Ontological Anarchy & Psychedelics

via Deconstructing Yourself

Michael Taft speaks with Erik Davis about author Robert Anton Wilson, anarchism in the 1970s, Terrence McKenna, P.K. Dick, psychedelics, cultures of awakening now and then, Zen practice, and more.

Erik Davis is an author, podcaster, award-winning journalist, and popular speaker based in San Francisco. He is probably best known for his book TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information, a cult classic of visionary media studies that investigates how our fascination with technology intersects with the religious imagination. And his podcast, Expanding Mind has long been a favorite of mine.


Show Notes
0:25 – Introduction

2:58 – Erik’s book, High Weirdness, Drugs, Visions, and Esoterica in the Seventies

6:11 – The impact of Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger; guerrilla ontology; libertarianism, anarchy, and radical individualism

13:34 – Wilson’s anarchism’s basis in his cosmic view against institutionalized and concentrated power

15:43 – Ontological anarchism – ‘multiple perspectives all the way down’ ; relationship of metasystemic thinking and emptiness/nonduality; the challenge of wrestling with different perspectives that don’t quite fit together and the insight that comes from it

23:10 – How trying to fit everything into one map doesn’t work, and the place of psychedelics in recognizing that; realizing that language constructs reality, and learning to deconstruct and go beyond language and maps

27:23 – Wilson’s Quantum Psychology, its exercises in switching models and taking new perspectives; what makes a spiritual teacher different from somebody who is handing you a lot of very useful techniques and practices

33:00 – Why tech/STEM people might be interested in meditation and psychedelics; how younger generations connect more horizontally rather than vertically (between generations or between different statuses in society); psychedelics as learning experiences rather than tool-using experiences

37:26 – Capitalism’s influence on views and uses of psychedelics, how a potentially radical or even revolutionary compound can be whittled down into something that’s a performance enhancer

40:00 – How mainstream materialism (“all reality is created by the brain”) requires explanations for what happens with psychedelic use; how the illegality of psychedelics affects the vibe and the relationship with them

44:29 – Modern taming down of both psychedelics and meditation; reminding people about the potentials for radicality and weirdness: “The weird is part of reality. It’s not a distortion of what is otherwise seen with clarity.”

48:21 – Pharmaceutical companies patenting synthetic psilocybin – “There’s still all these mushrooms growing up in the grass, and as long as there’s a culture of […] people who like weird experiences, there’s going to be this zone that’s outside of it”

54:27 – How do you encourage the highest percentage of people who are doing corporate mindfulness, mainstream meditation to enter into the deeper folds of it

1:04:46 – Outro

There are 43 Comments

I personally don't believe in substance infallibility, but by microdosing people with destructive addictions and toxic relationships, and gradually increasing dosage along with interactive play, some wierd and wonderful metamorphosis can result.

that is true that there is no substance infallability, i think this entire field of research concerning using drugs for fixing trauma and improving quality of life is better off out of the hands of the pharmaceutical industry and the state, but of course users asserting autonomous/individualistic control

Agreed, also the industrial/institutional approach to mental health and its ignorance connecting systemic capitalist lifestyle with toxic alcohol/tobacco/sugar useage, work/financial stres.
One must individually pursue ones own path to maintain sanity.

"If you listen to neurologists and psychiatrists, you’d never fall in love.”
Timothy Leary

RAW also changed my life. I read Illuminatus and Cosmic Trigger along with many of his other books in my 20's. And actually RAW is why I went to my first SF Anarchist bookfair, believe it or not, he was supposed to be there in person, but there was only a video of him, set up on an out of the way table. That was a disappointment but oh well.

The thing Erik Davis mentions about doing a small amount of meditation but that having an out-sized effect on one, that sort of thing happened to me, not with meditation, but by reading RAW. I was steeped in his stuff, but it was all more or less theoretical until I took a martial arts class, and the intensity of the movements over time pushed me through into some very weird head spaces. I agree, the value of these practices is in the losing of one's mind and finding the way back, not in the watered-down, bleached corporate versions as performance enhancing tools.

It is true that RAW reads as outdated nowadays but his ideas of the multiplicity of the world, his way of talking about that, was just the thing I needed in the 80's and 90's. If you want to get a sense of him, there are several videos of him on yt, though the quality of them is not 100%.

