13, 2002


take the hint, MeFi, let's roll
posted by xowie at 9:52 PM on September 13, 2002


MetaFilter: Twenty thousand served!
posted by riffola at 9:56 PM on September 13, 2002


"You want fries with that?"
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:59 PM on September 13, 2002


"With a derail to go?"
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:05 PM on September 13, 2002


"You want fries with that?"

Yes please, with a soda. I mean, a cola. No, I mean a Coke. No, wait, I want some pop instead.
posted by debralee at 10:17 PM on September 13, 2002


I want my MeFi Biggie-Sized.

Seems I have the munchies all of a sudden.
posted by mikhail at 10:31 PM on September 13, 2002


On topic : A Canadian parliamentary committee recommended legalization and taxation of marijuana this week.

(In related news, Immigration Canada reports a massive increase in applications for Canadian residency.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:32 PM on September 13, 2002


Finally, after years of waiting, science has provided mankind with a plausible explanation for the end of Contact. He was stoned when he wrote it!

Mr. Garrison: <vomits> Boy I had to see the entire movie to see the alien and it was her goddamned father!
posted by Danelope at 10:32 PM on September 13, 2002


Umm, Like, Danelope, dude... did you just post the exact same comment in another thread or am I like totally having a flashback... Tell me it was you...

I didn't develop my curmudgeonly attitude about drugs from watching other people take them, you know...
posted by evanizer at 10:36 PM on September 13, 2002


Evan: Yeah. Wrong thread, see? Too many windows, too many tabs.
posted by Danelope at 10:37 PM on September 13, 2002


No matter how good you think drugs are, reality is much better and much, much stranger.

What utter nonsense. As if "drug-perceived reality" and "non-drug perceived reality" are two easily separated things. As if the distinction between medicinal and psychoactive plants has *ever* been clear.

Drugs are for the terminally normal and chronically uncreative.

Bigot.

Sugar is a drug. Caffeine is a drug. Alcohol is a drug. Hate to break it to you, evanizer, but "drugs" are a normal and natural part of human psychological and spiritual life. It's just a matter of doing research before you consume and being safe. Friends help.
posted by mediareport at 10:49 PM on September 13, 2002


Oh, and botono9: Please post more. :)
posted by mediareport at 10:50 PM on September 13, 2002


Drugs are for the terminally normal and chronically uncreative.
Wow. Where do I start.
posted by rotifer at 11:16 PM on September 13, 2002


evanizer --

You are absolutely right -- reality is the best thing going. And you know what? Drugs are *real.* When you take them things really happen to you. And you might think you know strange, but if you haven't peeked in on what DMT does to a homo sapien you prolly only know a quarter of the story. Honest.
posted by n9 at 11:18 PM on September 13, 2002


Sugar is a drug. Caffeine is a drug. Alcohol is a drug

"Who's the towhead? Those drugs are legal!"

Seriously, though, as a concerned liberal, determined to end the exploitation of third-world peoples, I don't see how you can conscience using illegal drugs unless they're homegrown. Do you know how much blood is soaked into that bag of Colombian weed or kilo of snow in your purse? Do you know how many enslaved, tortured workers it took to harvest and process that stuff? Or doesn't it matter, as long as you're happy? Either grow yer own, quit, or never condemn anyone for hypocrisy and oppression ever again.

Or, not.

Feh. Blunt yourself into a stupor, what do I care? But don't tell me it's some sort of divine transcendence. I went through all that when I was about 17.
posted by evanizer at 11:36 PM on September 13, 2002


Not all drugs come from terrorists. Not all mefites are trolls. This may come as a surprise to some here.
posted by fatbobsmith at 11:46 PM on September 13, 2002


I've been pleasantly surprised by recent surveys I've seen where a majority of people (conservatives and liberals alike) seem to be in favour of reducing the criminality of pot. I've come to the conclusion that the only people who still think that marijuana should be illegal, when alcohol and tobacco are legal, are people who are, willfully or not, ignorant. Whether you use it or not, you'd have to ignore a whole lot of evidence to think that marijuana is in any way a more "serious" drug than alcohol or tobacco (and thereby deserving of an illegal status), and it's pretty clear that many people are capable of using it responsibly (society certainly hasn't collapsed yet, even with all those potheads out there, and compare the number of violent incidents (including car accidents) involving pot to those involving alcohol). I'm glad that there are people out there trying to remove marijuana stereotypes, and I think it's gradually starting to have an effect. Thanks for the links botono9, good post.

