Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Death of Our Innocence.

Today I watched the PBS movie Jonestown, The Life and Death of People’s Temple. It was a pretty remarkable film. Sometimes the right people get together and the chemistry is good. They didn’t dwell on the end.

I don’t remember where I was the day I heard about the massacre. I remember where I was when JFK got killed but for some reason I don’t want to tell you. Ironically, I was in Texas, but not Dallas. I remember where I was when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed. I was in prison.

When Elvis went down I was with Gary Bonner who wrote “Celebrate” (dance to the music) and a few other things. An ancient woman opened her door as Gary and I were going up to his apartment. She was Irish. She said “Ah Gary, did ya hear? Elvis Presley died.”

All those places that I was, the things I did, the people I met, the dreams I had... sometimes it can be strange looking back on it all. There’s this person who was always me. I can remember him in many places. He was behind the personality. That person never changed. The personality changed. It was shaped by consciousness and circumstance; what happened, what got heard and the particular way I reacted to it.

I’m just some guy in an enormous crowd. I think I’m different. Most of us do. Well, we are different, unique as a snowflake. But, we have a commonality underneath. It is what makes us empathetic. Lacking that, and there are some that do, you are no longer human.

Now I’m sitting here writing this. I have written so many things and I don’t know who wrote them or why, not really. I don’t know why I do the things I do or feel the way I feel and I suspect that is something else we all share; sure, a lot of us are dead certain who they are and what they are about. I think of them as non-psychedelicized. It isn’t necessarily bad to be sure of who you are. It could go either way.

Before I took psychedelics I was delusional, in the same way that I think many people; people I pass on the street or watch from a park bench, are delusional. They think they are a particular someone and they aren’t anyone at all. That’s what I found out anyway. I found out that the ‘me’ I had been was just a particular collection of thoughts that were determined by who I thought I was. That vanished instantly and a completely new being emerged. To attempt to explain what happened to me is futile. I’d wind up making Proust look like he didn’t have much to say. Balzac?

Although I was changed, ‘made aware’ is probably a better way to say it... the personality continued to be what it was, except freer, more exuberant. There was this vitality that I had been unaware of before. I felt like I had become an old man even though I was just in my late teens. All of that veneer, the imagined weight and sorrow just melted away. It wasn’t based on anything real. Nothing that I had been thinking and feeling was real.

I had been going to the library. I lived in Washington D.C. at the time. I would sit in the library all day sometimes, reading Freud, Nietzsche and whatever heavy and ponderous things I thought would make me smarter, as well as explain to me how come I was the way I was and what did it all mean.

After the psychedelic event, these writers became unimportant to me. I had realized that it was very simple. It just was. Why it was, how it was, who it was were not important. It just was and that was a fundamental thing. Nothing else could ever have as much importance. Nothing else could ever be as real and as present. Life revealed itself as a pointless escapade; a game of solitary hide and seek. It was the personality’s world, not mine. Still, I was there and had to do something.

So, I took my personality out for a long walk called life, with mixed results. I laughed and cried, injured myself and sometimes others... did this, did that. Now I’m sitting here writing this and realizing that this will just go on until the envelope fades... until les visible is reality. Who was that masked man? Any of us could ask that question.

We’ve basically got two states. There is the state where we are occupied and there is the state where we are aware that we are. Sure, there are a lot of subdivisions but that is what it amounts to basically. That aware state is the same for everyone, may even be the same person. This is why people of a particular consciousness are aware of the same.

This is why some people freak out on psychedelics. There is this single issue of how attached you are to what you think you are. Just letting go solves that because what you really are then immediately presents itself. From wonder into wonder it continues forever. Not letting go can be really unpleasant. Psychedelicized or not psychedelicized it still goes on all through life; this letting go and not letting go. It’s all we are involved in. Where we are with that determines where we are with everything else.

Being ‘really’ cool is letting go all the time and the aptly named ‘uptight’ explains itself. What life does is push our buttons. The whole point of life is having our buttons pushed until we let go. We don’t have any other options. Death is letting go. Dying all the time is the gateway to immortality. Giving up everything makes you rich. Attaching no importance to anything besides being makes you free. We literally design our lives and... what a lot of funny architecture.

It’s because of this one thing that all of the virtues have meaning. To be magnanimous and compassionate becomes the natural extension of your being. It’s not an act. It’s the way it is. Because a lot of people don’t behave this way it can be difficult due to the personality push and shove. Simple truths... no big mystery about life except what you will never, ever comprehend. You can realize that whatever ‘that’ is, it is benevolent and so you have nothing to worry about. Do unto others makes good practical sense. It’s a law in operation.

