Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'Darwin's Pharmacy'

From an interview by Jason Silva of Richard Doyle, author of the new book, Darwin's Pharmacy. An intro paragraph explains, "In Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants and the Evolution of The Noƶsphere, the transhumanist philosopher focuses on his favorite technology: the psychedelic, “ecodelic” plants and chemicals (read: drugs) that can help make us process more information and make us aware of the effect of language and music and nature on our consciousness, thereby offering us an awareness of our own ability to effect our own consciousness through our linguistic and creative choices. And that, from an evolutionary perspective, is simply sexy."

Here is an excerpt (whole thing here):

JASON: Robert Anton Wilson spoke about "reality tunnels".... These 'constructs' can limit our perspectives and perception of reality, they can trap us, belittle us, enslave us, make us miserable or set us free... How can we hack our reality tunnel? Is it possible to use rhetoric and/or psychedelics to "reprogram" our reality tunnel?

RICH: We do nothing but program and reprogram our reality tunnels! Seriously, the Japanese reactor crisis follows on the BP oil spill as a reminder that we are deeply interconnected on the level of infrastructure – technology is now planetary in scale, so what happens here effects somebody, sometimes Everybody, there. These infrastructures – our food sheds, our energy grid, our global media - run on networks, protocols, global standards, agreements: language, software, images, databases and their mycelial networks. The historian Michel Foucault called these “discourses”, but we need to connect these discourses to the nonhuman networks with which they are enmeshed, and globalization has been in part about connecting discourses to each other across the planet. Ebola ends up in Virginia, Starbucks in Hong Kong. This has been true for a long time, of course – Mutual Assured Destruction was planetary in scale and required a communication and control structure linking, for example, a Trident submarine under the arctic ice sheet – remember that? - to a putatively civilian political structure Eisenhower rightly warned us about: the military industrial complex. The moon missions illustrate this principle as well – we remember what was said as much as what else was done, and what was said, for a while, seem to induce a sense of truly radical and planetary possibility.

So if we think of words as a description of reality rather than part of the infrastructure of reality, we miss out on the way different linguistic patterns act as catalysts for different realities. I call these “rhetorical softwares”. In my first two books, before I really knew about Wilson's work or had worked through Korzybski with any intensity, I called these “rhetorical softwares.”

Now the first layer of our reality tunnel is our implicit sense of self – this is the only empirical reality any of us experiences – what we subjectively experience. RAW was a brilliant analyst of the ways experience is shaped by the language we use to describe it. One of my favorite examples from his work is his observation that in English, “reality” is a noun, so we start to treat it as a “thing”, when in fact reality, this cosmos, is also quite well mapped as an action – a dynamic unfolding for 13.7 billion years. That is a pretty big mismatch between language and reality, and can give us a sense that reality is inert, dead, lifeless, “concrete”, and thus not subject to change. By experimenting with what Wilson, following scientist John Lilly, called “metaprograms”, we can change the maps that shape the reality we inhabit. Ecodelics seem to help induce a map of self that includes rather than excludes the scale of our ecosystemic interconnection, Pahnke's Reality “Greater-than-self”. I should add that I am writing about this because this was something I consistently observed in m own experiences. When the book went to press, I learned that Arne Naess, the founder of Deep Ecology, was profoundly influenced by his experiences of LSD. Howard Odum, another ecologist, tried to help metaprogram us into a more dynamic and interconnected sense of ecology and thermodynamics with his language of “energese”.


4rx said...

That was a very interesting read. It made me rethink my own idea of reality.

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