Of Freedom and Tyranny.

When you speak
of individual freedom,
fight for personal liberty,

you’re truly only battling
for your own,
blind to your hypocrisy.

Riding the wave
of a trend,
failing to peer
beneath the surface,

behind
the black and white
into the awesome spectrum
of colors that run.

If you don’t support
the rights of your enemies,
honoring the liberties of villains,

you’re no better
than them,
serving only to mirror
their tyranny.

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Somewhere I Belong.

All my life
I’ve felt so out of place,
frightened, uncertain
if it was I who was crazy
or if it was truly the world.

As I get older,
growing ever-colder,
the more I suspect it’s both
and we’re simply incompatible.

Memories of your eyes,
soft lips, soft chin,
the scent of strawberries:

closest I’ve ever felt
to being
somewhere I belong.

Notes on a Trip.

* with some editing for coherency.
2/23/18.

“It is proposed that LSD acts primarily on the pleasure or reward centers of the brain, producing a surge of nonspecific emotionality. If it registers as bliss or rapture, it dominates the sensory flow, the concept of self, the thinking process. This strong emotional discharge overwhelms all mental activity and produces a fusion or synesthesia of the neural pathways: perceptual beauty and glowing light, erasure of the self concept and elimination of rational thought. This is the transcendental state; its opposite, the psychotic state, occurs when the strong feeling discharge is apperceived as horrific and discordant.”
— Sidney Cohen, The Beyond Within: The LSD Story (1967).

“In the LSD state the boundaries between the experiencing self and the outer world more or less disappear, depending on the depth of the inebriation. Feedback between receiver and sender takes place. A portion of the self overflows into the outer world, into objects, which begin to live, to have another, a deeper meaning. This can be perceived as a blessed, or as a demonic transformation imbued with terror, proceeding to a loss of the trusted ego. In an auspicious case, the new ego feels blissfully united with the objects of the outer world and consequently also with its fellow beings. This experience of deep oneness with the exterior world can even intensify to a feeling of the self being one with the universe. This condition of cosmic consciousness, which under favorable conditions can be evoked by LSD or by another hallucinogen from the group of Mexican sacred drugs, is analogous to spontaneous religious enlightenment, with the unio mystica. In both conditions, which often last only for a timeless moment, a reality is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental reality, in which universe and self, sender and receiver, are one.”
— Dr. Albert Hofmann, LSD : My Problem Child (1980).

“How about a positive LSD story? ‘Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.'”
— Bill Hicks.

At around 5 in the evening I awaken, make coffee, and watch some YouTube videos for an hour or two before reading and taking notes on the “lost civilization” hypothesis. At roughly 8, I do dishes, pour my last cup of coffee, and then make hot water in the coffee machine for Kava tea later on. Not even halfway through the last cup I’m feeling jittery, and regardless as to whether excitement mixed with anxiety played a role — and I’m sure it did — the caffeine wasn’t helping, so I had some bottled water and watched a short Lewis Black clip on YouTube.

At 8:34, I meditated for 17 minutes, following the breath, then made myself a cup of Kava tea and smoked part of a bowl.

At around 9, I start watching Cosmos. At 9:25, I set up the Roku to watch the supernova explosion episode, s1e8, “Sisters of the Sun,” and finally decide to take the tab soon.

I place it on my tongue at 9:33 and start watching Cosmos.

Though I could dismiss it as my imagination, I thought I felt it kicking in just as Tyson mentions “litters of stars,” but upon checking my watch, I find its only 9:53. It’s been difficult keeping it under my tongue and I’m hesitant to so much as sip my water in fear that I’ll swallow it too soon. I’m also very careful as I smoke a cigarette, constantly concerned I might accidentally inhale what by this time constitutes a psychedelic spit-wad.

On the screen, I watch as stars explode with such beautiful violence, blossoming like catastrophic flowers amidst that dark, ever-expanding sea. And we are children of that epic chaos. We are children of the stars.

