15 Psychedelic Freak Outs
Spring – Wk 6: Sketching the Mind's Eye | It's Like Living in a Horror Film | These Kids Be Trippin' | Cyborg Monkey Lab Rats | VR Church
15 PSYCHEDELIC FREAK OUTS
— (in film and music videos) —
The psychedelic experience is so visually oriented, it's difficult to capture in words. It's one thing for a space cadet to tell you about the tracers, the fractal patterns, the colorful geometry behind the eyelids, the exquisite beauty of mundane objects, and the grotesque distortion of pretty faces.
It's another to describe the intricate, dreamlike realms that wait just beyond the senses.
The only way to communicate the experience with any fidelity is through visual arts and video. In fact, digital enhancement and CGI animation so readily convey the psychedelic perspective—especially in VR—you have to wonder if the resemblance is coincidental or, like, the convergence of cosmic forces, man.
Sketching the Mind's Eye
The conceptual contents of the psychedelic experience are even more difficult describe than the visual effects. There's the sense of personal dissolution. The perception of subtle connections between all things. The realization that symbols pervade the universe.
Angels, demons, spirit animals, robotic monsters, clockwork elves, psychic jellyfish. Sugar and spice and boogers and stardust. All that, tossed in a salad bowl, eaten too quickly, and barfed across the sky.
That's where animators have an edge. Cartoons are inherently trippy. The only constraints are one's skill and imagination, and the brain's visual cortex.
And your willingness to take the trip.
1 – “White Satin” – Anthony Francisco Schepperd (2010)
[originally drawn for “The Music Scene”]
Imagine your TV screen opening its eye and looking back at you. This superintelligent being—interconnected by countless cameras and warp speed processors—studies you and all the birds in the air and the beasts of the field. It unravels the twisted strands of every living thing, absorbs them, reconfigures them, recreates them.
What It cannot seduce, It destroys and then becomes.
In the end, this singular Machine dies alone, melancholy but at peace, constrained by the original forms if Its progenitors in a cold, entropic universe.
In some parallel dimension, this is actually happening.
2 – I, Pet Goat II – Heliofant (2013)
Higher doses of psychedelics consistently produce a synthetic religious experience, at least for many people. The symbolic contents vary, but a feeling of ultimacy is common.
Imagine that your conception of the world is an illusion, maintained by malevolent entities and their machines.
George W. Bush. Barack Hussein Obama. Osama Bin Laden.
Just behind this veil is another world.
Charon. Kali. Jesus Christ.
3 – The Clockwork Elves – Nick Cross (2020)
The “stoned ape theory” of human evolution holds that psychedelic plants accelerated the development of human consciousness.
Imagine a caveman being lured by the mystical Plant, or some deity within It. Without knowing why, or what will happen, the Hominid prepares a brew over a campfire and then consumes the Plant's body in a cup.
Propelled by that energy into a broader field of possibilities, evolution proceeds.
4 – Beavis and Butt-Head Do America – Mike Judge (1996)
There’s a hellish, apocalyptic edge to many psychedelic experiences, especially when the sensory veil is torn away.
Imagine two borderline retarded best buds sizzling under the desert sun. One accidentally chomps on a peyote cactus. A higher vision of the cosmos opens up to his third eye. Because he's borderline retarded, it looks like a Rob Zombie video.
This is more realistic than it sounds.
It's Like Living in a Horror Film
In the old days of reel-to-reel, the psychedelic experience was conveyed through savage editing, handmade props, and primitive film colorization. It was clunky, but it definitely did the trick.
Over time, computer generated images became more advanced. This allowed for vivid cartoons that overlay solid objects in the physical world. Complex software made it possible to construct entirely imaginary worlds in convincing detail. With CGI, the texture of the psychedelic experience truly came to life onscreen.
Pretty soon, a decent pair of VR goggles will close the loop between your eyeballs and the mind's eye.
5 – Altered States – Ken Russell (1980)
An adventurous anthropologist drinks some mystic Plant brew. He immerses his body in the lukewarm water of a sensory deprivation chamber.
A vision of the crucified Jesus from the Gospels merges with the seven-eyed zoomorphic Jesus of the Revelation.
It's hard enough to reconcile the two when you're sober. Imagine trying to do it on a massive dose of Plant juice.