Religion and all of the colorful garments that make up the visible life are just window dressing. The body beneath is the thing. I am fond of saying, when the truth takes off her clothes the world disappears.

We lose our innocence but... we can get it back. There is a sad irony about senility. However closely one cleaves to the essential self, however intensely one strives to let go (now there is an amusing contradiction in terms) that is the determinant of regenerated innocence or senility. We waste our lives if we concern ourselves with anything besides that which is.

Jonestown, the deaths of icons, our own personal betrayals of our essential self, the compromises and the lies, the sad appearance of a desperate world always on the verge, these things take our innocence one step at a time. What we are thinking and what we remember encloses and defines our world. Change the way you think and you change the world. We do not have to imprison ourselves. Innocence is a curious word. It means more than it seems.


Anonymous said...

Well I've never taken any psychadelics, but I hear you brother.

The paragraph that starts with "Being really cool..." is one of the greats.


Anonymous said...

I've read your blogs for awhile now, and it's been fascinating to notice, as you offer details of your own life, how many of my own experiences have paralleled yours. I too read those heavy authors, and also set them aside when I discovered psychedelics in my late teens, and just last week I saw the Jonestown documentary (among other things not needing mention).

That film left me speechless... how could those people, who began with such a noble vision, end up drinking that Kool-Aid? Well, it turns out that most of them probably didn't drink it by choice, and yet it found it's way down their throats or inside their veins nonetheless.

I suppose it contains a lesson about identity; that even though we are just a bundle of vague sensory perceptions who sometimes think "we" know who "we" are, there is some protective value in maintaining a sliver of self-delusion regarding who we think we are, since it may serve to keep us out of someone else's grand-delusion, which may be very dark indeed. Ego is just one tool in the toolbox (that most seem to use exclusively) and so has it's purpose- maybe this is it.

Surrendering our ego to anything but the Great Mystery leads to spiked Kool-Aid (or a shot in the back), but glorifying our ego above all else leads to our current self-absorbed culture of vacuity, which ultimately impairs and disfigures our compassion as much as greed, and before we know it we're drinking the elixir of Death, wondering how it got to this point even as we swallow. Life really seems like a minefield sometimes, but love and compassion show the way through, and if we lose those, we better watch our step.

I think the true entheogens (a term more appropriate than 'psychedelic' in many cases) are the opposite of hallucinogens, in that they tear the veils from our eyes and blast the crust off our minds, IF we are open to such experiences. Undulating, flowing patterns in the carpet show how carpet "really" looks, for example, since each moment brings new photons to our eyes from slightly different angles. Drugs like cocaine or meth are the real hallucinogens, reinforcing our self-delusions like nothing else, and explains their popularity over entheogens. This must change. I think civilization, and possibly the human race itself, depends on this change occurring... soon.

I enjoy your writing, but who is this "I" that enjoys? Either way, please keep writing while I figure it out...

-The Village idiot

Anonymous said...

Suggested background music:

Please allow me to introduce myself
Im a man of wealth and taste
Ive been around for a long, long year
Stole many a mans soul and faith
And I was round when jesus christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around st. petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
Im a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached bombay
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me lucifer
cause Im in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or Ill lay your soul to waste, um yeah
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game ...

Anonymous said...

It's far too easy to sit back and blame someone or something else for our weaknesses instead of finding a (foolproof?) method to weed out the people who would do deadly harm to us or our world and eliminate them.
Now before all of you bleeding hearts get out of your comfortable chairs and protest 'You can't do that, what if you eliminate an innocent person.'
My answer is you can't get any worse than all of the innocent people being eliminated at the moment and we aren't doing anything about that, are we??
Look at China. At least they have the guts to kill individuals who have done heinous acts. And swiftly too!
With power comes responsibility.
We are told that rape terminating in death cases is ‘a power thing’. Zheng Xiaoyu, knowingly performed acts that resulted in death. George Bush puts troops in foreign lands with full knowledge that they will kill innocent people.
These instances are no brainers. And ‘only doing as ordered’ is no excuse.
I’m not all that keen when it comes to an eye for an eye, but, knowing that death will be a consequence of an action, why not?
If you believe in a god, most tell you, (Boom) Thou shalt not kill.
This deity also gave you a thinking brain that can solve problems. Killing innocent people – no. Killing people who you know have killed innocents (and may kill again) – yes.
Again a no brainer.
And of course all of this tempered with compassion goes without saying.