Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Recreational Drug Use is a Right!

In the same way that we have the right to eat for pleasure as much as we want in light of all the health consequences, we should have the right to use recreational drugs in light of the health consequences. Unlike like drugs, we don’t ban food. We educate people on what is healthy behavior and unhealthy eating behavior. The same should be done with drugs. We must provide people the resources to educate themselves on the real (not politically biased) information about these substances and allow them the liberty to make informed decisions. Just to drive the point home, in the 90’s when it was made clear that there was a direct link between cancer and smoking, more then half of smokers quit. This shows that even for very addictive drugs like nicotine- which is considered to be as or even more addictive then heroin- information alone, not law, has the power to help people make healthy decisions. To make drugs illegal for the harm they cause some would be like making junk food illegal because some people eat too much of it. The same can be said about sex, we don’t make it illegal because some are careless and get STDs or unwanted pregnancies. Making drugs illegal for some of the negative health reasons is like making sex illegal because of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and rape.

We have the right to use recreational drugs. What makes drugs dangerous is not its direct their affects, for alcohol is known as one of the worse drugs in that case. There are three major reasons why illegal drugs are dangerous. First they are illegal which makes their use criminal and makes one become alienated from the mainstream of society. This is very dangerous because one loses their rights to live a free life and they must keep their secret from others which may wear down the person greatly. Second, the quality of the drugs themselves is uncertain. As they are illegal they don’t go through any kind of inspection for purity. So one never knows what exactly they are getting; this can pose a risk as one has no idea of the dosage or presence of other substances. Third is the collective ignorance of the drugs affects and safe ways of using it. We all know you shouldn’t drive drunk. We also know one shouldn’t drink more then a few beers if they don’t drink much. Many of these common sense ideas about safe drinking are known as harm reduction when applied to illegal drugs. The problem is that as they are illegal, so no use is condoned making it hard for one to find good advice on how to use them safely. Harm reduction techniques help this problem but are not the end solution. The fourth and least harmful thing about illegal drugs is their direct affects. Because it’s when the first three aspects are taken care of- they aren’t illegal, the quality is pure and the dosage is accurate and truthful information about the drugs are available- do the health affects become a bigger issue. If the first three aspects are not dealt with, then they become the bigger hazard then just the direct health affects of the drug. Thus the health affects are of least concerned when compared to the first three aspects.

All in all, the pursuit of inebriation or alteration of consciousness is a born given right for us. Sure there are risks, but so does anything worth doing. Starting a business or bungee jumping have their risks. Imagine if we made them illegal? People would still try to sell stuff and gets their adrenaline flowing. But if it was illegal, they wouldn’t have safe jump cords, or police to settle disputes, or safe places to jump from, or secure locations to sell things from. The point is that there should be no reasons why we can’t use recreational drugs, if we have the liberty and responsibility to live our lives in the pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dulling Occam’s Razor

All students of science are taught the rule of parsimony, also known as Occam’s Razor. It’s understood to be one of the fundamental ways science interpreters the data it collects. It states that if there are two explanations for a given phenomenon, and both are equal in their explanatory power (whatever that means- we will return to this idea later) then the explanation (or theory) which is simplest, is favored over the more complex one. The value science gains from this law reflects its logical-mathematical tendencies; the logic in mathematics are about solving through simplifying. So naturally, science would adopt a rule to solve problems which favors the most simplest answer; just like in math where one answers a problem by simplifying the equation to its simplest possible form.

The idea of Occam’s Razor or parsimony can be traced back to William of Ockham. He was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher. Basically he was a logician working for the church. The idea behind using the word razor was that one should “slice thin” explanations and theories.

Now I believe that the fact that this rule fits so well with the logic found in math is only a coincidence. William was not a scientist. He was not even an empiricist. He was a subordinate of the church, albeit a high ranking one. Therefore when he came up with this idea he did not have in mind the logic of math and its usefulness in science. Instead he was thinking about finding a way of using logic to defend the position of the church, and the position of the church is god. God is the simplest explanation for anything. If anyone asks for an explanation, say god did it.

