Fictional Worlds and Fictional Drugs

Fictional Worlds and Fictional Drugs

Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I was thinking about the relationship of drugs, emotions, and society.  I was thinking of several different fictional futures that give different takes on this.

The most classic example is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  The drug of choice in that novel was soma.

“Benighted fool!” shouted the man from The Fordian Science Monitor, “why don’t you take soma?””Get away!” The Savage shook his fist.

The other retreated a few steps then turned round again. “Evil’s an unreality if you take a couple of grammes.”

Kohakwa iyathtokyai!” The tone was menacingly derisive.

“Pain’s a delusion.”

“Oh, is it?” said the Savage and, picking up a thick hazel switch, strode forward.

The man from The Fordian Science Monitor made a dash for his helicopter.”

Later, Huxley experimented with psychedelics and saw their positive potential.  So, he wrote the utopian novel Island.  The people of the island use a mushroom called moksha medicine.

“Is there any connection,” Will asked, “between what you’ve been talking about and what I saw up there in the Shiva temple?”

“Of course there is,” she answered. “The moksha-medicine takes you to the same place as you get to in meditation.”

“So why bother to meditate?”

“You might as well ask, Why bother to eat your
      dinner?”

“But according to you, the moksha-medicine is dinner.”

“It’s a banquet,” she said emphatically. “And that’s precisely why there has to be meditation. You can’t have banquets everyday. They’re too rich and they last too long. Besides, banquets are provided by a caterer; you don’t have any part in the preparation of them. For your everyday diet you have to do your own cooking. The moksha-medicine comes as an occasional treat.”

Philip K. Dick wrote about the mood organ in his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but the mood organ isn’t a physical drug.  It uses a Penfield Wave Transmitter and so can instantly alter one’s brainwaves.  By dialing different numbers one can create the desired state of mind: 
“well-disposed toward the world”

“businesslike, professional attitude”

“self-accusatory depression”

“awareness of the manifold possibilities open to me in the future”

“The desire to watch TV, no matter what is on it”

“ecstatic sexual bliss”

“pleased acknowledgement of husband’s superior wisdom in all matters”

“creative and fresh attitude toward one’s job”

Similarly, in Larry Niven’s Known Space novels, he introduced the Tasp.

The puppeteer addressed himself to Speaker-to-Animals.
“You understand that I will use the tasp every time you force me to.  I will use it if you attempt to use violence too often, or if you startle me too much; you will soon become dependent upon the tasp; if you kill me, you will still be ignobly bound by the tasp itself.”
“Very astute,” said Speaker.  “Brilliantly unorthodox tactics.  I will trouble you no more.”
“The puppeteer is right,” said Speaker.  “I would not risk the tasp again.  Too many jolts of pleasure would leave me his willing slave.  I, a kzin, enslaved to a herbivore!”

In George Lucas’ THX 1138, everyone is forced to take drugs that suppress emotions including sexual desire.

“Take four red capsules, In 10 minutes take two more. Help is on the way.”

The Matrix trilogy is a bit different.  The Matrix is an illusion, the ultimate dystopia.  In this case, the two pills are symbolic of choice, and the red pill is more of an anti-drug as it induces waking to reality.

Morpheus: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

In case you’re interested, there are many other fictional drugs.  I could describe the drugs in William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, but that would be a complicated endeavor and it doesn’t quite fit in with these other fictional drug stories.

Access_public Access: Public 17 Comments Print Post this!views (346)  

` : `

about 2 hours later

` said

Burroughs did ask the question “what would you do?”
he described Drugs as something which acted as a surrogate, something which replaced a genuine need.
Any need could be partly fulfilled or obscured with some drug.
The question “what would you do if you were faced with absolute need,” puts the reader in a position of trying to have compassion for another .
“absolute Need,” becomes a kind of analog for faith and for biological impulse.
for Burroughs, we are all addicts in one way or another, and the cure is a painful look at what life really is. Burroughs artfully works his own experience of addiction into his fiction through introduction and tricking the reader into believing that the writers own addiction is equivalent to the experience that he writes about in the first person.

The Antidote for W.S.B, was a drug that plunged the patient into absolute hell, forcing him or her to experience all the pain of Absolute Need. once the crisis was over, the patient could easily recognise the shallow fakery of any addiction, and also have a brutal compassion for every desiring, addicted being.
“Naked Lunch” tries to reveal the Horrors of Samsara and Karma, without diving into direct engagement with Buddhist texts or sanscrit terms.

