Okay. I’ve got to get serious about getting my papers and my numbers ready for my tax accountant, RIGHT NOW! This week. So I’m going to mostly be absent here for awhile. Meanwhile, I continue to sift through my usual alternative sources while eating breakfast before the fire with puppy Shadow on my lap. As per usual, I rely especially on Jean Haines, Shift Frequency, Zero Hedge, Washington’s Blog, redefininggod, activistpost, philosophyofmetrics, and a new one, Jay’s Analysis (check out his view of Katy Perry’s halftime show!), for news and interpretation of what appears to be going on in the geopolitical, financial, and cultural realms, both short and long-term. Not pretty, if you stay with the 3D stuff. As for all the other D’s — well, the sky’s the limit, as those of us “in the know” know — or think we do!
Oh yeah, and I also check in with rumormillnews at least once a day, sometimes more often; though loaded with fear-porn, that site does pick up on interesting stuff I wouldn’t see otherwise. (Maybe one in 30 stories aggregated there catch my eye.) Oh, and yeah again: the archdruidreport, for one druid’s archly imagined, near-magisterial overview of the accelerating unraveling of industrial civilization. Here’s his most recent essay:
Plus of course, various and sundry other stuff, like two long posts I picked up on today, both of them, I discovered, well worth reading all the way through.
The first is featured in this week’s New Yorker, by Michael Pollan, a very interesting overview of new “official scientific” research into the efficacy of psychedelics to help people die — and live! — well.
THE TRIP TREATMENT: Research on psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results
We “old hippies” know how mind-blowing psychedelics can be, blasting off our rigid conceptual helmets and opening us to the vastness. Some of us have never put those helmets back on.
(Instead, we lay low on the shores of paradise, or eddy in nourishing currents near the shore, or make quick, furtive forays into the roiling, blinding, poisoned “mainstream” and back again. Sometimes we even play there, now that we’ve learned how. And sometimes, those caught in the mainstream who learn to play with us also follow us back to shore).
Pollan wonders whether this second psychedelic wave will also lead to a cultural pull-back. And no wonder.
The first wave of research into psychedelics was doomed by an excessive exuberance about their potential. For people working with these remarkable molecules, it was difficult not to conclude that they were suddenly in possession of news with the power to change the world—a psychedelic gospel. They found it hard to justify confining these drugs to the laboratory or using them only for the benefit of the sick. It didn’t take long for once respectable scientists such as Leary to grow impatient with the rigmarole of objective science. He came to see science as just another societal “game,” a conventional box it was time to blow up—along with all the others.
Was the suppression of psychedelic research inevitable? Stanislav Grof, a Czech-born psychiatrist who used LSD extensively in his practice in the nineteen-sixties, believes that psychedelics “loosed the Dionysian element” on America, posing a threat to the country’s Puritan values that was bound to be repulsed. (He thinks the same thing could happen again.) Roland Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, points out that ours is not the first culture to feel threatened by psychedelics: the reason Gordon Wasson had to rediscover magic mushrooms in Mexico was that the Spanish had suppressed them so thoroughly, deeming them dangerous instruments of paganism.
“There is such a sense of authority that comes out of the primary mystical experience that it can be threatening to existing hierarchical structures,” Griffiths told me when we met in his office last spring. “We ended up demonizing these compounds. Can you think of another area of science regarded as so dangerous and taboo that all research gets shut down for decades? It’s unprecedented in modern science.”
Let’s repeat that last sentence: ‘THERE IS SUCH A SENSE OF AUTHORITY THAT COMES OUT OF THE PRIMARY MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE THAT IT CAN BE THREATENING TO EXISTING HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURES.”
And here’s the other long post that I found myself reading all the way through, an interview with Lee Hoinacki, by Richard Whitaker, via dailygood.org. I especially loved hearing from this remarkable human being because so many of my early literary and philosophical influences were the same, as is my penchant to ignore class divisions, strike out in new directions when the spirit calls — and in ways others seldom understand. I find it hard to believe that I’d never heard of this beautiful soul until this morning.
Lee Hoinacki, author of four books, ex-Dominican priest, scholar and deeply connected with Ivan Illich, was a remarkable man. One example: having left academia to become a subsistence farmer he found he needed money to help his daughter. He began looking for a job, “Then it hit me, why am I trying to get one of these respectable jobs? That’s the worst thing I could do! That’s what I left years ago! So then I got the kitchen job.” Here’s a man who lived his convictions to the utmost.