evanizer: everybody is different. What floats one person's boat is not necessarily what floats another's. Just because your own pot experiences weren't transcendent doesn't mean that other people's aren't. And as for how much blood is in a given bag of weed, please, even if I bought that argument (which I don't) the blame for that doesn't belong on pot smokers, it belongs on the idiotic War on Drugs. There's a huge number of people out there who'd be only too happy to buy their weed from Uncle Sam and pay taxes on it.
posted by biscotti at 11:50 PM on September 13, 2002


evanizer: Seriously, though, as a concerned liberal... blah blah frickin blah nonsense... oppression ever again

Feckin' hell, Cranky, why don't you roll that straw man up and smoke it? Is the tinfoil beanie misaligned- you seem to be getting a mishmash of different signals from your Knee Jerk Overlords... As for your always too- hip- already- been- there- permanently- jaded cynicism schtick, I think the problem is that drugs like DMT act on the higher planes of consciousness. Hence your disappointment during your own experimentation.
posted by hincandenza at 11:57 PM on September 13, 2002


Buying drugs from South America helps support our brave freedom fighters down there. Or the terrorists. Or someone. I forgot.

You want real? High-dose intravenous 5-Meo DMT. Seriously. As real as it gets.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 12:10 AM on September 14, 2002


I wouldn't just blame the war on drugs in the US for the violence associated with the production and trafficking of drugs. There are plenty of other nations with similar policies. It's good so many here seem to have had pleasant, enjoyable experiences with drugs. I, however, have personally witnessed nearly every member of my family and many friends wrenched apart by addiction, as well as a very close friend whose family has been terrorized and murdered by the FARC in Colombia, so please forgive me if I can't take the subject lightly. I don't like the "free and easy" attitude taken about drugs, alcohol or anything else. It's a grave responsibility you're taking on, both for yourself and others around you who may have to suffer the repercussions of your actions. Choosing to take any drugs requires weighing the pros with the cons: will I be able to function at work? How is this affecting my physical/mental health? Will I be able to drive a motor vehicle? Will taking this affect how I relate to my family? Will I drink this, then walk down the street singing bawdy songs at the top of my lungs while other people are trying to sleep? Am I certain I can maintain a recreational use of this substance? For drugs like caffeine, the risks are low, for other substances, they are much higher, thus the responsibility of the user is greater.

And anyways, fucking is better than drugs, which is why it's more expensive and more dangerous.

And on preview: hincandenza, some people need an elevator to get to those higher planes of consciousness. And some of us already live up here. I shall enjoy watching you try to claw your way up here, and laugh like a parlour full of 18th century courtesans as you dribble back down to the foetid earth again. I don't know what any of that means, but the Knee Jerk Overlords told me to say it. They also told me to call you a miserable, nasty pissant, but even I know when to resist their evil advances.
posted by evanizer at 12:22 AM on September 14, 2002


The horses sure are high around here....

Just because you feel as though the "responsibility" is one you aren't comfortable taking on, and your family is beleaguered by addiction, does not mean that everyone is a stark-raving "reefer" loony. I feel for you, but my family has addictions too, and I still feel comfortable with cracking a cold one.

For the third world-first world argument: drugs will exist whether we personally choose to buy them or not. People will take them no matter how much you pontificate about how damaging it is to the third world. So legalize them, tax them. Spend the money on rehabilitation programs, less horrid foreign drug policy, take crime out of the equation. Take the drugs from FARC, from warlords in Afghanistan, from Nigerian runners, and legalize the whole damned thing and use the money to revitalize the sections of society ravaged from the "war on drugs." Too simplistic an argument here, but since there will never be an eradication of drugs, we must learn how to live with them. I think legalization is one of the only ways to do so.

Oh, and I, for one, would like to be the first to welcome our Knee Jerk Overlords.
posted by readymade at 12:54 AM on September 14, 2002


I hope that time isn't too distant; the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.

Well said.
posted by rosmo at 1:45 AM on September 14, 2002


Drugs are for the terminally normal and chronically uncreative.