I think that in many ways a drug described in fiction is a fictional drug. One could watch “Reefer Madness,”  and understand the fear of insanity  and decadence while rcognizing that  the movie is not very accurate in describing  the way pot affects people.
It could be said that every character in a novel or story  functions as an agent for a part of the authors own mind or cosciousness. In that way the drugs which effect the characters are also agents of the authors own sense of reallity.
I am curious about the promotion of SSRI drugs and how they seemed to Prromise to remove all the unreal worries and anxieties. In reallity i have heard some success stories, but i’ve also seen at least one person go from writing a lot of poetry to writing in his or her own blood and threatening to “jump.” (after Prozac)
I know enough behavioral Psychologists and MIT Bio-chem majors to understand a little about why this can happen.

Another compelling and culturally signifigant Fiction with Lots of Drug Use is the “Teachings of Don Juan,” by Carlos Castenada. Actually the first four books are relevant. he wrote others, later but Journey to Ixtlan was the one which earned him a PhD. after wards he was did credited and later people came to believe that not only were the books fiction, but so was the author.
My adoptive mother, who was an anthropologist claimed that she had met him several times at conventions in the sixties, and that he was “evasive,”
The Red Pill Blue Pill  in the Matrix most resembles the promise and the reallity of mind bending drugs from the Sixties Seventies Drug culture.
peace.
bill

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 5 hours later

Nicole said

Bill, that’s very interesting… thanks, tremendously insightful.

Ben, do you mind my asking why you’re exploring this today? I’d know better how to respond if I understood your “take” on this.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 7 hours later

Marmalade said

Nicole,

Its been on my mind recently, but I don’t remember what started my contemplations in this direction.  I wanted to blog about something and actually was intending to blog about something else, and yet for some reason this topic was calling out to be written.  The fictional drugs were on my mind because I was thinking about our relationship to reality and emotions.  The fictional drugs are just metaphors.  I wasn’t thinking about real drugs.

I was wondering what do people truly want.  If it were a real choice, would be choose the red or the blue pill?  Would people want reality even if it was harsh?  Would people want truth even if it meant discontentment?  Personally, which pill would I take?  I don’t know.

I was also wondering about the realities we create.  If we idealize happiness above all else, what kind of society is built on that ideal?  If pain, suffering, and discontentment could be entirely eliminated from human experience, would a truly good world result?  Or is there a purpose served by these emotions our culture judges as negative and useless?  If people never struggled, would society lose a depth of insight?  If artists never became imbalanced, would great art no longer be made?  If people didn’t feel discontentment, would people no longer strive to make the world better?  If people felt no dissatisfied longing, would religion lose its inspiration?

I was feeling particularly compelled by the dystopian visions.  There is a connection between how we relate to our emotions and how we relate to people.  It seems to me that a society that encourages or demands emotions to be suppressed and controlled will engender a government that suppresses and controls the populace.  And then there is the world we live in where certain drugs are encouraged or even enforced in some cases and other drugs are harshly banned.  What does our present society’s relationship to drugs say about our relationship to eachother?  What future are we creating?

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 8 hours later

Marmalade said

Bill, thanks for the nice long post!  And especially thanks for describing Burroughs’ take on drugs.  I didn’t emphasize it in this blog, but addiction is definitely an important issue.  Addiction isn’t just about drug use.  It represents an actual need.  How this all relates to faith and compassion is also very important.  The possibility of selflessness when faced with suffering comes to mind.  The Burroughs’ story I’m thinking about is  The Junky’s Christmas.  The main character’s suffering because of addiction allows him to recognize and respond to the true suffering in another.

You mentioned SSRIs.  I was reading something about psychiatric drugs.  I can’t remember which specific class of drugs the author referred to, but the author was mentioning how meds can sometimes interfere with the healing process.  I have some personal experience with psych meds, but this is an issue I don’t feel entirely sure about. 

I don’t know too much about Castenada.  I did read some of his books years ago.  Its writers such as him that helped create idealization around psychedelics.  Psychedelics are an entirely different kind of drug.  They are quite the opposite of many popular drugs in that they aren’t addictive.

