Sunni: [laughing] You know snakes aren’t renowned for keen vision, and we have no fists, so I guess we’re doomed to drift in conversational anarchy!
Mike: Wikipedia says Leary actually coined the term. It also says that Promethus Rising was the book most devoted to exploration of the concept and its implications. Sounds right. It’s been ages since I read those books, and I don’t have them any more—moving continents regretfully necessitated shedding a lot of possessions.
Sunni: It sounds like you have a much more thorough understanding of the War on Some Drugs than a lot of libertarians—at least those of my acquaintance. Individuals I know seem to fall into two camps: the Rand-inspired group who don’t do anything beyond maybe nicotine and/or caffeine; and others who drink and smoke pot, but don’t generally use anything else outside of experimentation. I suppose it helps that you’re in Slovakia and not here, but I still want to be sensitive to your privacy [pauses] would you be willing to tell me a little about your best and then your worst experiences with politically incorrect substances?
Mike: My drug days are behind me already, and statutes of limitations have expired. I’ll send a file containing a trip report about 2C-B that I posted to the Visionary Plants mailing list back around 1996 or perhaps 1997 under a pseudonym. I believe that it is now part of the Erowid archives or maybe the Lycaeum archives. This was one of my better experiences with one of the more interesting substances, though my writing about it doesn’t capture much, and assumes also that the reader has some experiential familiarity with some drugs that not all readers do.
In 1995, I believe, I had a terrible experience with what was sold as MDMA, with my wife at a rave in Gainesville. Whether the actual content of the pill was MDMA or not, I will never know, but this experience was a very odd, a terrifying mirror image of the typical MDMA experience—anger in place of love, dissipation in place of solidity, a bleak hopelessness as opposed to enthusiastic joy. It’s been so long [pauses] I remember the experience well, but putting it into words now is tough. I posted this experience also to a mailing list, either SERAVES or fl-raves—which I later hosted at my own domain, cat.net—but my searching on the net so far hasn’t turned up a copy of it.
The drugs are really quite a mixed bag. To paraphrase Wilson in describing one of his books: psychedelics serve as a mirror—if a monkey looks in, no philosopher looks out.
Sunni: In what way do psychedelics present a danger to those who claim to rule us? I’m sorry if my questions are naïve—I’ve long been curious about various drugs but circumstances in my life haven’t worked out for me to try any.
Mike: The psychedelic experience is a challenge to the ruling class in several ways, in my opinion. First, it serves to center the psychonaut’s attention on the contents of his/her own mind in ways which can be achieved through meditation and other techniques, but does so very inexpensively by comparison. This opens up possibilities for an emergent, wild individualism completely divorced from sociocultural tradition. Second, it makes what William James called the “varieties of religious experience” accessible directly by all comers: no priests, no rituals, no hierarchy and no holy books necessary. When one realizes that the experiences described by saints and yogis are really just natural human brain states that can be brought on by ingesting a bit of a special substance, a doorway opens to doubt on the rest of the proscriptive and prescriptive dogma that accompanies those experiences which are labeled “spiritual”. Third, drugs like MDMA in particular can serve to temporarily dissolve the strictures and bonds that we unconsciously place upon our own thoughts, our own attitudes toward other people and our view of the universe and our place in it. The restrictions are shown to be arbitrary, and those promoting them through politics, culture, religion and other forms of what be called “socializing oppression” are cast into a new light where their motives must be scrutinized and questioned.