i just witnessed a nightmare. a crazed dream of a growth based petro-civilization in which people can drive unimaginable distances to live in large houses for very little money, comparatively to regions near other people, by way of burning large amounts of refined oil in order to make it there and back every day. because god knows, no one would want to live in this place if they were unable to leave. there was no food or water for miles around, and because the owner of the house had no strapping son in law to reign in the surrounding vegetation, the house looked like it had been dropped in the middle of a burgeoning savannah. it had, really, because this particular bit of suburbia was so much worse than the one i type from now. it was in a place so remote that normal folk from the more common suburbs were completely unable to find it save for the direction of someone who lived there. this is one of the places that will become such a bizarre example of industrial growth based civilization: a suburb in the middle of the desert. there was nothing for miles around and then suddenly we were set upon by streetlights and sidewalks, and two story houses set so close to one another as to stifle you even further in the heat of the humid central texas night. an implacable tribute to the housing bubble, i couldnt believe that there were no foreclosures evident in its midst. "how could anyone bring themselves to live here?" i kept saying to my friends. when i met the inhabitants, i was able to conceal my dismay, and only asked vague questions about the location. only someone who was completely blind to the peak of our civilisational curve, those who were not in denial, but totally ignorant of the collapse happening all around them. the closest food source being a shell gas station, conveniently located next to an even larger, redundant shell gas station containing a church's chicken only a city block away in a place where the city was the furthest thing from the imagination. it was here that i fully realized the extent of the ignorance of our culture to the realities of petrocollapse and economic stagnation. it was pretty astounding. its so easy to dismiss the total ignorance of the people in your culture until you're face to face with it. all along the neatly curbed suburban streets were weeds so tall they looked like trees, and the scorpions flitted in and out of the shadows of the "lawn" in my friends' backyard, which held thistle as high as I and weeds i didnt recognize flourishing far better than the lawnmower-less single mother who lived there, suffering from liver disease as her children resided with her and smoked pot thoughtless of the fact that the place they lay was a vast savannah being slowly reclaimed by a merciless earth ready to take back what had been so exactingly cut away by developers promising green lawns and a happier life.
i also listened to stories told by a man who, as said in the episode, was just as bad as i, there but for the grace of god. we lived through so many of the same stories but came out so differently, he scarred and nigh schizophrenic, having entered the vulnerable state of ego-melt acid-opolis in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people (but at the same time, what an incredible experience it was! i could feel his ecstasy as he described it, only as someone who has taken lsd can). i always wonder at how i was able to come through the perils of drug addiction, both physical and mental; as he describes, just searching for the next "peak experience", not necessarily an actual altered state, but something which was different from everyday conciousness. i wandered through most of my adolescent life and mid 20s searching desperately for something, not really knowing what it was, but knowing that i wasnt going to find it by staying sober. by a freak chance of luck, or perhaps by the guidance of the deities that had become apparent to me, i shook away the things that were destructive even as i watched, and continue to watch, those things destroy my best friends, family, and peers. how, but for the grace of the god i was so luckily introduced to in the throes of prayer, and of psychedelic ecstasy, and of blind fate, could i have survived and almost thrived, when so many of my friends have met grisly fates, or worse, continue down aimless paths of dalliance and addiction? i never had an allergic reaction to a drug, as olga described, nor did i feel a need to control every aspect of my experiences. on the contrary, i reveled in the ecstatic states i discovered, and even now, in my more mature and experienced conciousness, value the total dissolution of my ego in the form of the blissful acceptance of death during an ecstatic state, more than the security and love of the people who care about me. i have never been so happy as the times that i have seen the end of my life and accepted it happily as the obvious continuance of an infinite existence; while at the same time, others who achieve the same state perceive it as a doomsday clock and fall into a paranoid fear state where everything produces terror.
everyday, i live with the things i have seen while in altered states, both with and without psychedelic substances. they have become a part of me and the way i view the world. i see auras and make wierd connections about events, though not to the point of circular fear paranoia. i accept the glows and events as they come, and i am a better person because of my perceptions. i look up at the sky and see flying lights and streaming colors, and yet i am unafraid, and not under the influence of any drug; although i hear other people complain of this as a side effect of their usage, and wonder why it is that now that they see all that they wanted to; that they want it to just go away. i am clearly aware of the interconnectedness of our existence, so much so that for a long time it was hard for me to eat, or watch people eat, because all i could see was organisms consuming to survive. it disturbed me, as it does so many people, to realize how much we are just like the animals all around us, fighting for morsels and fucking like there's no tomorrow while we consider, no, KNOW ourselves to be something more.
the problems i face seem to come from the broad consensus of denial of what we are, the duality of a conscious animal seeking to deny its own limits until the consequences force us to face reality. the vast suburban savannah of a culture obsessed with itself; unable to see past its own reflection and spiraling closer to an end that it knows and dreads, yet seems to embrace through the arms of plausible deniability.
peter bebergal tells a compelling story of what its like when the visions are unbearable. he tells a story i've seen play out in my own friends' lives and, ultimately, deaths. he tells a story i'll never understand, because i was able to bear the things that life and drugs brought me, and came out stronger in the end. he said so many things that make me so sad, because i know, that but for the grace of god, there go I.