Julie : Waterbearer

about 10 hours later

Julie said

Ben,

This topic really cuts me to the core.  It is so relevant, to me and to our society.  I was shocked when I read a couple of months ago that Risperdal (an antipsychotic) ranks 13 on a list of the top 20 most highly prescribed drugs in the United States.  I’m sure antidepressants were in the top five. 

What does this say about our society?  That we find life and living so damned painful that the only way we can cope is through pharmaceuticals? 

There was a time in my life that I needed antidepressant medication desperately, but the side effects were almost as bad as the illness.  I thank God I was able to get off them. 

Of course, for my son and millions like him, antipsychotic medication is the only way he is able to function somewhat normally at all. 

Still, there were times in the past several months when my son displayed psychic knowledge during his psychotic illnesses.  I would really like to find out if anyone else has known of such a thing and if there is any thought in the scientific world of studying whether psychosis is the result of any inability to integrate an actively functioning “Sixth Sense” – would we all go crazy if we could “see dead people”??  I’ve been meaning to post this on the Psychology thread, but so far haven’t had the guts to bring it up.  It’s just too close to home at the moment. 

Blessings,
Julie

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 10 hours later

Marmalade said

I took Risperdal for a while a long time ago.  It was a powerful med.  I was taking it for what the psychiatrist diagnosed as borderline thought disorder.  I’ve since tried to research what borderline thought disorder even is, but haven’t figured out what I was precisely being diagnosed with.

I’m also curious about the possible relationship between ‘abnormal’ experiences and psychiatric illnesses.  I do feel that the purpose of concensus reality is to filter out most data.  I truly doubt most people could function if they saw reality unfiltered.  I can’t even imagine what society would be like if people regularly had paranormal experiences.

You’ve hit upon a central theme in my own thinking.  Do we want reality?  And, more importantly, can we handle reality?  If not, then maybe its wise that we don’t see reality clearly.  I’ve heard the theory that maybe repression is a healthy response to trauma.  Afterall, from societys perspective, the functional person is able to compartmentalize their lives.  I do have a sneaking suspicion that the seeking of happiness and the seeking of reality are somewhat at cross-purpose to eachother.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

excellent point, Ben, you put your finger on part of my uneasiness about the whole pursuit of happiness thing. One of my disciplines is to embrace the now, even aspects that I want to reject. This is hard for me at times and I admit that i still often switch off the news because I find it unbearably harsh. But a work in progress. Which pill would I choose, red or blue? Like you I am not sure. I’d like to think I’d go to Zion but the Matrix is so attractive…

I hear you too about borderline thought disorder. Sounds a little like borderline personality disorder, which seems to translate into “girls being themselves and not conforming to societal expectations” (have you  all seen  the movie Girl Interrupted?).

I don’t think most of us could handle reality unfiltered. We are easily overwhelmed.

Julie, I hear what you are saying. It is a risky business to put something out there on the God Pod when it gets very close to home. Jay used to do that a lot but I think that he had a very rough time with how the problem of evil thread went at some points, so I respect totally your reluctance to explore something so important and tender in this forum. As much as we try to keep things on an even keel, people are people, and are not always sensitive … Thank God for anti-psychotics, but that must be so difficult…

Anti-depressants… it scares me how many people are put on them and how difficult they can be to get off. I can totally understand using them to get you through a rough patch but we are really badly over-medicated as a society. Ritalin is another over-prescribed drug, against “boyness”, which I don’t think is a disease… schools are badly set up for boys, fix that and Ritalin would not be needed.

Ben, what do we truly want? You have heard me quote from Lao Tsu about knowing at the centre of our beings who we are and what we want. But you and I know so many who are cut off from that inner knowing, who live lives of “quiet desperation” and conflictedness.

I have mixed feelings about psychedelics. Some people, like one of my new Montreal Gaia friends, feel they have found so much insight and peace through using them regularly. But there have been quite a number of casualties of “bad trips” and people hoping to get  a short cut to enlightenment who instead come to a dead end. 

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Drugs are just extreme forms of the human desire to both control experience and free it.  But obviously this isn’t limited to drugs.  Concensus reality is very powerful. 