I watch the episode, “Unafraid of the Dark,” next. As they talk about how the mob destroyed the Library of Alexandria, I mourn a little for all the information that we lost in the blaze, which brings my thoughts back to the whole notion of a lost, advanced civilization and that we are a species with amnesia. If there is a lost civilization, what else might it have done to fight against the collective amnesia that set in after the catastrophe that ended their reign? It’s the same question I’ve asked regarding remembering previous lifetimes and remembering this lifetime once I face that whole death-rebirth process again: how do you ensure that you never forget who you are?

10:28.

I’ve noticed a pattern when I’ve taken MDMA and psilocybin that now extends to LSD. First, I resist taking it, as I want to ensure I’m ready. Finally I gather up the courage to take it and subsequently try and distract myself, though keep finding myself coming back to a feeling of anxiety over having taken it, but sort of an excitement at the same time. Then I think its kicking in, but it turns out I was wrong. As time passes, I feel as though I’ve been waiting forever, that it simply isn’t kicking in, and begin to wonder if it simply isn’t going to happen. Finally my act of juggling fear and excitement exhaust me and I decide I simply don’t care one way or the other. It will kick it it it won’t, and I am neither excited or fearful of it. Whatever happens, happens. I stop emotionally investing in it. If it doesn’t happen, I’m not disappointed; if it does, I’m pleasantly surprised. And that’s the optimal state of mind, methinks.

As I continue to watch Cosmos, I think to myself: much like a young child is very ego-centric, thinking that the world revolves around it, so do we as a collective species in our youth. Our illusions of being the center of anything or laying claim to much of anything is shot to shit increasingly more as we grow in our knowledge.

10:33.

The ancients are thought to have worshipped the stars. And what better focus for worship, if one is doomed to place it somewhere? For we all come from the stars.

10:39.

Peed and smoked a bowl. The tab has now been swallowed and feeling definite effects. This drugs comes on slowly, exaggerating, elaborating upon and emphasizing those familiar perceptual malfunctions — like seeing something out the corner of your eye, finding faces in clouds, misheard sounds you can’t at first discern. Awareness expands as consciousness becomes fluid, contorts, remoulds itself. Intriguing.

For a moment I pictured Elizabeth and I — there were others, but I have no idea who — watching this same episode involving Zwicky and dark matter. Simultaneously it felt as though this event were happening now, that it was a memory, and yet entirely my imagination. I’m fascinated.

I suddenly feel as though I’m inside but also simultaneously external to things; as if I can have multiple perspectives at once and truly appreciate the entirety.

Cosmos on LSD makes me miss my childhood Teacher, Nimi. Where has she gone?

I wish numbers would reach out to me. I wish I could master math.

I need to take notes on every Cosmos episode with my commentary. My reviews, in a way.

I listen to Tool’s Lateralis album. Every morsel of existence, writhing with life. Nothing is still. The particles of one thing dance with the particles of another in this ecstatic pattern underlying everything. Weaving. Interlocking. Interconnected.

I was staring at cover image for Lateralis album as it plays on YouTube, transfixed by the constant swirling and general animation if the image. 5:35 minutes in, I realize this is a still image I’m looking at: it’s not really in motion. This doesn’t stop it from moving, however.

Imagining things, it’s as if I’m living both in and outside the dream.

Every corner
you guide me ’round,
gathering up parts
here and there,
adding to my own
personal
lost and found.

I lay down on my couch, listening to Tool, bliss coursing through me as I thrust and move my body in a smooth, fluid, rhythmic manner. It was like a continuous orgasm. I had always anticipated LSD to be an intellectual drug, which it largely is, but never thought it could be sexual.

At some point a pair of huge, translucent lips approach me, and I am one with those lips while simultaneously remaining myself. The lips pucker as they approach and kiss my face, go through my head, and its so warm and wonderful. It wasn’t just visual, but tactile from both ends. Strange and beautiful.

