[Please excuse the belated release of this random blog. It was originally written and submitted for another blog site, but having not heard back I figured I'd post this as it was originally sent and without any edits.]
Tao Lin - a writer whose satirical, depressed, and hilarious fictional stories I enjoy reading - has as of late been writing a column for VICE Magazine's online platform, specifically focusing on Terence McKenna and his life's work.
Until today, I hadn't had time - or, rather, hadn't set aside time - to read any of the pieces, but after reading the headline flung onto Twitter, "Why are Psychedelics Illegal?", I am glad to have ignored everything else going on at that precise moment. Not because I'm really into psychedelics (I'm not. Really.) but rather because the article dove into a completely unexpected pool of thought, pointing to the answer of that question in a brief yet thick course of anthropology and philosophy. (You can find the article here.)
What Lin essentially makes apparent through his surprising scholarship - and whether it is intended to be a joke or not makes little difference to me - is the reason that drugs which alter conscious awareness of "reality" are illegal is for the obvious fact that they alter your conscious awareness of "reality." Why? Because we now live what he and Riane Eisler call a "dominator society" in which the worship of that which can take away life has usurped the worship of that which gives life. And, in a society whose very foundations rely upon the equalization of humanity via enforcing that everybody literally thinks and acts the same way, substances that which can absolutely demolish one's concept of reality are deemed rather heretical and dangerous to the otherwise insidious fabric of their dominated society.
While I read this article, a rather obvious question popped into my mind: Why did we let this happen? Why did we allow ourselves to be enslaved by the technologies of death and destruction after millennia of peace and prosperity? Immediately, I made the connection to the Upanishads and their myth of genesis and eventual destruction of the universe in the form of Kalpas, the aeons of existence that deteriorate the quality of life over four periods of time. But that was too obvious and too literal of a transcription from a religious entity. The second connection I made, however, was more interesting, albeit along the same lines.
What is a cancer? Clinically speaking, cancer is the unstoppable, uncontrollable overgrowth of malignant cells in the body. What causes a cancer, biologically, is multidimensional and seemingly infinite in possible origins. However there is another idea of cancer that which we ignore and is sub-dimensional to our everyday lives. A cancer can also be the unstoppable overgrowth of an idea in the form of subconscious accumulation. In other words, what we inactively observe and take in eventually becomes a part of our active consciousness and actions. It grows outward, you see, from the inward lump sum of mental absorption throughout your life.
We can see this best in depression, anxiety, anger, and fear. Each mental apprehension to a more relaxed and peaceful cognitive experience can be rooted to the way in which one chooses to see the world. The cliche, "Is the glass half full or half empty?" brings light to the individual in how he or she perceives life, which is rooted in how they have grown to perceive life, which is rooted in how their parents grew to perceive life and so on. But, this does not mean that it is the parent's fault for inadvertently teaching them the world is nothing but empty selfish genes vying to kill all the other genes. What it does mean, however, is that the choice is yours to make, that there is no way in which the world is other than rain hitting the surface of a still lake.
Do you see? That image can be either peaceful, beautiful, or quite sad depending on the individual's perception of the scenery.
So, in a way, it both is and isn't our collective species' fault for succumbing to such a brutal and hard way of living. War is only necessary in a world in which war is necessary. The problem isn't convincing anybody that war is terrible. The problem is convincing one's self not to go to war. Ever.
There is a reason why non-violent protests are more effective than violent uprisings. Even the oppressor knows, subconsciously, that they needs people to oppress, otherwise there'd be nothing to do. Think of it, really, if everybody who was oppressed in the world were wiped out by their oppressors. Every last one. Well that's great for law and order, but who is there left to govern? Well then, naturally, the oppressors would pick fights amongst themselves until there were three groups left, then two, then one, and then they'd destroy themselves until the world's last human - violent, bloodthirsty, and undefeated - were left alone on a dead rock floating in space. Congratulations, you've fulfilled the prophecies!
But… Well there you are. The last human alive. What then? You see, there is only one outcome of such a way of living, and that is suicide. An existence in which we cannot question the obvious facts of life is one in which we are inactively, subconsciously, and slowly committing mass suicide. Well, rather, a suicide by proxy. You see, without questioning the very things we take for granted, we become subjugated to a kind of programming, an acceptance of what we collectively agree is the Reality regardless of what the consequences are. In a way, we become prone or even adverse to change, and our ways of life and philosophy solidify into unmoving, stubborn patterns of nonexistence in that we are asleep and ignorant of the way the world is. And the way the world is is constantly changing. But if we resist change, then we become stagnant like stone. We become dead in our lack of growth and our vicious fighting of opposing ideas or cultures.
The affects of such a constrictive way of life are for the most part unfelt, and the effects take a long time to catch up. After all, in such a world bent on the competition and domination of theories one has to fight to show that their theory the right theory, either through brute force or through guile. One day, though, that lonely human will finally realize that we had it all wrong. The Minoans of Crete had it better worshiping the non-specific Goddess in their clay homes shared by the commonwealth of a peaceful, so-called undeveloped civilization. Sure, there were no big screens, no self-driving vehicles, nor any highly engaging film or electronic music. But there could have been. And it could have been done through giving rather than taking.
Well, the point I reached after reading Lin's article wasn't doom and gloom. Just like a cancer, things have a way of equaling out over time. Whether or not that means death for humanity does not matter. I can say that not because I am pessimistic but rather because I am optimistic - life has a knack for turning into death at some point, but then death has the sense of growing alive again. After all, what's the point of either without having their respective beginning and ends? It is in this vein that we can find our heart of gold, so to speak.
Yes it may be true that, just like disease, our way of living is harmful and destructive, but it is out of disease that which stronger more vibrant life may come forth. So if, one day, we can't take it anymore and we blow ourselves up or we all get too stressed and develop a mass scale of biological cancer or whatever and we die in a matter of two generations, something else will take our place and have the same thoughts we have (or, I guess, had) about the universe - that we are here simply to observe our larger form of self by looking at the stars and engaging in this game of life and death.
But what is ironic about the whole thing is that by simply acknowledging the above as true, and by allowing opinions and arguments to dissolve into the relativity of existence, we can once again exist harmoniously with the universe as we clearly have done in the past.