This is my main interest in psychedelics.  Such drugs have a way of causing one never to look at concensus reality the same again.  There is a good reason that they’ve often been used in traditional religions.  And there is good reason that they were administered by shamans in rituals.  Psychedelics shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Psychedelics are a strange class of drugs.  DMT, for instance, is found throughout nature and exists within every human brain… its been used in traditional cultures probably for longer than any of the major world religions have existed, probably longer than civilization has existed… and, yet, the US government has illegalized it.  Psychedelics are non-addictive.  If you take LSD right after having taken it previously, it has little to no effect.  Some psychedelics potentially are antidotes to addiction.  Lives are destroyed everyday by the legal use of the drug alcohol when there are drugs that could help people be free from alcoholoism but which are illegal.

What is the problem with this situation?  It largely comes down to our inherited monotheistic worldview.  In traditional cultures, psychedelics (along with alcohol and tobacco) had a place within the community.  They were controlled by being used religiously.  The rules surrounding traditional drug use weren’t arbitrary laws but were based on an experential relationship with the plant spirit of that drug.  The shamanistic use of psychedelics isn’t just about freeing our perception from normal reality because its also about supporting an important tradition within the community itself.  As soon as direct contact with the spirits is lost, religion becomes lifeless and so too the community.  Monotheism which says drugs are bad or even evil is also the very institution that desroyed the shamanistic cultures and hence destroyed the shamanistic traditions that taught the safe use of drugs.  Our society has a problem with addiction because we’ve lost contact with the spiritual experience that is the heart of a community.

I’m not trying to be a proponent for drugs here.  What I’m trying to point out is the situation of our experience being controlled.  Does a boy have a right to act like a boy or should he have his maleness controlled with Ritalin because its not socially acceptable?  Do we have a right to spiritual experience or must alternative experiences be controlled and punished?  Who gets to control my emotions, my experience, my perception… me or the government?  Are these dystopian visions where everyone is forced to take specific drugs really that far off or just around the corner?  Will we even see it coming?  We are an addictive society that looks to drugs for the answers to our problems… why would we resist such a future?  And already technology is on the market that can control brain functioning without the clumsy use of actually having to ingest something.  If our reality was being controlled, how would we even know it?  Our brains become entrained to tv every time we watch it which is essentially a form of addiction, but do most people think of themselves as addicted while watching tv… why?

Why is concensus reality so powerful?  Why does it seem where not able to handle reality unfiltered?

I have a theory about this.  Every culture has its consensus reality including traditional cultures.  Even psychedelics can be integrated into a concensus reality and even used to support it.  The drive for concensus reality seems a natural impulse.  Afterall, we are social animals.  Evolutionarily speaking, objective truth has limited value.  In order to survive, a human doesn’t need to know much.  All that a human needs to know is some practical knowledge about his immediate environment and community.  A humans just needs to know two basic things… what their niche is in whatever eco-system they find themselves in… and what is their role in the community they are born into.  Even today, the same basic rules for survival apply.  The average person doesn’t need to know that much.

So, if this is the case, how did humans manage to create such a complex society and amass so much knowledge.  Its not entirely unnatural.  We are omnivores and primates that have a wide diet often also have curious natures.  We are survivors because we are explorers.  Even so, we’ve come a long way and this can’t explain the explosion of civilization that happened thousands of years ago.

I like Paul Shepard’s idea that civilization is contrary to human nature because we’re still “beings of the Paleolithic”.  He sees modern humans as psychologically stunted and I’d guess that this relates also to the lack of initiatory rites in our culture.  Maybe we project parental roles onto our governments because we’re not fully matured adults ourselves.  The desire for concensus reality is natural, but it becomes even more emphasized in a larger society where control of the masses becomes more difficult.

As I wasn’t trying to romanticize about drugs, neither do I want to romanticize about the past.  My basic point is that reality and truth are only of minor significance to humans, and this is no less true now that we’ve seemed to have taken control of our collective destiny through civilization. 

This is a dilemma for me personally.  I idealize truth and reality, and yet nature doesn’t idealize truth and reality.  Why does truth and reality matter?  Why not submit myself without resistance to the consensual reality of my culture?  Why not just pick some ideology and base my life upon it without question?

The thing is I know that, if I did, I’d probably be happier… more contented, more successful, etc.  Why should I resist my own human nature, my own upbringing?  There is only one reason.  And that is if I believe that I’m not limited by my human nature.  So, what is beyond the human desire for consensus reality?  What is reality?  And why are certain rare humans so drawn towards what is beyond that they’re willing to sacrifice everything else?

