You mentioned that you were off to England and that you assumed there would be modems there. Yes, but sometimes getting all the little phone jacks and funny adapters all together can be a pain. I have been totally getting off on recovering from my brush with the forces of intestinal destruction. It is wonderful when health and good digestion are new won friends that get you high every day. Ah, so that is over, one more speed bump on the pot holed highway of life. It has allowed me to turn my attention back toward the secular holy grail of my life here, which is the search for a really good connection to the internet. Nobody knows the hell that we go though out here to have a web presence. The Levity machines in New York serve the site very quickly and of course Dan is a state of the art kind of guy. No problem there. The problem is my connection. I use an analog US Cellular modem to reach my server in Kailua-Kona. Top speed is 4800 baud, connection is intermittent, easily broken and 35 cents per minute. Moving even a small GIF to the levity machine under these conditions can be a frantic experience. There are solutions, really there are mirages of solutions, the only real solution as far as I can tell is wireless spread spectrum technology, powerful radio modems that can reach thirty miles at 128 up to 256 kps. Hot stuff but expensive. Finally I have put together a leasing deal where this toy is almost in my grasp, in fact we are in the installation and burn in phase now. Or nearly now, as no one has yet seen this puppy perform. If and when this comes on-line I will be the technical ace of the Kona Coast. But we have been after this for eighteen months with dot to show for the effort. I will let you know how it comes out. I felt the need to give you this detailed look at the technology behind my end of our connection so that you understand the reasons for some of the delays and lost time with our conversation.
And what about our conversation. The Other is always with us. It is sort of the Omni-purpose Muse. One only has to evoke it's presence and it offers itself as a perfect surface for the inspection of the limits of the imagination, certainly. I think that in an earlier post I mentioned that though it resists description nevertheless when I tell my mind "Think about it." I enter into a state different from any other. And it is un-English able. And after these experiences of "thinking about it" are concluded I then and in a normal state of mind conclude that the phenomena is about language. It is an experience about language that nevertheless, or perhaps intrinsically, cannot be talked about. It is as though it takes one to the other side of language, to a world where language is beheld or understood differently, through different senses or from a different perspective. It is as though there is a simple and obvious truth which cannot be said in words, all words betray it. Yet words are all that we have to approach this truth, it is a truth I feel, not a feeling of truth or a true feeling but a Truth. Normally such things come made of words. But not this one. Why not. The answer to that question would tell us what it is. Perhaps it is a mathematical truth, perhaps when one's IQ is boosted by an order of magnitude, as seems to happen in the flash, then one groks the basic mathematical order of things, something that can normally only be known after a life of deep intellectual discipline. Or perhaps... perhaps...
Enjoy England and the summertime, if you can get down to Devon. To the Old Stones.
All the best,
Online in England after aquiring the plug & phone jack adapters and a good transformer. Ever try to dial an 800 number (my server) from over here? A: it possibly can't be done. B: if it can be done you can't do it with the wrong country code. The US is now 001 instead of 0101. But I'm fixed. Could write a handbook.
The Net cranks here. Very fast. Now I know what www means experientially. Distance is real but I can't say how since self and time are variables with variables of their own. Great satisfaction in wielding faster, wider bands of potential than at home but I don't use it much. It's my vacation.
The imperative urge to communicate remains active, the coal I can't swallow or spit out. I've put out a whaleworth of doggedly spontaneous communication in the last four months, courting risk. I often upload my journals with something like a prayer that they not blow up in my face or haunt me forever because of some unexamined attitude. But I feel what you describe as the Other prompting me to hold truth higher than caution. Truth magnifies. Caution avoids.
Agreed: truth is simple and unsayable. Viewing from that position of simplicity allows instant apprehension of matters complex beyond calculation. Resolved: art is the proper response. There's much to say about it - nothing to say of it. Say of it anyway and be a glad fool. Speak of what is beyond speech fluently. The Psalm is an appropriate mode of expression. The elegy and the ballad.
The net offers appropriate boundless ground to declaim - without publishers, editors or retail to consider. There's a well known syndrome of derring do on the net which is a combination of ready accessibility and infinite editability and/or updatability compounded with cathode fixation. I'd hesitate to call it a Muse, but it sure acts like one. "Nettie made me say it!" Trying to downsize the Net in my own perception lately. The Ignoranti feed off our delusions of the actual "power" and "reach" of the WWW, which we confuse with its sheer potential and advertise accordingly. Once corporations learn that there's very little cash profit to made on the Net, outside of our servers, funds will stop. But it will be too late. It already is. Until a comet erases every hard drive on the planet. What form of digital information storage could escape the mass erase? Crystal? Protein? Jellyfish? Silicon? A roomful of idiot savants with photographic memory? Laser embedment on the point of a pin? Put the technology on a rocket and send it on a return cruise outside the solar system? Make that two rockets. Always back up important data!
