Category Archives: Philosophy

Changing the mind, again

I copied this from an email From Mr. Pollan. I’ll delete it (probably) when his book comes out in May, 2018. I’m a fan of Michael’s, I’ve read most of his books. And I’ll be reading this one.

I bothered to copy this here as the topic of “changing your mind” seems to be popular, one we’ve discussed here and on other blogger’s sites. Funny how society converges on the same thing at the same time. Maybe we’re already a hive-mind.

A Note From Michael Pollan
“A trip well worth taking, eye-opening and even mind-blowing.”
—Kirkus Reviews
Dear Readers,It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I have been busy reporting and writing a new book that I’ve just completed. I’m excited to tell you about it.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence will be published in May. As the title suggests, the new book represents something of a departure for me—at least from writing about food.(As one early review put it, I’ve turned from “feeding your body to feeding your head.”)But as those of you who have been following my work for a while know, what unifies all my writing is a fascination with our symbiotic relationships with other species in nature, whether for food, beauty, or intoxication. I’ve had a long-standing interest in psychoactive plants and the age-old human desire to change the texture of consciousness. You may recall I wrote about cannabis inThe Botany of Desire and about growing opium in Harper’s several years before that.

The new book grew out of the reporting I did for a 2015 article about psychedelic psychotherapy in the New Yorker, called “The Trip Treatment.” I interviewed a number of cancer patients who, in the course of a single guided session on psilocybin (the main psychoactive molecule in magic mushrooms), had such a powerful mystical experience that their fear of death either faded or vanished altogether. I became curious to learn how that might be possible—how a molecule produced by a mushroom, of all things, could produce such a radical change in the mind of a human, such that death lost its sting.

So began what became a two-year journey into the world of psychedelics—LSD, psilocybin, Ayahuasca and something called 5-MeO-DMT. The book explores the renaissance of scientific research into these compounds and their potential to relieve several kinds of mental suffering, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. I spent time with neuroscientists who are using psychedelics in conjunction with modern brain imaging technologies to probe the mysteries of consciousness and the self. Several of the scientists I met are convinced psychedelics could revolutionize mental healthcare and our understanding of the mind.

But what I didn’t expect when I embarked on this journey was for it to result in what is surely the most personal book I’ve ever written. As you know, I like to immerse myself in whatever I’m writing—whether that means buying a steer or apprenticing myself to a baker. What began as a third-person journalistic inquiry ended up a first-person quest to learn what these medicines had to teach me about not only the mind but also my mind, and specifically about the nature of spiritual experience. This book has taken me places I’ve never been—indeed, places I didn’t know existed.

As you can imagine, I’m both excited and nervous to publish How to Change Your Mind this spring. I do hope you’ll check it out. I plan to post an excerpt on my website in a couple of months, and will alert you when I do. I’ll soon be updating the website with a rich array of resources on psychedelics. For now, though, here’s the advance review of the book from Kirkus, quoted from above.

I’ll be in touch more regularly in the next few months, to bring you news of the book as well as my extensive speaking schedule this spring. Hope to see you in person at one of these events.

All best,

I live with my ideas turned off

I am surely cursed.

I can look at a blade of grass, a cloud, a mote in the sunlight, or nothing at all — the emptiness of a tipped bucket or unfinished barrel and see a story, see the makings of the work-a-day effort, the striving, the agony of completion as the task is done and the next as it is planned. These and more as an entire life is envisioned, run through its trials and finally extinguished.

I can’t turn this off. Or rather, I can turn this off, but if I looked, I would see this constantly.

But, yes, I do turn this off. I have to. If I don’t, it would be like living in a fast forward cascade of fictional events, spilling from a dreamed reality, dragons, and alien planets, and financial equations, and tiny thumb-handed beings trying to build a city from packing peanuts. It just never stops.

No. It does stop. I stop it. The fact is, I know I can’t deal with it, so I kill it. Intentionally.

I kill it, often with alcohol. Mostly, with alcohol. But that only inflames the sprites within my mind. Oh, to they enjoy a spin on the spirits, a dance on the drink. Fortunately at these times, my fingers can no longer follow my thoughts and it’s there where the fancy leaves the page. You may never know what happens after. Which is sad. But, rest assured, know that what transpires is a true whimsy of enormous wonder and possibility…


What is wrong with us?