6 – Jacob's Ladder – Adrian Lyne (1990)
Freudian sexual imagery is a common motif of the psychedelic experience. The drugs will amplify one's tendency to project repressed fear and desire onto others, manifesting dark hallucinations.
During the Vietnam era, a squad of American soldiers is given an experimental psychedelic and deployed to the battlefield. Years after coming home safely, one of the survivors starts having flashbacks.
In the Torah, the patriarch Jacob has a dream in which he sees angels ascending and descending the ladder to Heaven.
In this film, that ladder goes all the way down to Hell.
7 – Freddie's Dead: The Final Nightmare – Wes Craven (1991)
Whether good, bad, or purely amoral, there's a deep spiritual connection between the laboratory synthesis of LSD in 1938 and the public release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985.
In Freddy Krueger's nightmare, an interactive TV set unleashes the son's Freudian urge to kill his father. Thanatos prevails.
8 – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Terry Gilliam (1998)
Hunter S. Thompson, the godfather of gonzo, drops acid in Las Vegas. The warped nature of casino culture is laid bare before his eyes.
9 – Dr. Strange – Scott Derrickson (2016)
A philosophical materialist seeks martial arts training from a spiritual master. She knocks his astral body out of his physical form. Suddenly, he sees the multiverse in a grain of sand.
In true Zen fashion, having slapped him into enlightenment, she kicks him to the curb.
10 – The Holy Mountain – Alejandro Jordorowsky (1973)
Until you've watched this entire cult classic to its anticlimax, you don't know the true nature of postmodernity, youth culture, or jackshit about the world we live in today.
Kids Today Be Trippin'
Whence comes the youthful urge toward sex, drugs, and techno?
11 – “The White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane (1967)
Aside from being the hottest thing since quasars, Grace Slick knew how to perform a hit single. With her haunting voice and a firm grasp of the mythic realm, she was the ultimate psychonaut sex symbol.
The mere idea of Grace blowing a pan flute called multiple generations to follow her—and her colorful carbon copies—to the edge of insanity.
12 – “Trippin' On XTC” – Green Jellö (1992)
A heavy trip is liable to knock you out of your sweet Air Jordans.
Biomechanical demons may strap you to a table and suck on your life force, or you might ascend the stairway to Heaven to pray at the swarthy toes of Jehovah.
Whatever happens, don't take it too seriously.
13 – “When the Party Don't Stop” – Key and Peale (2012)
Time dilation is one of the more unsettling aspects of the psychedelic experience. A minute feels like a year. A few more literally feels like Eternity.
It gets old after awhile. Especially at the club.
14 – “Turtles All the Way Down” – Stergill Simpson (2014)
The best evidence for the psychic unity of all humankind is the fact that Kentucky rednecks are prone to the same hallucinatory archetypes as Harvard psychologists and Peruvian shamans.
I've seen Jesus play with flames
In a lake of fire that I was standing in
Met Buddha yet another time
And he showed me a glowing light within
There's a gateway in our minds
That leads somewhere out there, far beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light
Cut you open and pull out all your pain
15 – Q-ANON EXPOSED!!! – Sam Hyde (2020)
Life has gotten pretty weird in the Technetronic Era. Not everyone is happy about it.
Timothy Leary famously said, “The personal computer is the LSD of the 90's.”
No wonder kids these days are freaking out.
Scientists Treat Monkeys Like Lab Rats
Latest article: “Scientists Treat Monkeys Like Lab Rats – Humans Are Next” – in The Federalist
Recent experiments reveal a dangerous desire—and the increasing ability—to alter the fundamental elements of life.
It's been a big month for sci-fi primates. On April 8, Elon Musk's start-up Neuralink announced they created a cyborg monkey who can play MindPong using a brain chip. The following week, scientists at the Salk Institute in California revealed they successfully grew human-macaque embryos in test tubes. These hybrid babies were aborted at 20 days, though, before any real trouble could begin.
The practical question isn't how to stop them, but rather how to survive in their technocratic age. Where do we draw our own boundaries?
Read the whole thing here
And also: “VR Church Isn't the Future of Religion” – in The Federalist
A year after lockdowns forced communal worship online, most church-goers welcome a return to the real world.
It's an open question whether electronic devices will remain part of communal worship going forward, and if so, in which institutions. More importantly, if these innovations do maintain their hold, to what extent will the medium shape the message?
Read the whole thing here