Now with all that said, I side with the instrumentalist position in the philosophy of science. Therefore I am inclined to point all this out in order to show that this rule has its origins in something very anti-scientific: defending dogma. Therefore I feel science does it self a disservice by cutting out theories only because they are more complex. The law shouldn’t be implemented only because it reflects the logic of mathematics; its origin are not scientific. The world does not reflect perfect logic, and theories shouldn’t have to either. I can understand the value in simple theories, but let us not be deceived by appearances. Complex explanations and theories may be just as valid.

Finally, what does it exactly mean to have two explanations or theories equal in their explanatory power? Is there an objective test? If so, I have never heard of it. I believe this is a major logical hole in the rule. How can we be the convinced that any two theories are equal in their explanatory capacity?

We need to rethink what it means to use Occam’s razor in light of its historical/cultural contexts and the major hole in its logic. With this in mind, hopefully, we can save possibly valuable theories that were once “sliced away”.

Meandering Existential Reflections

A Psychedelic Trip Report

It’s been a while, about a year since I last took a trip. It was an unexpected call which gave me the news of Lucy’s availability. The caller, whom I known for a year or so, asked me if I would test a tab out to see if it was any good. I hesitated at the idea of tripping so suddenly without preparation. It was a rule of mine to have at least three days before a trip to prepare for it properly. Nevertheless, my girlfriend at the time asked me if I could take it because she wanted to sell some of it to her friends. So eventually I called back the dealer with the Lucy, call him D. I told him I would try out the tab. On my way to his house I quickly assessed the situation. It was a sunny Friday afternoon in mid-October. The weather was very pleasant and the sun's rays seemed to be more golden then usual. I took this to mean some kind of good omen for the trip. Buzzing with good vibes, I entered his house. I asked him why he or one of his friends couldn’t test it out. This question was asked out of suspicion regarding the fact I don’t hang out with the guy much at all, our relationship is one of business. He answered saying that he nor had his friends the time to. He informed me that the tabs were "double dipped" meaning that they received twice the dose of a normal tab. in other words they were strong. I put two hits in my pocket and told D I would call him later as I started tripping to let him know if the product was good.

I walked home to freshen up. I decided I would take a tab and walk around the wooded area of the park. I left my house and walked in the direction of the park. A few blocks from my house I dosed. Once in the park I spit out the tab and searched for a place to sit with a view. I found an open field on the side of a hill. At the top of the hill was a concrete railing that was wide enough for me to sit on. I put on my headphones and mp3 player that I brought with me and played some Meshuggah. I quickly got bored of sitting and felt the desire to walk toward the wooded area. The park's wooded area surrounded a man made lake the size of a few football fields. Most people didn't walk through the wooded area. This made for a nice and quite slice of nature in the middle of a semi-urban neighborhood in the shadow of one of the most popular cities in the world. So I enjoyed this sliver of the park a lot. As I crossed some baseball fields to enter the wooded area, I decided to call a classmate who was interested in psychedelics. He was excited to hear that I was tripping and he wanted to know everything that I was expecting. My classmate, call him S, never had any history of psychedelic use. As I was walking the trail through the wooded area I started to feel as if the top of my head was opening up. I figured this would be where the crown chakra is located. I entertained that idea for a while.

My thoughts began to carry some kind of soft inertia in my headspace. Everything I was looking at seemed to get brighter, especially the way the suns rays would land on the park floor after being filtered through the leaves of the trees. Walking this quite and deserted trail, I was broadcasting to S my reflections of the current situation I was in. Suddenly I started to feel anxiety. Without giving a hint of my changed mood to S I started to walk out of the wooded trail. As I got back to concrete I found myself by the man made lake. I walked in the direction of my house. The lake had mostly joggers at that time of the day. Passing them, I started to "read in" to their behavior. Now, I am a psychology student so I am used to inferring reasons for peoples behaviors. But what I was doing at that moment was grotesquely over done. I felt as if I would feel the person’s whole life, as if I could tell by the way they were jogging or walking how they feel, their life history, and most disturbingly their problems. It was just misery walking past me over and over. I would look into the faces of the people and feel their sadness, their suffering, their grief. In hindsight I believe I was projecting my emotions on to people here. Although there may as well have been miserable people there, by no means it could have been all of them. I got out of the park and started to walk home. All the while I was loosing the ability to keep a logical conversation going, I kept apologizing to S because of this, but he seemed not to mind it.