I suddenly think of that William Blake poem, “Auguries of Innocence,” which I later look up online:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

What has happened, is happening and could happen — all times and potentialities — coexist in the same space.

At around 11:30, I’m staring at the ceiling, which is broken into countless square-tiled reflections of the same pattern (there are no tiles on my ceiling, just paint splotches). All of it, an elaborate tapestry. Interconnected web or net of life.

12:21.

My mind has been through mental gymnastics. Every switch, firing at once. All hands on deck.

You find yourself. Right there all along, right where you could ignore it. Just wow.

Evolution, adaptation: randomness plus small adjustments over an excruciatingly long period of time.

All five major extinction events on earth: just experiments gone wrong?

You and your reality are systematically dismantled down to their fundamentals.

I feel as if my soul has gotten out and stretched.

Speak softly, carry a big stick.

I watch the episode of Cosmos where Tyson speaks about sound waves, where they use those ripple effects so you can “see” sound, and the ripples extend beyond the parameter of the flat screen. At the end if that segment, Tyson speaks with the ripple effects coming out of his mouth. He expresses annoyance and tried to wave the waves away with his hand, which I find to be hilarious. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in awhile.

Eventually, around ten hours after it was taken, things approximate normalcy and I fall to sleep on my couch.

AIpocalypse Maybe.

My irritation with the AI issue and total lack of concern about it was primarily based on my stance as a dualist in the philosophy of the mind. It was actually Elon Musk that made me realize one’s take on consciousness meant very little; that it didn’t matter if the machine was truly conscious, truly alive. In a video of his talk at a governors meeting in 2017, he gives an example of his AI concerns:

“I want to empathize: I do not think this actually occurred. This is purely a hypothetical. I’m digging my grave here… But you know there was that second Malaysian airliner that was shot down on the Ukrainian-Russian border, and that really amplified tensions between Russia and the EU in a massive way? Well, let’s say you had an AI where the AI is always to maximize the value of a portfolio of stocks. One of the ways to maximize value would be to go long on defense, short on consumer, start a war. How can it do that? Hack into the Malaysian airlines aircraft routing server, route it over a war zone, then send an anonymous tip that an enemy aircraft is flying overhead right now.”

Personally, I’ve always been bothered by psychopaths in society. While those of the type that become serial killers are certainly a concern, I have been even more worried about what I’ve heard referred to as socialized psychopaths — the kind that occupy the highest levels of power in businesses and corporations. Lacking empathy, their prime interest is in maintaining and gaining power.

It bothered me for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that it says something about our society: that psychopathy is in fact a survival technique in the context of our culture; that it constitutes a successful adaptation in our system; that the characteristics of our culture reward that personality type. When Musk (who is most certainly not a psychopath, I should add) speaks about AI, he is basically describing technologically-generated psychopathy. And its easy to see how his example could manifest even if a machine or program does not constitute consciousness.

The larger point I’ve been missing until now is that it wouldn’t have to reach the extremes displayed in countless movies. As Musk also stated, “until people see robots go down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react.” It doesn’t have to be at that level, it need not manifest so blatantly, to constitute a threat to the survival of the human species. And, he says, we really cannot delay:

“AI is a rare case where we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive because if we’re reactive in AI regulation it’s too late. Normally the way regulations are set up is a whole bunch of bad things happen, there’s a public outcry and then after many years the regulatory agencies set up to regulate that industry. That in the past has been bad, but not something that represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not. They were harmful to a set of individuals but they were not harmful to society as a whole.”

He set up a research company, OpenAI, in efforts to regulate the inevitable, though it has just recently been announced that he has distanced from it due to how it conflicts with his other projects.

While AI still doesn’t rank as the greatest threat to human civilization in my mind, what he has had to offer about the subject has come to raise my concerns.

As if we didn’t have enough threats to our species to worry about…

At the Heart of the Nausea.