Humanity must be pretty god-damned-fucked-up to continuously have to defend its very existence at this stage of the game.

Instead of everyone of us directing our waking moments to solving the galactic and universal issues that constrain our species — you know — those that say, “hey, humans, you’re just a puny single orb-locked species destined to die in your next planet’s apocalyptic episode” — we’re trying to kill each other.

Or maim, wound, suppress, disparage, constrict each other.

Fuck! What are we but beasts mimicking a real galactic species. “Oh, we can be that, damn right we can. We can be all that ‘higher being’, that which strives for our greater angels.”

Bullshit! We’re just primitive fuck-ups posing as a higher species.

If we were TRULY the beings that we could be, we would NOT be spending time on figuring out why we allow aberrations of our kind to enact the damage and mayhem that they do. We would be seeking out the truth of the universe. Every single one of us should be involved in pursuing excellence in our species and how we can blossom and seed the galaxy.

Instead, we’re seeking why so many of us die at the hands of our sisters and brothers.

We are so fucked up. We really are. Pathetic is the word.

And, the saddest part of all this, is that there are no superior beings in existence who will descend from on high and direct our lesser selves, explaining why we are broken and how we can mend ourselves. No. Those “on high”s don’t exist. We’re it.
We. Are. Those. Greater. Beings.

And that? That is majorly fucked up.

The dog licks the plate

If you’ve ever had a dog. And you’re not a a stuck up fucking prig. Then you’ve probably laid your dinner plate down on the ground (in the kitchen or near the table) and let your pet lick the porcelain disk clean. So clean, you could probably place it back in the cupboard and nobody would be the wiser.

Now, here’s the magic about this activity: All the good bits are stuck to the plate. All the oils, grease, all the salts and flavor — they’re all there. So, really, unbeknownst to us, the dogs have been getting the best part of the meal. Luck them.

Of course, if you are a prig who wouldn’t dare dream of setting a temptuous offering on the floor for you loyal companion to enjoy, well — fuck you!

Leaving Las Vegas – wisdom

Consider that the movie Leaving Las Vegas embodied everything we know about existence. And that the ultimate fate of man was death. And that to die, comatose, drunk off your ass, was, really, the absolute acknowledgement that life is futile.

What of the opioid crisis? Maybe every one of those overdoses is actually someone acknowledging the futility of life and that by dying, they admit their understanding that the universe is absurd?


Oligarchs are evolution

While watching a In a Nutshell episode (below), I extrapolated the concept that intelligent life consumes all of a planet’s resources. It’s like a machine that eats until everything it can eat — gets consumed. But, the oligarchs know this, and plan for lifeboats which are escape pods shot from a planet’s surface out to the solar system to create, and control, life there.

Oligarchs rule a planet’s resources. They can control what gets built, what gets sequestered, what gets jettisoned. What if folks like Elon Musk are actually aware of this and are planning for humanity’s demise. Not their demise. They will survive. They will rule New Earth. They will control the AIs and robots that create the food and build the starships.

What if humanity actually IS evolving, but not genetically, but financially. In the end, if an apocalypse does not kill off all of humankind, then the only folks who will survive the coming resource collapse, will be the rich.

Sadness feels comfortable

There’s a smooth easy feeling to sadness. I find anger to be distasteful. Vehement reactions that raise my ire just leave me feeling spent, like I wasted a substantial fraction of my life drawn up in a taught knot of energy. Blech, eff that!

But sadness is calm. Like a velvet coating on the world. Dark but unobtrusive. It’s there but blends, fades into everything.

I’d rather be mournful than angry.

I’d rather be melancholy than indignant.

Do certain moods just fit better on my shoulders?

Sadness feels comfortable. I don’t mind it really. In fact, I rather welcome it.

Aren’t these great words. It’s almost as if we have flavors of words like this to suit just the right type of sadness. Silly humans.

  • gloomy
  • depressed
  • unhappy
  • dejected
  • miserable
  • despondent
  • disconsolate
  • glum
  • sorrowful
  • mournful
  • blue
  • cheerless
  • downhearted
  • dismal
  • morose
  • woebegone
  • downcast
  • lugubrious
  • doleful