I reached my house and went strait to the backyard. At this point I started to notice my headspace become enlarged/expanded. I was referring to the state as hyper-space because there was more (hyper) space for me to think in. At the time I was rambling on, giving one-line philosophical notions and questions which got a few awe-filled responses from S. I looked up into the sky as the sun was setting, I couldn’t see the sun itself, but was I did get to see was completely new to my eyes. I saw the line between the light part and the dark of the sky part progress toward the western horizon. It was amazing. After about an hour of talking time with S the conversation was ended. I’m not sure if it was me or him who ended it. All I know is that the last thing we talked about was some of my regrets and shortcomings. That is probably what brought the talk to its end.

After I hung up I continued to hang around my backyard and garage. My head was still filled with the negative thoughts from the tail end of the conversation. At this point I remembered my duty to report the value of the tab. I called D and told him the tab is good and that I was heading over to his house for some weed and more tabs (to sell). On my way there I got a chance to listen to my mp3 player again. I haven’t touched it since I got on the phone. Two tracks were heard. They were both songs I have heard many times, but this time I heard new things. It was awesome. It was as if I could feel the gestalt of the song. I felt as if I was there with the band in the studio while they were recording. And all at once I would feel the whole histories of the different musical styles of the music. It was like seeing the numerous threads of influence and picturing how they all tie up into the song which I am listing to. I also interpreted the meaning of the songs in new ways which have still lasted with me till this day. This is one of my favorites things about psychedelics- their ability to allow one to hear one song in many ways and give it fresh meaning which pertains to ones own life. It’s like the psychological notion of "ideas of reference".
Once I got to D's house again I was surprised to find a female coming in a few moments after me. She was a pretty petite brunet covered in tattoos. She even had a tattooing machine with her, along with a small cute black kitten. Her presence made me feel on guard, more then I was already. She was surprised to find out I was tripping alone. I figured she is used to always tripping with people. D asked if I wanted to smoke a blunt and I agreed. As the herb was being rolled up, I explored his house as I was feeling the mental stimulation from the LSD. I find some occult books. I attempt to read one to no avail, I just keep losing concentration. The sound of footsteps fills the room as I look to see who is coming into D's house. It was a few of his customers that I don’t know at all. I stayed in a separate room as he delt with the patrons, fearing I would look comical. After the transactions were finished I’m called back into the main room to smoke. Upon entering I see that they customers had left. We begin to smoke and I’m told that some old friends of mine are coming over to buy some weed. These two girls, call them H and F were part of my chilling circle back when I was part of one. Now I keep to myself, like a hermit. Of course when they came they told me how much they missed me. This reminded me of the hypocrisy, the lies, and the lack of respect I experienced while hanging out with that group. So my greetings toward them were restrained and a bit aloof. At this moment the weed smoking was done and I needed to meet my GF to give her the tabs. I excused myself from D's house headed toward my house.

The plan was to meet my GF at the time L and give her the tabs so she can sell them at a mark up to her friends. I was given a discount on the tabs in return for my willingness to test them. On my way home I started to feel anxiety swell. As I crossed a two way street the reality of the moment stepped in. I was tripping balls in the middle of the street and on the verge of going into a negative thought loop. In hindsight I believe it was the weed which brought up the anxiety. I made my way home trying to keep composure. A block from my house I saw L with her hands out. Her demeanor stank of infidelity. I felt as if she was cheating on me with her friends. The way she was asking for the tabs and telling me how she is going to meet them up to sell, it felt as if I could read in-between the lines of her behavior. She would say I need to go see so and so and then as she said their name, she would grunt and do a small pelvic thrust. In hindsight I was projecting my insecurities onto her. I was supposed to go with her in my car as she drove to drop off the tabs. But the state I was in had me paranoid and wanting to stay in my garage. She left and I shut myself in my garage.