Glowing, floating
in a shared dream,

groping
each other
like the blind

freely trying to ascertain
each others’
corporeal reality.

Attached at the back,
the hip,
so obscenely
happy
it makes me sick.

They are addicted.
They are each other’s fix…

Why am I
so goddamned cynical?
Is this nausea just jealousy?

Is it that they so effortlessly
bring themselves
to the here and now
and all I see is the dark
end of the cycle?

Denying life
in light of death?

As if it always
goes up in flames,
comes crashing down
anyway…

The high may be a lie
but beyond that transience
there is depth to be found.

It can stay away.

I remember
falling in that hole.
Lost a part
of myself down there,

vowed never
to return.

Suicidal Species.

So just become the enemy
in order beat the enemy.

Never mind the hypocrisy,
as ends always justify
the means.

Go on, fight fire with fire:
watch as we all
burn away.

Still hopelessly blind
to the light
despite the blaze.

Ostriches plagued
with cranial-rectal inversion.

If they’re deaf
to you, screaming louder
will help, I’m sure.

Cacophony in time with chaos
as we march
mindlessly on our crooked
pathway
towards mass destruction.

No hunger for truth, this river
of bullshit
always flows and grows:
never ceases.

I want to trust
in us,
but its so hard to ignore
the fact

that we are such
a fucking suicidal species.

Of Entropy and the Divide.

Every theological argument ends with my opponent telling me to “just have faith” or explaining that they’ll “pray for me.”

Politics? It never used to be like that.

Now, however, every political argument ends with my opponent explaining how “if you don’t like this country, then just leave,” or how I can’t even talk about this or that because I have a penis or Caucasian skin.

I have no party, it seems. I am an all-party pooper.

Reason? Discussion? Empathy? All of it is evidently out of style — left and right wing, red and blue. The divide has grown so wide, the chasm has stretched its yawn to such a degree that those on one end of the spectrum cannot even hear those on the other.

This, I think, is the entropy of civilization that George Carlin once spoke of.

Sometimes I wish I could stop paying attention.

Three Cheers for Andy.

After having watched Weeds over the course of two weeks or so, I really came to like the show. While the dialogue can’t beat Californication by any means, it was still damned good. In the beginning, I was of course taken by Nancy — sexy, caffeine-guzzling, naughty in numerous respects — but as the series wore on it became abundantly clear that she was a deceitful, power-hungry, control-thirsty, manipulative bitch. I could never quite root for her like I nearly always could with respect to Andy Botwin, the brother of Nancy’s (first) late husband.

Between Nancy and Andy there was an all-too-typical circumstance: a caring though immature and altogether lost man-child becomes the rock for an intelligent, sexy, manipulative woman who appears to love or at least fuck every guy around her save for the one guy who actually knows and loves her. I was worried how the circumstance would turn out when the series came to an end, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was by no means a “happily ever after,” for which I am thankful, nor did it go out with a bang in the sense of death and disaster. Instead, there was a more realistic sense of closure — Doug reestablished a connection with his son, Silas refused to get in between his wife and Nancy, her other son vowed to get his shit together, and Nancy seemed to gain an unspoken realization about her own issues. Though we were not shown this to be resolved, such a realization given her character was a sufficient turning point — and it seemed to finally hit her like a ton of bricks through the wise words of Andy.

Nancy always said good things about Andy, but evidently, he was never good enough in her eyes to give him a chance in the sense of a romantic, intimate relationship. I got angry at her for him. I tend to do this often in real life, too, for the record — another tendency I’d prefer to exorcise. But the way it all ended for him was better than I had expected.

It all revealed his growth as a person, and how he had grown a backbone with respect to her specifically — no longer allowing her to emotionally manipulate him. Andy had finally built his own life, pursued his own passion, and while he confessed to her that he loved her and always will, he simply couldn’t be around her — and that he was unwilling to sacrifice the life he had built to be with her, or even have her in his life again, as he was finally happy.

Three cheers for Andy.