"What resists description" is the object in itself. We either see it free of words, or in a language appropriate to itself, which is more akin to co-ordinates than the lingua we use to relate useful objects to our bodily needs and egocentric ambitions. We see only the aspects of objects the lingua allows for. Some objects we do not see at all. We intuit from the "flash" that all objects are beings. We are redefined in the act of being observed by objects in the samee manner in which electron micoroscopy changes what the scientist observes. What about telescopy?
In light of all this a redefinition of "seeing" is called for. One that implies interactivity. Seeing is less passive than we assume. This state of affairs is probably exciting only to the risk taker with a built in sense of essential immortality and a willingness to invest "self" as a kind of psychic capital.
I wonder, now that you're on the mend, about something icily terrifying you said awhile back, about the end of consciousness - coming up to that point in fear and trembling. I felt moved to comment on it at the time. It seemed like a viewpoint of psychic exhaustion. I saw it once after overdosing on a quarter million micrograms of acid at the Carousel Ballroom (NOT on purpose) in '69, which effectively marked paid to my acid career. Someone who has crawled naked across the Sahara doesn't spend much time in tanning parlors. Anyway, your statement carried the conviction of someone who has recently looked that place in the eye (or vice versa) and I'm curious as to how much of it may have been due to the parasite invasion? I believe that place (technically known as Hell) is more of a culdesac of consciousness than an inviolable limit to it.
Meantime/space, life in this unspoiled pocket of England is all it should be. Cynicism seems unknown here, tourism is slight, the people cheerful and friendly beyond my previous experience. It's hard to be grumpy but I manage. Roses climbing into my window, 3am, light patter of rain. Time and the Net seem distant. Heap good vacation.
ps: this place feels lousy with lay lines. Not my field, but there's something happening here which speaks to a dormant sense. Not a mystic feeling. Seems objective.
pps: can I use your server? Wow!
I hope the English summer is treating you right. I love Devon in the springtime but the pollen takes me to hell.
I have been mulling our conversation, and reading David Abrams "The Spell of the Sensuous" and from there a bit of Merleau-Ponty. And that sent me back to Whitehead's "Process and Reality" and I reread Part III which lays out ANW's idea that feelings are the primary datum of all experience. I mention all this just so you know who I have been hanging with as I form my notions.
What I return to again and again, and what these authors seems to brush up against from different angles, is the idea of a lost modality of language. That civilization, for a number of debatable reasons, has severed us, not only from nature as habitat and ecosystem/landscape but has profoundly severed us from our own nature, including the full compliment of communication skills and channels that we once accessed.
Of course their approach is very academic and proceeds by reason and philosophical argument, but beneath that can be heard a very real plea for deliverance. These authors either were not aware of or chose to appear unaware of, the psychedelic experience a la DMT. Though Abrams quotes an amazing passage from Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology of Perception" about mescaline.
But what they are calling for, the recreation of language through rediscovery of the body, to reclaim language's lost dimension, is to my mind exactly what happens when DMT works. For me it has always been about the sudden almost orgasmic outpouring of meaning that is beheld, words become things made of light and the restoration of this power brings with it ecstatic apotheosis, it is a reuniting with the lost portion of the self, somehow become lost during the vicissitudes of our long strange history since Paleolithic Algeria.
I wish I could get at this more, this transformation of language. It is as personal and subjective as sex. Yet because it involves sound and vibes, it is potentially highly inter subjective, meaning can involve other sentient beings. And I have since the first time I smoked had the indisputable intuition that, in spite of its archaic roots, or perhaps because of them, that it would have a profound and salutary role to play in the transformation of cultural crisis into utter utopia. Anyhow that is enough for now.
Keep on Truck'en.