I started to bring some attention to the visuals I was having. It had been about an hour and a half since I dosed the tab and the visual affects from the LSD were becoming apparent. I turned off all the lights in the garage and left the door to the yard ajar. The slit of white light coming from the crack in the door was making itself much known to me as I stood in the middle of the dark garage. The perfectly motionless and strait light started to wax and wane. The whiteness took on a milk-creamy visual texture to it. The bending and curving of the light was felt inside of my chest. Every wane would be felt as if there was a flexible material band, resembling the light, inside my body. This entertained me for a little while before I started to plunge into the existential abyss. I turned on the garage lights and shut the door. The plain white light from the florescent tubes emanated this humming that to me signified the perceived emptiness of my life. My thoughts started to feel as if they were neurotransmitters hitting receptor sites. But that is exactly what thoughts are. Every idea was a receptor site being docked by a neurotransmitter.

After about a minuet of that sensation I felt another strange event come on. It felt as if the boundary between the inside of my mind and the world started to collapse. My thoughts started to become the things around me and vice-versa. I started to walk around a table over and over. I had my hands clasped as if in prayer and I was repeating a phrase which I don’t recall, it felt like a mantra. Walking this circle around the table, I felt that my path around the table became a circle portal. Then it dawned on me that I was a soul at zero. Whereas before I would pride myself in my spiritual advancement, I was then realizing that I was the farthest I could be from god/enlightenment. The "soul at zero" phrase is an album by the band neurosis. It was like my karma was at its most negative. I felt unworthy of life and a waste of it. Then I stopped my circling of the table. Standing strait up me looked around the garage. I blurted out a noise from my mouth. This sound was the big bang or the start of it all. And every second afterward I felt the progression and complexitification of matter. I saw none of this visually but instead experienced it emotionally. I cannot describe this sensation very well with words. It was an experience of pure emotion, as if it did not come from my prefrontal cortex, but rather from my reptilian or limbic brain. I was in awe of how the universe unfolded into the event of my life. It is so strange that how supposedly out of complete chance my existence as a reflecting awareness comes into being. A meaning maker in a seemingly meaningless universe. What a lofty mystery it is to be alive.

Then as if in a whisper, I softy hear a piece of divine insight. "You Are The Still Silent Space Between All Things." Once comprehending the idea, I looked around the garage to see it through the lenses of this insight. I saw many things around me. All these things around me, I am what’s in-between them? At the time, I took that to mean that I am no single things, but rather what allows anything to be anything: the space which things are in. "I am empty space?" what an anti-climatic piece of information to dwell over. But as I started to really focus my attention on not the things themselves, but what was between them. My self, my thoughts, my true self is not any of these. My true self is silent still empty space. I am nothingness? This left me feeling quite mystical but confused- which is the norm in these kinds of experiences. How can I learn to identify myself with that space in-between things and not any thing itself? I pondered this riddle until L came back.

Once home me and her went inside my house to watch a movie. The negative feelings I had felt before were still lingering and started to swell again once I and L settled in my room. I started to feel self-pity as I reviewed my life and my relationship with L. She was sober and not in the mood to hear my philosophical meanderings and negative evaluations. The weed I brought from D earlier came into my mind and I turned on my vaporizer. Between the lingering anxiety and the lack of concentration given to the film, it took a long time to actually prepare a vapor balloon for our enjoyment. As we started to get into bed for the night- this being about 10 hours into the trip- I glanced over toward my closet doorknob. It was a fake crystal which seemed reflect fractals galore inside of it. Laying in bed with L I started to drift off, watching the last bits of the visual disturbances of dancing color behind my eyelids.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Transparency of Efficient Utilities: How problems keep us awake and why a perfect world would resemble deep sleep.

Just like the lyrics in this song bring up: we love problems because they entertain and arouse our attention. Without them, we would perhaps not find anything worth paying attention to...