Only people who are about to die from being normal and who have lacked creativity for a long period of time use drugs? I never knew these things.
posted by Summer at 2:53 AM on September 14, 2002


fucking is better than drugs, which is why it's more expensive

I thought fucking was free? Anyway, i've never heard of this DMT doohickey. Who can get me some for cheaper than a fuck?
posted by robself at 2:59 AM on September 14, 2002


Only people who are about to die from being normal and who have lacked creativity for a long period of time use drugs? I never knew these things.

Visit an art school. Terminal normality and chronic uncreativity are epidemic, and almost always precede descent into drugs. which furthers the cycle.

Gosh, I was being hyperbolic, like I usually am. Why am I suddenly being taken so seriously?
posted by evanizer at 3:04 AM on September 14, 2002


"Feh" is an obnoxious term that I bet, just bet, is only utilized by non-cannabis users. What a dried up, old crotchety term. Feh. I feel like I'm coughing up flecks of plaque when I imagine how that word must sound in real life.

Evan, you are such a tiresome troll. I hope you get kicked someday. Every arrogant post, day in day out that you make is nothing but hatred.

The wacky tabbaccy is an interesting illegality in these United States. I think it's illegal because it does induce a fantastic introspection that the ale simply does not do. I firmly believe a state with lax (or no) laws on the grass is a state that would kick the fucking frauds out of office because we'd be so goddamned introspective and involved they wouldn't know what the fuck to do with us. The idiot suits would be so barraged with satire and sarcasm so quick and on such a grand scale. . .

Shit, it makes my own head spin.
posted by crasspastor at 3:30 AM on September 14, 2002


"I then paused and thought how extraordinary it was that Sigmund Freud, with no assistance from drugs, had been able to achieve his own remarkable self-analysis. But then it hit me like a thunderclap that this was wrong, that Freud had spent the decade before his self-analysis as an experimenter with and a proselytizer for cocaine; and it seemed to me very apparent that the genuine psychological insights that Freud brought to the world were at least in part derived from his drug experience. I have no idea whether this is in fact true, or whether the historians of Freud would agree with this interpretation, or even if such an idea has been published in the past, but it is an interesting hypothesis and one which passes first scrutiny in the world of the downs. "
- Way to state the obvious......dude.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:49 AM on September 14, 2002


Some info on DMT.
posted by skoosh at 4:42 AM on September 14, 2002


Why am I suddenly being taken so seriously?

Don't worry; I'm not taking you seriously.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:44 AM on September 14, 2002


santa cruz is going to be giving it away next week!
DEA spokesman Richard Meyer was surprised at the plan.

"Are you serious? That's illegal. It's like they're flouting federal law," he said. "I'm shocked that city leaders would promote the use of marijuana that way. What is that saying to our youth?"
dissent is alive, keke :)
posted by kliuless at 5:05 AM on September 14, 2002


There is one thing that really puzzles me....why is legal for a man to ingest a drug to improve his sexual potency...ie viagra...and I am prohibited the only drug that I know of that enhances mine...ie marijuana? (Wouldn't you classify viagra as a recreational drug?) Even the smallest amount of pot increases the likely hood of achieving and also increases the level of intensity of orgasm for me 10 fold. I have spoken to many females who have had the same experience... My wish is that someone in the medical field would do a study of this..
posted by SweetIceT at 6:24 AM on September 14, 2002


fucking is better than drugs

I don't take drugs anymore, other than the legal ones, but I've got to say : fucking is for monkeys. I've never really understood why people are so obsessed by it. I mean it's nice and all, even transcendant sometimes, but there are so many better things to do with your time...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:29 AM on September 14, 2002


I hope you get kicked someday - crasspastor.

Not funny, ironic or apt. Merely ignorant. Whatever point you were making just got lost.... go roll a proper spliff, that last one didn't work.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:00 AM on September 14, 2002


Why am I suddenly being taken so seriously?

Gosh, could it have anything to do with posting about having a family wrenched apart by addiction? If you're going to claim to be joking while posting uninformed nonsense, at least take time to get your story straight.