Good stuff around here. Diverse as anarchos might bee. Congrats anews team.

the show makes some good points, i'm glad to hear hippies rejecting collectivism!

oh we do! I mean, have you even met most hippies? the worst!

funny story: I was sitting in a cute little anarchist workshop, put on by two @s who taught "nonviolent communication" in prisons and I was on the west coast so half of us were looking like we stepped out of a portlandia sketch, the whole 9! It was hippy dip as fuck!

But good too! those folks had some interesting points! Anyway, at the begjnning, there's the painful go-around where you state your intentions and some sweet summer soul is like -

"i just hear a lot of violent words all the time and it's so violent. I just want words to be less violent."

and i started coughing in to my drink and the person teaching is like "ok, that's not what ... we meant at all but that's great!"

so yeah, I don't want to be forced to bully that person with my "violence"! it's like kicking puppies with steel toes!

I would have broken his little toe and been done with the meak ill-mannered idiot!

"People should act on their thoughts spontaneously. Everytime someone frowns at you, or says "no" to you, they are being violent with you. Its the same as if they hit you if they speak negatively about you. You do not turn the cheek to violent thought, but give it physicality and retaliate with violence" --- Timothy Leary

Leary was a mixed bag for sure. He worked on the psych profile test that he then had to take when he went to prison, he knew how to game that test for sure.

some of the stuff that Robert Anton Wilson gleaned from Leary was interesting, like the 8 circuit theory of personality. but later Leary was a bit far gone. For instance, SM I2 LE stands for Space Migration Intelligence Increase Life Extension. He was utopian and not in a good way.

That is when they're not shooting up in your bathroom, stealing, having sex with minors or publicly relieving themselves. Just last week I saw one Biden T-shirt wearing one walking passed the daycare yelling at the sky, looked like he pooped himself. Here we have Jim Jones, socialist hippy who had the altruistic goal of creating a society free of bigotry, sounds wonderful right? Would you ever guess that he’d be responsible for the murders/suicides of over 300 cult members? How about the molestation of over a dozen children? Oh but look how great he is with the kids!

I too, draw the line at child molestation and mass poisoning...AND Biden T-shirts.

as for the rest of that rant, sounds like you just hate fun

i'm used to hippies, in the area i live in, barking some stupid new-agey moralistic trash when you take conversations in a direction that is uncomfortable for them, it was refreshing to hear the hippies on the radio show talk about how you can't put everything human on one tapestry.

Lol, all this clawing to pull timothy leary down from his pedastal...well yeah, tear the fucker down...that's what we do as as anarchists right *slips on the brass knuckles*?

Timothy Leary was a giant thinker, he could shred authoritarians, liberals and capitalists with one sentence.
"Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition"
"Tyrants are emotional and use the peasants weakness to turn them into raging soldiers murdering over a lie"
Its a pity that only the Christian bourgeois youth twisted his ideas into a sickening neurotic hedonistic expression rather than a disciplined method of changing mass consciousness.

I do like those quotes! But ol' timmy really put all his eggs in the one little basket tho.

"An LSD society" has yet to arrive and I've witnessed many attempts! Not to mention how unable to defend itself, it would be...

"I do like his quotes,,," Sexist quote "Women who wish to be equal with men lack ambition" Leary manipulated young women using his charisma and cunning for sexual abuse.

le jackass, haven't you been hanging out here for many years, trying to manipulate young people?

anyway, was Leary a creeper? that sucks, if true.

and there seems to be well founded accusations that he was a "womanizer", which means he fucked with their heads a bit but doesn't mean he really "abused" anybody. Apparently he was also kinda a deadbeat daddy and alcoholic.

Case and point: drugs are not a magical portal to enlightenment! They're just a tool like everything else.

"he fucked with their heads a bit" for getting laid with them totally is sex abuse, you misogynist shitstain. How else to you abuse people, other than grooming or manipulating them to bed.

ok now, that's all the writing effort you deserved this month.

onto me, which i don't find fair.

Oh get this: Abuser has subjective meaning to it! So i got that information that Leary was a womanizer from the internet, we don't really have any idea how the guy sexually interacted with women, but to immediately assume that he "abused" them because he had sex with them and perhaps mistreated them in the various ways that people mistreat each other is not always "abuse". Sometimes men will have sex with women and don't want to carry out some sort of prolonged relationship after that, which is detached, aloof, kinda douschey, but not really "abuse".

