Friday, February 20, 2015

The Rabbit of Usk and Huxley

Some of us have again been reading about where the Mystical Experience Meets Science, and here there's a whole lot of recent work that's being done with psychoactive chemicals. The brain I was told by Huxley, and I'll have to paraphrase, was a paradise of 'fools gold' but well worth visiting so as to obtain insight into an existence that has no ego, no 'what about me.' He wasn't the first to conduct such experiments. The Rabbit's own mortal enemy De Quincy wrote thousands of words on his own experiences of the opium den. This condition of reducing the 'what about me' is the knock on a doctor's door in the hope of being prescribed some kind of sedative. And too it engages the iron discipline of meditation, where minds have also been known to travel. Or a person could follow The Artist's example, wait until it's -7F then go outside discuss purpose with the gods by walking spirals into twelve inches of virgin snow.

Now it's probably true that The Rabbit of Usk may jump from the page as a sort of Disney Character with big front teeth, floppy ears, drives a convertible car and says something like "Dagnabit Musci."  Which is fine, because whether you're a Shaman or a Freud or a Priest or a Neuroscientist or a writer of pulp, the point is that from the first moments of becoming aware a new brain has a great deal to make sense of. Worth thinking of those early experiences of living as being more like an acid trip than something remotely comprehensible. Then Huxley's Doors of Perception begin to close tight, and you're being potty trained, dressed up in little outfits, made to brush your teeth and told what you can do and what you can't do, so that you're all ready and waiting to learn your two times table and the Highway Code. And in this area of course, our hero got a D with a plus for effort.

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