The legal/illegal distinction is based on moronic and arbitrary decisions by racists like Harry Anslinger and is thus completely irrelevant to the discussion about whether drugs are only for the "chronically uncreative." But since you seem to care and we're all up on such a high plane together, here's a rep from the American Medical Association testifying to Congress in 1937 about Anslinger's proposed ban on pot, which the AMA considered a useful medicine:

We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman, why this bill should have been prepared in secret for two years without any intimation, even to the profession, that it was being prepared.

As to the heights of spiritual and intellectual development you've reached without the use of drugs, well, I'm not sure anyone reading this thread would single your posts out as particularly advanced on either front.

I didn't develop my curmudgeonly attitude about drugs from watching other people take them, you know...

Really? Do tell. Which drugs have you tried in the past, evanizer, and what were the experiences like?
posted by mediareport at 7:12 AM on September 14, 2002


personally witnessed nearly every member of my family and many friends wrenched apart by addiction

Sorry for your troubles but they're utterly unconvincing as the basis for a dictate on What Other People Should or Should Not Do.

Addiction is bad. We can agree on that. But recreational marijuana use is not addiction. Shall we ban anything to which people may become addicted? There wouldn't be anything left, right down to food and sex and sleep.

Let us for example compare the effects of pot versus those of America's favorite legal buzz, alcohol. A drunk is likely to become angry, even violent, whereas a pothead is only a danger to the family-size bag of Fritos in the kitchen. While drunks are out getting into bar fights, potheads are sitting on their couches giggling at Beavis and Butthead. When a drunk overdoes it, he throws up or in extreme cases blacks out. Potheads on the other hand just about never puke, and I've never heard of a pot blackout, although if you're going to smoke copious amount of weed it's best to eat something first to prevent falling out on the floor in a faint and killing everyone else's buzz. When a drunk wakes up the next day, he's in a world of hurt. When a pothead wakes up the next day, at most he's got a level of fuzzy-stupid equivalent to that which he'd've had if he'd taken a sleep aid before bed. Ban those too though, they're potentially-addictive as well.

Your mileage may vary, but I've known many pot smokers and I've known many drinkers, and there's not even a question which group I prefer to have around.

You can't say the American war on drugs has been entirely without success---it's done spectacularly well at convincing some people that an illegal substance is automagically more dangerous than a legal one. In the case of pot, that idea is nothing more than propaganda. Period.

Oh, and as for the blood running in the streets of Colombia, etc. etc.: sure I can blame the war on drugs for that. If every American were allowed a pot plant or two in the back yard, then there'd be no need for a global trade. If pot were a legal business, the legal system would be the standard option for dispute resolution, rather than violence. Do you really think there's no connection between the fact that the stuff is illegal and the fact that people get killed over it? "enslaved, tortured"---scary words for sure, conveniently making no mention of the fact that when your trade is an illegal one, your business methods will of necessity be too.

botono9, thanks for the link, I was just the other day telling a straight-and-narrow friend of mine that Carl Sagan was a proud pothead; his incredulity made it apparent that I'd have to come up with some references and now you've done it for me.
posted by Sapphireblue at 7:28 AM on September 14, 2002


The Netherlands, Canada, Santa Cruz, Brixton: catching up is only a question of time, right....?
posted by dash_slot- at 7:36 AM on September 14, 2002


No matter how good you think drugs are, reality is much better and much, much stranger. Drugs are for the terminally normal and chronically uncreative.

It's not as if people who have drugs then have no access to sobriety, if that's what you mean by "reality". You can have both. yay.

I thought that was a really cool essay, actually. He described specific experiences that weren't generally available to him, but that he was able to retain while sober. I came to a similar understanding of music while high; in my normal consciousness I hadn't been able to separate the different instruments, the different layers of music. Similarly, certain things I've understood while tripping on mushrooms, mostly personal / philosophical sort of things, have stayed with me. I actually think I'm more patient and more empathetic due to mushrooms.