Julie : Waterbearer

1 day later

Julie said

Ben,

you’re asking so  many important questions, truly I’m in awe.  Gonna take a while to process it though, but wanted to let you know I appreciate what you have said here and will respond eventually once it filters through my seven layered brain … 1) reptile, 2) primate, 3) ego-centered infant, 4) depressed teenager, 5) adult survivor, 6) free thinker 7) seventh layer – hey, where’d it go?  I left it here a few minutes ago, I could’ve sworn I saw it last week …

nikki…..hey are you coming to LA on the 12th or not???  Can’t you wait and come in August for the Beach Party???? Pul-eeeze???

Julie : Waterbearer

1 day later

Julie said

Okay – found the seventh layer of my brain.  Here you go:

 

Drugs are just extreme forms of the human desire to both control experience and free it.  But obviously this isn’t limited to drugs.  I agree.  I was attracted to religious experience for the same reason – control (via aligning myself with the powers that be) and freedom (to be free from the confines of the material world.)  Concensus reality is very powerful. 
What is the problem with this situation?  It largely comes down to our inherited monotheistic worldview.  In traditional cultures, psychedelics (along with alcohol and tobacco) had a place within the community.  They were controlled by being used religiously.  The rules surrounding traditional drug use weren’t arbitrary laws but were based on an experential relationship with the plant spirit of that drug.  The shamanistic use of psychedelics isn’t just about freeing our perception from normal reality because its also about supporting an important tradition within the community itself.  As soon as direct contact with the spirits is lost, religion becomes lifeless and so too the community.  I agree.  Monotheism which says drugs are bad or even evil is also the very institution that desroyed the shamanistic cultures and hence destroyed the shamanistic traditions that taught the safe use of drugs.  I’m not sure what you mean, that monotheism says drugs are bad.  Drugs as we know them today are a relatively new invention, not known at the time of Christ, for instance.  I feel the social need to control people’s experiences relates more to the corporate need to control the work force and maintain us in a state of monotonous predictability.  Workers having epiphanies don’t show up and count beans from 9 to 5 very well.  Our society has a problem with addiction because we’ve lost contact with the spiritual experience that is the heart of a community.  Absolutely. 
I’m not trying to be a proponent for drugs here.  What I’m trying to point out is the situation of our experience being controlled.  Does a boy have a right to act like a boy absolutely! We have been emasculating our boys for years or should he have his maleness controlled with Ritalin because its not socially acceptable?  Although, I believe there are environmental factors causing structural changes in the our children’s brains resulting in autism and ADHD that make it impossible for some children to sit still, be quiet and focus enough to produce written work as is expected by the schools, and for which they are being medicated.  What is needed is to find the cause of this and eliminate it if possible.  Do we have a right to spiritual experience yes definitely or must alternative experiences be controlled and punished?  Who gets to control my emotions, my experience, my perception… me or the government?  You – unless you are a danger to yourself.  I know – there’s a very fine line there.  Civil liberties versus civil protection – seat belts, motorcycle helmets, vaccinations all fall in this category.  Are these dystopian visions where everyone is forced to take specific drugs really that far off or just around the corner?  Speaking from my own experience, we are actually erring on the side of caution at this point.  It is next to impossible to have someone involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness unless they have a gun in their hand.  I have heard of parents lying to police and saying their psychotic child threatened them, just to get them hospitalized on a 72 hour hold.  Otherwise the police can’t take them in.  Will we even see it coming?  We are an addictive society that looks to drugs for the answers to our problems… why would we resist such a future?  And already technology is on the market that can control brain functioning without the clumsy use of actually having to ingest something.  If our reality was being controlled, how would we even know it?  Our brains become entrained to tv every time we watch it which is essentially a form of addiction, but do most people think of themselves as addicted while watching tv… why?  True….I will never forget the line from “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane” in which Jodie Foster says, “television is stultifying.”  I no longer watch tee-vee and I feel much more free and alive for it.  Even some of the gas pumps here have video feeds, it makes me sick.  They’re everywhere – the grocery checkout too – and this week I saw a dentists’ office that had t.v.’s next to the patient’s chairs – I guess to make them feel better?  No thanks. 
Why is concensus reality so powerful?  Why does it seem where not able to handle reality unfiltered? I would have to venture a guess that this is the way God created us, at least at this point in our evolution.  I have always sensed there is much more “behind the curtain” and felt quite frustrated that I couldn’t access it.  More comes through now, though, than in the past, so I’m pretty sure that if and when I’m ready, I will experience more input. 
I have a theory about this.  Every culture has its consensus reality including traditional cultures.  Even psychedelics can be integrated into a concensus reality and even used to support it.  The drive for concensus reality seems a natural impulse.  Afterall, we are social animals.  Evolutionarily speaking, objective truth has limited value.  In order to survive, a human doesn’t need to know much.  All that a human needs to know is some practical knowledge about his immediate environment and community.  A humans just needs to know two basic things… what their niche is in whatever eco-system they find themselves in… and what is their role in the community they are born into.  Even today, the same basic rules for survival apply.  The average person doesn’t need to know that much.  True.    
So, if this is the case, how did humans manage to create such a complex society and amass so much knowledge.  Is that what is known as Complexity theory?   That systems constantly evolve to more complex states as they go along?  I think that is part of our divine nature.  To expand out into more complex forms and then collapse again into primordial parts, then reassemble again….like LEGOS.  Its not entirely unnatural.  We are omnivores and primates that have a wide diet often also have curious natures.  We are survivors because we are explorers.  Even so, we’ve come a long way and this can’t explain the explosion of civilization that happened thousands of years ago.
This is a dilemma for me personally.  I idealize truth and reality, and yet nature doesn’t idealize truth and reality.  Oh, but it does.  Go camping alone in the wilderness and you will be thrust into NOTHING BUT total reality.  Survival.  Snowstorms.  Grizzly bears.  Whispering spirits of the mountain gods.  Woo-hoo!  Seriously, I would argue that the reason for our collective angst is that we are completely out of touch with reality, a la your comment about t.v.  What is less real that American television, American food, and American politics?   Why does truth and reality matter?  Because they are true and real.  Why not submit myself without resistance to the consensual reality of my culture?  Why not just pick some ideology and base my life upon it without question?  Because you are too smart for that, Grasshopper. 
The thing is I know that, if I did, I’d probably be happier… more contented, more successful, etc.  Why should I resist my own human nature, my own upbringing?  There is only one reason.  And that is if I believe that I’m not limited by my human nature.  Your human nature is to grow, create, and become.  It is society that tries to limit you.  So, what is beyond the human desire for consensus reality?  Because we can only process so much data before we blow our circuits.  What is reality?  What you perceive – even the things you think you can almost perceive, but not quite.  Even the things you WANT to perceive and can’t.  All those are real.  And why are certain rare humans so drawn towards what is beyond that they’re willing to sacrifice everything else?  Because, as my son says, we are THPE-THUL.  That’s why we’re in THPE-THUL Ed. 

