Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letter to Juliano

Dear Nick,

Hi. Can you I ask you: I greatly appreciate your musings on psychedelics etc. Recently I Googled "physicists and psychedelics", and really your presence is the most prominent. Are there no other physicists who had experimented with psychedelics ---when it was legal too--and also ....after? And who also want to talk about it and how it gives them insights into QM etc?

I greatly enjoyed your YT video where you talk about your psychedelic experience and VERY much felt you on my wavelength when you passionately say how fukin ludicrous it is to not even allow terminally ILL people freedom to take psychedelics. THAT for me is the key to the real reasons of their prohibition. Not Leary, their fave scapegoat, and the Counterculture. Their fear goes deeper than that, as shown by not allowing dying people even the access to psychedelics. Yes they are doing so now but VERY few and far between. It is still only 'experiments'--as though they ain't got massive data from the 50s 60s 70s, and Indigenous experiences.

What are supposed to do, kiss their feet in gratitude? It is like some maniac father who's locked us in a cellar for 40 years who finally lets us see a crack of light. What do we say, 'thanks'...?!


Hi Juliano--

Thanks for the encouragement. I think that there are very few physicists who took psychedelics--and that made a difference in their lives. A few of my classmates at Stanford in the 60s did so and dropped out of physics--as being too limited a way of viewing the world--one got married, one transferred to med school. I too felt that physics, as wonderful as it is, was missing the big picture--everything that had to do with consciousness had simply been edited out of our science.

However as a practical person I saw nothing concrete that I could do to remedy this sorry situation. I gained no insights from my drug experiences as to some new science of consciousness tho it did propel me to begin to hang out with people (such as E H Walker and James Culbertson) who were pursuing such theories and eventually led to writing a book called "Elemental Mind" about how little we know at present about the origin and nature of consciousness.

My physicist friend Heinz Pagels took acid in the same experimental program in Palo Alto that initiated Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey. I happened to be living for one quarter in the same big "Eagle's Nest" house as Heinz so I got an immediate first hand report of his trip.

Although profoundly moved by his experience, Heinz decided to simply shut that away in a separate compartment in his brain and continue to pursue conventional physics. However whenever he would run across some strange news in the field of consciousness Heinz would forward it to me. Also I learned after his death that Heinz had acted as a sitter for a few explorers into this realm.

I think it would be a great idea to give acid to physicists who are familiar with quantum mechanics to see what they can glean from the experience but as far as I know I'm the only one (who admits it). Would be nice to have a few more colleagues in this field but it looks as if I've been chosen to play a game of singles with Nature in this particular game.

Of course there were a few brave physical scientists who delved deeply into these substances--the names Sasha Shulgin, Bill Harman, Myron Stolaroff and of course Albert Hoffman come to mind--but only a few.

And I've not really discovered anything concrete that I could attribute to LSD.

One of my main complaints about the psychedelic scene is that for such a powerful experience, it really has produced nothing of any lasting importance.


Extrapolating from that marvelously unspeakable state of mind, we had hoped for telepathy, for radically new kinds of sexuality, for reliable contact with angels, devils and aliens, for a new kind of mind-based physics, for the magical siddhis reported by Indian gurus, for the miracles attributed to Christ and the saints and for new uniquely psychedelic miracles that would surpass those of our predecessors.

Liquid light shows, tie dye pants and of course the Beatles are all well and good but in the 60s we were expecting MIRACLES, god damn it.

I still expect miracles.

Of all the pioneers Terence McKenna probably got the furtherest that we know about. And was able to talk so eloquently about his experiences and their implications.

We seekers of hidden knowledge are fortunate to live in an age in which such experiences are easily accessible. And who knows who might be the chosen one who will first stumble across the threshold of that secret door into nature hinted at by the deep and complex experiences we call "psychedelic"?

Good luck in your quest.
Photo by Bruce Damer


longsword said...

Not entirely pertinent to your article, but I thought I would forward this snippet from "the Quantum Rumi",

"I am the morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.
I am the wind in the top of the grove,
and surf on the cliff.
Mast, rudder, helmsman and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on....
Both candle and the moth
crazy around it...
I am all orders of being,
the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence,
the lift and the falling away.
What is and what isn't..."

Isn't this actually a description of non-locality (as non-identification or no-self)? Other passages from Rumi recall wave-particle ambiguity, but this one in particular tweaked something in my consciousness about synchronicity and non-locality.

nick herbert said...

Don't throw away
Please recycle

linus r. said...

here is a real psychedelic mystical "trip" in the physical sciences:

longsword said...

The song remains the same. Planck's Wall is the veil of Maya, the world-girdling serpent Jormungand, the Greek Oceanus, the medieval "ends of the earth" beyond which lies the abyss -- "here be monsters" (today, monsters of anti-logic, coincidence of opposites, and the shipwreck of reason perhaps?).

But, is this cycling and recycling? Or is it, that we have not "moved" one in time at all -- only the mode of perception has shifted here and there -- from magic, to myth, to mathematics? But the song remains the same. Symbols become signs, mermaids and satyrs become mathematical notations, and monsters become quantum paradoxes.

muzuzuzus said...

I was watching a good talk yesterday from one of the videos freely available at Fred Alan Wolf's page.
There was Robert Kun as main chair, and Fred, David Chalmers, couple of materialists, a parapsychologist--the only woman (am bad remembering names lessen I know them well), and they were talking about consciousness

Yet not once dide I hear psychedelics mentioned!!

But I heard lots of "In about 100 years we should really understand consciousness"

but not one mentioned the idre state of the natural world and what the materialistist and theological mindsets are doing to it. And yet all the information is available

Nick seems to dream of some 'science fiction' application via psychedelic experience? I am more seeing it as THE sacred medicine that can help us heal the long generational (millenia) rift between us and nature and the animals

it's complex because I believe that some cults, like Orphism--which influenced Gnosticism and Christianity, etc--thought of nature and the body as a trap! So thats no fuckin good

We need stories/mythology and psychedelics to bring us CLOSER to nature and the web of life.

As for the science fiction bit. I am not really ANTI-science. I am anti-scientism.
I have feelings from what I have gleaned for various diverse sources that ALREADY advanced technology is known about but is top secret because to release it to public knowledge would radically bring down the house of cards of the 1/% MEGA MEGA rich who earn their money from fuel and utilities and war!

muzuzuzus said...

,,,and power!

nick herbert said...

Talking about consciousness
without mentioning psychedelics
is like talking about astronomy
without mentioning telescopes.

LSD is the Hubble.

Psylocybin mushrooms:
the big Earth-based Kecks
perched on Mauna Kea's slopes.

Empathogenic MDMA:
a long-wave radio array.

And humble marijuana
is the million amateurs
with telescopes.

Want out of your bubble?
LSD is the Hubble.

muzuzuzus said...

haha love this:

"Want out of your bubble?
LSD is the Hubble."

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