Anyway, it's not a hierarchy of consciousness - you don't live on a higher plane. Drugs allow people to alter the way their mind usually works. Different minds have benefits and downsides - AR Luria wrote about mnemonist, a man who could remember detailed lists that were read to him 15 years previously - and showed that while he had this amazing ability, he was virtually unable to really think about things, because his mind was crowded with all these intense sensory experiences of every word, which is what made it possible for him to remember things so clearly. That's the benefit of drugs though; you can experience a different state of mind temporarily, so that you can appreciate it's good sides and not be impeded by it's limitations.
posted by mdn at 7:55 AM on September 14, 2002


If every American were allowed a pot plant or two in the back yard

You should drive through Chatham County, North Carolina sometime. :) The "Colombian weed" thing was pretty funny; all the folks I know who smoke regularly [I'm not among them, Officer] tend to get their pot in-state. I do think there's an oppression issue in allowing your dollars to support murderous narcotraffickers, though, and I'm not sure continuing to do so while the War on Some Drugs is underway is the moral thing to do. Not that I'm judging anyone, just noting it's a point worth thinking about before buying that next eightball.
posted by mediareport at 8:14 AM on September 14, 2002


Visit an art school. Terminal normality and chronic uncreativity are epidemic, and almost always precede descent into drugs. which furthers the cycle.

These sorts of grand, sweeping generalizations further highlight your ignorance on this topic.

Although, you get mad props for the FWWM quote and link.
posted by brittney at 8:58 AM on September 14, 2002


What's all this south america stuff? Don't you guys get all your weed from us?
posted by timeistight at 9:11 AM on September 14, 2002


Evan, you are such a tiresome troll. I hope you get kicked someday. Every arrogant post, day in day out that you make is nothing but hatred.

Whatever. I've tried my best to state why this issue is an emotional one for me. Frankly, every time I read every arrogant post of yours, I'm reminded how pointless it is to try to have any sort of discussion with you. I might come off as "full of hatred" (the "leftist's" silly, all-purpose insult for "conservatives"), but you come off as simply full of foul gas that seems to have been building up since the end of the Johnson administration. I try to inject a bit of humor or style in my rants and objections, something you seem absolutely incapable of either doing yourself or of appreciating in others. I admit to being salty sometimes, but I'm at least trying to be honest, which is what I thought the point of this place was. It's easy for you to sit there anonymously and lob your tired jabs at me, but I have say that it's getting pretty old. Almost everyone else in this thread who objects with my viewpoint tried to frame their arguments in terms of arguments about the subject, not as insults to me, and for that I give them thanks. The first thing you wish for is my silence by expulsion, a tactic that you must have learned from the "right wing overlords" you so frequently rail against. If I leave this place, it won't be from expulsion, it will be because I'm tired of dealing with the nasty noise of arrogant, anonymous cowards like you. Whatever you think of my viewpoints, I've always tried to act in a responsible and community-minded manner here, having occasionally rows with people, but always trying to remain contrite and admit my faults and bad decisions when I make them. I apologize for any bad decisions I have made regarding my participation in this community, and to anyone I've upset needlessly. I've tried to be honest and forthright, and to do my ranting with a little style. I hope that still counts for something around here, but sadly it seems evermore like an ideological linearity and inflexibility is all that provides salvation from crass personal flames.

Apologies for going off topic, though I'm not really even sure what the topic was to begin with. Oh, that's right, that I'm miserable and small-minded because I don't get toked up. Right.

As I said, if you drink or drug responsibly, it's your own business, albeit one I don't happen to want to be a party to; I'm sorry if it seemed like I was saying everyone should remain sober. If you can indulge your substance intake without negatively impacting my rights to live peacefully, by all means do so. I'm just saying it's a big responsibility like many other personal decisions, and shouldn't be taken lightly. I was also objecting to the high-handedness that seems to so often come up around discussion of drug use, that it's "spiritual, providing glimpses at other holy dimensions". Fine, if that's the case and that's what you need to get there, by all means do so. But don't proselytize, like I'm some poor sinner in need of salvation. It seems that drugs have taken on the role once occupied by god, and many of you sound like preachers lamenting my disbelief in your deity and condemning me to a sterile hell... Again, fine, but don't fault me for not having faith in your godhead, or try to convince me that my disbelief is a moral failing, and I'll try not to fault you for your use of intoxicants. We can agree to disagree.

