Reality and the Psychedelic Experience – Diana Slattery

The following is excerpted from Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics, Language, and the Evolution of Consciousness, published by North Atlantic Books/Evolver Editions. 

“In both art and science now, the matter of consciousness is high on the agenda. Science is trying hard to explain consciousness, with distinctly limited success. It seems to pose the most intractable of problems. For the artist, consciousness is more to be explored than to be explained, more to be transformed than understood, more to be reframed than reported.” —Roy Ascott , 2003

English: Neural Correlates Of Consciousness

Psychonauts, at some point, due to the nature of their experiences, become philosophers by default. I came out of my second DMT adventure spluttering, “what-the-fuck.” Over and over. Every thought that arose in response to the experience was immediately translated into a resounding “what-the fuck.”

Finally the sentence became “It’s the what-the-fuck drug.” I was expressing the inexpressible content of a head-on collision with the Unspeakable in the only words I could find in the proper emotional register: befuddlement, bewilderment, and the powerful sense that the whole thing was so improbable that to “tell it like it is” would be to sound absurd. Really absurd. This was accompanied by a lot of helpless laughter and head-shaking, as I was dumped out of darshan with the Unspeakable in its most alien manifestation ever. As words returned, the problem deepened. How could I say that an experience I just had was both patently absurd and more real than real, at the same time? How could this be so real, and at the same time have its reality so in question, so laughable, when it so departs from the consensus of what is real and what is not back at baseline?

The experience threw a sparklyspanner in the cognitive machinery, forcing me to go back to basic assumptions in my thought processes. Philosophy begins with these basic questions of knowing and being. In classical Western philosophy, epistemology is the study of knowing, and ontology is the study of being. How could I say that an experience I just had was both patently absurd, and more real than real, at the same time?

Read the rest via Reality and the Psychedelic Experience – Reality Sandwich.

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