Heidegger brought up in his Being and Time that when something works well, we fail to notice it. He used the example of a pencil: we only notice the pencil when it breaks and not when we are using it. When the pencil works up to expectation we focus on other things. But when it breaks our attention is brought to the pencil. Therefore, we can say the same of any utility. For instance a limb. We almost never notice out arms. We do think about where to put them, but we hardly ever think about the arms themselves. Its only when they have some kind of deviancy that we start to think solely about the arms. So when the arm is injured we think of the arm. When the arm is well we think of what is done through the arm.

We can postulate that: as long as a utility is efficient, its presence is transparent, in that we pay no mind to the utility itself.

If we think of the adage “time flies when your having fun” we can infer that when all is well and we are content/happy, our sense of time quickly runs to its end, so that it seems as if the fun affair was an altogether brief one- compared to what happens before or after. This means that having fun, which may be the most efficient use of ones time in a satisfactory sense, causes time or reality in general to flyby. So let us assume for a moment that one always had fun and there was no end to it. It would be reasonable to say that time would flyby. But would it flyby so fast that it ceases to exist? As times of joy seem like quick flashes compared to periods of plight, a time of joy with no boundaries to contain it would be so fleeting that perhaps if we would to experience it, the experience would not be noticeable in much the same way that our experience of efficient utilities is not noticeable.

If we take the experience of time to be something that can be utilized more efficiently through having fun, then we can say that time would become transparent and we would not notice it at all. So having fun removes the notion of time from us by making it not a problem, because in times of joy one does not experience stress or anxiety which are the essential reasons we bring attention to time.

Thus through the lens of that adage we can see this phenomenon of transparency of efficient utilities as telling us that time is only noticeable when we have something that interrupts our fun. The founder of Gestalt therapy F.S. Perils in his book Ego, Hunger, and Aggression stated that time exists as a tension between meals. That is, we don’t notice time when we are full, because our cares our satisfied, and we notice time when we are hungry, because we begin to focus on the a future event, which in turn creates a hunger-tension which is experienced as time duration.

Taking a step further we can imagine the logical conclusion of our technology in providing satisfaction. If this were to happen, and all our desires were met, we would perhaps lose all feeling for time. What would become of us when time is not an issue anymore? Well if we follow the logic above concerning the transparency of efficient utilities and apply it to this thought, we can conclude that time would become transparent when it is not an issue for attention anymore. But what does it mean to exist without time as a constant in our attention? If such a state were possible, and we had no problems to make time a concern, how would we behave? How would we think? What about us would change?

I believe if all utilities were brought to maximum efficiency, then all experience would fall into something resembling deep sleep- deep sleep meaning a state of mind devoid of conscious attention. That is, when there are no more issues and all runs smoothly in our reality, then our attention becomes nullified as it is only brought up when there is something to be fixed or a problem to be solved. Thus a perfect world, in terms of every satisfaction being met, would cease to become a focus of attention. Thus as no attention is brought to anything, the perfect world resembles deep sleep. We may as well be awake but we wouldn’t know it. Only when something comes to disturb the peace/efficiency/fun does attention spring up and existence once again becomes something to be experienced.

We owe our problems a great gratitude. For without them, we would have nothing in reality to experience. A perfect world free from pain or problem has no reason to be looked at, problems are what bring us into experiencing the world. Without them we would not have any reason to experience reality.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cutting The Breaks On Ostentatious Glory