I've always been a creative person (strange the lengths I go to avoid calling myself an 'artist') , and I've always found drugs and drink to negatively impact my ability to access the spirit of my creation. I too often see them as a crutch, and easy way to achieve something I struggle to maintain and control, and too often substances are used like they're an easy way to salvation. I've always personally believed in the primacy of an unadulterated consciousness, that a clear-headedness is the way to a more hard-won but more lasting kind of exhilaration and communion with eternity (cue Music From The Hearts Of Space). I never really needed substances to dissolve my selfhood, since I never had a very solid selfhood to begin with. If you need them, be my guest. You give me my space, and I'll gladly give you yours (and a light if you need one).
posted by evanizer at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2002


Apologies for going off topic, though I'm not really even sure what the topic was to begin with. Oh, that's right, that I'm miserable and small-minded because I don't get toked up. Right.

Disingenuous dissembling. No, the problem is that you seem to uncritically accept the ruling regime's utterly arbitrary, politically-motivated distinction between licit and illicit drugs as a permanent category established in heaven. A distinction that has put milions of people who have never committed a violent act behind bars for decades. Further, you repeat ad nauseum what you know are disinformative fallacies designed to keep this artificial distinction permanently in place in the minds of citizens.

Nobody cares if you smoke. But insinuating the unholy mantra of Bill Bennett, that pot-smokers are no better than PCP freaks, helps to propagate an idea that is enforced by law and that is responsible for almost incalculable global violence, infinitely more than merely using any drug ever could.
posted by goethean at 10:43 AM on September 14, 2002


Evanizer--I understand your reluctance to imbibe. No problem. But if you read over your statements, don't you think that you come off a bit shrill? It's as though you're trying to convince yourself of something, not the rest of us. It sounds like an argument of one, which considering your reputed addiction-laden past, doesn't really surprise me.

However, the creative-sober v. creative-loaded argument is an erroneous one. My family is chock full of artists: the best one was a quart-a-dayer (now in the collection of the Metropolitan); the worst one a rigid, stiff, sewn-up lass searching for, as you put it, her "selfhood" (quite literally on a mountaintop somewhere). As of yet, she hasn't found it.

I don't think that addiction necessarily equals bad art or loss of touch with the creative because I actually don't think they are always related. And sometimes the creative swell arises from some other quirk in chemistry: funny psychology. How many artists do you know that seem unbalanced, whether or not they are sober? It's just another altered state, one induced by biology. Maybe you're creative because you've got different chemicals than the rest of us. I'm not saying you do, just postulating that it could be so.

If that were true, then you too are in an altered state; you are living within the parameters that the chemicals in your body define. Not a bad thing, just different. I think about this a lot because the people who are the most creative around me often seem the most unbalanced emotionally. This includes myself, if you're thinking that I cast aspersions upon you...
posted by readymade at 11:03 AM on September 14, 2002


firstly, let's shut the fuck up about evanizer's fear of addiction and get to the topic at hand.

from the article:
"I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of gaussian distribution curves."

this points to what I feel is a key apect of perception-altering substances: their ability to facilitate lateral thinking. calling the altered state a "holy/transcendent/unreal" one implies that there are characteristics of reality which cannot be detected unless under the influence, and creates a false dichotomy between "reality" and "unreality." What is more likely, in my opinion, is that these substances impair or adjust the filtering of incoming information to the conscious awareness. While in an altered state, information typically discarded or ignored becomes consciously detected, leading to an awareness of heretofore ignored characteristics of reality. not nonexistent characteristics--typically ignored ones. In addition, the memory's own 'filters' are affected, leading to connections between seemingly disparate events/places/things which would not have been made in the baseline state due to an existing bias as to the relevance of these memories.

both of these facets of drug use facilitate creativity, in my opinion. awareness of new details, and juxtaposition of one's own diverse experiences are key to the synthesis of new ideas.
posted by plexiwatt at 11:32 AM on September 14, 2002


This stuff here is big in Lisbon (as are so-called "research chemicals" in general) right now. It's supposed to be very pleasant, free from nasty hangovers, cheap and entirely legal. Does anyone know anything about it? (Portugal, like Holland, is about as liberal you can get drug-wise, but unless you're part of the subculture it's difficult to find out what's brewing.)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:32 PM on September 14, 2002


From evanizer: And on preview: hincandenza, some people need an elevator to get to those higher planes of consciousness. And some of us already live up here. I shall enjoy watching you try to claw your way up here, and laugh like a parlour full of 18th century courtesans as you dribble back down to the foetid earth again. I don't know what any of that means, but the Knee Jerk Overlords told me to say it. They also told me to call you a miserable, nasty pissant, but even I know when to resist their evil advances.