There was this article i read in some anarchist mag (i think it was fifth estate...) in my book collection where some guy who was previously promiscuous and polyandrous instead decided to embrace more conservation notions of marriage/monogamy because he didn't feel people in our society were mature and thoughtful enough to embrace poly-, maybe you should contemplate that rather than pulling out some third-wave feminist dogshit on someone who had no intention of hurting you.

Anon is projecting an obnoxious sexist stirnerite called Leway who demeaned feminists, and used the Cosby case to frame rape and womanizing in the context of it being some wierd form of organic reproductive reciprosity.

There is negative reciprocity, or in layman's terms -payback-,and if both parties believe it is not harmful and that grievances have been settled, there is therefore no -crime-. This would be how individuals may settle debts or repay favors.

Leary was on a messianic trip and used his power to abuse the innocence of young women. If I had been present at his leftist commune I would have broken his ankles or maybe fibulas as punishment in the hope that this would encourage more self-awareness and empathy in his personal consciousness!

How's that so hard to believe? The whole '60s Boomer hippie culture was filled with the promotion of rape and hairy macho alpha male domination as "sexual liberation". If Leary creeped on women or young girls there's little ways you could even know, as the subculture he was into was all open-wide permissive with that stuff, if not supportive.

Like did you even try to imagine what was going on in these wild parties he's been throwing, with other gurus of this milieu? If they had de facto sex slaves -no matter the age- it was all fucking okay to them, and no one was going to report, or even record that.

Hippies evolved into the hipsters who then mutated into yuppy liberal democrats led by Obama and Hillary. Uurgh!

"We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they've got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go."
Timothy Leary

Haha... fuck off. He was just a sophisticated pusher for chemical drugs. I'd like him to get stuck in a homeless shelter filled with meth heads, but he was way too privileged for tasting the social consequences of his big ideals.

Its a pity that only the Christian bourgeois youth twisted his ideas into a sickening neurotic hedonistic expression rather than a disciplined method of changing mass consciousness."

It's a pity that this self-absorbed megalomaniac drug marketer pandered so much on the hazy-minded, undisciplined hippies in the first place. If only he would have hung out with the great minds behind Pfizer and Novartis...

But wait.

Wow, all the crypto-hippy anarchists are coming out of the woodwork! Their storm-troopers were JZ's legions of primitivist puritan warriors.

yup. RAW was most of this conversation and he is by far way more interesting to anarchists than Leary. otot, it is probably for the best that more people don't know about Wilson and thus fewer of them can willfully misinterpret his work. fnord

heh! Isn't that a tad optimistic that you think there's any commenters left here who aren't dirtbag trolls like me?

of course, I'm not one of the ones waging a scorched earth campaign against the site... I actually like this place.

would be nice though if people had it in them to take their arguments past "shitstain misogynist", or really giving a flying fuck about whether timothy leary was a good person, i shouldn't have even tried to determine whether the charges against him being a misogynist actually had any validity to them, its a waste of time.

Leary became an informant for the FBI in order to shorten his prison sentence and he entered the witness protection program upon his release in? In a 1974 news conference, Allen Ginsberg, Ram Dass, and Leary's 25-year-old son Jack denounced Leary, calling Leary a "cop informant," a "liar," and a "paranoid schizophrenic."

Over Timothy Leary?
I'm on 2 subreddits, Psychonaut (310,000 members) and LSD (480,000 members), and few of them are reading Leary. The name that comes up most often by far is Alan Watts, followed by Ram Dass, with Terrence Mckenna a somewhat distant third.

The LSD subreddit has too many teenage thrill-seekers, but there are some 17 year-old kids who are very spiritually advanced (way more than I was at their age).

Its still all pretty colors and hallucinations and not much about the deep telepathic/telekinetic stuff that can be done.

unlike those other two figures, there's a huge amount of criticism online concerning the way that Timothy Leary lived his life, so it gives our lovely morality-loving anarchists here an opportunity to complain about something and feel superior to some dead hippy. The radio show mentioned some of Leary's philosophizing so they found a perfect opportunity to steer the discussion to "what a fucked up person he was". Like typical witch-hunters they just inspired my curiosity rather than enforced a fear of the unknown. Pretty freakin' silly if you ask me, especially considering that the main thinker they talked about in the show was the guy who wrote cosmic trigger.

mydigger digs all mystique
deviant trip
no matter the vehicle
an adventure to
anywhere but here
where you yourself and i go with
wherever the imagine
deep well
of possibilities
twisted though they may seem
toys with something never seen
or remembered

or maybe just another way
to play a fixed game
some fun
some bored

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