A Dream Interpretation

The windshield wipers stood no chance to the heavy rain. It was nearly impossible to make out the road. “Hold steady now, we all go through storms like this from time to time.” I told myself in an attempt to calm my shouting nerves. The road was on top a long bridge much like the Florida keys highway, only this one would have tight spiral like turns. I felt the road more then I could see it, and I started to feel it turn. I had no idea how wide the turn was so I started to break. “What the fuck!?” was what I shouted when I found that my foot on the break did nothing to the car’s momentum. They were cut! My only chance was to go with my gut on measuring the angle of the turn. I started to impulsively turn the wheel, trying my best to put all my attention to the feeling of the tires on the road. The car was gaining speed and it was becoming harder and harder to feel out the tires. Then, like a clasp of thunder, the passenger side of the car crashed into the edge railing. I still hadn’t fully engaged the actuality of the crash with its loud crunch, when I suddenly felt no road under the car. I was in mid air falling toward the sea. The feeling of falling was reminiscent of the downward part of a roller coaster. It felt like my navel traveled up my chest to my throat. The front end smashed hard onto the water. The surface tension from the drop must have made the impact similar to crashing into a wall. As I recoil from the front-end impact my shoulders get drenched in very cold salty water. Shivering took over my whole body as I frantically moved around in my seat for a futile impulsive attempt at warmth- this phrase futile impulsive attempt at warmth became the summery of my life as I watched it flash before my eyes. The warmth was happiness. Breathing in the ice cold liquid, my throat bubbles as I draw my last breath.
I awake to discover that was all a nightmare. Seems right as I don’t usually find myself on murky remote bridges in the middle of stormy seas. But what did all this mean? Most people will stop the inquiry here and continue on with their day. No not me. I read in-between the lines. If not for anything else, for the sake of art. A good label to place on this introspective analysis of the random ink-block which is dream interpretation. I favor the gestalt therapy method of alienating aspects of the dream and interrogating those fragmented pieces. I like this method because it involves role playing which is fun for escapists like me.
My choice part to alienate was the fact that my brakes were cut. So I imaginatively sat down the breaks and asked it, “Why were my breaks cut?” The breaks answered, “Because you wanted the glory so that was the fight to get it.” I of coursed played both roles. I was surprised at the answer because I gave the brake’s response spontaneously, with no forethought. The statement was steadily absorbed into my mind.
Do scars double as marks of valor? Or are they futile impulsive attempts at happiness? The asker requests glory not for the better of the whole, but as a way to impress onto that whole his outstanding ability. Now that the pain and the stress have come, one really gives up their essentially hedonistic endeavor. For they realize that to endure the pain, one needs something beside theirselves to live for, and a hedonist only lives for themselves. So seeker of fame, leave the glory to the pure of heart who are brought to glory not by their intention for it, but by the call of the given situation, which sparks inside of them the courage to fight for the ones they love. The hedonist in search of fame/glory cannot find the peace that comes with self-sacrifice- the essential ingredient of well deserved fame.
Where was it in my life that I was striving for glory for the wrong reasons? The dream could be warning me that duties taken on for the sake of popularity will reveal themselves to be too much to handle for those with such shallow aspirations.
I wonder how common this phenomenon is. I also wonder what becomes of the ones who reach that point of pain and then realize they cannot go on. What do they do? Well in my dream I died. And the dream is only a metaphor for reality. So what would be the metaphor for death? The end of something? The end of pain? The end of that particular endeavor and dream? Whatever it turns out to be, it certainly isn't the end to action. For if I would be wrong in my desires, I can always desire other things, or learn to desire things less. The latter is called Buddhism. Should I be a Buddhist?
Dreams are tricky to interpret. There might as well be no definite answer. But the point may not be the answer. It may rather be the search or journey itself. Meandering can at times be the best way to find hidden treasures. And introspective interpretation is no different in being able to find hidden meaning in between the lines of dreams.

Lyrical Interpretation of Lycanthropy by Fear Before

to ruin the illusion?
Is this primal or futile?
Is this instinct or evil?
Is this right or wrong?

The consensual reality is an illusion. That is, it is not permanent and can vary. That’s why we can have different cultures in a single area. But when one has the opportunity to see beyond their reality (like with a psychedelic drug)- not to see another one, but to see a more primal, fundamental, essential reality which may underlie and/or predate our waking/ordinary reality- and they return to this reality and see how people are trapped in maladaptive violent practices which did not at all reflect the harmony and interdependence of all things witnessed in that experience outside of consensual reality, they begin to suffer from the feeling of being trapped in a hostile reality. So is it wrong to ruin the illusion of a blind social construction? Or should one stay ignorant, not dispelling the illusion? Or should one strive toward keeping accord with one’s self-truth and evolve and adapt in consequence to it’s lessons.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Now I

I can't believe

Believe what I see

See in front of me