I know this is late but I just wanted to add that I'm pleased to find out that there is still a place for arrogance and elitism in the "higher planes".
posted by botono9 at 1:50 PM on September 14, 2002


both of these facets of drug use facilitate creativity

It is still debatable whether any insights gleaned from this transcendent state can affect or inspire creativity in a sober mind. One can, as an artist or a lover of art, become exposed to a myriad of artistic styles and visions and perhaps feel overwhelmed or inspired - but is this a spur to individual creativity? The idea that I suppose I am trying to muster is that drug experiences are participatory experiences not creative experiences - they tap deep wells of the mind but these deepest wells are primal and in some sense the repositories of the cliches of our shared physiology. I am thinking of Navajo rugs and the recent studies that show common patterns of LSD visions or the existence and prevalence of archetypal dreams.

In some sense, altered states such as hypnogagia or the mental convulsions of stress may provide the same access to these states as drugs. The mind becomes detached from the bits and minutae of everyday reality and focuses inward on what is already there. Some people need drugs to achieve this state of inner reflection but others can do this quite well on their own. In this sense, drugs are a tool, an aid, not an irreplaceable gateway to an otherwise innaccessible state.
posted by Winterfell at 2:01 PM on September 14, 2002


Drugs are for the terminally normal and chronically uncreative.

That's not "salty," evanizer. It's obnoxious. Try stopping cold turkey.
posted by mediareport at 2:24 PM on September 14, 2002


i think there's an inconsistency in the arguments here. if alchohol and caffeine are similar to other drugs, then what's all this about "higher states of consciousness"? nothing like that happens for me with wine or coffee - one makes it harder for me to think clearly because i get kind of sleepy and lazy; the other makes it harder to think clearly because i get the mental equivalent of being unable to see the wood for the trees (small details become too important). neither effect is either very pronounced or very exciting, although they have their uses, particularly within the daily ritual of my life.

so either drugs are mundane and like stuff we already have, or wildly exciting and different - which is it? it seems like pro-drug people want to play this both ways, depending on which case they're making.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:55 PM on September 14, 2002


In this sense, drugs are a tool, an aid, not an irreplaceable gateway to an otherwise innaccessible state.

agreed, with the caveat that one can achieve these altered states of consciousness through many means, but the end state of each of these means is unique depending on the methodology.

coincidence, or case in point: i've been studying Qi Gong medidation for a short time, and today for the first time reached a state which i categorize as altered. i categorize it thusly only because i am well aware of what many different, drug induced, altered states are, and i would say that my meditative state shared many characteristics with a substance-induced state. however, it was also a unique state, unreachable by drugs.

drug induced states, likewise, are often unreachable without drugs (ah, the logic). they share qualities with other altered states, but are each unique depending on the substance.

there are, in fact, many ways to alter your mind--drugs, yoga, tai chi, fasting, etc etc. they all modify your state of awareness in unique, but similar, ways.
posted by plexiwatt at 6:02 PM on September 14, 2002


one other comment - i don't mean this in a bad way, but i can see that it's going to sound terribly condescending - but when i deal with people who are "out of it" on some substance, when i'm not (i've never taken an illegal drug, not even smoked cigarettes), they always seem so damn stupid. in particular they seem to be impressed by the obvious. i guess i'm saying that the impression from the outside is that drugs actually take you to a lower plane of cosnciousness, where glimpses of "normality" seem so deep and profound.

for example, 2+2=4. now i can accept that as some kind of basic truth, or i can start asking questions about it and read up on logic and modern maths. or - again, an impression from the outside - i can take drugs and end up staring at it and saying things like "yeah, that's deep". do you see what i'm getting at? it's like you show a child 2+2=4 and they're impressed just because it's new, not because they're thinking about the connections with zf set theory.

this ties in with what i said above - my experience of "mind altering" substances is that i think less clearly. are these "altered states" people refer to any different from the kind of altered state when i don't bother to eat and end up dizzy? why would i do that for fun?

