Are Psychedelic Drugs GOOD For You?
Press Start for “Are Psychedelic Drugs GOOD for You?” by 8-Bit Philosophy, where classic video games introduce famous thinkers, problems, and concepts with quotes, teachings, and more.
Ep.31: Are Psychedelic Drugs GOOD for You? | (Kirby + Aldous Huxley)
Written by: Matt Reichle
Created & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Academic Consultant: Mia Wood
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Are Psychedelic Drugs GOOD for You?
Smack, dope, speed, crank, ice, bars, brown, benzos, uppers, downers and in-between-ers – as former Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary so candidly said: “Turn on, Tune in, drop out.”
But years before Hunter S. Thompson took a trip to Vegas full of fear and loathing— English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley wrote The Doors of Perception, an essay where he touts the use of psychotropic drugs after testing them on his favorite subject: himself.
But the question remains: apart from medical applications, what are drugs good for?
In the spring of 1953 Huxley took what he describes as “four tenths” of a gram of mescalin dissolved in a glass of water and sat down to wait for the results.”
Afterwards he listened to classical music, perused through a collection of paintings, went on a car ride, walked through a garden, stared at chair legs and his trousers for extended periods of time and most importantly, recorded the entire experience.
He describes that: “In the final stage of egolessness there is an “obscure knowledge” that All is in all—that All is actually each. This is as near, I take it, as a finite mind can ever come to “perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.””
What Aldous experienced was ego-loss— an understanding of self as non-self—an apprehension of reality that transcends language—what he called “suchness” of reality—the experience of reality as is. Far beyond the language that we use to explain the beauty of a flower— the drug enabled him to experience the unfiltered essence of the objects; a sort of peek behind the curtain—kind of like having access to a line of code from a game.
For Huxley, this is how we ought to experience reality. We should understand our connectedness as a as a collective entity outside our “selves;” that we are all capable of understanding all knowledge in the universe.
But in an evolutionary move our central nervous system considers this feeling, or trip, if you will, to be dangerous, and thus, filters out this experience.
Since we are at first animals who depend on survival it isn’t very helpful to stare transfixed at the wonders of a rose petal if a tiger is chasing you.
Mescaline, the active agent in Peyote, limits or disrupts the filtering function of the central nervous system and opens up the possibility of understanding all things—it creates an encounter with the mind at large—it gets you completely and utterly frickin’ high.
Huxley argues that drug use is a natural human impulse or desire for escape—it serves as a momentary respite from the suffering of everyday life.
The drug as sacrament is one of the central components of many spiritual or religious rituals. Huxley (and in some instances Native American Tribes) thinks Peyote is an integral part of invigorating spiritual relationships.
Huxley’s experience of opening a door in the wall of perception challenged his understanding of the importance of human relationships, language, and control over the world that we live in.
But we are educated to be biased against drug use—there is a stigma against the exploration of inner space. It’s looked at with disdain, and regarded as non-scientific. People prefer the study of language, concepts and rationality. For Huxley this is a failure in the way that we think about reality because even a bad trip has the possibility to shatter your conception of life in a way that makes you a much better person.
Anyone who’s dropped acid before a dentist visit can attest… sometimes you have a bad trip. But is the possibility of one bad trip worth missing out on experiencing all of the knowledge in the universe?