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Hey Julie, yes, I need to come to LA from the 11th to the 13th, cause I have IAKF meetings to run in the area and have made promises to everyone in the association that I’d do it . Hope it still works for you – if not, I will make other arrangements . PM me your phone info and we’ll finalise everything directly one way or another ok?

I wish I could come to your beach party in August but besides my trip to Scotland which is already booked, all my trips this year revolve around work, and work gets too busy in Aug-Nov for any more travels…

Ok, now to respond to Ben’s and your responses…

Yes, there are definitely huge problems with the level of addiction in this society, to uppers and downers, Ritalin and prescription drugs of all kinds, cigarettes, alcohol, pornography, sex, TV, the music industry, compulsive consumerism, sports, politics … the list is depressingly long.

all of these take us away from reality and ourselves and God.

we do need to engage with spirit, engage with life, God, our true selves.

the noise is deafening. i too have stopped watching TV many years ago, and commercial radio. i have chosen not to medicate myself when depressed but to deal with it more directly.  (Note – this does not mean I think medication is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s the best way to heal or deal with whatever. Just not for me, so far)

we have lost our way as a culture. as individuals we need to find the way back.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Julie,

I’m not sure what you mean, that monotheism says drugs are bad.  Drugs as we know them today are a relatively new invention, not known at the time of Christ, for instance.

I was primarily thinking about psychedelics, but Muslims and certain Christians are even against imbibing alcohol.  Many of the religions that Christianity destroyed probably used various plant-based drugs.  The Greek mystery religions that Christianity replaced quite likely used psychoactive plants.  Some have theorized that the Gnostics partook of psychedelic mushrooms.  Anyways, certainly various drugs (recreational and religious) were known of at that time.   As for the shamanistic religions Christianity butted heads with along the way, a plant spirit that acts as a mediary to the otherworld is in direct competition with Christ’s role as a mediary to God.  Some of the ‘witches’ who were killed probably were knowledgable of plant-based drugs, maybe even psychedelics.