sorry to rattle on. i just thought this might shed some light on the psychology of non drug users to those that do. it's not something i've given much thought to because (for the reasons sketched above), drug use never seemed attractive. sometimes it's nice to get drunk when you're tired and relaxed, and i can understand that kind of use. i can also understand the attraction of heroin if it gives a physical pleasure akin to, but better than, orgasm. what confuses me is the stuff about higher planes and creativity and all that stuff - it's very difficult, based on the evidence, to see how anything beats that moment an hour or so into the day when you step outside and take a breath of fresh air.

i know, maybe i should just try it - i'm sure this post is partly rationalisation of other subconscious pressures that make me avoid doing so - but it would be nice if there were some kind of evidence that it would be a useful exercise first (i'm not dismissing the attractiveness of orgasm-like sensations, but i'm specifically looking for intellectual reasons, connected with comments about improving mental ability (imagination, higher mental plane, etc.))
posted by andrew cooke at 6:19 PM on September 14, 2002


but it would be nice if there were some kind of evidence that it would be a useful exercise first

see the article this thread is all about in the first place. it's a marvelous example of what a rational, intelligent man thought about that very topic.
posted by plexiwatt at 6:30 PM on September 14, 2002


evanizer-Oh, that's right, that I'm miserable and small-minded because I don't get toked up. Right.

Oh come on, evan, don't sell yourself short. Even if you did toke up you'd just be a miserable, small-minded stoned guy.
posted by Ty Webb at 6:44 PM on September 14, 2002


see the article this thread is all about in the first place

sorry, i'm not trying to be deliberately obtuse, but i didn't see convincing examples of anything in that article that are what i'm looking for - it seemed to be (summarizing a long article in a few words) mainly about increasing sensory stimulus, not about thinking better. maybe i'm just looking for the wrong thing.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:20 PM on September 14, 2002


maybe i'm just looking for the wrong thing.

i dont think so. i think that there just comes a point where reading about something can no longer provide the insight you desire; empirical study is necessary.
posted by plexiwatt at 7:36 PM on September 14, 2002


ph34r teh pan-stoner monoculture! the joint passed 'round the world, keke :)
posted by kliuless at 5:18 AM on September 15, 2002


andrew cooke, I don't think anyone was arguing that drug use would improve your IQ or anything. It can just allow you to experience things in a slightly different way, which can give you insights into the way things work. Sometimes things you figure out are pretty obvious to other people when you try to explain them, but they still provide you with a deeper understanding - like the comprehension of music thing I mentioned earlier. yeah, you already know music is made of layers and different instruments. Even i "knew" that intellectually. Maybe you naturally have an ability to hear all the intruments separately and at the same time, or maybe smoking pot would help you understand why that was an exciting thing for me to not just cognitively but experientially understand.

As for whether other drugs are different from alcohol, for me alcohol is primarily a social drug and it relaxes my superego so that when I have conversations when I've been drinking I don't second guess myself or worry too much about what I have to say, and usually that means I'm more friendly and often more articulate. Of course there's a curve and after some number of drinks the first effect keeps increasing while the second rapidly disappears. I do often like things I write when I drink though. I think with any drug it has as much to do with your expectation as anything. And your personality / interests to begin with. And, I think you can sort of get into versions of those states of mind without the substance if you have the expectation. I have often felt stoned by osmosis if I hang out with people who are stoned.

Anyway, if it doesn't intrigue you, don't do it. You seem most interested in understanding things logically and I don't know any drug that increases your grasp of logic. Generally drugs can help you with non-linear thinking, which sometimes can provide you with ideas which you can develop logically later, just going in directions you might not have though of. But commonly drugs provide you with a different way of experiencing something, which are more likely to be useful to you if you're interested in expressing yourself non-linearly (thru art / music / etc).
posted by mdn at 10:26 AM on September 15, 2002


Yeah, I know, I'm late, so probably no one will read this, but anyway...

Can anyone provide a definitive citation for the linked article? Where did it first appear? I'm a bit skeptical because I've read some of Sagan's books--in fact, I'm in the middle of Pale Blue Dot right now--and this article doesn't seem to be in his style. Nothing I can quite put my finger on; just that the style of this piece doesn't match the style of Sagan's writing I'm familiar with.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:42 AM on September 16, 2002


google is your friend
posted by mdn at 7:04 PM on September 16, 2002


Thanks, mdn.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:57 AM on September 17, 2002


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