Bingo! Since keys are keys, not the rooms and the contents of the rooms which they open, it seems salutary to consider the rooms opened by chemical keys to be simply ourselves, rather than something alien and/or dangerous: parts of ourselves locked away from the ego perception which is the sum of our cultural conditioning as expressed in language as she's spoke. Freed for a moment, the latent language facility blooms and expresses things we only understand in the moment, with ears of the moment. And somehow this reminds us, so very often, of childhood - the immense bright afternoons of childhood aeternitatus. The few lexical items we manage to bring back are not unlike the babbling of a child before the native word talent is shaped into common language. I'm tempted to say, though I will not go so far as to affirm, that we ARE the word talent, as much as we ARE the visual talent, the light gathering and organizing facility. I'm reminded of Rick Griffin's flying eyeballs uttering strange glyphs. Words of light dissolve the amorphous boundaries between the facilities - six senses be damned, there's only one! We 'apprehend' and are subsumed in the apprehending.
Phenomenology must take its clue from the state of pure apprehension. Wittgenstein wandered far from this and based his later self repudiated Philosophicus Tractatus on reason alone. Of course, his agenda was to destroy all philosophy up to and including his own and, I suspect, wipe the slate clean for a whole new go. Cambridge affected him that way. How is thought to continue beyond Wittgenstein? It must be regrounded in direct apprehension and freed from the clutter of religious symbology which leaks into and influences perception of the emperium. This doesn't mean do away with religion, ceremony is right and natural, but to comprehend that it could be based on primary rather than authoritarian secondary and tertiary modes of perception, allowing vital illumination of the present categories of shadow and mystery. The emperium is quintessentially religious, if by that the indubitable presence of divine consciousness in the sacred garden is understood.
Merleau-Ponty is far and away the most readable of the phenomenologists, those great grandsons of Berkeley and Kant, though I'm fond of old daddy Husserl himself, unreadable as he is. I once spent several months of 1972 on one dry as dust page of his "Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness." re-reading and marking up the page ad nauseum. Never did grasp the whole presented thought (lame translation?) but it kept my mind spinning in those grooves. Those who think his disciple Heidegger is difficult should try the maestro himself, compared to whom Marty's "Being and Time" reads like Mickey Spillane. But how does one become entirely 'scientific' about the roots of perception? Occam's razor cuts as far as the stratum of poetry and no further. What is not divisible is opaque to methodology. But I don't belittle the limits of methodology. What good is a tool without limits? Tools ARE limits. You don't water the lawn with a shovel. The Swiss Army knife is the exception which proves the rule.
I admire the succinctness of your last letter. Forgive me if I ramble as is my habit. It's morning in the shire and I look out my writing room window at a flock of sheep grazing the backyard. Beyond them, down the dell: a cluster of Tudor and Elizabethan farmhouses. Will be hard to give this up come late August, but I've late taxes, teeth and other business to attend to.
Had the opportunity to experience dysentery with fever and light delirium last week. Not much compared to your ordeal with Oroboros in May but enough to experience the relative pleasure of a return to normality. The allergy season is in full glory here, but judicious use of antihistimine helps. Just as bad at home, so no complaint. I have occasional fantasies of retiring to the Sahara. Hope this letter finds you physically brisk and in full mental incandescence.
>Bingo! Since keys are keys, not the rooms and the contents of the rooms
>which they open, it seems salutary to consider the rooms opened by chemical
>keys to be simply ourselves, rather than something alien and/or dangerous
To which I must reply, "Yes, but..." because, something I picked up from Jung, I am always aware that the self is not simply or merely anything. The Self is the mother of all abysm. The central fact about reality is that we do not know what we are. Therefore all other questions are unanswered. That is why the psychedelic frontier is so compelling and exciting to me, because it is such a powerful tool in the prosecution on ontology, pursuit of the understanding of the nature of true being.
I liked your comments on Merleau-Ponty et. al. I had the good fortune to audit much of Hubert Dreyfus' course on Phenomenology years ago at Berkeley. But my own preference is for Alfred North Whitehead, as you are in Whitehead country may I presume to recommend "Process and Reality" as some light summer reading. Be prepared for surprises, Whitehead is no Positivist and believe that feelings are , as he would put it, "the primary datum of experience" and his mathematical grounding is impeccable.