I feel the social need to control people’s experiences relates more to the corporate need to control the work force and maintain us in a state of monotonous predictability.  Workers having epiphanies don’t show up and count beans from 9 to 5 very well.

Yes, that too.

Although, I believe there are environmental factors causing structural changes in the our children’s brains resulting in autism and ADHD that make it impossible for some children to sit still, be quiet and focus enough to produce written work as is expected by the schools, and for which they are being medicated.

Have you heard of Dr. Leonard Sax?  He writes about this.

You – unless you are a danger to yourself.  I know – there’s a very fine line there.  Civil liberties versus civil protection – seat belts, motorcycle helmets, vaccinations all fall in this category.  

I agree there is a balance.  I’m neither arguing for or against drugs, nor for or against government involvement.  I’m just looking at the possibilities of where the world might be going.

Speaking from my own experience, we are actually erring on the side of caution at this point.  It is next to impossible to have someone involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness unless they have a gun in their hand.  I have heard of parents lying to police and saying their psychotic child threatened them, just to get them hospitalized on a 72 hour hold.  Otherwise the police can’t take them in.

You may be right.  That is outside of my personal experience.  But I understand where you’re coming from.  My mom just retired from working in the public schools, and she noticed a big difference in how kids are treated now as compared to the past.  Basically, a teacher can do very little to control a child.  Even if a kid who is larger than the teacher is hitting the teacher, the teacher can’t do anything but passive self-defense without possibly getting sued.  But passive self-defense is nearly impossible with a full-grown kid which means the teacher just has to let themselves be beat up until several other people can help to subdue the kid.

True….I will never forget the line from “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane” in which Jodie Foster says, “television is stultifying.”  I no longer watch tee-vee and I feel much more free and alive for it.  Even some of the gas pumps here have video feeds, it makes me sick.  They’re everywhere – the grocery checkout too – and this week I saw a dentists’ office that had t.v.’s next to the patient’s chairs – I guess to make them feel better?  No thanks.

TV can be problematic, but its not without benefits to society.  Modern civilization wouldn’t be possible without it.  I try to keep it in context of all the challenges of our culture.  Despite its potential for addiction, its not our biggest problem and maybe not even inherently problematic.  I was just using it as an example of how pervasive and subtle addictive behavior is in our culture.

Is that what is known as Complexity theory?   That systems constantly evolve to more complex states as they go along?  I think that is part of our divine nature.  To expand out into more complex forms and then collapse again into primordial parts, then reassemble again….like LEGOS.

I don’t really know much of anything about complexity theory.  That complexity is an evolutionary impulse seems like a possiblity.  That is similar to an Integral view of development.  At the moment, I don’t know if this possibility makes sense to me or not.  There does seem to be some truth to it.

Oh, but it does.  Go camping alone in the wilderness and you will be thrust into NOTHING BUT total reality.  Survival.  Snowstorms.  Grizzly bears.  Whispering spirits of the mountain gods.  Woo-hoo! 

By nature, I was meaning our biological natures.  But nature as you’re meaning it is something else.  What I’m wondering about is the relationship between our biological natures and our ‘spiritual’ natures.  I feel there is something other than biological impulses, but I’m not sure exactly what that is. 

Seriously, I would argue that the reason for our collective angst is that we are completely out of touch with reality, a la your comment about t.v.  What is less real that American television, American food, and American politics?

Maybe so.  At this point, I start to wonder even what the word ‘reality’ means.  How is something more or less real?  And when we refer to spiritual reality as real reality, what are we referring to?

Because you are too smart for that, Grasshopper.

Thanks for the vote of confidence.  🙂

Your human nature is to grow, create, and become.  It is society that tries to limit you.

I’m curious as to what human nature means to you.  How do you see human nature as different from society?

Because, as my son says, we are THPE-THUL.  That’s why we’re in THPE-THUL Ed.

Well… that clears everything up.  :):)

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Thanks, Ben, I’m glad you brought that last up. What do you and your son mean by those enigmatic letters, Julie?

