576. Grace (VI)
About ten years ago, I nursed an ambition to try LSD. In those days, I kept these strict plans with goals and sub-goals for each five-year period—eventually these trailed off into a vaguer long-term goals in fifteen years or so. Low energy! Why make plans when you can actually do things? Anyway, for a brief time “try LSD” was noted down on a sub-plan. Eventually, I decided it would be bad idea because I have a recurrent intrusive thought where I stab my eyeball with a pencil—and I could never guarantee that I would not act that out under the influence. You have to trust the people around you to restrain you, and the people who use psychedelics never strike me as the type to depend on not to have dropped a few tabs to relax while you carve your arm with fragments from a broken wineglass in order to “reach Australia”.
My interest in LSD was retro—DMT was the psychedelic for the 2010s, and doubtless a new drug will be along sooner or later. Why the general interest in psychedelics? The other day, I saw a study that claimed psychedelics can treat depression—and psychedelics are generally haloed with a quasi-mystical aura. Well, marijuana is the perverted equivalent to exercise: you could relax by working out, instead you relax with a lazy blunt. Psychedelics are the perverted equivalent to genuine religious experience: instead of a discipline you take a little tab and see Horus and the DMT elves.
Aldous Huxley spoke about psychedelics as “opening the doors of perception”. On the contrary, I think psychedelics are more like a psychic cataract: Huxley was blind and I wonder if he used psychedelics to escape an impoverished inner condition—Wyndham Lewis also went blind, a tragic fate for a painter, and yet he maintained that the inner light continued to burn brightly; no drugs required.
If you want a psychedelic experience here is a simple method I undertook without drugs: I sat and stared at a white wall in the lotus position for eight hours—and I can assure you that I saw the most beautiful purple swirls and a tiny world with little knights who fought each other in between the curls in the wallpaper. The experience was very like the weather, clouds roll in and away: at one moment hot tears rolled down my cheeks as I cried for everyone I had ever known—I recalled a boy at school who was an insomniac, he always looked bleary and exhausted; at the time I just thought “oh, he’s an insomniac” but as I sat there I really began to imagine what it means not to sleep night after night, and this was one reason why I cried. However, as with the clouds, the scene cleared and then for some time I smiled with ecstatic joy.
Perhaps you can even change reality in this way: one time I sat in a park and meditated for 9 hours, 9 minutes, and 9 seconds (999)—I did not have the discipline to maintain the lotus position for that time. Towards the end, the clouds began to fragment and splinter and jump around as if the picture were broken on the monitor, the pixels jumped. Perhaps it was just an optical illusion or perhaps it was “cloudbusting”, as Kate Bush sang about—a reference to Wilhelm Reich; and a trick even the liar L Ron Hubbard was said to perform.
Conservatives, men like Peter Hitchens, poo-poo psychedelics and say, “You need the Protestant work ethnic and discipline and achievement, not these lazy shortcuts.” Yet I think the lazy shortcuts came about because the Protestant work ethic occludes the visionary state—spawned humanism and materialism. They shut the monasteries because the monks “did nothing” except contemplate—and now their children whack themselves out with the techno-science hit developed from the disciplined materialist work ethic. It is all an illusion: there is no struggle, true discipline is joy.