I am sorry this reply is short. I am packing for one of my periodic forays on the road, to sing for my supper. I will try to get e mail along the way. But in fact things are likely to be a little choppy as I move from Hawaii to Boulder to Manhattan to Phoenix and on to Esalen over the next three and a half weekends. I will be back in my little grass shack after the 12th of August. I am enjoying our conversation in slow motion and judge by the e mail that so are other folks. This has got to be good.
thought you might catch me up on that, after I'd already posted. Half right is all wrong in such matters. Let me redefine "self" (a dangerous, dangerous move!) as everything capable of apprehension, in full or in part, including a perception of the perceptual and organizing apparatus, not to mention a perception of that perception up to several levels, until attention itself peters out. In short: what is perceived is self, including the perception of self as objectified subject. This would subsume the alien question and leave its extra-phenomenological aspect unfactored. This escapes the blind alley of solipsism, which the healthy heart refuses to countenance even if the reason is willing.
We see what we see of the alien factor but are aware that we do not encompass it. Allegory of the cave. But what we do see is part of the perceptual data which defines self, albeit with the apprehension that our data handling circuitry is unable to correlate and subsume-as-self more than a few of its extruding dimensions. And the sense of being looked back at (eye on the pyramid) by something unknowable can get the danger bells clanging. God? Gog? Magog? Yog Suttoth? Archangel? Bogeyman? My intuitive sense is that it's a glimpse of the biological "mind" with which we build these bodies and brains and has the same relationship to us as a tree to its plucked or fallen fruit. On the other hand, absolute otherness is inconceivable, which is not to say it doesn't exist. Self is only all we see, not necessarily all there is. Maybe.
Gosh, ANW for vacation reading? I'm currently reading the Diaries of Rev. Frances Kilvert, 1887-97, full of local lore and mythology. He's sent me on a quest across cow and sheep pastures for the Ffordd Cross (pronounced "Forth") a small standing stone, maybe four feet high, which bears prehistoric inscriptions. No luck in two attempts, though I know I've been within a few hundred feet of it, via directions I received at a local farmhouse. My other reading is an old edition of horror stories by Algernon Blackwood & "the Complete Idiot's Guide to Photoshop," which is way over my head. I was perhaps put off reading Whitehead by Wittgentstein's estimation that the "Principia Mathematica" by him and Bertrand Russell was a crock of shit. Of course LW didn't believe in arithmetic in the first place, so felt that any extrapolations assuming arithmetic a priori were ill founded. But I won't let him boss me around and will check out "Process and Reality" as recommended.
Have a hell of a trip and kick some intellectual ass. The Humahumanukanukaoppawa (sp?) will await your return.
I am packing to get out of here, will print your letter and take it with me. I am taking the old 170 but can't be certain of communicating. But I was amused to hear that you are reading Algernon Blackwood. He is one of my favorites. Is "The Horror of the Black Museum" in the anthology? How about "The Windigo"? It is the all time 'bad news in the woods' story. And yes, all those guys, Wittgenstein, Whitehead, Russell were bitchy as cats. We can't let them lead us around, much of it is advertising they are all and each closer to the mark than the others would have us believe.
Don't know exactly where you are but I enjoyed Kennet Longbarrow in Devon.
I'm reading a 1916 copy of "The Listener" which doesn't have those stories in it. I've read several Blackwood stories with sinster trees though and think I know the one you mean. "The Listener" story, despite its unsatisfactory ending (Blackwood seemed to throw closure in as an afterthought but is a master painter of hideous depression -- same fault as Lovecraft) is one of the best haunted house stories I know of. M.R. James and Sheridan LeFanu also know how to haunt a house properly.
Great Victorian horror is the most accurate imaging device for the sensations of dangerous alien otherness that I know of. MR James is the most sophisticated, Lovecraft the rawest. Science fiction may have greater scope of definition, but seldom the sheer evocative power of the Victorians. The best modern evocation I know of is Philip K. Dick's semi-delirious "Radio Free Albemuth" which he later enlarged into the (to my mind) much less successful Valis trilogy. I once found the address of and made a pilgrimige to Dick's house in Venitia, five minutes from where I lived in China Camp, outside San Rafael. This was some time after his death. I saw a great big man with a close cropped white beard come out of the house carrying a brief case; the spitting image of PKD. I just filed that under "?".
Am in the Welsh Marches near Haye on Wye, a land of peace and pastures, the least populated area of GB. Sheep in the meadow and doves in the dell. Antihistimine in me. Must do Devon someday - passed through it on the way to Cornwall last decade. This trip, should I break free of the local spell, I intend to visit Scotland for the first time. Shame on me if I don't, who plays the highland pipes and was born with the name Robert Burns.
Copyright 1996 by Terence McKenna and Robert Hunter
Want to get an e-mail notice when the site is updated?
Drop a note to