At Powell's about to listen to a scholar discuss psychedelic spirituality in Robert Anton Wilson, Terence McKenna, and PKD. Fun fact: I'm eternally grateful to have devoured every single book Wilson ever wrote from the ages of 13 to 17. Even if I now agree with very little of what he posited, it was a perfect antidote to the center-right DC-area liberalism I was brought up on. In many ways he taught me to think, up until I thought enough to leave him behind!

powells.com/book/high-weirdnes

Also word is he was a legendary asshole who probably would've despised me for deciding he was full of shit, even though "anyone who tells you he thinks he knows what is going on is probably full of shit" was reportedly a placard on his work desk for many years

I printed out and had taped up so many Bob Wilson quotes on my walls when I was a teenager

The crowd is full of the gray balding pony tailed heads I was expecting!

This guy was one of the editors of PKD's Exegesis, and he says that the published edition is about 10% of the total material, and the other 90% is "junk DNA territory"! Just endless rambling

Now he's talking about how Bob Wilson was a kind of prefiguration of our modern infowars ancient aliens era, playing with epistemology and ontology and playing this kind of game with his readers that either left you agnostic or Stark raving paranoid

Discussing the lost folks of the 1960s into the darker and more creepy 70s, the huge rise of cults etc, and how this time is not really integrated at all into our American historical narrative of counterculture

"We must respect reason and science but it's important to embrace and take seriously the extremely fucking weird" [paraphrased]

take psychedelic experience SERIOUSLY without taking it LITERALLY

McKenna and his brother apparently loooooved DMT, though according to a study the speaker cites that I missed, something like only 1 out of 5 people have a pleasant experience with it

Author discusses "resonation" as a key piece of psychedelic phenomenology, where correlation between two given concepts, but that explicitly rejects causation, is still enough to provide meaning

McKenna says that beings were communicating with him in his trips but he acknowledged that it was explicitly assembled through his own cultural experience: fragments of memories, ad jingles, religious upbringing, etc

"Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy was a preview of the kind of mindset where people play games with the ideas of truth, especially in the realm of political thought, which has become a huge part of our everyday discourse" [paraphrased]

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Author posits that while DMT has been part of counterculture for as long as lsd, DMT didn't really enter the broad counterculture discourse until the 90s and electronic music culture because it resonated with the public's sense of digital media and "cyberspace" broadly.

My take is, maybe cyberpunk primed the public to enjoy DMT trips more than the 60s generation ever enjoyed them

"There is not a huge distinction between experiences of the weird and the texts we create to explain or describe them. They are in fact in a loop with one another."

"Really, all of this comes down to the question: what IS imagination?"

fuck, the first chapter of this book talks about object oriented ontology and speculative realism so... yeah this is the perfect book for me

@darius As a huge fan of Erik Davis' work (you should check out his podcast and techgnosis.com) I'm glad you've discovered this well known guy, it's super weird that you didn't mention his name. It's a great book, and I've a little jealous I missed that talk.

@wschenk I assumed people would click the link! I've never heard of him, I assumed he was some random academic, the reading wasn't particularly well attended (or poorly attended)

@darius he's scholarly in his writings but he's certainly not an ivory tower type, which is what was jarring in that description to me. But have fun getting deeper into his work, I've really enjoyed it (esp the podcast for those road trance type car trips) and I hope you enjoy it also

@darius Hah! Cyberpunk certainly likes to play with the boundaries between reality and perception, and normalizes disembodiment. And is generally pretty trippy.

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily ... Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding...”

― William Gibson, Neuromancer

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