Ben, spiritual reality, and that includes the inner world of things like Love and Longing for beauty, is more real because it is eternal. The things we think of as real in this world are fleeting. Blink your eyes and that image on the screen is gone, turn around and that band that was so popular is villified and scorned, tomorrow the green leaves of the tree will be autumn glory and then they will be dead and blown away… but spirit and the things of spirit go on forever, and shine on beyond space time. Plato had a glimpse of this when he thought of the Real and Forms… you’re probably familiar with his thinking.

I don’t know how Julie differentiate human nature from society, but to me, the aggregate of society is a much lower common denominator than any individual human spirit –  our True  Selves are far beyond what we can imagine while societal “norms” try to shackle us and limit us to far, far less than we can think, do and be.

Yes, there is good in TV. Things are not good or bad in and of themselves, usually. But for many the minuses outweigh the pluses, in terms of not just all the garbage they consume through all the commercials and other kinds of dreck they watch, but the overwhelming passivity and anti-social nature of the thing. For all the important downsides of computer addiction, at least it is a far more interactive and social activity…. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nicole, this…
“Plato had a glimpse of this when he thought of the Real and Forms… you’re probably familiar with his thinking.”
…and this…
“our True  Selves are far beyond what we can imagine while societal “norms” try to shackle us and limit us to far, far less than we can think, do and be.”
…remind me of Jung.

Jung has influenced me to a great degree.  I love his view of archetypes which are often underappreciated and misunderstood.  I tend to think that archetypes are platonically more real than everyday perceived reality and especially more real than collective/consensual reality.  Jung was always wary of groups.  He was wary of his followers creating an institute in his name and he was wary of his typology being systematized for large-scale use.  Jung definitely believed that its best to trust in one’s own direct personal experience.  But I don’t know what Jung thought about tv.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

yes, yes, Ben, archetypes, it’s been so long I’m passionate about them too.  Jung too! He is so cool. I think he was very right to be wary of institutes and systematised thought. We see the problems with Wilber and the II, don’t we? Direct personal experience is in fact the only way we can really engage reality. i wonder what he would have thought about tv, good question…

Julie : Waterbearer

3 days later

Julie said

Ben & Nicole,

Awesome discussion ~ covers so much I can’t wrap my noodle around it yet, but in the meantime, I can at least decipher “THPE-SHUL” – it’s “SPECIAL” with a lisp…. :))

Love ~

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

LOL Julie! yes of course… I’m thpeshul too :):)

I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on Jung, archetypes etc

7 thoughts on “Fictional Worlds and Fictional Drugs

    • I’ve entirely lost in the system. There is too much corporate money and too much entrenched power. The deep state goes much further than elected officials. Many of the regulatory agencies headed by non-elected officials are controlled by corporate interests. The bureaucracy of the system is untouchable by elections. It can’t be reformed from within, without a wholesale dismantling of the government which would basically mean a coup.

        • Genuine reform from within is possible. And it can sometimes lead to a better government. There are historical examples.

          The example that always comes to mind is Portugal. Their Carnation revolution was a peaceful transition of government from police state to social democracy. The generals in the military simply came to an agreement to stop supporting the oppressive government. There can’t be a police state without the power of violence to enforce it.

          Could you imagine if the US military (and local police) all of a sudden refused to do the bidding of the corporatists, plutocrats, and oligarchs? It’s unlikely to happen, of course. We Americans aren’t talented at peaceful change. The US ruling elite will most likely go down fighting, possibly fighting among themselves, as the rest of society watches in helpless despair.

          Then again, the whole mess might simply collapse in on itself, like the house of cards that it is. Or in a weakened state of overextended imperialism and internal division, the US power structure might finally fall prey to a successful attack by a foreign power. Whatever the case, it is hard imagining how this could end well.

          The best case scenario is that the US will experience generations of a slow decline into irrelevance. But what is the likelihood that a slow decline will be tolerated when we could go out in a blaze of glory or self-immolation?

          • Well said, Mr. Steele. Great thoughts and insights as always. I can only hope that we Americans (and our free brothers and sisters in Canada…can’t forget @altandmain) shall have the will to channel our ancestors and choose to fight on our feet as oppose to being enslaved on our knees during our “slow decline into irrelevance”. The actions and intentions of the status quo clearly indicate their desires for a modern system of feudalism as “rentier” economic practices and policies continue to dominate and replace freedom and democracy for a citizenry whose inalienable rights are quickly becoming more an illusion than reality.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s